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May 14, 2010

Fr. John Romanides on Robin Hood and Orthodoxy

Since the movie Robin Hood is being released today, I thought it worthwhile to reflect on what Fr. John Romanides had to say about this interesting legend and the value it has for Orthodox Christians. Since the complete story of Robin Hood will no doubt be overlooked as it always is in film, as well as the historical backdrop which makes the story so fascinating, this brief historical reflection will no doubt be of some interest to movie-goers this weekend. The question to ponder is whether or not the Robin Hood legend is a historical parable of the Frankish takover of Roman Britain, initiated under the blessing of the new Frankish Pope?

I have kept the number of the footnotes from the original article which can be found linked under the source of the pericope for reference. The information presented can be examined alongside this website:

The Frankish Papacy of 1046 and Norman Britain of 1066

As we already noted, the population of France in 1789 included 2% nobility, 13% franchised middle class and 85% vilains and serfs.[34] The latter 85% were enclosed within slave camps and guarded from escape by some 40,000 castles. These serfs and villains had been isolated from each other for so many centuries that they ended up speaking their own local patois of which some 35 are recorded and still spoken locally. This reality forced the 85% of the population to learn and adopt the language of their former oppressors. This clearly means that there had to have been a very serious reason why the Frankish military kept so much of the population isolated from each other. It seems that the best explanation of this phenomenon of so many slave camps up to 1789 is to be found in the Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals which appeared in 850.[35] These tampered with and thus forged documents, supported a Church structure which put the Frankish bishops directly under the control of the Pope of Rome and his curia, both of which were still Roman nationals, and therefore under the rule of the Roman Empire and its Roman Emperor in Constantinople New Rome. At the time the Franks accepted these Decretals as genuine and argued that they were valid locally only within the Roman Empire, a difficult argument to maintain when a small number of Franks were ruling over a far superior number of Romans. So the Franks made their final decision to act decisively which resulted in their final takeover of the Papacy by putting on the Papal throne their own lackeys from 1012 to 1046 when they permanently got rid of Roman Popes and their curia and became themselves the Pope of Rome and his curia.

However, this New Frankish Papacy began consolidating power in the West by means of the Norman invasion of England 1066. While the Norman Franks were in process of expelling the Roman army from Southern Italy and of helping the Italo-Franks wrest the Papacy from the Franconian emperors, their Duke William of Normandy invaded England with Pope Alexander's blessing in 1066. He had his Lombard friend, the "Blessed Saint" Lanfranc, the pope's teacher, installed as the first non-Roman /Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, and together they replaced all native bishops with Franco-Latins. All Celtic and Saxon bishops and abbots were dismissed en masse[36] and sentenced to prison to die premature deaths by torture and starvation.[37] The new noblemen bishops from the Frankish Empire were in turn killed by the people whenever opportunity presented itself.[38] Indeed the Saxons and Celts celebrated the death of Lanfranc in 1089 by launching their third and most severe revolt against the foreign intruders.[39] The most famous of the Saxon revolutionary leaders against the Normans was Robin Hood. He had become ill and was taken by Little John to a nunnery where someone recognized him. The Norman nun who was curing him by bloodletting converted this cure into an assassination by letting him bleed to death. Little John and his men escaped to Ireland to continue their war against the Normans.[40] That Robin Hood and his men were fighting against bad King John in favor of good King Richard is an interesting and clever fable indeed. In any case such Norman reforms by military might became crusades in both East and West. They ultimately provoked the Protestant Reformation and met with little success among the East Romans and some among the Slavs.

This tradition of killer bishops, clergy and monks was given its near final theological foundation by "Saint" Bernard of Clairvaux in his sermons "De Laude novae militiae ad milites Templi"[41] in which he argues that the religious Knight Templer "who kills for religion commits no evil but rather does good, for his people and himself. If he dies in battle, he gains heaven; if he kills his opponents, he avenges Christ. Either way, God is pleased."[42] Its final form was given by the Inquisition which condemned to death but usually turned executions over to laymen.


Rear view of the Gate House at Kirklees where Robin Hood is said to have been bled to death by the Prioress.

Robin Hood — Orthodox Martyr?

The most famous of the Saxon revolutionary leaders against the Normans was Robin Hood. He had become ill and was taken by Little John to a nunnery where someone recognized him. The Norman nun who was curing him by bloodletting converted this cure into an assassination by letting him bleed to death. Little John and his men escaped to Ireland to continue their war against the Normans.[96]

So many Saxons made their way to Constantinople New Rome after the Norman conquest to join the Roman Emperor's Varangian army that they displaced the Scandinavians as the majority.[97] One of the great generals of this Varangian army had been King Harald III Hadrada of Norway (1015-1066). This means that Norway was still Orthodox. He had become the head of the Varangian army under Emperor[98] Zoe (1042-1056). General Harald led his Varangians "to frequent victory in Italy, Sicily and North Africa, also penetrating to Jerusalem. In Italy and Sicily he was fighting Franks and Normans at the time they were getting ready to rid themselves of the facade of Tusculan Roman Popes (1014-1056) in favor of real Franco-Latin Popes. It is very probable that his attention had been turned for some time to the beginnings of the penetration of the Carolingian heresy into Scandinavia which may explain his frequent attempts to subjugate Denmark. In 1064 he gave up this attempt and made peace with Denmark. His invasion of England in 1066 at Eburacum was evidently an attempt to defeat the Pro-Franco-Norman party which was trying to get the upper hand among the Saxons. Evidently it was not only at the instigation of the Pro-Roman Orthodox Saxon Earl of Tostig that he undertook the invasion of England since he also had Orthodox Scots, Irish and Ebor (Yorkshire in Norman) allies who supported his invasion of England.

There can be no doubt that the Orthodox Christians of England knew very well that their Roman Papacy had been struggling against a Frankish takeover in 983-984, in 996-999, in 999-1003 and finally in 1009-1046 when turncoat Tusculanum Romans were forced upon the Papacy by the German Emperors until it became finally Franco-Latin by 1046. It is within this context that the Norman invasion of England took place with the blessings of the Lombard Pope Alexander II (1061-1073).

In any case the Saxon King Harold of West Essex met the Norwegian army at Eburacum (the Norman York) and in the ensuing battle the King of Norway was killed. However, while celebrating his victory Saxon King Harold learned that an Norman army had just landed. Without waiting for his observers to get a good look at this Norman foe, King Harold rushed with his army, fresh from his victory over the Norwegians, to meet the Normans only to be confronted with the new type of heavily armored horse and men. A phenomenon which they had yet not heard of nor could imagine.

William landed on the shores of Britain carrying the papal banner at the head of what was essentially the army of the first Crusade. Francophile Harold was quite stunned when he learned that the Lombard Pope Alexander II had given his papal blessing to William's invasion. He took very little and very poor defensive action in the field at Hastings that day and he and his men were completely crushed.[99]

Surely Norwegian Harald was never aware that he was fighting for a so-called "Greek" or "Byzantine" emperor. He had been living and working for the Roman Empire and its Roman Emperor Zoe knowing that she and her people were Romans. With the battle of Hastings it was the turn of the Saxon, Welsh, Irish and Scot Romans to become the slaves of the Franco-Latin noblemen who were now plundering their land. All these real "Roman Catholic" Christians of England had still been praying in their Churches for the Imperium Romanum whose Roman Emperor and capital were in Constantinople-New Rome which was also the headquarters of the Varangian Army in which their boys were serving.

The name "Greek" for the Eastern part of the Roman empire was inaugurated by Charlemagne in 794, as already noted. But the term "Byzantine" was established by Great Britain, France and Russia as part of their plans to break up and divide up the Ottoman Empire among them. The first plan was evidently drawn up during the meeting between Emperors Napoleon I and Alexander I floating on a raft in the river at Tilsit, Germany in 1806. The core of Napoleon's plan was the liberation of the ancient Hellenes, now called Romans, from both their Roman conquerors and from their Turkish conquerors with one cannon shot. In other words the Neo-Hellenes will end up being slaves from the time they were conquered by the Romans and liberated by the Turks. The very same plan would be multiplied to convert all Balkan peoples who called themselves Romans.

Part of this same plan was to convince Orthodox peasants that the ancient Romans did not speak Greek, like the Romans of Patriarchate of Constantinople, but Latin. Therefore the Church of New Rome cannot be Roman. So it is in reality a Greek Church and nation just like Great Father Charlemagne always said.

In this way the agents of Russia, Britain and France swarmed over the European part of the Ottoman Empire, called the "Land of the Romans" (the Balkans), telling all who for centuries have been calling themselves Romans and getting their education in Greek, that their ethnic enemies are those from the Phanar who also call themselves Romans, but are in reality a bunch of Greeks.