“Robin Hood and Maid Marian”


Robin, while Earl of Huntingdon, woos Maid Marian. Then, outlawed, he keeps to the wood, disguised. She dresses as a page to seek him. They meet and fight, unrecognized, till both are wounded. He calls a halt, she knows his voice, they celebrate.


For background on the Robin Hood legend, see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117].

It is noteworthy that Marion is not an original part of the Robin Hood legend. Where she came from must remain a matter of speculation.

J. C. Holt (_Robin Hood_, p. 160) believes that the story of Robin and Marian derives from Adam de la Halle's thirteenth century play "Robin et Marion." In this romance, Marian is a shepherdess whose fidelity to Robin causes her to fend off a lusty knight. This legend entered the French May Games, and was used by John Gower. At some point Marian became Queen of the May Games. With Robin also a character in the games, their union was almost inevitable.

In fact, things may not be that complex. Tauno F. Mustanoja, in "The Suggestive Use of Christian Names in Middle English Poetry" (published in Jerome Mandel and Bruce A. Rosenberg, eds., _Medieval Literature and Folklore Studies_) notes that Robin and Marion are typical names for rustic lovers in French and English romance. If Robin were to find a lover, the name Marion was almost to be expected.

The Broadside Index notes that this piece is "Smithson's parody of Robin Hood ballads."

Fully half the Robin Hood ballads in the Child collection (numbers (121 -- the earliest and most basic example of the type), 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 130, 131, 132, (133), (134), (135), (136), (137), (150)) share all or part of the theme of a stranger meeting and defeating Robin, and being invited to join his band. Most of these are late, but it makes one wonder if Robin ever won a battle. - RBW


  1. Child 150, "Robin Hood and Maid Marian" (1 text)
  2. Bronson 150, comments only
  3. Leach, pp. 423-425, "Robin Hood and Maid Marian" (1 text)
  4. BBI, RZN3, "A bonny fine maid of noble degree"
  5. Roud #3992
  6. BI, C150


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1795 (Ritson)