Lore Report: “Above the Law” (Episode 180)

Everyone loves a good outlaw story. From the bandits of the Wild West to the tricksters of modern adventure films, there’s something attractive about the bad characters. And our obsession with them has been going on for a lot longer than you might believe. So long, in fact, that many of the most legendary criminals throughout history have become archetypes of an entirely new type of folklore. Because some of them even became heroes.

The latest episode of the Lore podcast focuses on hero outlaws–rebels against oppression and foreign occupation who captured the hearts and minds of the masses. Host Aaron Mahnke invokes notable names such as Spartacus, Robin Hood, and Ned Kelly, as well as some lesser-known Irish figures who fit the description: daring deeds, clever escapes, and ultimate, untimely demises (often stemming from betrayal by an associate). A good portion of the narrative is devoted to the story of the English thief “Honest” Jack Sheppard, whose attempt to escape his execution by hanging fails in a most ironic manner (the incident also connects with a famous English writer). Mahnke shares a lot of colorful history here via his oral portraits of these larger-than-life outlaws whose renown only grew posthumously. But by Mahnke’s own admission, there’s a shortage of the dark lore that listeners have come to expect from this podcast. All told, a very entertaining yet somewhat atypical episode.

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