Folk hero

Folk hero

A folk hero is type of hero, real or mythological. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This presence in the popular consciousness is evidenced by mention in folk songs, folk tales and other folklore. Folk heroes are also the subject of some films.

Although some folk heroes are historical public figures, they generally are not. Because the lives of folk heroes are generally not based on historical documents, the characteristics and deeds of a folk hero are often exaggerated to mythic proportions.

The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events, often in response to social injustice, and sometimes in response to natural disasters.

One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure. Members of this category of folk hero often, but not necessarily, live outside the law in some way.

Historically documented folk heroes

* Johnny Appleseed - United States, he introduced the apple to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
* Arminius - Germany, was a chieftain of the Cheruski who defeated the Roman army in the battle of Teutoburg Forest
* Norman Bethune - Canada, doctor, active in the People's Republic of China with the Eighth Route Army
* Billy the Kid - United States, a 19th century American frontier outlaw and gunman
* Black Hawk - Midwestern United States, a Sauk Indian warrior who resisted white settlement
* Bonnie and Clyde - United States, bank robbers who evaded retribution in the 1930s
* Brian Boru - Ireland, Irish High King who “drove the Danes out of Ireland” at the Battle of Clontarf.
* Daniel Boone - An American pioneer in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
* Aylett C. (Strap) Buckner - United States, an Indian-fighter of colonial Texas
* Calamity Jane - United States, a tough Wild West woman
* Joseph Cinqué - West African man of the Mende tribe, leader of the Amistad slave rebellion.
* Gregorio Cortez, Mexican American folk hero
* Davy Crockett - United States, an Indian-fighter, Congressman, and died as a hero fighting in the Alamo
* Nils Dacke - Sweden, leader of a 16th century peasant revolt
* Genghis Khan - Mongolian ruler of the Steppe during 13th century, founder of the Mongolian empire
* Pier Gerlofs Donia - Frisia, legendary giant warrior, freedom fighter and leader of the Arumer Black Heap
* Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson - Sweden, rebel and temporary regent in the 15th Century
* Mike Fink - United States, the toughest boatman on the Mississippi River and a rival of Davy Crockett
* Eppelein von Gailingen - Germany, robber baron
* Geronimo - United States, Apache warrior
* Tomoe Gozen - Japan, woman samurai warrior
* Wild Bill Hickok - United States, lawman, gunfighter, gambler, scout, Civil War soldier, stage coach driver, performer, abolitionist
* Husein Gradaščević - Bosnia, called "Dragon of Bosnia", led the resistance of Bosnians and uprising for autonomy of Bosnia against the Ottoman Empire
* Nathan Hale - United States, a captain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War
* Joe Hill - United States, union leader and songwriter wrongfully convicted of murder in 1915.
* Piet Hein - Netherlands, captured the Spanish treasure fleet.
* Wong Fei Hung - China, doctor, martial artist, and revolutionary
* Jesse James - An Wild West outlaw who supposedly robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.
* Juraj Jánošík - Slovakia, outlaw living in the Tatra mountains, defending Slovakia peasants from the tyranny of Austrian landlords
* Casey Jones - United States, railroad engineer who chose to die rather than abandon his locomotive during a collision
* Kaluaiko'olau - United States - Hawaiian who evaded deportation for leprosy by hiding in the Hawaiian rain forests [ [ About Kaluaiko'olau] ]
* Ned Kelly - Australia, outlaw
* Ustym Karmaliuk - Ukrainian robin hood, who led a peasant rebellion.
* Lady Ch'iao Kuo - China, warrior, politician, queen of the Hsien
* James Mckenzie - New Zealand, Outlaw and inspiration to landless immigrants in early colonial New Zealand
* Lampião - outlaw, leader of a Cangaço band in Northeast Brazil
* Miyamoto Musashi - Japan, a skilled swordsman, soldier, philosopher, and author
* Redmond O'Hanlon - Irish, rapparee of the 17th century
* Philippe Petit - Tight rope artist that walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center
* Louis Riel - Canada, founder of Manitoba, led two rebellions against the Dominion of Canada
* Dorus Rijkers - the Netherlands, sailor and savior of over 500 men, women and children as the captain of a rescue-boat, in the late 19th century and the early 20th century
* José Rizal - Philippines, a critic of the Spanish Colonizers, was gun-fired by the Spanish Guardia Civil in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park)
* Rob Roy - Scotland, outlaw whose word was his bond
* Laura Secord - Canada, heroine of the War of 1812
* Skanderbeg - Albania, National Hero, led the resistance of Albanian people against the Ottoman Empire
* Soapy Smith - Infamous nineteenth century Colorado and Alaska bad man.
* The Smith of Kochel - Germany, especially in Bavaria a famous National hero
* Spartacus - Thrace, led the largest slave revolt against the Roman Republic
* Tipu Sultan - Indian, a Muslim who fought and defeated the British in the Mysore wars
* Tamanend - United States, an Indian Chief who became the source of many folk legends that propelled his fame to mythical proportions during the time of the American Revolutionary War
* William Tell - Switzerland, began the rebellion against the Austrians
* Dick Turpin - England, highwayman
* Nat Turner - Leader of Nat Turner's Rebellion (also known as the Southampton Insurrection), a slave rebellion that took place in Southampton County, Virginia during August 1831
* Viriathus - Portugal, the leader of the freedom fighters of the confederated Iberian tribes who resisted colonial Rome
* William Wallace - Scotland, knight who led a rebellion against England in the early 14th century
* Lam Sai Wing - China, martial artist and student of Wong Fei Hung

Possibly apocryphal folk heroes

* Cúchulainn - Ireland, folk legend and the pre-eminent hero of Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle
* Fionn mac Cumhaill - Ireland, warrior, leader of the Fianna. Primary figure in the Oisin cycle.
* Till Eulenspiegel - Germany, trickster
* John Henry - United States, mighty steel-driving African American
* Robin Hood - England, outlaw usually associated with the motto "Steal from the rich, give to the poor"
* Rummu Jüri - Estonia, outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor
* Hua Mulan - China, heroine who disguised herself as a male in order to join an all-male army
* Molly Pitcher - United States, heroine of the American Revolutionary War
* Fong Sai-Yuk - China, martial arts folk hero
* Zorro - (Don Diego de la Vega) fictional Robin Hood like character set in 19th century Mexican controlled California.
* Pazhassi Raja - India, fought against british raj in south India (Kerala) by gurrila war technique

Folk heroes known to be fictional

* Tony Beaver - United States, lumberjack and cousin of Paul Bunyan
* Pecos Bill - United States, giant cowboy who "tamed the wild west"
* Taylor Bradshaw - Canada, possibly a variant of Paul Bunyan
* Paul Bunyan - United States, giant lumberjack of the North Woods
* Febold Feboldson - United States, farmer who could fight a drought
* Koba - Georgia, folk hero whose legend bears a resemblance to Robin Hood
* Joe Magarac - United States, steelworker made of steel
* Siegfried - Germany, the legendary dragon-slaying hero in Nibelungenlied
* Alfred Bulltop Stormalong - United States, immense sailor whose ship was so big it scraped the moon
* The Little Dutch Boy - Netherlands, saves Holland from disaster by persisting in keeping his finger in a dike
* Martin Fierro - Argentina, hero of the eponymous poem by Joaquin Hernandez
* Atticus Finch - Central character in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird


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