Medieval most wanted
The mythical Robin Hood might have ruled Sherwood, but his real-life counterparts gave him a run for his money!
10 real-life outlaws that gave Robin Hood a run for his money
Since they were first told in the Middle Ages, the legendary tales of Robin Hood and his Merry Men have become firm favourites in folklore across the world. Filled with romance, intrigue and heroic deeds, the legend of Robin Hood told of an outlaw that only the wealthy and villainous need fear. With his famed modus operandi of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, this hugely popular wanted criminal became an enduring hero of popular myth and a potent symbol of the fight against oppression.
Yet fictional outlaws with a social conscience like Robin Hood weren’t so easy to come by in the factual records of the Medieval world. Outlaws weren’t in short supply by any means but Merry Men were rarely anywhere to be found. In fact, those with a price on their head weren’t usually too interested in robbing the rich, dropping a pithy one-liner and hastening off to distribute the wealth. In real life, they were far less choosy about the social status of their victims, while the whole giving to the poor bit that Robin Hood was so fond of often proved to be nowhere near as attractive as keeping all the spoils.
Whether saints-in-waiting, fearsome pirates or disinherited noblemen, the history of Europe is rich with tales of outlaws whose stories were every bit as fantastical as their folkloric counterpart. From murderers to blackmailers and robbers to bandits, these ten criminals at least attempted to follow Robin Hood’s creed and give the spoils of their often shocking crimes to the poor. Of course, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the poorest person those outlaws knew just happened to be themselves!