Compare William Wallace and Robin Hood

Historians and literary critics alike are often amazed at the similarities of these two characters from Medieval times. Compare William Wallace and Robin Hood to find what they had in common - and what was different about them. A dramatic activity is included as a review for students.

William Wallace and Robin Hood

How to compare Robin Hood and William Wallace

Dramatic Review Activity

Below are twenty statements to be announced by either Robin Hood or William Wallace. Students must decide if each statement was made by:
Ideas for this activity:
Students have two index cards or pieces of paper. One is marked "Robin Hood" and the other is marked "William Wallace."

As the statements are read, they hold up the correct card, or both cards, or no cards.

To add a little flare, you can have students take turns being the "actor" who reads their line and the other students guess which character it is.

This can also be one of the student presentations done at the end of the In Freedom's Cause Unit Study. This might work well for quieter students who don't like to do presentations since they can let other students "announce" the lines, and they can read the answer. The group leader can decide if they want to let that student use these twenty facts (with or without the answers) or come up with their own.

One could also do this as a game show with two teams. (Maybe the English and the Scotts?)

Finally, this could be a fun "pop" quiz. But don't grade the students as some of these are a bit tricky.

William Wallace vs Robin Hood

Twenty Comparisons

Statement #1: "I am a hero of many legends."

Answer: Both. This is a basic fact about both of them: what we know is probably more legend than history.

More about that later.

Statement #2: "I had many enemies."

Answer: Both. Whether they were considered a hero or a villain was a matter of perspective. They are considered good guys now; but half of their contemporaries would have been enraged to know they became legendary heroes.

Statement #3: "I was in love with Marion."

Answer: Both. Maid Marion, of course, is a literary celebrity. (What aspiring actress would not want to play her?) Because very little is known about Marion Bradfute, some have theorized that she didn’t exist and was invented as an excuse for Wallace’s feud with the English. A bit cynical perhaps, but you will not find it easy to find contemporaneous records about Wallace's wife.

Statement #4: "My hang out was Sherwood Forest."

Answer: Robin Hood. Wallace’s hang out was Selkirk which is also a forest. Both forest hide-aways were somewhat central to their respective countries.

Statement #5: "I am a skilled bowman."

Answer: Both? Robin was a famed archer, second to none in the kingdom. But what about Wallace?

The only surviving seal of Wallace has a long bow on it; causing some historians to question if he might have been a poacher before becoming an outlaw. That is scarce evidence to say he was a poacher, or even an archer; but the possibility is there. (Therefore those who said just Robin also get credit.)

Statement #6: "I and my men have been declared outlaws."

Answer: Both. The earliest legends of Robin Hood include tales of his “merry men.” In this case, the word merry is best understood as “bountiful, plentiful, strong.” (as in Merry Christmas, or Old Merry England)

Wallace also had a band of men who were on the wrong side of the law. And while they made their hiding in a relatively primitive style, it would appear neither group went hungry.

Statement #7: "My men and I have had many skirmishes with the English authorities."

Answer: Both of them achieved their initial fame through these skirmishes.

Statement #8: "We were first a band of outlaws, then a militia, and then an army."

Answer: Wallace. Robin’s band never graduated to anything more.

Statement #9: "The local sheriff is my mortal enemy."

Answer: Both. Robin’s feud with the Sheriff of Nottingham is central to his legend. The Scottish War of Independence started with Wallace’s execution of the Sheriff of Lanark.

Statement #10: "I am a hero of the peasants."

Answer: Both. The Scottish nobility wanted to keep their lands so they tried to stay on the king of England’s good side; the peasants had no such loyalty or land to hold on to.

And the nobles in Robin’s day weren’t too fond of the “steal from the rich, give to the poor” philosophy. The poorer peasants who were helped by it were more willing to bend the finer points of the law.

Statement #11: "I will fight the French whenever I see them."

Answer: Neither. England and France had frequent wars; but neither Wallace nor Robin had issues with the French.

Statement #12: "My true loyalty lies with our REAL king in capitivity and not with the usurper."

Answer: Both. (You could just say Robin though.) Robin was in support of King Richard, Prince John’s captured brother. Wallace wanted the Scottish King Baliol released from his London prison. Since there was angst on the part of many Scottish peasants when King Edward of England appointed Baliol King of Scotland (before imprisoning him in London a year later), it is not certain how firmly Wallace supported Baliol. But it is well-known he did NOT support the English rule over the Scottish people as demonstrated by Edward's imprisonment of Baliol.

Statement #13: "I hate Prince John, son of King Henry II, and brother of King Richard I."

Answer: Both (though those who say just Robin also get credit.) The despised Prince John became king of England and was Edward I’s grandfather; so Wallace wouldn’t have been too fond of him either.

Statement #14: "I have won significant military battles."

Answer: Only Wallace. Robin Hood was not a military leader.

Statement #15: "For centuries, May Day games have been played in my honor."

Answer: Robin. The May Day games were the media that kept that legend of Robin Hood alive. While the people of Scotland have long cherished Wallace's memory, their honor of him has been much less public.

Statement #16: "The major events in my life are history and the places I went can be found on modern maps."

Answer: Both. Wallace's Battles of Stirling Bridge and Falkirk are recorded in history. The capture of Richard I of England was 1192 - 1194.

Statement #17: "Some people deny I ever existed."

Answer: Only Robin. Wallace’s life is confirmed in history. There is even a letter written by him with his seal preserved to this day.

Statement #18: "You can visit my grave."

Answer: Neither (or just Wallace). There is a local legend that one-quarter of Wallace’s body may be interred at the abbey close to Stirling Bridge. The monks had to keep their burial quiet to prevent revenge from the crown.

Statement #19: "The dates of my birth and death are known."

Answer: Neither. There are no dates for Robin, and the circumstances of his death are not known. While we have the exact date of Wallace’s death, his birth is thought to be between 1270-1275.

Statement #20: "It is almost impossible to differentiate legends about me from history."

Answer: Both.

More Comparisons With William Wallace

The similarities between Wallace and Robin Hood are striking. However, there are other characters from history who can also be compared to William Wallace. A student can choose to do their presentation on one of these comparisons:

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