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The Intrigue

What has Eighteen Legs and isn't going anywhere?

Until Lambs become Lions

A Review of 1199 CE Warfare




DC comics published an alternative evolution of Bruce Wayne into Batman in “To Kill a Legend” where the murder of Martha & Thomas Wayne never happened. In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood there is no shooting match at Nottingham, there is no Richard the Lionheart due to reclaim the throne from a usurper, there is no duel between Robin and Little John over a river and there is no robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, and there is no childhood romance with Maid Marion. But there is no mistaking that this is the Robin Hood that we all know and love. We thought ourselves masters of his story after so many films, series & legends on the man but this interpretation is so different and yet brilliantly loyal, witty and subtle.




We are introduced to a world-weary and battle hardened Robin Longstride returning to England after the Crusades. The Lionheart’s battalion lays siege to and plunders all the towns in their path and have crossed all but one French town after which the will cross the Channel. A series of events (including the death of the Lionheart) put the king’s crown and a Sir Loxley’s sword into Robin’s hands. After returning the crown to the Queen Mother, Robin makes his way to Nottingham where he must return the sword to it’s rightful owner - Loxley Sr.


The Intrigue


The story is set in 1199 CE. The Queen Mother and William Marshall the advisor are concerned about French influence within the court of England. John is trying to convince the Pope to grant him a divorce so that he may marry his French mistress. King Philip of France (factually an ally of Richard the Lionheart for the duration of the Crusade but historically an enemy) is skeptical of invading England with the Lionheart as king, and Godfrey the French spy isn't sure of what to make of reports that the Lionheart is dead.


As soon as the French plot is uncovered the Queen Mother and Marshall move to defend the throne while King John under the influence of his childhood friend Godfrey is foolishly stirring up unrest among local warlords who supply him with soldiers. Political manipulations and backroom arm-twisting are some of the hallmarks that distinguish the film from other interpretations of the legend.


What has Eighteen Legs and isn't going anywhere?


Meanwhile Robin returns the sword to it’s rightful owner - Loxley Sr. After hearing of his son’s demise Loxley Sr. invites Robin to stay at his house in Nottingham to maintain an image of stability (since there is no heir to his fiefdom) by pretending to the dead Loxley Jr. In exchange Robin will be provided with livelihood and be told about his ancestors who Loxley Sr. knows of.


To ratify the ruse Robin must also pretend to be married to the widow of Loxley Jr. - Maid Marion. Thus begins the subtle, middle-aged, realistic and refreshing romance between Robin and Marion.


Maid Marion has been occupied with feeding her subjects who are on the verge of starving because of pilferage and agricultural failure. The surplus of the church’s crop provides Nottingham with no relief and the new minister - Friar Tuck is unable to extract any aid from the church; indeed the man of the cloth seems adept only at bee-keeping and drinking mead. To the rescue comes Robin and his men (Little John, Alan-a-dale & Will Scarlett) who locate the church’s supply train in the dead of night with the help of Tuck and confront it after questioning the leader with the above mentioned riddle.


Until Lambs become Lions


The story then takes a political twist. Robin learns that his father (who was unknown to him) was a pioneer of modern political thought and painful flashbacks with the help of Loxley Sr. help him come to terms with what he originally considered abandonment. He uses this new found paternal and domestic respect to join forces with other local chiefs who have begun a revolt after being attacked by the French agent Godfrey and taxed to their limit in the name of King John.


Some deft political maneuvering by William Marshall and King John himself win over the chiefs and unite them to fight side-by-side against the oncoming French invasion.


In a bloody battle scene (which is in many ways the converse of the Normandy landing) Maid Marion makes an appearance in battle-gear looking like Joan of Arc, the dandy King John finds courage, Robin’s prowess with the bow finally makes an appearance and the French are sent packing.


If there is one scene in the film that is not to be missed it is the monologue at the end in which the Sheriff of Nottingham to the townsfolk pronouncing Robin an outlaw. It reconciles the film with the legend of Robin Hood as we know it.


A Review of 1199 CE Warfare


The film begins and ends with the depiction of battle; and between the two the siege by the Lionheart is more intelligent than the poorly timed French invasion.


Tactics on how fortified cities were broken into using fire, archery and simple siege machinery are shown along with a podgy Lionheart inspiring his men by riding to the forefront every now and then. In truth Richard was an infantryman preferring his own feet over a horses, and often did indeed make his way to the thick of battle to infuse spirit into this men. Snippets of soldiers’ lives in camp and punishments meted out are also part of the scenery. The construction of the bows are accurate in their simplicity thought Robin’s accuracy over great distances may be open to debate. Also there is no depiction of the Lionheart’s equally famous crossbow-men, who along with the archers made short work of Saladin’s defence of Jerusalem.


Godfrey the French agent made a crucial error in timing the invasion. The French fleet reached the shores of England at dawn, and in order to effect an invasion had to make their way from a sandy beach to the rocky high ground from which they could continue inland. They failed because the high ground was quickly occupied by the archers while the cavalry made its way to the beach to shred the French as they came ashore. If the French had landed under the cover of night the archers would have been rendered ineffective and any pitched battle would have resulted in confusion which would have been easy for the invader to take advantage of.


Even if the French had managed to land on English soil completely they would have been sitting ducks for night ambushes by the local army because given logistic constraints the morning landing would take the better part of the day to complete. And given that the darkness would affect the invaders and defenders alike the English would still maintain the advantage of knowledge of their home terrain.



The Worldwide History of Warfare - Tim Newark (General Editor)


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Robin Hood Biography




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Robin Longstride - archer in Richard the Lionheart’s Crusading army.

The breath-taking Cate Blanchett playing a feisty Maid Marian.

Godfrey - the shadowy French Agent in King John’s court.

The especially slippery King John.

The Merry Men carrying out an ambush.

The Robin Hood Memorial at Nottingham.

Robin leading Alan-a-Dale, Will Scarlett & Little John. The original Merry Men crew.

The English army fighting back the French force of the beaches of Southern England.

Robin Hood, whether riding through the glen, robbing the rich to pay the poor or giving the Sheriff of Nottingham his come-uppance, is one of the most captivating and controversial legendary figures. Was there a historical figure behind the legends? Did Robin and his Merry Men rampage through Sherwood Forest, or, as many scholars now believe, is it extremely unlikely that he ever set foot in Nottinghamshire, spending most of his time in Barnsdale Wood in Yorkshire? "The Robin Hood Handbook" provides a comprehensive guide to the characters, places, people, stories and background of this enduring popular hero. Mike Dixon-Kennedy ranges far and wide in his quest to present as complete a picture as possible of the doings of the indestructible hero, including ballads, poems, proverbs, films, novels, folklore, musicals and place-names. This unique reference work will be invaluable for anyone interested in the Robin Hood story, in folklore and mythology or in English local history.


Mike Dixon-Kennedy has developed a database of world mythology and is the author of seven books, Including 'Heroes of the Round Table', 'Encyclopedia of Graeco-Roman Mythology' and 'Companion to Arthurian Myths and Legends'.