London, March 7 (ANI): Robin Hood's status as the saviour of the poor has been challenged by a new book, which claims the Sherwood Forest outlaw robbed the rich and lent the money to the needy.
"Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar" uses numerous passages in an old English ballad to suggest that Robin loaned 400pounds to a poor knight.
To support his hypothesis, the book's author John Paul Davis draws upon scenes from A Gest of Robyn Hode, one of the earliest references to Robin Hood dating back to the 1500s.
The ballad written in Middle English says a knight, who owes money to an abbot, comes to Robin seeking financial help. Robin initially asks the knight for a guarantor and later agrees to lend him the money, to be repaid over a year.
He asks Little John to count out 400pound from his treasury.
Later in the ballad, the knight returns to Robin after clearing off his debt with the abbot and offers to repay the loan along with an extra deposit charge.
However, Robin does not accept the repayment, saying he has already stolen the money from the abbot as a punishment for his greed. He believes taking the money twice would not be right.
Davis also claims that Robin was a member of the Knights Templar, a powerful Christian military organisations of the Middle Ages.
He argues that during the period, the kind of banking transaction described in the ballad was the done by the Templars alone.
"The Templars were the most famous moneylenders in the world and £400 was a vast sum of money, which hints at an organisation behind the loan rather than the act of a lone outlaw," the Telegraph quoted Davis, as saying.
He added: "Although the information we have for Robin Hood is pretty scant, he is always described as an astute swordsman and soldier, with a notable devotion to Christianity who took a vow, along with his merry men, of honouring and protecting women, all of which were Templar codes.
"The idea that he was a money lender may not fit with the traditional image of Robin Hood, but he is still shown to be a good outlaw giving his money around."
However some experts are not satisfied with Davis' version of the events.
Helen Phillips, a professor of English Literature at Cardiff University and an expert on Robin Hood, said: "To focus on the image of Robin Hood as a money lender in the Gest is a very insensitive reading of the way the text is written.
"There is much more emphasis on his giving generously to a stranger than on the actual act of lending, and the motif of the loan seems only to be there to create the necessary suspense of the plot.
"The Knights Templar theory, though a popular one, really only flourishes in 20th century film adaptations, and not in any earlier literature relating to Robin Hood." (ANI)