'Robin Hood Was a Loan Shark'
He quivered over interest rates
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Mar 8, 2010 3:56 AM CST
Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England. What really happened there?   (AP Photo/Simon Dawson)
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(Newser) – He robbed from the rich, but Robin Hood didn't just give it away to the poor—he loaned them money at stiff interest rates like some kind of medieval loan shark, claims a new book. One of the earliest historical references to the outlaw of Sherwood Forest, a ballad from the early 1500s, portrays him as a money-lender. The author of the book, Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar, argues that Robin Hood was a member of the Knights Templar, a powerful Christian military organization that also loaned money with interest because it could safely transport funds across territories.

Few historians believe the latest theory hits the bull's eye. It hasn't even been proven that Robin Hood ever really existed. "Certainly, the traditional image of Robin Hood is of an outlaw stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, and not someone who stole from the rich and went into an early form of merchant banking," Robin Hood expert David Nortcliffe told the Telegraph. "But it's best to take every new version of the legend with a pinch of salt."