Bath historian Sean McGlynn: Was Robin Hood a freedom fighter against French?
An historian from near Bath has claimed that Robin Hood did not rob the rich to feed the poor but was instead a freedom fighter who attacked French invaders in Kent.
Sean McGlynn, who lives in Monkton Farleigh, has said the legendary figure may have actually been William of Kensham, who conducted a guerrilla war against the French forces of Prince Louis who invaded England in 1216.
He has suggested that William led a band of archers who attacked the French forces in the forests of the Kent Weald before the little-known 18-month occupation by the French of a large part of England was finally thwarted.
Writing in the magazine History Today, Mr McGlynn said: "It's hard to find another contender for the Robin Hood story from this age or afterwards who is both a hero and an outlaw.
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"In William we have both: a feted resistance fighter, loyally protecting the crown, but also, from Louis' perspective, an egregious outlaw defying the righteous rule of the imposed new regime."
But the academic accepts that William could only be one of many inspirations for the Sherwood Forest legend, who was famously played by Kevin Costner, pictured, in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
"The most probable truth behind the Robin Hood legend is that over time storytellers incorporated and conflated various characters from a range of stories and settled on the instantly recognisable name of Robin Hood as the woodsman."