Basically, I'll just copy my final draft, which discusses some of the (very scanty) historical background for the Robin Hood legend.
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The earliest mentions of Robin Hood are found in medieval ballads and festivals, and he rose to cultural prominence mainly as a result of Sir Walter Scott’s 1820 novel Ivanhoe, which featured Robin of Locksley as an important secondary character, and Howard Pyle’s book, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which was published in 1883.
Surprisingly, popularly beloved cohorts of Hood’s, such as Maid Marian, Allan-a-Dale, and Friar Tuck, did not appear in the initial records—and neither did his famous mantra of “robbing the rich to feed the poor.” Instead, they gained a spot in the story of Robin Hood centuries after its first appearances. Also, despite the fact that many of us were probably first exposed to Hood through Disney’s happy, humorous, and popular animated classic, many of the older, more traditional renditions of the tale end in a bittersweet tragedy. However, other characters and themes that most of us “love to hate”—including the Sherriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne—were attached to Hood practically from the beginning, as was his believed locale in Sherwood Forest in the shire of Nottingham, England.
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