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In these early accounts, Robin Hood's partisanship of the lower classes, his Marianism and associated special regard for women, his outstanding skill as an archer, his anti-clericalism, and his particular animosity towards the Sheriff of Nottingham are already clear.
The oldest surviving ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, gives even less support to the picture of Robin Hood as a partisan of the true king.No extant ballad early actually shows Robin Hood 'giving to the poor', although in a "A Gest of Robyn Hode" Robin does make a large loan to an unfortunate knight, which he does not in the end require to be repaid; As it happens the next traveller is not poor, but it seems in context that Robin Hood is stating a general policy.The first explicit statement to the effect that Robin Hood habitually robbed from the rich to give the poor can be found in John Stow's Annales of England (1592), about a century after the publication of the Gest.A "Robin and Marion" figured in 13th-century French 'pastourelles' (of which Jeu de Robin et Marion c.1280 is a literary version) and presided over the French May festivities, 'this Robin and Marion tended to preside, in the intervals of the attempted seduction of the latter by a series of knights, over a variety of rustic pastimes.' Both Robin and Marian were certainly associated with May Day festivities in England (as was Friar Tuck), but these may have been originally two distinct types of performance – Alexander Barclay in his Ship of Fools, writing in c.Within Robin Hood's band, medieval forms of courtesy rather than modern ideals of equality are generally in evidence.
In the early ballad, Robin's men usually kneel before him in strict obedience: in A Gest of Robyn Hode the king even observes that '' Their social status, as yeomen, is shown by their weapons; they use swords rather than quarterstaffs.
It has been argued that the fact that the surviving ballads were preserved in written form in itself makes it unlikely they were typical; in particular, stories with an interest for the gentry were by this view more likely to be preserved.
The story of Robin's aid to the 'poor knight' that takes up much of the Gest may be an example.
While the precise meaning of this term changed over time, including free retainers of an aristocrat and small landholders, it always referred to commoners.
The essence of it in the present context was 'neither a knight nor a peasant or "husbonde" but something in between'.
This includes a dramatic version of the story of Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar and a version of the first part of the story of Robin Hood and the Potter.