Merry Men

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The Merry Men are the group of outlaws who follow Robin Hood in English literature and folklore. The band appears in the earliest ballads about Robin Hood and remain popular in modern adaptations.


The early ballads give specific names to only three companions: Little John, Much the Miller's Son, and William Scarlock or Scathelock, the Will Scarlet of later traditions. Joining them are between 20 and "seven score" (140) outlawed yeomen. The most prominent of the Merry Men is Robin's second-in-command, Little John. He appears in the earliest ballads, and is mentioned in even earlier sources, such as Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Chronicle of around 1420 and Walter Bower's expansion of the Scotichronicon, completed around 1440. Later ballads name additional Merry Men, some of whom appear in only one or two ballads, while others, like the minstrel Alan-a-Dale and the jovial Friar Tuck, became fully attached to the legend. Several of the Robin Hood ballads tell the story of how individual Merry Men join the group; this is frequently accomplished by defeating Robin in a duel.

The phrase "merry man" was originally a generic term for any follower or companion of an outlaw, knight, or similar leader.[1] Robin's band are called "mery men" in the oldest known Robin Hood ballad, "Robin Hood and the Monk",[2] which survives in a manuscript completed around 1450.[3]

Named Merry Men


  1. "Merry man, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. 2001. Retrieved May 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Robin Hood and the Monk", line 35
  3. Knight, Stephen; and Ohlgren, Thomas H. (1997). Robin Hood and the Monk: Introduction. From TEAMS Middle English Texts. Retrieved January 22, 2007.
  4. Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar: Introduction. Retrieved January 22, 2007.
  5. Jeffrey Richards, (1980). Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York, p. 190. Routledge & Kegan Paul, Lond, Henly and Boston.
  6. Robin Hood and Maid Marian: Introduction. Retrieved January 22, 2007.