Local legend says Robin and Marian were married in St. Mary’s church in the village of Edwinstowe.

Marian’s a late-comer to the legend, and she doesn’t appear in many of the traditional ballads. No matter. She has become a very important part of the legend.

True, she can be merely a damsel-in-distress. Sometimes she’s a Norman noblewoman, daughter of Lord Fitzwalter or Sir Richard at the Lee, a knight who was helped by Robin Hood. She meets Robin when he ambushes a group of Norman knights. However, in other stories, she’s a Saxon who’s known Robin since they were children. Other times she is the ward of the sheriff or Prince John. And her unwanted suitors include the sheriff, Guy of Gisborne and even Prince John. Our hero will have to rescue her from these men. There are times when Maid Marian is merely the hero’s girlfriend. In some tales the happy couple refuse to marry until the Merry Men are pardoned, hence she is called “Maid Marian”.

But Marian (or Marion, as her name is often spelled) is not always a weak character in need of rescuing. Even cloistered away in Nottingham, she acts as a spy, passing information to the rogues in Sherwood. The sheriff only suspects her ties to Robin Hood. And in a time when women were forced into unwanted marriages, Marian chose to love Robin. She’ll also speak her mind.

And in many stories, she’s an even stronger character. Sometimes she lives as an outlaw with Robin and is as good an archer and swordsman as he is. In these stories, she’s usually just called Marion or Marian. The maid part of her name is dropped, or she is called Lady Marion instead.

Sadly, some writers at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century weakened Marian. She gets one tiny mention in a classic children’s book. In another book, her fight with Robin ends when she sees blood and faints. Yet another says Robin overcame her easily.

Taken from Bold Outlaw


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