Is there any written proof/documentation that Robin Hood ever existed? Did he ever get arrested and got his name written in the prison books or something like that?
- The surname 'Hood' implied where the individual was from. For all purposes, there were many people with the last name. The name Robin Hood is accounted as not an uncommon name in the middle ages.
- There is a corpus of evidence that there were outlaw stories circulating about a Robin Hood during the reign of King John.
- However, there are cases of multiple outlaws taking on the pseudonym Robin Hood during the 13th and 14th century.
So yes, there were Robin Hoods. But not precisely the one you're thinking of.
Robin Hood is an English folk hero and not based in fact.
Robin and his fellows were a popular subject in early printed texts, with their low price and wide appeal, and it is in the early days of printing that he finally comes into his own as a literary figure. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, antiquarians were especially invested in finding the sources of their national culture and heroes, and Robin proved to be of special interest to the English. They not only reviewed these early plays and poems for clues to the historical identity of the figure, but also scoured historical and legal records to find any information that may have led to a proof for his identity. Despite the efforts of authors like P. Valentine Harris (see case 5), no verifiable Robin Hood emerged from the historical record. Today, most scholars accept Robin as a literary invention, based in part on other figures like Gamelyn and Fouke fitz Waryn, as well as real-life outlaws. Any search for the ideal Robin Hood, a dispossessed noble who robs from the rich to give to the poor, is doomed to failure. That Robin is a modern figure whose individual characteristics were added in different stages, which are roughly represented in this exhibit.
A good source on the historical Robin Hood is James Clarke Holt's book Robin Hood. Within, you will learn that there was no single one Robin Hood, but a corpus of ballads and stories that may have some basis in reality.