Tales of Merry Olde England

The story of Robin Hood is a story made out of legend. There is no proof that anyone by the name of Robin of Locksley even existed. However, looking beyond that name there is most certainly a story to be told… of conquest… of serfdom… of wars… treachery… and of Crusades.

The latest movie about Robin Hood was in my opinion a mish mash of real events brought together to provide an entertaining story. I saw it for the first time recently and what stood out to me was the way it made me think of the Magna Carta. Typically of one interested in history I had to start doing some research on the subject and have been somewhat surprised by what I have discovered.

It is true, King John, as he was when he signed the first draft of the Magna Carta did in fact tear up the agreement. He appealed to the Vatican and the Pope to have the document annulled. It was not until after his death that the document was signed again in the name of his son, and was thus affirmed.

Now what was intriguing was the fact that my first thoughts as I watched the start of the movie was, no Richard the Lionheart returned alive to England, he did not die.  I certainly got that impression from every other version of Robin Hood that I had seen. The new movie was in fact placed after Richard had in fact returned to England, and then went to make war on France. There were intriques and counter-intrigues because the evil Prince John really wanted to be crowned king and he had to have Richard killed, as well as killing Arthur who was Richard’s heir in order for him to gain the throne of England. Again, the movie dealt with these facts. Surprise!!

My research has lead me into reading Ivanhoe for the very first time. Its setting is the period immediately prior to Richard the Lionheart returning to England. It is set not long after the Norman conquest of the Saxons in England. Sir Walter Scott introduced the name of Robin of Locxley, as a marksman with bow and arrow, and as an outlaw.  I have not finished reading the novel, yet I am fascinated by what I am reading.

The Normans were typical of the conquerors, they stole the lands of those who had been conquered. On top of that they also oppressed the people. There is one particular character, other than Prince John who is really evil and I am not talking about the Knight Templar (he is just unsavorary in some respects).

Since I am at the part where Sir Cedric and his entourage have been captured, I feel I have a way to go in the story. Ivanhoe is actually the son of Sir Cedric, and he has been dispossessed of his lands. In the tournament he is the Dispossessed Knight. The relationships in the story are themselves intriguing, but again they are not important here.

What I find intriguing happens to be the words written by Sir Walter Scott regarding how the Normans treated the Saxons with regard to what they were allowed to use in the way of weapons. It stands out to me because I think it is what I keep hearing from Americans with regard to the second amendment.

The Saxons did not have guns, but they fought against William the conqueror with swords and other implements. When they lost, the Normans would not allow them to have the implements of war. Does that sound familiar?

Translated into todays language: take away their guns and they lose the power to fight back against us.

This is an age old way of dispossessing the enemy. It is nothing new, but it stands the testimony of time, that the conqueror always attempts to take away the weapons of the conquered. Interesting indeed.


2 responses to “Tales of Merry Olde England

  1. Great historical point about the 2nd Amendment. It wasn’t only in Europe that conqueror/ rulers would disarm their populace is was common in Feudal Japan and Imperial China. For instance only the Samurai where allow to carry the Katana freely around. In China no one with a weapon could come closer that 40 feet of the Emperor, if he was one of the lucky one allowed to enter the Forbidden City, where weapons were prohibited.


    • Put it this way, the sentence popped out at me, and I should not have been surprised by the fact that Sir Water Scott made mention of this point.

      I am now 3/4 the way through the book and it has been a bit of an eye-opener for a lot of reasons. It is very readable. It has a lot of adventure, gore, blood and guts, yet it has a romantic theme. It also pointed out the hatred for the Jews, in particular it points to the way that the wealthy Jews would be willing to finance a king (or prince) for a large sum of money. It is also a story about loyalty and alleged chivalry too.

      I was surprised by all the Danish sounding names in the story. The Saxons themselves are from a part of Germany called Saxony – I am directly descended from the Saxons as well as the Anglo-Saxons, with a great grand-father who was born in Saxony. So it is ironic to learn that even the Saxons were heavily influenced by the Norweigans in particular.

      Above all these things though, in that book, the stand out remains the one line that states that the conquerors removed weapons from the vanquished.

      I get the impression that the men of the forest (the bandits) were dispossessed Saxons, and that the real enemy were the Normans, especially those loyal to Prince John.