Maid Marian

Real Name: The Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Fitzwalter/Fitzwater is the most common name in the tales. She is Marion of Leaford in Robin of Sherwood and Marian DuBois in Prince of Thieves)

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Outlaw

Affiliations: Robin Hood and his "Merrie Men" (including, but not limited to Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Much the Miller's Son, Allan a Dale)

Enemies: Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy of Guisborne, Abbot of St. Mary's - York, Bishop of Hereford, Prince John, Isembart de Baleme, Simon de Belleme.

Known Relatives: Richard at the Lee (a.k.a. Richard of Leaford, father - sometimes, such as in the 1890's play and the Robin of Sherwood TV series), King Richard and Prince John (distant cousins according to Prince of Thieves), Robin Hood (husband), several possible children (there are tons of children of Robin Hood stories).

Aliases: Clorinda, Queen of the Shepherds (Robin's wife from a ballad and some 1700s musicals, Roger Lancelyn Green makes this an alias of Marian in his popular children's novel), Matilda (Marian's real name in the 1590's plays, an alias in other stories), the Forestwife.

Base of Operations: Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Nottingham; Barnsdale, Yorkshire; Loxley; Blidworth and Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire (local tradition, Edwinstowe is the supposed site of her marriage to Robin and just a short walk from the remains of Sherwood Forest), Arlingford (Marian's home in Thomas Love Peacock's novella and various books following this tradition).

First Appearance: c.1200 -1400 A.D. (same as Robin)

Powers/Abilities: Some tales make her a skilled fighter, as well as being a match for the Merry Men in wilderness survival.

History: Possibly an import from a French storytelling tradition and the English May Games, Marian is a later addition to the Robin Hood legend.

In the ballad, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, she is the childhood sweetheart of Robin. Upon hearing of Robin being outlawed, Marian dressed herself as a page boy and headed to Sherwood Forest. She encountered Robin, who was also in disguise, and neither recognized the other. They fought for over an hour, to a standstill. When Robin invited this disguised stranger to join the Merry Men, they realized their true identities. Robin and Marian were married a short time later.

Some tales have Robin being outlawed during his marriage ceremony to Lady Matilda/Marian Fitzwater. He pledged not to marry her until his honour was restored.

In other legends, Maid Marian is either a royal ward or a ward of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his brother, the Abbot of St. Mary's.

Sometimes Marian is an active member of the band - a skilled archer and fighter. Other times, her true affiliations remain hidden and Marian stays in Nottingham, spying on the sheriff's plans.

Some stories have Marian dying before Robin, either from a disease or being killed in battle. In other tales, she outlives Robin and retires to a nunnery. There have been several stories about the various children of Robin and Marian.

In Theresa Tomlinson's young adult novels, young Mary de Holt becomes Marian, the latest in a long line of Forestwifes. As the Forestwife, this Marian runs a band of women who help those in need.

Comments: Thanks to Allen Wright for providing information for this page. Check out his Robin Hood website.


Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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