Medieval Facts & Myths: Was Maid Marian a feminist?
While the Robin Hood legend has existed since Medieval times, Maid Marian first appears in ballads of the 16th century.
Some scholars suggest Marian was originally a personification of the Virgin Mary. Yet, in some of the tales, she was given a persona that is far less holy. Indeed, this verse from one of the early ballads about Marian by a lascivious Friar Tuck is unabashedly lewd: She is a trul of trust, to serue a frier at his lust. / A prycker, a prauncer a terer of shetes. /A wagger of ballockes when other men slepes.
But Marian is most commonly portrayed as courageous and independent yet loyal. While females in legends of the era were typically damsels in distress, Marian was self-assured and resourceful.
In King Robin, Marian is a commanding personality, a skilled archer and cunning political ally who is Robin's equal. Marian is also sexually liberated - but on her own terms.
Little wonder that today, Marian is celebrated by many feminist commentators as one of the earliest strong female characters in English literature.
Medieval Facts & Myths is a blog series featuring KING ROBIN, a novel by R. A. Moss releasing February 2021 from Beck and Branch Publishers.