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Much the Miller's Son

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Much the Miller's Son
Muchmiller

Real Name

Unknown (possibly Midge)

First Appearance

Unknown

Created by

English Folklore

Origin

Much the Miller's Son was, in the tales of Robin Hood, one of his Merry Men. He appears in some of the oldest ballads, A Gest of Robyn Hode and Robin Hood and the Monk, as one of the company. Generally, he becomes an outlaw when he is caught poaching. This leads to Robin Hood's outlawry in many modern adaptations.

In A Gest of Robyn Hode, he helps capture Richard at the Lee and when Robin lends that knight money to pay off his debts, he is one of the Merry Men who insists on giving him a horse and clothing appropriate to his station. In Robin Hood and the Monk, he is one of the rescuers of the captive Robin; in this brutal ballad, he kills a page boy so that the boy can not bear word that the outlaws killed the monk of the title.

In other tales, he was also known as Midge the Miller's Son. This is the name used by Howard Pyle in his Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. This has led to modern-day stories sometimes showing him as a female dressed as a man.

In several later stories, the name Much is explained by his lackluster appearance and abilities: his parents continually referred to him as "our son, though he's not much" which was eventually shortened to "Much".

Often, it is said, he was forced to go into hiding with the outlaws as he had been caught poaching deer on the sheriff's land, an offence which would get the youth hanged. The outlaws rescued the boy from the sheriff's men and later look after him in their hideout in the forest.

In the earlier tales, however, Much is slightly older and takes a much more physical role; indeed he is a formidable fighter. Much is present from the very earliest Robin Hood ballads, in which he often accompanies Little John on physical journeys and even gets involved in brawls.

Public Domain Appearances

Ballads:

  • A Gest of Robyn Hode
  • Robin Hood and the Monk

Literature:

  • Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Film:

  • Robin Hood (1912)

See Also

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