The Lock-Smasher Picture

"Made merry, at your expense!"

Several years ago, I was re-watching Disney's 1973 Robin Hood and, though a wonderful and likeable film, it is unfortunately lacking, mainly due to the point that it related little to the original ballads, so I decided that I'd like to do a "re-telling" of the story, making it more literarily/mythologically/historically accurate as well, scissoring in other related literary works (such as Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, Anthony Munday's Huntington plays, William Shakespeare's King John, etc) as well as best aspects of film and TV, from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, starring Errol Flynn), The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952, the criminally underrated live-action Disney film, which the animated 1973 version was heavily inspired by), The Lion in Winter (1968, starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn), Robin and Marian (1976, starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn), Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986 British TV series), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991, starring Kevin Costner), etc. One of the characters I sincerely wanted to be in the film, but was not, was Will Scarlett, as he was my favourite Merry Man.

This is a re-design for Will Scarlett, because the original design was too close to Robin's and the colours were far too red (and, thus, an eyesore). Unfortunately, I have misplaced my stylus for my new tablet, so I had could not a proper digital clean-up. Although, I have always preferred sketches over clean-ups, because they're more loose and geninue and raw; when I do clean-up, I tend to over-think everything. I was inspired by the early designs Disney used for Robin Hood by animators Ken Anderson and Milt Kahl and more early designs can be seen here, because I love the longer, curved snout (which, accordingly, caused major complaints by the staff), the thinner neck, the "human" eyebrows, the ear markings, the mischievous smile, the spunkier attitude, and the whiskers; this also gives him a more distinctive profile from Robin yet a familial resemblance as well. His costume inspired by Robin's wedding outfit, because it had a sleek, classy "dandified" style that I adored and, for a man who wore red silk finery, this would be considered "causal" for him. A pair of daggers and/or double swords were the legendary Will Scarlett's weapons of choice, often lauded as the best swordsman amongst the Merry Men. I also wanted Will to have a lighter, brighter palette than Robin: While Robin is more brown(-orange), Will is more (yellow-)orange. Hopefully, this is a vast improvement to the previous one.

Special thanks to Iluvendure, due to her had in this Robin Hood project, she assisted a great deal in the development by acting as my sound-board for the its characters, its literature, and its immense history.

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Real Name:
  • Sir William "Will" Scathelocke of Crigglestone, 4th Lord of Crigglestone (Forfeited)
Aliases:
  • Will Scarlett, Scadlock, Scarlock, Scatheloke, Scarlok, Scalok, Scarelock, Scadlocke, Scardelocke, Shirlock, Skirlock, Schacklock, Schakelock, Scarllett, Scarlet, the Lock-Smasher, the Minstrel Outlaw, the Red Rogue.
Species:
  • Saxon Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Relations:
  • Sister: Sibyl of Crigglestone, Lady de Staynton and Prioress of Kirklees.
  • Cousin: Robert "Robin" of Locksley (Robin Hood or Robyn Hode), Yeoman of Locksley and (later) 3rd Earl of Huntingdon.
Born in the shire county of Yorkshire, William and Sibyl of Crigglestone were the only surviving children of 3rd Lord of Crigglestone, a minor nobleman, and the higher-born younger sister of the 4th Lady of Locksley; both were among the last remaining Saxon aristocratic families at a time when the English nobility was overwhelmingly Norman. He and Sibyl were frequent playmates to their cousin, Robin of Locksley, son of the Dame of Locksley, and Lady Marian of Dunmow, daughter of the 3rd Lord of Dunmow, and (to a lesser extent) Guy of Gisbourne, son of the 9th Earl of Warwick. Will and his cousin Robin were the town hellions, playing endless pranks upon its inhabitants, adventuring off into the greenwood, and even bullying the much shyer (and moodier) Gisbourne. Gregarious and carefree, equally reckless and irresponsible, the two were oftentimes punished for their frequent misbehaviours, forcing his father to lock William in rooms, shackled to a post, or in the public stock; however, Master William escaped time and time again. This earned him the name of Scathelocke ("Lock-Smasher") since no cage nor imprisonment could keep hold of him. He grew to have a love for fighting, music, and women — an adventurer, a poet, a musician, a storyteller, an incurable romantic, and an absolute devourer of life.

But this idyllic childhood was short-lived, however. Richard, then-Duke of Normandy, was proclaimed as the King of England in 1189 after the death of his father, Henry II. Lady Marian was sent to the royal court in London where she caught the attention of the elderly Queen Mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom placed her under her protection of the crown as her ward. Yet the new king spent only six months of his reign in England before embarking upon his journey into the Third Crusade to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Eager to see the world and prove their worth as knights of the realm, William of Crigglestone (at fifteen) and Robin of Locksley (at seventeen) joined the holy war under the banner of "The Lion-Hearted," but found his adventure spirit robbed by the deceitful notion of the sweetness of war. The two played part in the Siege of Acre, witnessing the massacre of 2,700 Muslims, including women and children, after their surrender. Soon, the many battles and the long travels had separated them, believing the other had died. During the Richard's absent, his younger brother, Prince John, connived with King Phillip II (Augustus) of France to usurp his elder brother's throne. After signing a truce with Saladin in 1192 that ended the Third Crusade, King Richard was on his way to reclaim his birthright stolen from him; but he was captured en route to England, imprisoned, and was held for ransom by King Leopold V of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, King of Germany.

Upon his return from the Holy Land, the jaded knight returned to his ancestral home of Crigglestone to find his family absent and the structure in ruins, as thieves and builders had been stealing the bricks to use as materials for different castle. These thieves, however, had armoured guards to protect them. Blinded by rage, Scathelocke waged a foolhardy, short-sighted one-man skirmish against the builders and guards, injuring the captain, before he was invariably outnumbered and forced to flee. Wounded and bleeding, he sought sanctuary at the Kirklees Priory and its Prioress was none other than his own sister, Sibyl. At his sickbed, tending to his injuries, she revealed that her arranged marriage to Sir Everard de Staynton was a failure, as he was cruel and abusive, keeping her captive and forcing their parents was forced into serfdom. She eventually escaped her imprisonment, following her husband's death in a fire, and sought solace through an eternal devotion to God. However, he feared for his sister's safety now that he had a bounty on his head; before departing, she gifted his beloved brother the last surviving belongings of their home — clothing of rare, rich silk and wool coloured in deep red. Assuming the guise of a wandering minstrel named "Will Scarlett" to search for his mother's family at Locksley, he came across a thievish bandit in Sherwood Forest. They fell into an argument and duelled. Scarlett won and was surprised to discover that his opponent was his long-lost cousin Robin of Lockley, now infamously known as "Robin Hood." With joy, he joined his kinsman's band of outlaws still loyal to Richard, the true King of England, as they steal from the rich to give to the poor.

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In the ballads (particularly the early ballads), the Merry Men were portrayed as a faceless and nameless group of rogues, with the two primary exceptions — Little John and Will Scarlett. Characters like Friar Tuck, Much the Miller's Son, Maid Marian, etc, came about much, much later. In the early ballads, his original surname "Scathelocke," which would indicate that he was Saxon, translated to "Lock-Smasher"; the term meant "a man (of alleged violence) who could not be kept caged or imprisoned." The character has been commonly portrayed two ways, either a hot-headed cutthroat or a wisecracking fop, named "Scarlett" for his temper or his red clothes. Technically, the word "scarlet," before the 15th century, did not refer to the colour red, but "high-quality, fine-weave wool cloth," and an expensive fabric was usually dyed an expensive colour. A true red was rare and much sought after by those whom could afford it, as most red dyes were less than vivid or faded badly with age, and the meaning soon blurred with time. This description made Will into a clothes-proud individual and, thus, a dandy. This dandified Will Scarlett is frequently merged with Alan-a-Dale as a minstrel and a womanizer in certain adaptations. Sometimes, he was mistaken for the characters Will Stutely (due to their similar names) and/or Young Gamwell (the nephew of Robin who wore "stockings like scarlet shone"); nevertheless, Scarlett was always a blood relation of Robin Hood in some form or another — from cousin, half-brother, or nephew. While there are references of real-life Will Scarlett, there are not, however, enough references to pinpoint whom the exact historical inspiration for the character was. Personally, I always preferred the dandified version, because that's the version I grew up with as a child. The hot-tempered Scarlett would logically be developed later when the word "scarlet" became unanimously associated with the colour red.

Traditionally, the Prioress of Kirklees was the one that killed Robin Hood, her cousin, by bleeding him to death in the ballads, as bloodletting was a common medical practice at the time; if the act was an act of murder or an accident, there's no way of knowing anymore. There was indeed a real-life Prioress of Kirklees; there were many whom went by this title, but the real-life candidate is generally accepted to be Elizabeth de Staynton and another was Sibyl, which is also a name of Greek god Apollo's oracle/priestess. Also, there is a gravestone to Robin Hood at Kirklees, whether it's the real Robin Hood buried there remains debatable. The Prioress has been depicted as the lover of Red Roger of Doncaster, a supposed "great" villain of Robin's yet only appeared in a single ballad, yet she later had been linked as the lover of the Sheriff of Notthingham, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, or the Bishop of Hereford. Since she's commonly known as a cousin of Robin's, similarly to Will Scarlett, the two characters thus became brother and sister; this, of course, brought a new depth of layer to her character to expand not only Robin but the character of Scarlett himself. Subsequently, I made her romantically obsessed with Guy of Gisbourne. However, while he allies himself with her, Gisbourne takes no interest in the Prioress due to fact that he helplessly (and hopelessly) in love with Marian. I also took inspiration from the Prioress and Lady of Bath in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Sir William Scathelocke of Crigglestone (Will Scarlett) © Diane N. Tran
Robin Hood © Walt Disney, 1973
Continue Reading: Ages of Man