France’s Robin Hood: Thierry La Fronde

Between 1963 and 1966, French Television broadcast a medievalist series entitled Thierry La Fronde, or Thierry the Sling. This successful series, which was also shown in Canada, Poland (Thierry Śmiałek), Australia (The King’s Outlaw), and the Netherlands (Thierry de Slingeraar), transposes the English Robin Hood narrative into late medieval France in fascinating ways. Drawing from the postmedieval English tradition surrounding Robin Hood, in which the protagonist appears as a member of the nobility who has fallen from grace, Thierry de Janville, a young Sologne nobleman, who had fought against the English occupation by the French during the Hundred Years War, loses his title and lands because of his disloyal steward. Taking up the name “Thierry La Fronde” and surrounding himself with a host or merry men (and Isabelle, his “Maid Marian”), he wields his knightly sword as well as the popular sling in his résistance against the oppressive Black Prince and his allies. An analysis of the series shows the feuilleton’s indebtedness to numerous elements of the Robin Hood narrative, characters, and episodes, specifically those in The Adventures of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, two TV shows targeting Anglo-American audiences in the 1950s. The series also presents an excellent reservoir for investigating common 1960s conceptions about medieval history, literature, and culture.

READ: Richard Utz, “Robin Hood, Frenched,” in: Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture, ed. by Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 145-58.