Yglesias recommended the Wikipedia page on Robin Hood, and he’s right: it’s bloody amazing:
Robert is largely fictional by this time. The Gale note is inaccurate. The medieval texts do not refer to him directly, but mediate their allusions through a body of accounts and reports: for Langland, Robin exists principally in “rimes,” for Bower, “comedies and tragedies,” while for Wyntoun he is, “commendyd gude.” Even in a legal context, where one would expect to find verifiable references to Robert, he is primarily a symbol, a generalised outlaw-figure rather than an individual. Consequently, in the medieval period itself, Robin Hood already belongs more to literature than to history. In fact, in an anonymous song called Woman of c. 1412, he is treated in precisely this manner – as a joke, a figure that the audience will instantly recognise as imaginary: He that made this songe full good, Came of the northe and the sothern blode, And somewhat kyne to Robert Hoad.
Would Britannica ever write anything as scholarly but as loose as that?
And don’t we think it’s a problem that any muppet can come along and ruin it? This page is so good that there’s an argument for preserving it in virtual aspic….