MAID MARIAN, a personage incorporated in the English legend of Robin Hood. There is no evidence that she had originally any connexion with the Robin Hood cycle. She seems to have been an essential feature of the morris dance, and in the may-game was paired sometimes with Robin-Hood, but oftener with Friar Tuck. The well-known pastoral play of Adam de la Hale, Jen de Robin el Marion, and the many French songs on the subject, account for the association of the names. In the ballads on Robin Hood her name is twice casually mentioned, but there is a late ballad, by a certain S. G. (F. J. Child, English and Scottish Ballads, i. 219), which tells how Maid Marian sought Robin in the forest disguised as a page, and fought with him for an hour before she recognized him by his voice. S. G. was perhaps acquainted with the two plays, written in 1598, of The Downfall and The Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, by Anthony Munday and Harry Chettle. In The Downfall Matilda Fitz Walter escapes from the persecution of King John by following her lover to Sherwood Forest, where they took the names of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and lived apart until they could be legally united. Perhaps this tale has some connexion with the romance of the outlaw Fulk Fitz Warin. Matilda or Mahaud, widow of Theobald Walter, escaped from John's solicitations by marrying the outlawed Fulk and following him to the forest. There were in semi-historical legends three Matildas pursued by King John, of whom particulars are given by H. L. D. Ward in his Catalogue of Romances (i. 502). Their several histories were fused by the Elizabethan dramatists, and associated with the Maid Marian of the morris dance, who up to that time had probably only a vague connexion with Robin Hood.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)