The legendary hero, who is said to have resided in the Nottingham area, could have been William of Kensham, who conducted a guerrilla war against the French forces of Prince Louis, who invaded England in 1216.
Historian Sean McGlynn has suggested that William led a band of archers who attacked the French forces in the forests of the Kent Weald before the little- known 18-month occupation by the French of a large part of England was finally thwarted.
Writing in the magazine History Today, McGlynn said: “It’s hard to find another contender for the Robin Hood story from this age or afterwards who is both a hero and an outlaw.
“In William, we have both: A feted resistance fighter, loyally protecting the crown, but also, from Louis’ perspective, an egregious outlaw defying the righteous rule of the imposed new regime.”
The academic said other contenders for the legend such as Roger Godberd were at the wrong time and were thieves and outlaws that lacked the hero status.
He also said William would have travelled to the Nottingham area because it was the main headquarters of the English army at the time.
However, McGlynn accepts that William could be only one of many inspirations for the famous story.
“The most probable truth behind the Robin Hood legend is that over time storytellers incorporated and conflated various characters from a range of stories and settled on the instantly recognisable name of Robin Hood as the woodsman.”