Robin Hood

Mill Creek Entertainment, a company best-known for its cheap dvd's, has just recently released the complete first season of The Adventures of Robin Hood, the 1950's television show that starred Richard Greene:

I had seen a few of the episodes and greatly enjoyed them, in spite of their half-hour length and being in black and white. I picked up this collection at 'evil' Wal-mart for five bucks and have been watching these early episodes in chronological order. These are fun shows to watch, and they stayed fairly close to the legend of Robin Hood.

Everybody knows about Robin Hood and his Merry Men. They stole from the rich and gave to the poor, right? Well, not exactly. They didn't steal from the rich merely because they were rich, but because they gained their riches unjustly. Robin and his men helped those who were being wronged or too heavily taxed by Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Thus, some libertarians see Robin Hood as a good guy. And to a large degree, I suppose we can consider him to be so. Still, we should probably consider just what Robin Hood was trying to defend. Prince John was the brother of King Richard, and John was ruling in Richard's absence. Robin was fighting against John's corruption and evil, and the sheriff was his best-known enforcer of John's laws and taxes. And yet, John was the rightful ruler in Richard's absence. And why was Richard absent? Because he was away on the continent fighting in the Crusades against Muslims! Perhaps the heavy taxes were necessary to pay for Richard and his army while they were fighting. And Robin himself is usually considered to be one of Richard's knights who, for one reason or another, had to leave the Crusades and return home.

Basically, though, Robin was awaiting the time when 'good' King Richard returned from the Crusades and once again ruled justly over his people. So, according to Robin, good government is just a matter of having the 'right people' in rule. That doesn't seem too libertarian to me.

Of course, like most legends, the legend of Robin Hood grew and changed over time. Many of the legend's best known features came much later in history, and the earliest stories of Robin Hood bear little resemblance to the portrayals by Errol Flynn or Richard Greene. More about the legend and history can be found on the link in the title of this post, or at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood

I've also seen the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks silent film Robin Hood, and it was really quite impressive for its time. Well worth watching if you like Robin Hood.

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