A Living Tale
About the time we were clearing a woods and thicket that had not been traipsed across for some 20-30 years, I was thinking of the theme for Sherwood. It seemed so many of the names known to most history buffs or rennies had been taken. But as a commoner, as a proletariat, in my upbringing and adult life, I was drawn to the tale of Robin Hood. Maybe fictional, maybe based upon some loose history of the acts and deeds of a lessor Lord around the time in England I loved best—smack dab in the height of the High Middle Ages—almost a renaissance of its own making. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine had recently left the throne as two of the most educated, enlightened rulers of any county on the European continent. Their son, Richard the Lionhearted had ascended to the throne and was also known as a very educated man, as well as one of the best warriors/leaders England had known. But his interest was in fighting the infidels in the Holy Land. Thus, this left the country to be menaced by his younger brother, John. John cared nothing for the people. He would impose heavy tariffs and taxes on the people… and the people were tired of it, yet felt helpless – at least until the arrival of Robin of Loxley. He gathered families—mostly commoners—into the Sherwood Forest within Nottinghamshire. From there, he and his men (and surely women) would ambush the tax collectors and turn the coffers over to the people who had paid them. His legend has lasted since that time. Ok, that would be a great theme for the faire. A de-emphasis on the royalty and nobility so prominent in other faire. A faire for the common man!
But just as in life, personalities, events, and circumstances can change the course of history.
George, my partner in this venture, had lived his own life with visions and dreams. When we first sat and talked about our partnership, he told me a story that if past-lives exist, he had always felt certain one of his past incarnations had been quite close to Richard—either the warrior king himself or one of his valiant knights who fought by his side. In all that I could glean and all I have known of George since that time, if reincarnation is a reality of human existence, then I believe he either sat upon that hallowed throne or served it loyally with heart, soul and mind.
And so, as the Faire developed and grew in its own identity, it was pure and natural for Robin and his band of followers to receive an occasional visit from the King of England when he had returned home for his crusades in the Holy Lands.
In some tales, Robin had once fought in Richard’s army… and was as loyal to him as any of his closest knights… and welcomed him into the Forest to partake in the Spring Festivities where Robin’s archers protected the common folk (and fae) from the likes of Richard’s evil brother, John.
And so, as it sits in Nottingham today, the Royal Keep and Great Hall sits atop the hill overlooking the grounds. And on most prized and special occasions (often toward the ends of faire days, Richard and his knights may be seen confronting his hated brother, or any other darker forces attempting to establish a foothold within the midlands of England. Long Live King Richard!
And this very year, 1196 AD, out of a genuine love and respect for King Richard, Robin’s men constructed a beer garden and entitled it, The LionHeart Tavern.