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Artistic License History / Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

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A hand-held telescope, roughly 400 years before the first recorded uses.
  • When Richard the Lionheart shows up at the end, Robin greets him as "Your Majesty." The English sovereign wasn't called "Majesty" until the reign of Henry VIII, three centuries later.note 
    • Also, there is no way in hell that Marian, even as King Richard's cousin, would address him so familiarly as "Richard!", or not at least curtsy in his presence.
  • The bounty the Sheriff puts on Robin's head is in thousands of gold coins. Since the 100,000 gold coin ransom paid to rescue Richard the Lionheart on his way back from the Third Crusade was roughly equal to the entire GDP of England, that would put Robin's bounty at far more than the Sheriff could plausibly afford - assuming, that is, that he intended to actually pay the bounty.
  • Seizing territory from families that are crusading was highly frowned upon, something that was enforced by the Church. After all, who would go out to fight for God if they knew they could return home to find all they owned stolen? The Sheriff likely enlisted the Bishop's help in coming up with the witchcraft charges precisely so that he could seize the Locksley lands on the grounds that the Church would not be obliged to protest because of Robin's Crusading.
    • Additionally, mainstream Christian doctrine in the early Middle Ages actually denied the existence of witches and witchcraft, condemning such things as pagan superstition; the Sheriff and the Bishop would probably have gotten in trouble with the Church for accusing anyone of being a witch, let alone killing them in the middle of the night without a trial and taking their lands.
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  • The "life debt" that Azeem owes to Robin is treated as a sort of Muslim cultural custom, but it doesn't have much basis in the real world. Had a Moor wanted to accompany the saviour of his life until repaying it to him, it would have been completely his own personal decision.
  • The presence of barbarian Celts during the era of the Crusades is downright nonsensical. The usage of the term "Celt" to mean a specific ethnicity had stopped after the Romanization of Europe, almost a millennium before the year the film takes place - the closest to a "Celt" the Norman and Anglo-Saxon peoples of the film would get would be a Welshman. The barbarians seen in the film are also referred to as pagans, but Britain had been thoroughly Christianized for more than six hundred years at this point.
    • The Sheriff calling them "hired thugs" also stands out, as the word's root is the Thuggee gangs of India, which began two centuries later.


Weapons and items

  • Shadiversity has covered the inaccuracies regarding clothing, weaponry and fortifications here, here, here and here.
  • The opening credits feature The Bayeux Tapestry, which dates from the 11th century and depicts the Norman conquest of England. The film is set in the 12th century, during the Third Crusade. This is akin to showing images from The American Revolution in the opening to a movie about The American Civil War.
  • The song Will Scarlet sings to mock Robin when Robin and the Merry Men first meet is set to the melody of "Pop Goes the Weasel," the first recorded mention of which is found in the mid-19th century. Granted, it probably originates from an earlier time, but not seven hundred years earlier.
  • As mentioned in the page picture, Azeem has a hand-held telescope 400 years before its first recorded uses.
  • Azeem makes gunpowder to help out the Merry Men in their fight against the Sherriff's men, and for the climactic battle — which is pretty impressive, considering the Islamic world didn't gain knowledge of gunpowder until fifty to eighty years after the Third Crusade.


  • Richard was only 42 when he died, much younger than Sean Connery was at the time of filming. He also spoke very little English (though in fairness, most adaptations leave out the fact that the Norman royal family and nobility spoke French as a first language and often didn't learn English at all). The film also seems to imply that Richard is the standard image of "the good king", making jokes and behaving in a kind and gentle manner, and like most adaptations of this legend, seems to imply that now that he's back in England, everything can return to normal and Richard will make all things well. The reality was that Richard was soon off to war again, and didn't really care much what was happening in England while he was away. Richard saw England as a wet, miserable province, and preferred to think of himself as the Duke of his beloved Aquitaine. He spent a cumulative six months in England during his reign, and his wife, Queen Berengaria, never even set foot there in her entire life.
  • The Movie suggests that The Sheriff became so because he inherited the position through his "family," but being a Sheriff in England has never been an inherited position - you had to be appointed by the King himself, who chose the person for the position from a shortlist of three names that had been given to him by a Tribunal, who had whittled it down from a longer list of suitable candidates, though this was probably open to abuse and bribery. The Sheriff then had to the pay the Crown a yearly allowance to keep the position. Also there was no actual Sheriff of Nottingham until 1449, when the town itself got it's own separate one. Any Sheriff prior to that would have actually been the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and had the power to administer justice throughout both counties, though the name would have been shortened down. The High Sheriff himself was more like a glorified pen pusher, the actual people doing the work would have been the Under or Deputy Sheriff, who would have also been referred to as The Sheriff. The town did however have a town Reeve prior to 1449, who would had have the some of the same responsibilities as the Sheriff did for the county, and may have been referred to as the Sheriff, just to confuse things further, even though he wasn't one officially, and he would have only been responsible for the townnote  itself - anything outside it’s walls would have been the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire domain. The corrupt Sheriff abusing his position however, is a Truth in Television, with way to many examples to list.


  • The filmmakers also apparently forgot that Richard only spent about six months of his entire reign in England. He focused on regaining territory in France. Also, due to the Angevin Empire's court generally being held at Angers and Chinon, Richard would not have been in England that often even if most of his reign wasn't made up of military activity.
    • That said, Richard did travel to Nottingham shortly after returning from the Crusades historically, to remove supporters of his brother John - including the sheriff - through force of arms. The coincidence of an outlaw in the Nottingham area fighting a corrupt sheriff and a historical king of England fighting a corrupt sheriff in the same area is likely how the Robin Hood tales got conflated with King Richard and the Third Crusade in the first place; if they both fought the same sheriff, then it turns the hero of the tales from a mere brigand to an unjustly outlawed supporter of the rightful king.
  • Nobody brings up the fact that Richard had one legitimate brother and a nephewnote  living at the time of the Third Crusade, so Nottingham's plot to get a claim on the throne by becoming a distant relative of the king through marriage wouldn't have gotten him very high in the line of succession. This one could potentially be justified by the idea of Nottingham using his new position within the family to murder his way to the top (probably with Mortianna’s help), but it’s still sketchy at best. Granted, he is bribing the barons, and it's likely that he's doing that so that they would support his newly acquired claim; many English nobles later really did revolt against Richard's brother John, and proclaimed Louis VIII of France their king.

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