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The oldest surviving ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, gives even less support to the picture of Robin Hood as a partisan of the true king.

The setting of the early ballads is usually attributed by scholars to either the 13th century or the 14th, although it is recognised they are not necessarily historically consistent.

As well as ballads, the legend was also transmitted by 'Robin Hood games' or plays that were an important part of the late medieval and early modern May Day festivities.

The first record of a Robin Hood game was in 1426 in Exeter, but the reference does not indicate how old or widespread this custom was at the time.

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Each of these three ballads survived in a single copy, so it is unclear how much of the medieval legend has survived, and what has survived may not be typical of the medieval legend.

The area also has a rich history with evidence of settlements dating back over a thousand years.

The story of Robin's aid to the 'poor knight' that takes up much of the Gest may be an example.

The character of Robin in these first texts is rougher edged than in his later incarnations.

The essence of it in the present context was 'neither a knight nor a peasant or "husbonde" but something in between'.

From the 16th century on, there were attempts to elevate Robin Hood to the nobility and in two extremely influential plays, Anthony Munday presented him at the very end of the 16th century as the Earl of Huntingdon, as he is still commonly presented in modern times.

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