Her Majesty Not Appearing in This Folklore

Most of the Robin Hood stories I’ve seen have put him sometime in the reign of Richard the Lionheart, with mentions of how John is scheming in his brother’s absence.

How come Eleanor of Aquitaine never shows up in those stories?

I mean, she was still alive, and at various points she seems to have been left in charge of England while Richard was off on his own business (i.e. Crusade). Why have I never seen a Robin Hood story that makes use of this? Is there one out there I should know about?

0 Responses to “Her Majesty Not Appearing in This Folklore”

  1. mrissa

    I think mostly it interferes with the flow of the story, particularly because Richard was known to be Eleanor’s favorite. “I wish Good King Richard was here instead of Bad King John! He’d set things right!” is a lot easier than, “I wish Good King Richard was here instead of…um…his mom…who sympathizes with him and shares his viewpoints on many issues of the day, having inculcated in him his political philosophy! He’d set things right!”

    • Marie Brennan

      But you could do other things with her! Ahistorical things, mind you, but like that ever stopped anybody telling a Robin Hood story. Helping save Good King Richard’s Mom from Bad Wannabe-King John could work (though admittedly I’d be pissed if that involved demoting Eleanor to nothing more than Damsel in Distress status).

      • mrissa

        I have not been impressed with the complexity of what most people want to do with Robin Hood, alas.

  2. shanna_s

    Eleanor makes an appearance in an episode of the recent BBC Robin Hood TV series. I forgot the details, but she does end up working with Robin and his gang on something.

  3. dungeonwriter

    It’s a good question, but I think Mrissa has it right. King Richard is the distant Messiah, and he’s supposed to save them from his brother when he returns.

    A lot of Robin Hood lore leaves out pesky historical details. Like how “when Richard I was crowned King of England, he barred all Jews and women from the ceremony (apparently a concession to the fact that his coronation was not merely one of a king but of a crusader), but some Jewish leaders arrived to present gifts for the new king. According to Ralph of Diceto, Richard’s courtiers stripped and flogged the Jews, then flung them out of court. When a rumour spread that Richard had ordered all Jews to be killed, the people of London began a massacre. Many Jews were beaten to death, robbed, and burned alive.”–http://one-evil.org/people/people_12c_richard.htm

    Good King Richard didn’t mind being very bad.

    • drydem

      The word holocaust actually comes from that event.

    • Marie Brennan

      Good King Richard was not very good at all, no. But it’s a rare Robin Hood story that bothers to care about the actual history. My objection to Eleanor being left out is not made on the grounds of historical accuracy, but rather missed opportunities for awesomeness.

      But I guess for most writers, Maid Marian is all the female presence the story really needs.

  4. handful_ofdust

    The most recent version of Ivanhoe the BBC did adds in Eleanor, and has her mediate a debate between Returned Richard and John, Lion in Winter-style. It also points out that Richard returning is unlikely to do much about much,s ince he’s just going to turn around and leave again; Richard didn’t like England, except as a place to raise crusading funds. He never even learned to speak English, and had to do all his diplomacy in Latin.

    • Marie Brennan

      Alas, if you treat Richard realistically, you lose the “noble” part of “noble outlaw,” because Robin and his men no longer have a Rightful King to support. (Or if they do support him, it doesn’t make them look very good.)

  5. delkytlar

    I know that Eleanor is mentioned several times (though I can’t remember if she actually appears) in Jennifer Roberson’s LADY OF SHERWOOD. I also think that she comes up in Richard Kluger’s SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM, but again, I don’t recall if she actually does anything, or is just mentioned. Haven’t read either of these books in over 10 years.

  6. lostlittlesoul

    There’s a series that ran from 1955 to 1960, filmed in the UK, called The Adventures of Robin Hood. Eleanor of Aquitaine shows up in a few of the episodes, mainly to give Robin a task to help Richard’s cause.

  7. iriththedreamer

    Disney did a (little known) live action version of Robin Hood called “The Story of Robin Hood” which is my favorite movie version. Eleanor does make appearances in this one and is shown as Maid Marian’s Guardian and also raising money for Richard’s ransom. Here’s an amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Story-Robin-Hood-Peter-Finch/dp/B001TPGNBK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1274978976&sr=8-1

    • Marie Brennan

      Wow, you’re right about that being little-known — I’d never heard of that one. I may try to check it out.

      • iriththedreamer

        Well, I’m biased, but I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out. I thought Eleanor was pretty awesome in it. Other highlights include hilarious Friar Tuck and an Alan-a-Dale that actually sings.

  8. xahra99

    Eleanor makes an appearance in the most recent Robin Hood film -the one with Russell Crowe. She’s shown as a power in her own right in the English court, even though she exists mostly to look shocked at all the stuff Bad Prince (and then Bad King) John’s getting into.

    • Marie Brennan

      As I said above, I suspect many writers feel Marian’s all they need on the Interesting Female Character front — but at least she’s there, which pleases me. I’ll probably see that one eventually, though I’m not in a rush.

  9. d_c_m

    Eleanor is in the new movie. But hey, let’s face it, Eleanor ROCKED HARDCORE and they haven’t really captured her yet, though Lion in Winter does come close. 🙂

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