Part 2 of 4.
Sherwood is a just place. The outlaw band grows to the biggest force against the rising tyranny of the Sheriff, churchmen, and Prince or King John. It rises from the need for and lack of true justice in 12th century England. The slightly inaccurate byline of Robin Hood is, after all, that he “robs from the rich to give to the poor.” He does what’s right, no matter how hard it is.
Richard is fighting in foreign lands either (depending on the book and your opinion) for a wonderful and holy cause or abandoning his kingdom to corrupt officials because he simply likes fighting better than ruling. Robin, then, becomes the king--the King of Sherwood. In reality, he’s is more the Judge of Sherwood. The point of his band is to help the downtrodden, punish those who trod on them, and have some laughs along the way (more about in a later post)--not to impose taxes, preside over ceremonies, or enjoy a crown.
Robin’s main code of justice is not death, but mockery. Again, it depends on the version, but I’m going with what I have seen more often. He is not truly the government and most certainly is not God--so I like the fact that he does not often take it upon himself to kill those in power. Instead, he steals back what the rich have stolen from the poor--a very important distinction, those of you who assume that he is a socialist--and returns it to them. If his rich guest freely admits his wealth, he is spared the heavy toll. The poor leave richer. He then treats his enemies or friends and evildoers to a meal. The money goes back to where it has been rightfully earned, and all is well.
While the rest of England is overflowing in corruption and evil, Sherwood is the oasis where things are done right, and because of that, we cheer for these outlaws. The feed the hungry, rescue the innocent, and flaunt the guilty. Robin is something that rarely occurs in thousands-of-years history of kings--a just ruler. Not only that, but he is merciful. Enemies often get second, third, fourth chances to mend there ways, as ties in with the fact that he rarely kills them.
And through all this, and his kingship, he still holds to the fact that England does in fact have a king, even if he is neglecting his kingdom at this time. I have never run across a Robin who did not swear loyalty to King Richard, even when it is apparent that he is not really that great of a king. I personally think that in most situations, if Robin wanted to, he could actually gather enough support overthrow King Richard and become king in his place. But he doesn’t. He steps back when the king returns, and does what the king asks of him. He usually doesn’t like London, and doesn’t want to go on the crusades.
He’s a different kind of outlaw and a different kind of leader. He has a heart for the people. That is why he is the true King of Sherwood, and that is more of the reason why I enjoy reading about him.