Robin Hood prototype bookend produced by Royal Doulton of Burslem, England, circa 1990. Since the earliest mention of Robin Hood over 600 years ago, he has become a legendary hero. This legend originally took the form of a ballad in which Robin was identified as a yeoman and outlaw. Over the years, his adventures have been assigned from the reign of Richard I in the 12th century to the time of Edward II over a century later. He has been depicted as a nobleman and a social reformer, defending the weak and helpless. The legend of Robin Hood robbing the rich to give to the poor developed by the year 1500, when a Scottish chronicler called him "the gentlest thief that ever was." Although many attempts have been made to prove he really existed, it is the romantic representation of the courageous hero and incomparable archer leading his band of Merry Men from the confines of Sherwood Forest in charitable escapades which has endured.