Back to top

A Gest of Robyn Hode


3 yeman denotes a broad social rank below knights and squires, ranging from a small landowning farmer to an attendant, servant, or lesser official in a royal or noble household (Middle English yoman, perhaps contraction of yongman); for the relevance of the term to the audience of the Robin Hood materials, see General Introduction, pp. 9-11.

5 outlaw. A person excluded from legal protection and rights (Old English utlaga, from Old Norse utlagi). Although the term "outlaw" was applied to anyone who had committed a serious crime - robbery, murder, or rape, the term had a more limited meaning in medieval law. The sentence of outlawry was reserved for those criminals who refused to appear for trial in court: "They become outlaws when, having been lawfully summoned, they do not appear, and are awaited and even sought for throughout the lawful and appointed terms, and yet they do not present themselves for trial" (David C. Douglas and George W. Greenaway, eds., English Historical Documents 1042-1189 [London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968] II, 552). Given the harsh punishments that awaited the convicted felon - blinding, loss of limb, or castration - it is not surprising that many fled to the forest or abroad to escape judgment.

6-7 Apart from as he was one these lines are missing in a, the "Lettersnijder" text, and as with other gaps in this source are provided from b, Wynkyn de Worde's edition.

9 Bernesdale or Bernysdale are medieval spellings of Barnesdale. This has long been identified as a tract of land in the West Riding of Yorkshire: the most recent discussion is by Holt (1989, pp. 83-87). As he notes, however, "there was no forest or chase," and he speculates that the three major locations of the myth - Barnsdale, Sherwood Forest, and Nottingham - "are all confounded." More recently Knight (1994, pp. 29-32) has identified another ancient Barnsdale in Rutland, being a royal forest with other Robin Hood references nearby and even some association with the Earls of Huntingdon before that link was made in literary form in the late sixteenth century. The Gest, however, clearly links Barnsdale with named places in Yorkshire, see lines 69-70. It does not mention Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, but does set part of the story in Nottingham, see note to line 59.

24 gest. Like King Arthur in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and many other romances, Robin Hood refuses to eat "until something strange and wonderful happens, until he is provided with an appropriately distinguished or unusual guest" (Dobson and Taylor, 1976, p. 32). Though the word Gest in the title of the poem refers to an event or deed (from Latin res gestae, "things done," as used in the French epic Chansons de geste), this context clearly uses the other word gest, meaning "guest," see lines 63-64, 835.

25 This line is missing in all the sources, and Child leaves it blank. It is supplied here on the model of similar passages in early ballads, though it is conceivable that, as the rhymes are the same in the two stanzas, it might have originally been an irregular seven-line stanza.

27 Child inserts som again before squyer, presumably on metrical grounds; it appears in the later texts, but is not necessary.

35 Robin here reveals his special devotion to the Virgin Mary. The Marian cult is of course one of the major features of Roman Catholicism, and it reached its apogee in Western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Robin's devotion to the Virgin, and to all women (lines 39-40), has an ironic poignancy when we recall that he is murdered by a religious woman, the prioress of Kyrkely priory. The allusion to the Virgin is also significant because a "miracle of the Virgin" underlies one of the central episodes in the Gest - Robin's loan of four hundred pounds to Sir Richard. See the Introduction and note to line 255.

57 Robin's outlawry is directed primarily at civil and ecclesiastical oppression and corruption. While he is a devoted Christian (see lines 31-37), he targets local officials and religious orders for abusing their authority and for usury, the lending of money at an exorbitant or illegal rate of interest; for a summary see Dobson and Taylor, 1976, pp. 30-31.

59 The Sheriff of Nottingham is Robin Hood's traditional adversary. The Gest does not explain why the Sheriff of one county, Nottinghamshire, would be interested in the activities of an outlaw living and operating in another county; the same occurs in Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne. This is presumably the result of different ballads being meshed into one longer story. On the variation of place, see Dobson and Taylor, 1976, pp. 14-15 and, for the real activities of such sheriffs, see Bellamy, 1985, Chap. 4.

69-70 These place-names set Robin Hood's activities firmly in the area of the Yorkshire Barnsdale. The Roman Road to the north (in this text erroneously called Watling Street, actually named Ermine Street, and later the Great North Road and the A1) runs north from Barnsdale Bar, crossing the River Went at Wentbridge. The Saylis has been identified by Dobson and Taylor as a plot of ground overlooking the highway on the northern edge of Barnsdale (1976, pp. 22-23); see also Holt, 1989, pp. 83-85.

To counteract the prevalence of highway robbery, Edward I sponsored special measures in the Statute of Winchester (A.D. 1285): "It is likewise commanded that the highways from market towns to other market towns be widened where there are woods or hedges or ditches, so that there may be no ditch, underwood or bushes where one could hide with evil intent within two hundred feet of the road on one side or the other, provided that this statute extends not to oaks or to large trees so long as it is clear underneath" (Harry Rothwell, ed., English Historical Documents, 1189-1327 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1975] II, 461).

79 loke. Child emends to "loked" for consistency of tense, but all the early sources have this dramatic present, which is retained here.

83 The knight is identified with the knight rescued by the outlaws from Nottingham and named as Sir Richard at the Lee (lines 1239-41). He comes from Verysdale (line 504), which is probably the hamlet of Lee in Wyresdale in Lancashire (see Child III, 50; Holt, 1989, p. 100).

103 Child inserts a before gode yoman, but the text is idiomatic Middle English as it stands.

108 Blyth and Doncaster are located on the main road south of the Barnsdale region.

113 lodge refers to a temporary shelter in a forest, usually used for hunting.

125 For the cultural significance of hand washing before a meal, see the note to line 164 of Robin Hood and the Potter. See also line 921 in the Gest, and line 527 in Adam Bell.

128 noumbles. Organ meats such as liver, heart, and kidney, but also, in early usage, particularly for venison, loin cuts. See OED.

145 The source has wened, meaning "thought." Child emends to wende for sense, and this is accepted.

148 Child reads, with the source, knyhht, but this is probably a printer's error.

164 This unusual statement is repeated in line 984, and is not varied by any of the early texts. It presumably means "No peny (of that) I will have."

168 Child inserts a before pounde, but this does not seem required either for sense or meter.

170 Child inserts full before lowe: this is in some other early texts, but seems unnecessary, especially with full styll in the previous line.

177 Child inserts one before worde, as is usual in this collocation; it is found in other early texts and seems necessary for both sense and meter.

179 knyght of force refers to the practice of "distraint of arms," that is "requiring military tenants who held £20 per annum to receive knighthoods or pay a compensation, begun under Henry III, as early as 1224, and continued by Edward I" (Child III, 51). In a Parliamentary writ, dated 1278, Edward I ordered all sheriffs in England "to distrain [compel] without delay all those of your bailiwick who have lands worth twenty pounds a year, or one whole knight's fee worth twenty pounds a year, and hold of us in chief and ought to be knights but are not, to receive from us before Christmas or on that feast the arms of a knight" (Harry Rothwell, ed., English Historical Documents 1189-1327 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1975] II, 413).

180 Or ellys of yemanry refers to the requirement for people owning less than a pound or 20 shillings to provide yeoman such as archers for royal forces (Powicke, 1962, p. 197).

204 Child inserts medial e in kyndnesse, presumably for metrical reasons, but this is not necessary.

212-13 In both lines Child prints both as in the earliest text and some later ones; the b text has beth in 213. It seems that both makes no sense in 213, and has been introduced into 212 by the juxtaposition of the doublet sette and solde. This text emends to beth in each line.

217 In order to provide bail for his son, who has killed a knight in a joust, Sir Richard has pledged his lands as security for a loan of 400 pounds from the abbot of St Mary's Abbey in York. The loan is due, but the knight has only ten shillings, and as a result he stands to lose his pledged property.

255 When Robin asks for security (borowe) for the loan of four hundred pounds, the knight replies that he has none other than Our dere Lady, which, because of his devotion to the Virgin, Robin readily accepts. Sagacious as usual, Child (III, 51-52) cites two parallels: one from the Legenda aurea in which a knight robs travellers, and the other from a Latin miracle of the Virgin in which a Christian borrows money from a Jewish money-lender and pledges the Virgin as his security. While the first example is a little remote - it is the knight in the Gest who is waylaid by robbers - the miracle of the Virgin is much more promising. When we consider (apparently unknown to Child) that the miracle entitled The Merchant's Surety exists in two Middle English versions dating from c. 1390 and c. 1450, the probability of influence is greatly increased. Although there are significant differences between the version in the Gest and the Middle English miracle, the opening plot elements and language are strikingly close: both the knight and the merchant love the Virgin; both are impoverished (due to differing circumstances); both are asked to pledge security for a loan; both offer the Virgin as their borowe/borwe; in both it is proclaimed that the Virgin will never fayle; both swear that they will repay the loans on a certain day; and, finally, Little John and the Jew make sure that the money is wel tolde/wel itold. For the text of The Merchant's Surety, see pp. 44-49 in Beverly Boyd, The Middle English Miracles of the Virgin (San Marino, California: The Huntington Library, 1964). Another edition is in Carl Horstmann, ed., The Minor Poems of the Vernon MS, Early English Text Society, o.s. 98 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1892), 157-61.

273 The source reads Much, but other texts call him litill Much here, as does the source at lines 291 and 305. Conceivably this name came from confusion with "litill John," but the adjective seems to improve the meter before "Much" in these instances and is accepted here.

279 Robin Hood on several occasions provides "livery" for those he protects. This is more than clothing: "livery and maintenance" were ways of building up a band of retainers, and it was frequently regarded as a crime if a man did not have the right to do that (Bellamy, 1973, especially pp. 8-9). Thus giving livery in an honest cause is another of Robin Hood's "good" crimes.

281 scarlet and grene. While the text is in no doubt about these colors, and both are used of the outlaws' clothing in early ballads, it seems likely that the line was originally scarlet in graine, that is a particularly good form of scarlet dye. But that is no reason to emend. It is, however, a sign that green was not the original color of the outlaws' clothing, but one of the accreted details of the myth.

289-90 Here appears a minor instance of the "bad tradesman" motif, especially clear in Robin Hood and the Potter.

332 The a text is deficient from this point until line 473 and b is followed.

334 The spelling of Litell John changes to Lytel Johan as the b text is taken up as the source.

335 Some thirty miles north of Barnsdale, York, a fine walled city with a 2000-year history, is the location of the powerful St. Mary's Abbey, where the knight must repay his 400 pounds or lose his land.

345 The text has a line missing, and Child sensibly repeats the line that ends the previous stanza - a repetition which may have caused the omission in the first place. Such repetitions for emphasis are not uncommon in early ballads.

351-52 The meaning of the lines seems obscure, but there are no signs of editing in the early texts to suggest miscomprehension. Presumably the Prior means "(If it were me) I would rather pay the hundred pounds right away."

353-54 The Prior seems to have knowledge of the knight's military activities ferre beyonde the see in England's cause. In line 388 the knight confirms that he has just returned from abroad with his meyné or company of soldiers.

354 Child inserts is his into this line, which in the text reads simply In Englonde ryght. The b text reads In Englonde he is right and the later f and g, like Child, have is his right. This suggest different ways of editing an original line reading simply In Englonde ryght, acceptable Middle English for In England's cause, which makes better sense both grammatically and in terms of the support the Prior is here giving the knight. There seems no ground for changing the original.

362 Saynt Rychere. The source reads Richard but the rhyme clearly requires Rychere. It is not fully clear which saint is referred to. In a note on Gamelyn, line 137 (which reads Rychere), Skeat states that, among a number of minor St. Richards, this one, popular in outlaw oaths, is the thirteenth century St. Richard of Chichester, who was "a pattern of brotherly love" (1884, pp. 38-39). Rhyme itself seems sufficient reason to emend to Rychere.

371 justyce. Child inserts hye; the expanded title is also found in some other early texts, but there seems little need for the emendation in terms either of sense or meter.

388 The knight speaks as if he and his company have (as the Prior suspected in line 353) been abroad, perhaps on a military campaign or crusade. This was not indicated earlier, and seems contradicted by his apparent plans to go on crusade (lines 223-28), but if he is travelling north to York, he is not coming from his notional home in Lancashire. The uncertainty may arise from combining different ballads.

389 With a line missing in all the texts, Child inserts a repetition from line 387, which seems sensible.

416 Syr justyce. The justice, or professional lawyer, is the agent of a powerful lord - the abbot in this case. Justices were an important part of the county court system, performing a variety of functions: "pleaders, attorneys, seignorial bailiffs, and seneschals, as well as occasionally filling royal positions such as undersheriff, sheriff, and county clerk" (Robert C. Palmer, The County Courts of Medieval England 1150-1350. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982, p. 89). When the lawyer says he is holde with the abbot . . . Both with cloth and fee, he is revealing that he has been hired by the abbey to render legal services for a fee or annual annuity (Palmer, pp. 95-96).

425 Referring to the justice's being holde with the abbot, Kaeuper notes that "in the first half of the fourteenth century the practice by which lords retained the king's justices was more prevalent than it had been earlier or would be again" (1988, p. 180).

426 The phrase cloth and fee echoes the Latin formula cum robis et foedis, used to designate payment of legal services with both money and gifts of clothing. The abbot had retained the chief justice in order to help him bankrupt the knight. According to Child (III, 52) the practice of giving and receiving robes for such purposes was considered a conspiracy in the legal code of King Edward I, 1305-06; in another statute of King Edward III, dated 1346, justices were required to swear that they would accept robes and fees only from the king.

450 call: the rhyme word is missing in Child's source (b here) but is in other early texts and needs inserting.

465 The abbot is seeking to gain the land by "purchas," that is, by cash sale, not by inheritance. At lines 471-76 the knight resists this; it was an increasingly common form of land transfer in the period, and is at the basis of the conflict in Gamelyn (see note to line 14).

473 The a text is available from this line until 831, with a gap at 532-44.

484 Child notes "the knight would have given something for the use of the four hundred pounds had the abbot been civil, though under no obligation to pay interest" (III, 52).

489 The abbot, having failed to gain the land, asks the justice to repay his retainer, intended to facilitate this process.

493 The a text has only Sir . . . n of lawe and then has a gap until line 507; the text is supplied from b.

504 Verysdale. See note to line 83.

527 The nock is a small v-shaped cut in the end of an arrow to fit the string. This cut can split, and a horn or metal cap prevents this. Silver would be unusually lavish.

530-31 The a text is damaged in the second half of these two lines and then has a gap until line 545. The text is supplied from b.

537 at Wentbrydge. Child reads, with the earliest text, But as he went at a brydge: this is obviously an attempt to edit by a compositor who did not know Wentbridge (this is its first mention in the poem). Child includes this necessary emendation as a possible reading in his textual note, III, 79.

537 Wrestling was not, by the fourteenth century, considered an aristocratic sport. In the portrait of the Miller in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer observes of this "churl" that "at wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram" (line 548). In Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas - a burlesque of the popular romances and ballads of the day - the effeminate hero engages in both wrestling and archery. In Gamelyn the hero only wrestles when he has been effectively disinherited.

548 The prize for an ordinary wrestling match was a ram: in this contest, however, the victor wins a bull, a saddled horse, a pair of gloves, a gold ring, and a cask of wine. This may suggest an "art" or literary context for the Gest.

551 ferre and frembde bested. This appears to mean "set far (from home) and as a stranger." Dobson and Taylor translate as "And because he was a stranger and in the predicament of being a foreigner" (1976, p. 89).

558 in fere. Child emends the phrase to free for the sake of the rhyme, but this is very vague in meaning compared with in fere, and rhymes in the Gest are frequently imprecise.

582 Shooting at sticks stuck in the ground was the hardest challenge for any archer in the ballads; Little John split the stick each time.

588 sawe I me. Child adds me to the line to improve the rhyme; this is found in b, but later texts edit differently That ever I did see. Child follows the same practice in line 675 where there is a little more support in the early texts for I me at the end of the line. The resultant expression seems unusual - a reflexive use of see - but it is found in lines 400 and 736, so the emendation is accepted.

624 While it might seem tempting to emend the source to Gyve me my dynere sone, so improving both the rhyme and the meter, long lines and imprecise rhymes are common in the Gest, and the text is best left unemended.

628 Mi dyner gif thou me. Though Child accepts the source Mi dyner gif me; this very short line is filled out uniformly with thou in other early texts and it seems more probable that thou was lost in a compositor's error rather than different texts hit on the same amplification, simple though it is.

650 The while that he wolde. This is how Child emends the source's The while he wole for both meter and rhyme. Other early texts insert that after while, which is accepted here on metrical grounds, but none has the past tense in wolde. Yet wole and bolde would make a very poor rhyme, and the loss of d is very easy: Child's reading is accepted.

675 sawe I me. Child's addition of me for rhyme is accepted; see note to line 588 for discussion.

701 Child inserts they, with other early texts, and though this is not grammatically essential, it seems a sensible emendation.

704 hore. Hoar or gray, due to the absence of foliage or because of the gray lichen that attaches itself to aged tree trunks.

714 Child emends sende to sendeth to keep the tense consistent with the previous line, but this is not necessary in Middle English.

731 Child prints the source's shryef, but though this is a conceivable condensation of shire-reeve, it is most likely a compositor's error and is emended to shyref.

738 As line 752 reveals, the green hart, with his herd of seven score deer, is an ironic reference (perhaps subliminally mythic) to Robin Hood, the mayster-herte and his men.

775 toke. Child emends the source's to to toke, with other early texts. This is not absolutely necessary grammatically, but to him would be a somewhat strained reading, and Child's emendation is accepted.

803 thy best. Child emends the source to the beste, presumably on grounds of sense and meter, but this seems unnecessary.

810 Child inserts by before day, as do some early texts, presumably on metrical grounds, but this is not necessary.

822-24 Robin is waiting to be repaid the four hundred pounds loaned to the knight, Sir Richard. This is the one year anniversary of their agreement in line 315. Commercial interests have invaded the Greenwood: Robin is acting like the avaricious abbot of St. Mary's and the Jewish money-lender in The Merchant's Surety (see note to line 255). The knight is late because he stopped to help the yeoman at the wrestling match. See also the note to line 939.

832 The a text is not available until line 1255, and b is followed.

835 such unketh gest. The source's reading does make sense, if with some awkwardness - "Look for the kind of unknown guest (we seek)." Other early texts read more simply "some strange." In printing some unketh Child uncharacteristically produces a hybrid reading that no one can have had and which can hardly have been an error for such unketh. In the absence of any obvious emendation, the earliest source is retained here, as it does make sense.

842 See line 51 of Robin Hood and the Monk for a fuller instance of Little John's anger: it is clear there that Robin's commands have annoyed him.

849 they. The source has he, presumably an error, as the plural pronoun of line 848 is used again in line 851. Child's emendation is accepted.

856 The source has That, which Child accepts and then inserts these afterwards to make sense, as do some early texts. But the more probable error is to have misread initial The as an abbreviated That, and this change is made here. The monkes have brought our pay introduces a recurrent ironic joke, that the robbery of the monks is a repayment, sanctioned by Mary, of the money lent to the knight. The joke recurs in Robin Hood's Golden Prize, lines 57-58.

858 b reads frese, which Child prints, but in his collation suggests leese, meaning "let loose" or drese meaning "get ready." The latter seems much more likely, fitting well with 860.

861 Child inserts men at the end of the line, but the noun is not needed and is not in the earliest texts.

870 The syntax is colloquial: John instructs the outlaws to stop the crowd of travellers, and picks the leading monk as his own target.

921 For the custom of hand washing, see the note to line 164 of Robin Hood and the Potter. Other references occur in line 125 of the Gest and line 527 in Adam Bell.

930 here. there might seem a more obvious word in terms of sense, but there is no support for it in the early texts.

939 Again Robin is preoccupied with being repaid his loan to the knight. The emphasis on pay, money, borowe, cofers, marke, peny, sylver, male, pounde, and doubled your cast permeates the scene that follows, and casts Robin in the role of a concerned money-lender.

960 The source has ame, but this is clearly an error for dame and needs emending; Child records the error as name.

984 See also line 164 for this idiom.

988 The source only has eight, but hundred, easily lost as the Roman numeral c, is obviously needed, and Child emends accordingly.

991 An ironic moment: the monk's fidelity depends on the outlaw's pretending to assume that Mary has meant him to carry money to Robin.

1012 The abbot is attempting to use a legal means to overturn the knight's victory in lines 493-96.

1018 tale is ironic: they have listened to the monk's tale in the previous stanza.

1048 The source reads they mery meyne: Child emends a notional thy to his, but the error is more probably based on an original reading of the, which is adopted here.

1069 This very long line is even longer in most sources, which insert sayd the knyght after grefe: Child accepts this. There are a number of long lines that identify a speaker (see note to line 41 of Robin Hood and the Monk), but they begin speeches. The knight has already been identified as the speaker and so sayd the knyght can be omitted here.

1083 selerer. Child inserts hye before the noun; this is found in later texts, but seems unnecessary; see the similar insertion before justyce in line 371.

1127 Here and in several later instances (lines 1163, 1199, 1251) Child adds e to proud, presumably on metrical grounds; although the spelling proude does appear in the text, this and the other instances of the emendation seem unnecessary.

1131 Child inserts he after And; this is not in the other early texts (though two late ones have they) and does not seem needed, that here having full pronominal, not simply relative force.

1135 buttes. Mounds or other prominences (usually artificial) marking the limits of a shooting range.

1158 Child inserts ve into hede, so the older form of the word (from OE heafod) can rhyme with desceyved. Rhyme is at times so imprecise in the Gest that the emendation appears unnecessary and no early texts emend on this basis: perhaps they read desceyved as having three syllables and so rhyming with hede perfectly, but see also note to line 1218.

1165 a bout. Child spells about and treats it like an adverb, but, as in Robin Hood and the Potter (see note to line 205) the source separates the letters into article and noun, and this makes sense in the action.

1166 Child emends the source's they to he, and while they could be taken to make sense, rather vaguely, and was accepted by some early texts, the change seems justified and has support in the other early texts.

1167 Gylberte with the White Hand seems to be Robin's near equal in the tournament, and this may be a version of the "shoot-off" which will in Scott lead to splitting the arrow (Ivanhoe, ch. 13), where Locksley's opponent is Hubert. But, as in line 1604, Gylberte is again mentioned in the same formulaic way, and this time the competition is in the forest, among the archers. He does not appear elsewhere.

1171 In line 595 Reynolde is the alias of Little John; here he is depicted as a separate character. Child prints in his Introduction to the Gest a ballad telling how Reynold joined the outlaws (III, 54). There was a Reynoldyn in the comic list of outlaw names found in the Wiltshire parliamentary rolls as early as 1432; a late fifteenth-century poem speaks of "how Reynall and Robin Hode runnen at the gleve," and in 1502 Robert Fabyan's Chronicle speaks of a criminal arrested about Midsummer "which had renued many of Robin Hodes pageantes, which named himself Granelef" (for these references see Knight, 1994, Appendix, pp. 264-68). With such evidence of a Reynold Greenleaf as one of the extended band, the question is why Little John took on his name? Was there perhaps a ballad of how Reynold served the Sheriff, which was absorbed by the compiler of the Gest?

1181 The populace are, it seems, raising the hue and cry against Robin Hood, and in that case the town constables had to make an arrest (Bellamy, 1973, p. 93). See note to line 1713.

1210 lovest. Child inserts d, apparently so lovedest can retain the consistency of a past tense; but by line 1216 John is speaking in the present and the emendation seems unnecessary.

1218 Unlike line 1158, Child does not insert f into hede for the purpose of a better rhyme with lefte, all later texts emend the line to create a good rhyme. The earliest texts seem to overlook the problem, so emendation seems unnecessary. SEe also line 1158, where the problem likewise occurs. There Child does amend to hefte.

1245 Child inserts I after moche, as do the later texts, and this seems required.

1254 a is available again until line 1395.

1258 St. Quentin is, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, a martyr who "preached at Amiens where the probably fictitious prefect Rictiovarus arrested and interrogated him, finally killing him by a series of fearsome tortures." Perhaps it is fitting that Sir Richard swear by St. Quentin that he will protect Robin Hood and thus save him from the sort of arrest and torture that the saint suffered.

1297 The source reads wyl not wil as Child has it.

1317 The source reads fayles which would be a sharp change of tense; all but the two earliest sources vary it, and Child's emendation to fayled is accepted.

1323 Hawking is an aristocratic pastime, and the knight would not be fully armed; there is a supposition of the sheriff's improper behavior in his capture.

1324 Child inserts his before haukes, apparently on metrical grounds; the earliest text lacks his, and the emendation seems unnecessary.

1352-53 These two lines are left blank by Child. Copland offers "The proude shiriffe,"/then sayd she, which completes well the stanza 1349-52, but he then offers two new and weak lines in place of 1354-56: "He is not yet passed thre myles, / You may them overtake." It seems best to produce a new line as 1353 based on repetition (see line 345).

1392 Child inserts e on the end of bright, presumably on metrical grounds, but this seems unnecessary.

1395 The a text is not available for the rest of the poem and b is followed.

1402 The source has hoode which does not make sense, unless the knight had a hood over his head - but at line 1328 the knight was merely said to be bound. None of the other early texts seem to see any problem, but Child's emendation to bonde is accepted.

1412 Three Edwards reigned in succession from 1272 to 1377: Edward I, 1272-1307; Edward II, 1307-27; Edward III, 1327-77. Joseph Hunter noted that Edward II had in 1324 a "valet de chambre" with the name of Robin Hood, though there was no indication that he had been in trouble with the law (pp. 38). Holt discusses the connection with some scepticism, but also feels that some of the events in the seventh and eighth fitts had a basis in historical fact (1989, pp. 155-56). He notes that after Edward II's execution of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in 1322, the earl's supporters committed wide-spread acts of vengeance, including the pillaging of the king's deer in the royal forests, and that as in the Gest, Edward II himself travelled to the area to investigate these disturbances. Knight has suggested that Edward IV, who may best fit the description our comly kynge (also in lines 1457, 1513, 1549, 1637, 1727), is referred to, as his period of rule (1461-83) is not inconsistent with the argument that the Gest is composed much later than has usually been thought (1994, pp. 46-48). We may, however, be on firmer ground in now identifying the king in fitts seven and eight as Edward III, because Laurence Minot refers to him as Edward, oure cumly king in line 1 of Poem IV, which was composed about 1339 to commemorate Edward III's invasion of France at the beginning of the Hundred Years War (Richard Osberg, ed., The Poems of Laurence Minot, 1333-1352, Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1996).

1425 The source reads the passe of Lancashire which makes no sense. Some of the later texts read compasse, which is very unlikely to be an editorial emendation because of its inherent complexity, and is probably the original reading.

1427 Ritson, relying on Camden's Britannia, suggested Plompton Park was "upon the banks of the Penterill in Cumberland" (1795, p. xxv), and Child (III, 54-55) agreed, though noting that Hunter, "citing no authority" said it was part of the forest of Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Dobson and Taylor follow Hunter, though they include "possibly" in their note (1976, p. 105) and locate it in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Holt (1989, p. 101) argues for Plumpton Wood in Lancaster, near the king's demesne wood of Myerscough. However, it seems clear that the reference is to part of Inglewood forest near Carlisle, providing an interesting connection with Andrew of Wyntoun's early location of Robin and Little John there. In her edition of The Awntyrs of Arthur, Helen Phillips notes that "Plumptoun Laund . . . was an area of grassland within the forest (walled in between 1332-35), within which was Plumpton Hay, a fenced park" (1988, p. 8). Plumpton is mentioned again in Robin Hood's Fishing, lines 65 and 71, possibly there a reference to the Gest as Dobson and Taylor suggest (1976, p. 181).

1429 Forest law. Royal laws regulating the use of forests can be traced back to the legal codes of Ine (A.D. 688-94), Alfred (871-99), and Cnut (1020-23). In the latter, "everyone is to avoid trespassing on my hunting, wherever I wish to have it preserved, on pain of full fine" (Dorothy Whitelock, ed., English Historical Documents c. 500-1042 [London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1955] I, 430). After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror "gathered the woods and hunting preserves of the Saxon kings into a jurisdiction under the forest law he brought from Normandy and added new forests to that core" (Charles R. Young, The Royal Forests of Medieval England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1979, p. 150). It is estimated that one-fourth of the area of England was designated royal forest, including entire shires (Huntingdonshire). In his "Coronation Charter," dated 1100, William's youngest son, Henry I, reminded the kingdom that "I have retained the forests in my own hands as my father did before me" (David C. Douglas and George W. Grennaway, eds., English Historical Documents 1042-1189 [London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968] II, 402). King Stephen made a similar claim in 1136 (II, 403). In the Assize of the Forest (1184), Henry II set forth the first piece of legislation devoted exclusively to the royal forest. It begins by forbidding "that anyone shall transgress against him in regard to his hunting-rights or his forests in any respect." If anyone is convicted of offending his forests, "he wills that full justice be exacted from the offender." To oversee the protection of the forests, the king instructed the sheriff in each shire to appoint twelve knights to guard his venison (red deer, fallow deer, and roe deer) and vert (wood). Baronial discontent with forest law reached its peak in the years leading up to Magna Carta (1215). In the "Articles of the Barons," the barons demanded that King John amend the "wicked customs connected with forests and with foresters and warrens and sheriffs and river-banks . . ." (Harry Rothwell, ed., English Historical Documents 1189-1327 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1975] III, 314). These calls for reform appeared in Magna Carta itself (p. 321), were later omitted (p. 331), and were reissued in expanded form in The Charter of the Forest in 1217 (p. 337). Item ten reads: "No one shall henceforth lose life or limb because of our venison" (p. 339). And item fifteen: "All who . . . have been outlawed for a forest offence only shall be released from their outlawry without legal proceedings . . ." (p. 340). But the harsh penalties continued. In the Statute of Winchester of 1275, Edward I ordered that if anyone is convicted of wrongdoing in the parks or preserves, the plaintiff "shall be awarded appropriate and heavy damages according to the nature of the offense and three years imprisonment." If the accused cannot pay the fine, "he shall abjure the realm," and, if he takes flight and ignores the lawful inquest, "let him be outlawed" (p. 403).

1442 my honde. Child inserts with before this phrase; this does appear in the later texts but is not needed: my honde is an idiomatic Middle English instrumental phrase.

1454 ball in his hode. The phrase refers to the head, and appears to have an ironic, even macabre, reference to games in which the ball was originally a human head.

1473 The sources all have ledesman, which, influenced by lede in line 1474, misses the play on a religious disguise continued in bedesman.

1481 hastly. Child spells hastely, presumably for metrical reasons, but this is not necessary; the same occurs in lines 1565 and 1713.

1506 The second and fourth lines of this stanza are identical in the earlier texts. Child thought this was an error and supplied a new fourth line (Other shyft have not wee). But such repetitions are not uncommon in this kind of text, and this statement before the king is a suitable occasion for such an emphatic celebration of the greenwood ethos.

1512 saynt. Child adds an e, presumably for metrical reasons, but this is not necessary.

1524 I vouch it halfe on the. The source's reading makes good sense: the "abbot" says he would split his money with the outlaws, and Robin acts accordingly. Child's emendation to I wolde vouch it safe on the, while intelligent, is unnecessary.

1534 The king, in disguise, presents his royal image in the form of a seal, which is both in itself revered and the instrument of recognition. The sense of the power of the king's presence and gaze is realized in the story.

1537 targe. According to the OED this is "a name applied in the reigns of the first three Edwards to the King's private or privy seal (perhaps bearing a shield as its device)."

1645 In a little-noted correction in a later volume (V, 297), Child inserts to before our kynge and repunctuates to change speakers: now Robin asks mercy from the king. This is the reading of Copland and White, the later texts. It is also necessary to change your to this so the king does not seem to possess the trystyll- tre. It seems much more likely that the early source is correct and that the king-abbot is still theatrically playing his part - to which Robin responds by asking mercy in turn. Dobson and Taylor retain the original reading, as here.

1663 The idea of Robin holding an alternative lordship, with his own retinue, is clear.

1666 come. Child inserts wyll before the verb, but although this is the construction in line 1661 it is only in the later texts here, and is not needed.

1668 The gap between fitts is not as clear as that in earlier instances. Previous fitts have definite breaks, although fitts five, six, and seven are all rather short. This break appears to have been inserted editorially.

1681-82 The king adopts Robin's green livery in place of religious black. This acknowledges forest values, at least in play. Hall records Henry VIII and his courtiers dressing in green to pay a surprise visit to the queen and her ladies (Knight, 1994, pp. 105-10).

1683 had so, iwys. Child emends to "also i-wys." This appears credible, but a sharper sense is produced if the error is assumed to be in the next line with had repeated from line 1683 instead of hod ("hood"). The point of the passage is that the king's men are changing their black cowls for green hoods and Child's emendation obscures this. So line 1683 is retained as in the original and in line 1684 had is emended to hode.

1689 Theyr bowes bente, and. For no clear reason Child accepts the later texts' apparent editing of the source to They bente theyr bowes: this loses the condensed force of the original as well as its sprightly internal rhyme.

1695 plucke buffet. According to Dobson and Taylor (1976, p. 110), "An archery competition with the forfeit of receiving a 'pluck' or knock for missing the target." Here this seems to have been extended to receiving a blow for losing a bout and so seems a euphemism of more violent encounters with the bow. See Introduction to Robyn and Gandelyn, p. 227. Child notes that plucke-buffet is played in the romance of Richard Coer de Lion and in The Turke and Gowin (III, 55).

1713 Compare the action of Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham (p. 507), which also shows townspeople in fear of the outlaw. Adam Bell has a similar scene, where the townspeople capture the hero William of Cloudesley, lines 141-48. This, like the hue and cry in line 1181, seems a sharp form of opposition between forest and urban values, and suggests a stronger sociopolitical conflict than the usual notion of Robin Hood as a universal hero.

1731 he had spent. The source only has spent and Child inserts he had, which is found in the later texts. While in many cases they seem to amplify a condensed Middle English usage, here their addition appears required.

1742 Full ferre. Child accepts the reading Full fayre which is in a Douce fragment and the later texts, but it makes better sense to accept the earlier reading: Robin is impressed by the distance these young men can shoot.

1747 Child prints compted as an emendation of the source's commytted; the logic of his emendation is correct, but the original must have been comted, which gives rise both to committed and, in the later texts, commended.

1767 To walk barefoot with wool next to the skin implies penance rather than poverty. Robin is suggesting to the king a pilgrimage to the chapel in Barnsdale, but also implies his rejection of the luxuries of court life.

1795 Child inserts dere from a Douce fragment, but it seems unnecessary: though "my master dear" is a common enough phrase in general, there is little sentiment of this kind in the Gest.

1803 Kyrkely. The place of Robin's death is known either as Kirklee (Church Lee) or Kirklees/Kyrklyes (see The Death of Robin Hood, where it is for the most part Kirkly and Churchlee and also Kirklys and Churchlees). There was a priory of this name near Wakefield in West Yorkshire; for a discussion of the location, see Dobson and Taylor, 1976, pp. 19-20. Child emends the source's Kyrkely to Kyrkesly at line 1803 and kept it as Kyrkesly at line 1815. The reverse is necessary: it appears that he was for once mistaken about a fact, as he refers to the site in his Introduction as "Kyrkesly or Kirklees" (III, 50).

1806 Syr Roger is presumably the same figure as Red Roger, Robin Hood's assailant in one version of The Death of Robin Hood, see line 97; he is referred to in the Sloane Life, which presumably draws on the Gest here as elsewhere.

Donkesly. Line 1817 refers to Doncaster. Donkesly could perhaps be an erroneous compound of Doncaster and Kirklees.














































































































































































































































































































































































The First Fytte
Lythe and listin, gentilmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.
Robyn was a prude outlaw,
Whyles he walked on grounde:
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one
Was nevere non founde.
Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre,
And bi hym stode Litell Johnn,
A gode yeman was he.
And alsoo dyd gode Scarlok,
And Much, the millers son:
There was none ynch of his bodi
But it was worth a grome.
Than bespake Lytell Johnn
All untoo Robyn Hode:
"Maister, and ye wolde dyne betyme
It wolde doo you moche gode."
Than bespake hym gode Robyn:
"To dyne have I noo lust,
Till that I have som bolde baron,
Or som unkouth gest.
"Here shal come a lord or sire
That may pay for the best,
Or som knyght or squyer,
That dwelleth here bi west."
A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Every day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.
The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our dere Lady,
That he loved allther moste.
Robyn loved Oure dere Lady:
For dout of dydly synne,
Wolde he never do compani harme
That any woman was in.
"Maistar," than sayde Lytil Johnn,
"And we our borde shal sprede,
Tell us wheder that we shal go,
And what life that we shall lede.
"Where we shall take, where we shall leve,
Where we shall abide behynde;
Where we shall robbe, where we shal reve,
Where we shall bete and bynde."
"Therof no force," than sayde Robyn;
"We shall do well inowe;
But loke ye do no husbonde harme,
That tilleth with his ploughe.
"No more ye shall no gode yeman
That walketh by grene wode shawe,
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.
"These bisshoppes and these archebishoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hye sherif of Notyingham,
Hym holde ye in your mynde."
"This worde shalbe holde," sayde Lytell Johnn,
"And this lesson we shall lere;
It is fer dayes, God sende us a gest,
That we were at oure dynere!"
"Take thy gode bowe in thy honde," sayde Robyn;
"Late Much wende with the:
And so shal Willyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
"And walke up to the Saylis,
And so to Watlinge Strete,
And wayte after some unkuth gest,
Up chaunce ye may them mete.
"Be he erle, or ani baron,
Abbot, or ani knyght,
Bringhe hym to lodge to me;
His dyner shall be dight."
They wente up to the Saylis,
These yeman all thre;
They loked est, they loke weest;
They myght no man see.
But as they loked in to Bernysdale,
Bi a derne strete,
Than came a knyght ridinghe,
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wavyd beside.
His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray,
A soriar man than he was one
Rode never in somer day.
Litell Johnn was full curteyes,
And sette hym on his kne:
"Welcom be ye, gentyll knyght,
Welcom ar ye to me.
"Welcom be thou to grene wode,
Hende knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these oures thre."
"Who is thy maister?" sayde the knyght;
Johnn sayde, "Robyn Hode."
"He is gode yoman," sayde the knyght,
"Of hym I have herde moche gode.
"I graunte," he sayde, "with you to wende,
My bretherne, all in fere;
My purpos was to have dyned to day
At Blith or Dancastere."
Furth than went this gentyl knight,
With a carefull chere;
The teris oute of his iyen ran,
And fell downe by his lere.
They brought hym to the lodge door,
Whan Robyn hym gan see,
Full curtesly dyd of his hode
And sette hym on his knee.
"Welcome, sir knight," than sayde Robyn,
"Welcome art thou to me;
I have abyden you fastinge, sir,
All these ouris thre."
Than answered the gentyll knight,
With wordes fayre and fre:
"God the save, goode Robyn,
And all thy fayre meyné."
They wasshed togeder and wyped bothe,
And sette to theyr dynere;
Brede and wyne they had right ynoughe,
And noumbles of the dere.
Swannes and fessauntes they had full gode,
And foules of the ryvere;
There fayled none so litell a birde
That ever was bred on bryre.
"Do gladly, sir knight," sayde Robyn;
"Gramarcy, sir," sayde he,
"Such a dinere had I nat
Of all these wekys thre.
"If I come ageyne, Robyn,
Here by thys contré,
As gode a dyner I shall the make
As that thou haest made to me."
"Gramarcy, knyght," sayde Robyn,
"My dyner whan that I it have;
I was never so gredy, bi dere worthy God,
My dyner for to crave.
"But pay or ye wende," sayde Robyn;
"Me thynketh it is gode ryght;
It was never the maner, by dere worthi God,
A yoman to pay for a knyght."
"I have nought in my coffers," saide the knyght,
"That I may profer for shame."
"Litell Johnn, go loke," sayde Robyn,
"Ne let nat for no blame.
"Tel me truth," than saide Robyn,
"So God have parte of the."
"I have no more but ten shelynges," sayde the knyght,
"So God have part of me."
"If thou hast no more," sayde Robyn,
"I woll nat one peny,
And yf thou have nede of any more,
More shall I lend the.
"Go nowe furth, Littell Johnn,
The truth tell thou me:
If there be no more but ten shelinges,
No peny that I se."
Lyttell Johnn sprede downe hys mantell
Full fayre upon the grounde,
And there he fonde in the knyghtes cofer
But even halfe pounde.
Littell Johnn let it lye full styll,
And went to hys maysteer lowe;
"What tidynges Johnn?" sayde Robyn;
"Sir, the knyght is true inowe."
"Fyll of the best wine," sayde Robyn,
"The knyght shall begynne;
Moche wonder thinketh me
Thy clothynge is so thin.
"Tell me one worde," sayde Robyn,
"And counsel shal it be:
I trowe thou warte made a knyght of force,
Or ellys of yemanry.
"Or ellys thou hast bene a sori husbande,
And lyved in stroke and stryfe,
An okerer or ellis a lechoure," sayde Robyn,
"Wyth wronge hast led thy lyfe."
"I am none of those," sayde the knyght,
"By God that made me;
An hundred wynter here before
Myn auncetres knyghtes have be.
"But oft it hath befal, Robyn,
A man hath be disgrate,
But God that sitteth in heven above
May amende his state.
"Withyn this two yere, Robyne," he sayde,
"My neghbours well it wende,
Foure hundred pounde of gode money
Ful well than myght I spende.
"Nowe have I no gode," saide the knyght,
"God hath shaped such an ende,
But my chyldren and my wyfe,
Tyll God yt may amende."
"In what maner," than sayde Robyn,
"Hast thou lorne thy rychesse?"
"For my greate foly," he sayde,
"And for my kyndnesse.
"I hade a sone, forsoth, Robyn,
That shulde have ben myn ayre,
Whanne he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde just full fayre.
"He slewe a knyght of Lancaster,
And a squyer bolde;
For to save hym in his ryght
My godes beth sette and solde.
"My londes beth sette to wedde, Robyn,
Untyll a certayn day,
To a ryche abbot here besyde
Of Seynt Mari Abbey."
"What is the som?" sayde Robyn;
"Trouth than tell thou me."
"Sir," he sayde, "foure hundred pounde;
The abbot told it to me."
"Nowe and thou lese thy lond," sayde Robyn,
"What woll fall of the?"
"Hastely I wol me buske," sayde the knyght,
"Over the salte see,
"And se where Criste was quyke and dede,
On the mount of Calveré;
Fare wel, frende, and have gode day;
It may no better be."
Teris fell out of hys iyen two;
He wolde have gone hys way.
"Farewel, frende, and have gode day;
I ne have no more to pay."
"Where be thy frendes?" sayde Robyn.
"Syr, never one wol me knowe:
While I was ryche ynowe at home
Great boste than wolde they blowe.
"And nowe they renne away fro me,
As bestis on a rowe;
They take no more hede of me
Thanne they had me never sawe."
For ruthe thanne wept Litell Johnn,
Scarlok and Muche in fere;
"Fyl of the best wyne," sayde Robyn,
"For here is a symple chere.
"Hast thou any frende," sayde Robyn,
"Thy borowe that wolde be?"
"I have none," than sayde the knyght,
"But God that dyed on tree."
"Do away thy japis," than sayde Robyn,
"Thereof wol I right none;
Wenest thou I wolde have God to borowe,
Peter, Poule, or Johnn?
"Nay, by Hym that me made,
And shope both sonne and mone,
Fynde me a better borowe," sayde Robyn,
"Or money getest thou none."
"I have none other," sayde the knyght,
"The sothe for to say,
But yf yt be Our dere Lady;
She fayled me never or thys day."
"By dere worthy God," sayde Robyn,
"To seche all Englonde thorowe,
Yet fonde I never to my pay
A moche better borowe.
"Come nowe furth, Litell Johnn.
And go to my tresouré,
And bringe me foure hundered pound,
And loke well tolde it be."
Furth than went Litell Johnn,
And Scarlok went before;
He tolde oute foure hundred pounde
By eightene and two score.
"Is thys well tolde?" sayde litell Much;
Johnn sayde, "What greveth the?
It is almus to helpe a gentyll knyght,
That is fal in poverté.
"Master," than sayde Lityll John,
"His clothinge is full thynne;
Ye must gyve the knight a lyveray,
To lappe his body therin.
"For ye have scarlet and grene, mayster,
And many a riche aray;
Ther is no marchaunt in mery Englond
So ryche, I dare well say."
"Take hym thre yerdes of every colour,
And loke well mete that it be."
Lytell Johnn toke none other mesure
But his bowe-tree.
And at every handfull that he met
He leped footes three.
"What devylles drapar," sayid litell Muche,
"Thynkest thou for to be?"
Scarlok stode full stil and loughe,
And sayd, "By God Almyght,
Johnn may gyve hym gode mesure,
For it costeth hym but lyght."
"Mayster," than said Litell Johnn
To gentill Robyn Hode,
"Ye must give the knight a hors,
To lede home this gode."
"Take hym a gray coursar," sayde Robyn,
"And a saydle newe;
He is Oure Ladye's messangere;
God graunt that he be true."
"And a gode palfray," sayde lytell Much,
"To mayntene hym in his right."
"And a peyre of botes," sayde Scarlock,
"For he is a gentyll knight."
"What shalt thou gyve hym, Litell John?" said Robyn;
"Sir, a peyre of gilt sporis clene,
To pray, for all this company,
God bringe hym oute of tene."
"Whan shal mi day be," said the knight,
"Sir, and your wyll be?"
"This day twelve moneth," saide Robyn,
"Under this grene-wode tre.
"It were greate shame," sayde Robyn,
"A knight alone to ryde,
Withoute squyre, yoman, or page,
To walke by his syde.
"I shall the lende Litell John, my man,
For he shalbe thy knave;
In a yemans stede he may the stande,
If thou greate nede have."
The Seconde Fytte
Now is the knight gone on his way:
This game hym thought full gode;
Whanne he loked on Bernesdale
He blessyd Robyn Hode.
And whanne he thought on Bernysdale,
On Scarlok, Much, and Johnn,
He blyssyd them for the best company
That ever he in come.
Then spake that gentyll knyght,
To Lytel Johan gan he saye,
"To-morrowe I must to Yorke toune,
To Saynt Mary abbay.
"And to the abbot of that place
Foure hondred pounde I must pay;
And but I be there upon this nyght
My londe is lost for ay."
The abbot sayd to his covent,
There he stode on grounde,
"This day twelfe moneth came there a knyght
And borrowed foure hondred pounde.
"He borrowed foure hondred pounde,
Upon all his londe fre;
But he come this ylke day
Dysheryte shall he be."
"It is full erely," sayd the pryoure,
"The day is not yet ferre gone;
I had lever to pay an hondred pounde,
And lay downe anone.
"The knyght is ferre beyonde the see,
In Englonde ryght,
And suffreth honger and colde,
And many a sory nyght.
"It were grete pyté," said the pryoure,
"So to have his londe;
And ye be so lyght of your consyence,
Ye do to hym moch wronge."
"Thou arte ever in my berde," sayd the abbot,
"By God and Saynt Rychere."
With that cam in a fat-heded monke,
The heygh selerer.
"He is dede or hanged," sayd the monke,
"By God that bought me dere,
And we shall have to spende in this place
Foure hondred pounde by yere."
The abbot and the hy selerer
Sterte forthe full bolde,
The justyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.
The hye justyce and many mo
Had take in to theyr honde
Holy all the knyghtes det,
To put that knyght to wronge.
They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and his meyné:
"But he come this ylke day
Dysheryte shall he be."
"He wyll not come yet," sayd the justyce,
"I dare well undertake."
But in sorowe tyme for them all
The knyght came to the gate.
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll his meyné:
"Now put on your symple wedes
That ye brought fro the see."
They put on their symple wedes,
They came to the gates anone;
The porter was redy hymselfe,
And welcomed them everychone.
"Welcome, syr knyght," sayd the porter;
"My lorde to mete is he,
And so is many a gentyll man,
For the love of the."
The porter swore a full grete othe,
"By God that made me,
Here be the best coressed hors
That ever yet sawe I me.
"Lede them in to the stable," he sayd,
"That eased myght they be."
"They shall not come therin," sayd the knyght,
"By God that dyed on a tre."
Lordes were to mete isette
In that abbotes hall;
The knyght went forth and kneled downe,
And salued them grete and small.
"Do gladly, syr abbot," sayd the knyght,
"I am come to holde my day."
The fyrst word the abbot spake,
"Hast thou brought my pay?"
"Not one peny," sayd the knyght,
"By God that maked me."
"Thou art a shrewed dettour" sayd the abbot;
"Syr justyce, drynke to me.
"What doost thou here," sayd the abbot,
"But thou haddest brought thy pay?"
"For God," than sayd the knyght,
"To pray of a lenger daye."
"Thy daye is broke," sayd the justyce,
"Londe getest thou none."
"Now, good syr justyce, be my frende,
And fende me of my fone!"
"I am holde with the abbot," sayd the justyce,
"Both with cloth and fee."
"Now, good syr sheryf, be my frende!"
"Nay, for God," sayd he.
"Now, good syr abbot, be my frende,
For thy curteysé,
And holde my londes in thy honde
Tyll I have made the gree!
"And I wyll be thy true servaunte,
And trewely serve the,
Tyl ye have foure hondred pounde
Of money good and free."
The abbot sware a full grete othe,
"By God that dyed on a tree,
Get the londe where thou may,
For thou getest none of me."
"By dere worthy God," then sayd the knyght,
"That all this worlde wrought,
But I have my londe agayne,
Full dere it shall be bought.
"God, that was of a mayden borne,
Leve us well to spede!
For it is good to assay a frende
Or that a man have need."
The abbot lothely on hym gan loke,
And vylaynesly hym gan call:
"Out," he sayd, "thou false knyght,
Spede the out of my hall!"
"Thou lyest," then sayd the gentyll knyght,
"Abbot, in thy hall;
False knyght was I never,
By God that made us all."
Up then stode that gentyll knyght,
To the abbot sayd he,
"To suffre a knyght to knele so longe,
Thou canst no curteysye.
"In joustes and in tournement
Full ferre than have I be,
And put my selfe as ferre in press
As ony that ever I se."
"What wyll ye gyve more," sayd the justice,
"And the knyght shall make a releyse?
And elles dare I safly swere
Ye holde never your londe in pees."
"An hondred pounde," sayd the abbot;
The justice sayd, "Gyve hym two."
"Nay, be God," sayd the knyght,
"Yit gete ye it not so."
"Though ye wolde gyve a thousand more,
Yet were ye never the nere;
Shall there never be myn heyre
Abbot, justice, ne frere."
He stert hym to a borde anone,
Tyll a table rounde,
And there shoke oute of a bagge
Even four hundred pound.
"Have here thi golde, sir abbot," saide the knight,
"Which that thou lentest me;
Had thou ben curtes at my comynge,
Rewarded shuldest thou have be."
The abbot sat styll, and ete no more,
For all his ryall fare;
He cast his hede on his shulder,
And fast began to stare.
"Take me my golde agayne," saide the abbot,
"Sir justice, that I toke the."
"Not a peni," said the justice,
"Bi God that dyed on tree."
"Sir abbot and ye men of lawe,
Now have I holde my daye;
Now shall I have my londe agayne,
For ought that you can saye."
The knyght stert out of the dore,
Awaye was all his care,
And on he put his good clothynge,
The other he lefte there.
He wente hym forth full mery syngynge,
As men have tolde in tale;
His lady met hym at the gate,
At home in Verysdale.
"Welcome, my lorde," sayd his lady;
"Syr, lost is all your good?"
"Be mery, dame," sayd the knyght,
"And pray for Robyn Hode,
"That ever his soule be in blysse:
He holpe me out of tene;
Ne had be his kyndenesse,
Beggers had we bene.
"The abbot and I accorded ben,
He is served of his pay;
The god yoman lent it me,
As I cam by the way."
This knight than dwelled fayre at home,
The sothe for to saye.
Tyll he had gete four hundred pound,
Al redy for to pay.
He purveyed him an hundred bowes,
The strynges well ydyght,
An hundred shefe of arowes gode,
The hedys burneshed full bryght;
And every arowe an elle longe,
With pecok wel idyght,
Inocked all with whyte silver;
It was a semely syght.
He purveyed hym an hundreth men,
Well harnessed in that stede.
And hym selfe in that same sete,
And clothed in whyte and rede.
He bare a launsgay in his honde,
And a man ledde his male,
And reden with a lyght songe
Unto Bernsydale.
But at Wentbrydge ther was a wrastelyng,
And there taryed was he,
And there was all the best yemen
Of all the west countree.
A full fayre game there was up set,
A whyte bulle up i-pyght,
A grete courser, with sadle and brydil,
With golde burnyssht full bryght.
A payre of gloves, a rede golde rynge,
A pype of wyne, in fay;
What man that bereth hym best i-wys
The pryce shall bere away.
There was a yoman in that place,
And best worthy was he,
And for he was ferre and frembde bested,
Slayne he shulde have be.
The knight had ruthe of this yoman,
In place where he stode;
He sayde that yoman shulde have no harme,
For love of Robyn Hode.
The knyght presed in to the place,
An hundreth folowed hym in fere,
With bowes bent and arowes sharpe,
For to shende that companye.
They shulderd all and made hym rome,
To wete what he wolde say;
He toke the yeman bi the hande,
And gave hym al the play.
He gave hym fyve marke for his wyne,
There it lay on the molde,
And bad it shulde be set a broche,
Drynke who so wolde.
Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,
Tyll that play was done;
So longe abode Robyn fastinge,
Thre houres after the none.
The Thirde Fytte
Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that nowe be here,
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knightes man,
Goode myrth ye shall here.
It was upon a mery day
That yonge men wolde go shete,
Lytell Johnn fet his bowe anone,
And sayde he wolde them mete.
Thre tymes Litell Johnn shet aboute,
And alwey he slet the wande:
The proude sherif of Notingham
By the markes can stande.
The sherif swore a full greate othe:
"By Hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arschere
That ever yet sawe I me.
"Say me nowe, wight yonge man,
What is nowe thy name?
In what countré were thou borne,
And where is thy wonynge wane?"
"In Holdernes, sir, I was borne,
Iwys al of my dame;
Men cal me Reynolde Grenelef
Whan I am at hame."
"Sey me, Reynolde Grenelefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And every yere I woll the gyve
Twenty marke to thy fee."
"I have a maister," sayde Litell Johnn,
"A curteys knight is he;
May ye leve gete of hym,
The better may it be."
The sherif gate Litell John
Twelve monethes of the knight;
Therefore he gave him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.
Nowe is Litell John the sherifes man
God lende us well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.
"Nowe so God me helpe," sayde Litell John,
"And by my true leutye,
I shall be the worst servaunt to hym
That ever yet had he."
It fell upon a Wednesday
The sherif on huntynge was gone,
And Litel John lay in his bed,
And was foriete at home.
Therefore he was fastinge
Til it was past the none.
"God sir stuarde, I pray to the,
Gyve me my dynere," saide Litell John.
"It is longe for Grenelefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray the, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif thou me."
"Shalt thou never ete ne drynke," saide the stuarde,
"Tyll my lorde be come to towne."
"I make myn avowe to God," saide Litell John,
"I had lever to crake thy crowne."
The boteler was full uncurteys,
There he stode on flore;
He start to the botery
And shet fast the dore.
Lytell Johnn gave the boteler suche a tap
His backe were nere in two;
Though he lived an hundred ier,
The wors shuld he go.
He sporned the dore with his fote,
It went open wel and fyne,
And there he made large lyveray,
Bothe of ale and of wyne.
"Sith ye wol nat dyne," sayde Litell John,
"I shall gyve you to drinke,
And though ye lyve an hundred wynter,
On Lytel Johnn ye shall thinke."
Litell John ete, and Litel John drank,
The while that he wolde;
The sherife had in his kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.
"I make myn avowe to God," saide the coke,
"Thou arte a shrewde hynde
In ani hous for to dwel,
For to aske thus to dyne."
And there he lent Litell John
God strokis thre;
"I make myn avowe to God," sayde Lytell John,
"These strokis lyked well me.
"Thou arte a bolde man and hardy,
And so thinketh me;
And or I pas fro this place
Assayed better shalt thou be."
Lytell Johnn drew a ful gode sworde,
The coke toke another in hande;
They thought no thynge for to fle,
But stifly for to stande.
There they faught sore togedere
Two myle way and well more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The mountnaunce of an owre.
"I make myn avowe to God," sayde Litell Johnn,
"And by my true lewté,
Thou art one of the best swordemen
That ever yit sawe I me.
"Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To grene wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shulde be,
"And every yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe."
"Put up thy swerde," saide the coke,
"And felowes woll we be."
Thanne he fet to Lytell Johnn,
The nowmbles of a do,
Gode brede, and full gode wyne;
They ete and drank theretoo.
And when they had dronkyn well,
Theyre trouthes togeder they plight,
That they wolde be with Robyn
That ylke same nyght.
They dyd them to the tresoure hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lokkes, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them everichone.
They toke away the silver vessell,
And all that thei might get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.
Also they toke the gode pens,
Three hundred pounde and more,
And did them streyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode hore.
"God the save, my dere mayster,
And Criste the save and se!"
And thanne sayde Robyn to Litell Johnn,
"Welcome myght thou be."
"Also be that fayre yeman
Thou bryngest there with the;
What tydynges fro Notyngham?
Lytill Johnn, tell thou me."
"Well the gretith the proude sheryf,
And sende the here by me
His coke and his silver vessell,
And thre hundred pounde and thre."
"I make myne avowe to God," sayde Robyn,
"And to the Trenyté,
It was never by his gode wyll
This gode is come to me."
Lytyll Johnn there hym bethought
On a shrewde wyle;
Fyve myle in the forest he ran;
Hym happed all his wyll.
Than he met the proude sheref,
Huntynge with houndes and horne;
Lytell Johnn coude of curtesye,
And knelyd hym beforne.
"God the save, my dere mayster,
And Criste the save and se!"
"Reynolde Grenelefe," sayde the shyref,
"Where hast thou nowe be?"
"I have be in this forest;
A fayre syght can I se;
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That ever yet sawe I me.
"Yonder I sawe a ryght fayre harte,
His coloure is of grene;
Seven score of dere upon a herde
Be with hym all bydene.
"Their tyndes are so sharpe, maister,
Of sexty, and well mo,
That I durst not shote for drede,
Lest they wolde me slo."
"I make myn avowe to God," sayde the shyref,
"That syght wolde I fayne se."
"Buske you thyderwarde, mi dere mayster,
Anone, and wende with me."
The sherif rode, and Litell Johnn
Of fote he was full smerte,
And whane they came before Robyn,
"Lo, sir, here is the mayster-herte."
Still stode the proude sherief,
A sory man was he;
"Wo the worthe, Raynolde Grenelefe,
Thou hast betrayed nowe me."
"I make myn avowe to God," sayde Litell Johnn,
"Mayster, ye be to blame;
I was mysserved of my dynere
Whan I was with you at home."
Sone he was to souper sette,
And served well with silver white,
And whan the sherif sawe his vessell,
For sorowe he myght nat ete.
"Make glad chere," sayde Robyn Hode,
"Sherif, for charité,
And for the love of Litill Johnn
Thy lyfe I graunt to the."
Whan they had souped well,
The day was al gone;
Robyn commaunded Litell Johnn
To drawe of his hosen and his shone,
His kirtell, and his cote of pie,
That was fured well and fine,
And toke hym a grene mantel,
To lap his body therin.
Robyn commaundyd his wight yonge men,
Under the grene wode tree,
They shulde lye in that same sute,
That the sherif myght them see.
All nyght lay the proude sherif
In his breche and in his schert;
No wonder it was, in grene wode,
Though his sydes gan to smerte.
"Make glade chere," sayde Robyn Hode,
"Sheref, for charité,
For this is our ordre iwys,
Under the grene wode tree."
"This is harder order," sayde the sherief,
"Than any ankir or frere;
For all the golde in mery Englonde
I wolde nat longe dwell her."
"All this twelve monthes," sayde Robyn,
"Thou shalt dwell with me;
I shall the teche, proude sherif,
An outlawe for to be."
"Or I be here another nyght," sayde the sherif,
"Robyn, nowe pray I the,
Smythe of mijn hede rather to-morowe,
And I forgyve it the.
"Lat me go," than sayde the sherif,
"For saynte charité,
And I woll be thy best frende
That ever yet had ye."
"Thou shalt swere me an othe," sayde Robyn,
"On my bright bronde:
Shalt thou never awayte me scathe,
By water ne by lande."
"And if thou fynde any of my men,
By nyght or day,
Upon thyn othe thou shalt swere
To helpe them that thou may."
Now hathe the sherif sworne his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of grene wode
As ever was hepe of stone.
The Fourth Fytte
The sherif dwelled in Notingham
He was fayne he was agone,
And Robyn and his mery men
Went to wode anone.
"Go we to dyner," sayde Littell Johnn,
Robyn Hode sayde, "Nay,
For I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me nat my pay."
"Have no doute, maister," sayde Litell Johnn,
"Yet is nat the sonne at rest;
For I dare say, and savely swere,
The knight is true and truste."
"Take thy bowe in thy hande," sayde Robyn,
"Late Much wende with the,
And so shal Wyllyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
"And walke up under the Sayles,
And to Watlynge-strete,
And wayte after such unketh gest;
Up-chaunce ye may them mete.
"Whether he be messengere,
Or a man that myrthes can,
Of my good he shall have some,
Yf he be a pore man."
Forth then stert Lytel Johan,
Half in tray and tene,
And gyrde hym with a full good swerde,
Under a mantel of grene.
They went up to the Sayles,
These yemen all thre;
They loked est, they loked west,
They myght no man se.
But as they loked in Bernysdale,
By the hye waye,
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes,
Eche on a good palferay.
Then bespake Lytell Johan,
To Much he gan say,
"I dare lay my lyfe to wedde,
The monkes have brought our pay.
"Make glad chere," sayd Lytell Johan,
"And drese our bowes of ewe,
And loke your hertes be seker and sad,
Your strynges trusty and trewe.
"The monke hath two and fifty
And seven somers full stronge;
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe
So ryally, I understond.
"Brethern," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Here are no more but we thre;
But we brynge them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.
"Bende your bowes," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Make all yon prese to stonde;
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth,
Is closed in my honde.
"Abyde, chorle monke," sayd Lytell Johan,
"No ferther that thou gone;
Yf thou doost, by dere worthy God,
Thy deth is in my honde.
"And evyll thryfte on thy hede," sayd Litell Johan,
"Ryght under thy hattes bonde,
For thou hast made our mayster wroth,
He is fastynge so longe."
"Who is your mayster?" sayd the monke;
Lytell Johan sayd, "Robyn Hode."
"He is a stronge thefe," sayd the monke,
"Of hym herd I never good."
"Thou lyest," than sayd Lytell Johan,
"And that shall rewe the;
He is a yeman of the forest,
To dyne he hath bode the."
Much was redy with a bolte,
Redly and anone;
He set the monke to-fore the brest,
To the grounde that he can gone.
Of two and fyfty wyght yonge yemen
There abode not one,
Saf a lytell page and a grome,
To lede the somers with Lytel Johan.
They brought the monke to the lodge dore,
Whether he were loth or lefe,
For to speke with Robyn Hode,
Maugré in theyr tethe.
Robyn dyde adowne his hode,
The monke whan that he se;
The monke was not so curteyse,
His hode then let he be.
"He is a chorle, mayster, by dere worthy God,"
Than sayd Lytell Johan.
"Thereof no force," sayd Robyn,
"For curteysy can he none.
"How many men," sayd Robyn,
"Had this monke, Johan?"
"Fyfty and two whan that we met,
But many of them be gone."
"Let blowe a horne," sayd Robyn,
"That felaushyp may us knowe."
Seven score of wyght yemen
Came pryckynge on a rowe.
And everych of them a good mantell
Of scarlet and of raye,
All they came to good Robyn,
To wyte what he wolde say.
They made the monke to wasshe and wype,
And syt at his denere,
Robyn Hode and Lytell Johan
They served him both in fere.
"Do gladly, monke," sayd Robyn.
"Gramercy, syr," sayd he.
"Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home,
And who is your avowé?"
"Saynt Mary abbay," sayd the monke,
"Though I be symple here."
"In what offyce?" sayd Robyn,
"Syr, the hye selerer."
"Ye be the more welcome," sayd Robyn,
"So ever mote I the.
Fyll of the best wyne," sayd Robyn,
"This monke shall drynke to me.
"But I have grete mervayle," sayd Robyn,
"Of all this longe day,
I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay."
"Have no doute, mayster," sayd Lytell Johan,
"Ye have no nede, I saye;
This monke it hath brought, I dare well swere,
For he is of her abbay."
"And she was a borowe," sayd Robyn,
"Betwene a knyght and me,
Of a lytell money that I hym lent,
Under the grene wode tree.
"And yf thou hast that sylver i-brought,
I pray the let me se,
And I shall helpe the eftsones,
Yf thou have nede to me."
The monke swore a full grete othe,
With a sory chere,
"Of the borowehode thou spekest to me,
Herde I never ere."
"I make myn avowe to God," sayd Robyn,
"Monke, thou art to blame,
For God is holde a ryghtwys man,
And so is His dame.
"Thou toldest with thyn owne tonge,
Thou may not say nay,
How thou arte her servaunt,
And servest her every day.
"And thou art made her messengere,
My money for to pay;
Therfore I cun the more thanke
Thou arte come at thy day.
"What is in your cofers?" sayd Robyn,
"Trewe than tell thou me."
"Syr," he sayd, "twenty marke,
Al so mote I the."
"Yf there be no more," sayd Robyn,
"I wyll not one peny;
Yf thou hast myster of ony more,
Syr, more I shall lende to the.
"And yf I fynde more," sayd Robyn,
"Iwys thou shalte it for gone,
For of thy spendynge sylver, monke,
Thereof wyll I ryght none.
"Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan,
And the trouth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty marke,
No peny that I se."
Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe,
As he had done before,
And he tolde out of the monkes male
Eyght hundred pounde and more.
Lytell Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster in hast.
"Syr," he sayd, "the monke is trewe ynowe,
Out Lady hath doubled your cast."
"I make myn avowe to God," sayd Robyn,
"Monke, what tolde I the?
Our Lady is the trewest woman
That ever yet founde I me.
"By dere worthy God," sayd Robyn,
"To seche all Englond thorowe,
Yet founde I never to my pay
A moche better borowe.
"Fyll of the best wyne, and do hym drynke," sayd Robyn,
"And grete well thy lady hende,
And yf she have nede to Robyn Hode,
A frende she shall hym fynde.
"And yf she nedeth ony more sylver,
Come thou agayne to me,
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall have such thre."
The monke was goynge to London-ward,
There to holde grete mote,
The knyght that rode so hye on hors,
To brynge hym under fote.
"Whether be ye away?" sayd Robyn.
"Syr, to maners in this londe,
Too reken with our reves,
That have done moch wronge.
"Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And harken to my tale;
A better yeman I knowe none,
To seke a monkes male.
"How moch is in yonder other corser?" sayd Robyn,
"The soth must we see."
"By Our Lady," than sayd the monke,
"That were no curteysye,
"To bydde a man to dyner,
And syth hym bete and bynde."
"It is our olde maner," sayd Robyn,
"To leve but lytell behynde."
The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
"Aske to drynke," than sayd Robyn,
"Or that ye forther ryde."
"Nay, for God," than sayd the monke,
"Me reweth I cam so nere;
For better chepe I myght have dyned
In Blythe or in Dankestere."
"Grete well your abbot," sayd Robyn,
"And your pryour, I you pray,
And byd hym send me such a monke
To dyner every day."
Now lete we that monke be styll,
And speke we of that knyght:
Yet he came to holde his day,
Whyle that it was lyght.
He dyde him streyt to Bernysdale,
Under the grene wode tre,
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all the mery meyné.
The knyght lyght doune of his good palfray;
Robyn whan he gan see,
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode,
And set hym on his knee.
"God the save, Robyn Hode,
And all this company."
"Welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
And ryght welcome to me."
Than bespake hym Robyn Hode,
To that knyght so fre:
"What nede dryveth the to grene wode?
I praye the, syr knyght, tell me.
"And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Why hast thou be so longe?"
"For the abbot and the hye justyce
Wolde have had my londe."
"Hast thou thy londe agayne?" sayd Robyn;
"Treuth than tell thou me."
"Ye, for God," sayd the knyght,
"And that thanke I God and the.
"But take not a grefe, that I have be so longe;
I came by a wrastelynge,
And there I holpe a pore yeman,
With wronge was put behynde."
"Nay, for God," sayd Robyn,
"Syr knyght, that thanke I the;
What man that helpeth a good yeman,
His frende than wyll I be."
"Have here foure hondred pounde," than sayd the knyght,
"The whiche ye lent to me,
And here is also twenty marke
For your curteysy."
"Nay, for God," than sayd Robyn,
"Thou broke it well for ay,
For Our Lady, by her selerer,
Hath sent to me my pay.
"And yf I toke it i-twyse,
A shame it were to me,
But trewely, gentyll knyght,
Welcom arte thou to me."
Whan Robyn had tolde his tale,
He leugh and had good chere:
"By my trouthe," then sayd the knyght,
"Your money is redy here."
"Broke it well," sayd Robyn,
"Thou gentyll knyght so fre,
And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Under my trystell-tre.
"But what shall these bowes do?" sayd Robyn,
And these arowes ifedred fre?"
"By God," than sayd the knyght,
"A pore present to the."
"Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And go to my treasuré,
And brynge me there foure hondred pounde;
The monke over-tolde it me.
"Have here foure hondred pounde,
Thou gentyll knyght and trewe,
And bye hors and harnes good,
And gylte thy spores all newe.
"And yf thou fayle ony spendynge,
Com to Robyn Hode,
And by my trouth thou shalt none fayle,
The whyles I have any good.
"And broke well thy foure hondred pound,
Whiche I lent to the,
And make thy selfe no more so bare,
By the counsell of me."
Thus than holpe hym good Robyn,
The knyght all of his care:
God, that syt in heven hye,
Graunte us well to fare!
The Fyfth Fytte
Now hath the knyght his leve i-take,
And wente hym on his way;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
Dwelled styll full many a day.
Lyth and lysten, gentil men,
And herken what I shall say,
How the proud sheryfe of Notyngham
Dyde crye a full fayre play,
That all the best archers of the north
Sholde come upon a day,
And that shoteth allther best
The game shall bere away.
He that shoteth allther best,
Furthest, fayre and lowe,
At a payre of fynly buttes,
Under the grene wode shawe,
A ryght good arowe he shall have,
The shaft of sylver whyte,
The hede and the feders of ryche rede golde,
In Englond is none lyke.
This than herde good Robyn,
Under his trystell-tre:
"Make you redy, ye wyght yonge men;
That shotynge wyll I se.
"Buske you, my mery yonge men,
Ye shall go with me,
And I wyll wete the shryves fayth,
Trewe and yf he be."
Whan they had theyr bowes i-bent,
Theyr takles fedred fre,
Seven score of wyght yonge men
Stode by Robyns kne.
Whan they cam to Notyngham,
The buttes were fayre and longe,
Many was the bolde archere
That shot with bowes stronge.
"There shall but syx shote with me;
The other shal kepe my hede,
And stande with good bowes bent,
That I be not desceyved."
The fourth outlawe his bowe gan bende,
And that was Robyn Hode,
And that behelde the proud sheryfe,
All by the but he stode.
Thryes Robyn shot a bout,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
Wyth the Whyte Hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke
Were archers good and fre;
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste wolde they not be.
Whan they had shot a boute,
These archours fayre and good,
Evermore was the best,
For soth, Robyn Hode.
Hym was delyvered the good arowe,
For best worthy was he;
He toke the yeft so curteysly,
To grene wode wolde he.
They cryed out on Robyn Hode,
And grete hornes gan they blowe:
"Wo worth the, treason!" sayd Robyn,
"Full evyl thou art to knowe.
"And wo be thou! thou proude sheryf,
Thus gladdynge thy gest;
Other wyse thou behote me
In yonder wylde forest.
"But had I the in grene wode,
Under my trystell-tre,
Thou sholdest leve me a better wedde
Than thy trewe lewté
Full many a bowe there was bent,
And arowes let they glyde;
Many a kyrtell there was rent,
And hurt many a syde.
The outlawes shot was so stronge
That no man myght them dryve,
And the proud sheryfes men,
They fled away full blyve.
Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke,
In grene wode he wolde have be;
Many an arowe there was shot
Amonge that company.
Lytell Johan was hurte full sore,
With an arowe in his kne,
That he myght neyther go nor ryde;
It was full grete pyté.
"Mayster," then sayd Lytell Johan,
"If ever thou lovest me,
And for that ylke Lordes love
That dyed upon a tre,
"And for the medes of my servyce,
That I have served the,
Lete never the proude sheryf
Alyve now fynde me.
"But take out thy browne swerde,
And smyte all of my hede,
And gyve me woundes depe and wyde,
No lyfe on me be lefte."
"I wolde not that," sayd Robyn,
"Johan, that thou were slawe,
For all the golde in mery Englonde,
Though it lay now on a rawe."
"God forbede," sayd Lytell Much,
"That dyed on a tre,
That thou sholdest, Lytell Johan,
Parte our company."
Up he toke hym on his backe,
And bare hym well a myle;
Many a tyme he layd hym downe,
And shot another whyle.
Then was there a fayre castell,
A lytell within the wode;
Double-dyched it was about,
And walled, by the Rode.
And there dwelled that gentyll knyght,
Syr Rychard at the Lee,
That Robyn had lent his good,
Under the grene wode tree.
In he toke good Robyn,
And all his company:
"Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode,
Welcome arte thou to me,
"And moche I thanke the of thy confort,
And of thy curteysye,
And of thy grete kyndenesse,
Under the grene wode tre.
"I love no man in all this worlde
So much as I do the;
For all the proud sheryf of Notyngham,
Ryght here shalt thou be.
"Shyt the gates, and drawe the brydge,
And let no man come in,
And arme you well, and make you redy,
And to the walles ye wynne.
"For one thynge, Robyn, I the behote;
I swere by Saynt Quyntyne,
These forty dayes thou wonnest with me,
To soupe, ete, and dyne."
Bordes were layde, and clothes were spredde,
Redely and anone;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
To mete can they gone.
The Sixth Fytte
Lythe and lysten, gentylmen,
And herkyn to your songe,
Howe the proude shyref of Notyngham,
And men of armys stronge
Full fast cam to the hye shyref,
The contré up to route,
And they besette the knyghtes castell,
The walles all aboute.
The proude shyref loude gan crye,
And sayde, "Thou traytour knight,
Thou kepest here the kynges enemys,
Agaynst the lawe and right."
"Syr, I wyll avowe that I have done,
The dedys that here be dyght,
Upon all the landes that I have,
As I am a trewe knyght.
"Wende furth, sirs, on your way,
And do no more to me
Tyll ye wyt oure kynges wille,
What he wyll say to the."
The shyref thus had his answere,
Without any lesynge;
Furth he yede to London towne,
All for to tel our kinge.
Ther he telde him of that knight,
And eke of Robyn Hode,
And also of the bolde archars,
That were soo noble and gode.
"He wyll avowe that he hath done,
To mayntene the outlawes stronge;
He wyll be lorde, and set you at nought,
In all the northe londe."
"I wyl be at Notyngham," saide our kynge,
"Within this fourteenyght,
And take I wyll Robyn Hode,
And so I wyll that knight.
"Go nowe home, shyref," sayde our kynge,
"And do as I byd the,
And ordeyn gode archers ynowe,
Of all the wyde contré."
The shyref had his leve i-take,
And went hym on his way,
And Robyn Hode to grene wode,
Upon a certen day.
And Lytel John was hole of the arowe
That shot was in his kne,
And dyd hym streyght to Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode tree.
Robyn Hode walked in the forest,
Under the levys grene;
The proude shyref of Notyngham
Thereof he had grete tene.
The shyref there fayled of Robyn Hode,
He myght not have his pray;
Than he awayted this gentyll knight,
Bothe by nyght and day.
Ever he wayted the gentyll knyght,
Syr Richarde at the Lee,
As he went on haukynge by the ryver-syde,
And lete haukes flee.
Toke he there this gentyll knight,
With men of armys stronge,
And led hym to Notyngham warde,
Bounde bothe fote and hande.
The sheref sware a full grete othe,
Bi Hym that dyed on Rode,
He had lever than an hundred pound
That he had Robyn Hode.
This harde the knyghtes wyfe,
A fayr lady and a free;
She set hir on a gode palfrey,
To grene wode anone rode she.
Whanne she cam in the forest,
Under the grene wode tree,
Fonde she there Robyn Hode,
And al his fayre mené.
"God the save, gode Robyn,
And all thy company;
For Our dere Ladyes sake,
A bone graunte thou me.
"Late never my wedded lorde
Shamefully slayne be;
He is fast bowne to Notingham warde,
For the love of the."
Anone than saide goode Robyn
To that lady so fre,
"What man hath your lorde take?"
"The proude shirife," than sayd she.
"The shirife hatt hym take," she sayd,
"For soth as I the say;
He is nat yet thre myles
Passed on his way."
Up than sterte gode Robyn,
As man that had ben wode:
"Buske you, my mery men,
For Hym that dyed on Rode.
"And he that this sorowe forsaketh,
By hym that dyed on tre,
Shall he never in grene wode
No lenger dwel with me."
Sone there were gode bowes bent,
Mo than seven score;
Hedge ne dyche spared they none
That was them before.
"I make myn avowe to God," sayde Robyn,
"The sherif wolde I fayne see,
And if I may hym take,
I-quyte shall it be."
And whan they came to Notingham,
They walked in the strete,
And with the proude sherif iwys
Sone can they mete.
"Abyde, thou proude sherif," he sayde,
"Abyde, and speke with me;
Of some tidinges of oure kinge
I wolde fayne here of the.
"This seven yere, by dere worthy God,
Ne yede I this fast on fote;
I make myn avowe to God, thou proude sherif,
It is nat for thy gode."
Robyn bent a full goode bowe,
An arrowe he drowe at wyll;
He hit so the proude sherife
Upon the grounde he lay full still.
And or he myght up aryse,
On his fete to stonde,
He smote of the sherifs hede
With his bright bronde.
"Lye thou there, thou proude sherife,
Evyll mote thou cheve!
There myght no man to the truste
The whyles thou were a lyve."
His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes,
That were so sharpe and kene,
And layde on the sheryves men,
And dryved them downe bydene.
Robyn stert to that knyght,
And cut a two his bonde,
And toke hym in his hand a bowe,
And bad hym by hym stonde.
"Leve thy hors the behynde,
And lerne for to renne;
Thou shalt with me to grene wode,
Through myre, mosse, and fenne.
"Thou shalt with me to grene wode,
Without ony leasynge,
Tyll that I have gete us grace
Of Edwarde, our comly kynge."
The Seventh Fytte
The kynge came to Notynghame,
With knyghtes in grete araye,
For to take that gentyll knyght
And Robyn Hode, and yf he may.
He asked men of that countré
After Robyn Hode,
And after that gentyll knyght,
That was so bolde and stout.
Whan they had tolde hym the case
Our kyng understode ther tale,
And seased in his honde
The knyghtes londes all.
All the compasse of Lancasshyre
He went both ferre and nere,
Tyll he came to Plomton Parke;
He faylyd many of his dere.
There our kynge was wont to se
Herdes many one,
He coud unneth fynde one dere,
That bare ony good horne.
The kynge was wonder wroth withall,
And swore by the Trynyté,
"I wolde I had Robyn Hode,
With eyen I myght hym se.
"And he that wolde smyte of the knyghtes hede,
And brynge it to me,
He shall have the knyghtes londes,
Syr Rycharde at the Le.
"I gyve it hym with my charter,
And sele it my honde,
To have and holde for ever more,
In al mery Englonde."
Than bespake a fayre olde knyght,
That was treue in his fay:
"A, my leege lorde the kynge,
One worde I shall you say.
"There is no man in this countré
May have the knyghtes londes,
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde or gone,
And bere a bowe in his hondes,
"That he ne shall lese his hede,
That is the best ball in his hode:
Give it no man, my lorde the kynge,
That ye wyll any good."
Half a yere dwelled our comly kynge
In Notyngham, and well more;
Coude he not here of Robyn Hode,
In what countré that he were.
But alwey went good Robyn
By halke and eke by hyll,
And alway slewe the kynges dere,
And welt them at his wyll.
Than bespake a proude fostere,
That stode by our kynges kne:
"Yf ye wyll se good Robyn,
Ye must do after me.
"Take fyve of the best knyghtes
That be in your lede,
And walke downe by yon abbay,
And gete you monkes wede.
"And I wyll be your bedesman,
And lede you the way,
And or ye come to Notyngham.
Myn hede then dare I lay
"That ye shall mete with good Robyn,
On lyve yf that he be;
Or ye come to Notyngham,
With eyen ye shall hym se."
Full hastly our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyghtes fyve,
Everych of them in monkes wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.
Our kynge was grete above his cole,
A brode hat on his crowne,
Ryght as he were abbot-lyke,
They rode up into the towne.
Styf botes our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to grene wode,
The covent was clothed in graye.
His male-hors and his grete somers
Folowed our kynge behynde,
Tyll they came to grene wode,
A myle under the lynde.
There they met with good Robyn,
Stondynge on the waye,
And so dyde many a bolde archere,
For soth as I you say.
Robyn toke the kynges hors,
Hastely in that stede,
And sayd, "Syr abbot, by your leve,
A whyle ye must abyde.
"We be yemen of this foreste,
Under the grene wode tre;
We lyve by our kynges dere,
Under the grene wode tre.
"And ye have chyrches and rentes both,
And gold full grete plenté;
Gyve us some of your spendynge,
For saynt charyté."
Than bespake our cumly kynge,
Anone than sayd he:
"I brought no more to grene wode
But forty pounde with me.
"I have layne at Notyngham
This fourtynyght with our kynge,
And spent I have full moche good,
On many a grete lordynge.
"And I have but forty pounde,
No more than have I me;
But yf I had an hondred pounde,
I vouch it halfe on the."
Robyn toke the forty pounde,
And departed it in two partye;
Halfendell he gave his mery men,
And bad them mery to be.
Full curteysly Robyn gan say;
"Syr, have this for your spendyng;
We shall mete another day."
"Gramercy," than sayd our kynge.
"But well the greteth Edwarde, our kynge,
And sent to the his seale,
And byddeth the com to Notyngham,
Both to mete and mele."
He toke out the brode targe,
And sone he lete hym se;
Robyn coud his courteysy,
And set hym on his kne.
"I love no man in all the worlde
So well as I do my kynge;
Welcome is my lordes seale;
And, monke, for thy tydynge,
"Syr abbot, for thy tydynges,
To day thou shalt dyne with me,
For the love of my kynge,
Under my trystell-tre."
Forth he lad our comly kynge,
Full fayre by the honde;
Many a dere there was slayne,
And full fast dyghtande.
Robyn toke a full grete horne,
And loude he gan blowe;
Seven score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe.
All they kneled on theyr kne,
Full fayre before Robyn;
The kynge sayd hym selfe untyll,
And swore by Saynt Austyn,
"Here is a wonder semely syght;
Me thynketh, by Goddes pyne,
His men are more at his byddynge
Then my men be at myn."
Full hastly was theyr dyner idyght,
And therto gan they gone;
They served our kynge with al theyr myght,
Both Robyn and Lytell Johan.
Anone before our kynge was set
The fatte venyson,
The good whyte brede, the good rede wyne,
And therto the fyne ale and browne.
"Make good chere," said Robyn,
"Abbot, for charyté,
And for this ylke tydynge,
Blyssed mote thou be.
"Now shalte thou se what lyfe we lede,
Or thou hens wende;
Than thou may enfourme our kynge,
Whan ye togyder lende."
Up they sterte all in hast,
Theyr bowes were smartly bent;
Our kynge was never so sore agast,
He wende to have be shente.
Two yerdes there were up set,
Thereto gan they gange;
By fyfty pase, our kynge sayd,
The merkes were to longe.
On every syde a rose-garlonde,
They shot under the lyne;
"Who so fayleth of the rose-garlonde," sayd Robyn,
"His takyll he shall tyne,
"And yelde it to his mayster,
Be it never so fyne;
For no man wyll I spare,
So drynke I ale or wyne:
"And bere a buffet on his hede,
Iwys ryght all bare."
And all that fell in Robyns lote,
He smote them wonder sare.
Twyse Robyn shot a boute,
And ever he cleved the wande,
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the Whyte Hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
For nothynge wolde they spare;
When they fayled of the garlonde,
Robyn smote them full sore.
At the last shot that Robyn shot,
For all his frendes fare,
Yet he fayled of the garlonde,
Thre fyngers and mare.
Than bespake good Gylberte,
And thus he gan say:
"Mayster," he sayd, "your takyll is lost,
Stande forth and take your pay."
"If it be so," sayd Robyn,
"That may no better be,
Syr abbot, I delyver the myn arowe,
I pray the, syr, serve thou me."
"It falleth not for myn ordre," sayd our kynge,
"Robyn, by thy leve,
For to smyte no good yeman,
For doute I sholde hym greve."
"Smyte on boldely," sayd Robyn,
"I give the large leve."
Anone our kynge, with that worde,
He folde up his sleve,
And sych a buffet he gave Robyn,
To grounde he yede full nere:
"I make myn avowe to God," sayd Robyn,
"Thou arte a stalworthe frere.
"There is pith in thyn arme," sayd Robyn,
"I trowe thou canst well shete."
Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode
Togeder gan they mete.
Robyn behelde our comly kynge
Wystly in the face,
So dyde Syr Rycharde at the Le,
And kneled downe in that place.
And so dyde all the wylde outlawes,
Whan they see them knele:
"My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Now I knowe you well."
"Mercy then, Robyn," sayd our kynge,
"Under your trystyll-tre,
Of thy goodnesse and thy grace,
For my men and me!"
"Yes, for God," sayd Robyn,
"And also God me save,
I aske mercy, my lorde the kynge,
And for my men I crave."
"Yes, for God," than sayd our kynge,
"And therto sent I me,
With that thou leve the grene wode,
And all thy company,
"And come home, syr, to my courte,
And there dwell with me."
"I make myn avowe to God," sayd Robyn,
"And ryght so shall it be.
"I wyll come to your courte,
Your servyse for to se,
And brynge with me of my men
Seven score and thre.
"But me lyke well your servyse,
"I come agayne full soone,
And shote at the donne dere,
As I am wonte to done."
The Eighth Fytte
"Haste thou ony grene cloth," sayd our kynge,
"That thou wylte sell nowe to me?"
"Ye, for God," sayd Robyn,
"Thyrty yerdes and thre."
"Robyn," sayd our kynge,
"Now pray I the,
Sell me some of that cloth,
To me and my meyné."
"Yes, for God," then sayd Robyn,
"Or elles I were a fole:
Another day ye wyll me clothe,
I trowe, ayenst the Yole."
The kynge kest of his cole then,
A grene garment he dyde on,
And every knyght had so, iwys,
Another hode full sone.
Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene,
They keste away theyr graye:
"Now we shall to Notyngham,"
All thus our kynge gan say.
Theyr bowes bente, and forth they went,
Shotynge all in fere,
Towarde the towne of Notyngham,
Outlawes as they were.
Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder,
For soth as I you say,
And they shote plucke buffet,
As they went by the way.
And many a buffet our kynge wan
Of Robyn Hode that day,
And nothynge spared good Robyn
Our kynge in his pay.
"So God me helpe," sayd our kynge,
"Thy game is nought to lere;
I sholde not get a shote of the,
Though I shote all this yere."
All the people of Notyngham
They stode and behelde;
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene
That covered all the felde.
Than every man to other gan say,
"I drede our kynge be slone:
Come Robyn Hode to the towne, iwys
On lyve he lefte never one."
Full hastly they began to fle,
Both yemen and knaves,
And olde wyves that myght evyll goo,
They hypped on theyr staves.
The kynge loughe full fast,
And commaunded theym agayne;
When they se our comly kynge,
I wys they were full fayne.
They ete and dranke and made them glad,
And sange with notes hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge
To Syr Rycharde at the Lee.
He gave hym there his londe agayne,
A good man he bad hym be;
Robyn thanked our comly kynge,
And set hym on his kne.
Had Robyn dwelled in the kynges courte
But twelve monethes and thre,
That he had spent an hondred pounde,
And all his mennes fe.
In every place where Robyn came
Ever more he layde downe,
Both for knyghtes and for squyres,
To gete hym grete renowne.
By than the yere was all agone
He had no man but twayne,
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
With hym all for to gone.
Robyn sawe yonge men shote
Full ferre upon a day;
"Alas!" than sayd good Robyn,
"My welthe is went away.
"Somtyme I was an archere good,
A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was comted the best archere
That was in mery Englonde.
"Alas!" then sayd good Robyn,
"Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
Sorowe wyll me sloo."
Forth than went Robyn Hode
Tyll he came to our kynge:
"My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Graunte me myn askynge.
"I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
That semely is to se,
It is of Mary Magdaleyne,
And thereto wolde I be.
"I myght never in this seven nyght
No tyme to slepe ne wynke,
Nother all these seven dayes
Nother ete ne drynke.
"Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,
I may not be therfro;
Barefote and wolwarde I have hyght
Thyder for to go."
"Yf it be so," than sayd our kynge,
"It may no better be,
Seven nyght I gyve the leve,
No lengre, to dwell fro me."
"Gramercy, lorde," then sayd Robyn,
And set hym on his kne;
He toke his leve courteysly,
To grene wode then went he.
Whan he came to grene wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notes small
Of byrdes mery syngynge.
"It is ferre gone," sayd Robyn,
"That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donne dere."
Robyn slewe a full grete harte,
His horne than gan he blow,
That all the outlawes of that forest
That horne coud they knowe,
And gadred them togyder,
In a lytell throwe;
Seven score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe.
And fayre dyde of theyr hodes,
And set them on theyr kne:
"Welcome," they sayd, "our mayster,
Under this grene wode tre."
Robyn dwelled in grene wode,
Twenty yere and two;
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge,
Agayne wolde he not goo.
Yet he was begyled, iwys,
Through a wycked woman,
The pryoresse of Kyrkely,
That nye was of hys kynne,
For the love of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkesly,
That was her owne speciall;
Full evyll mote they the!
They toke togyder theyr counsell
Robyn Hode for to sle,
And how they myght best do that dede,
His banis for to be.
Than bespake good Robyn,
In place where as he stode,
"To morow I muste to Kyrkely,
Craftely to be leten blode."
Syr Roger of Donkestere,
By the pryoresse he lay,
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
Through theyr false playe.
Cryst have mercy on his soule,
That dyded on the Rode!
For he was a good outlawe,
And dyde pore men moch god.

freeborn blood
(see note)

proud; (see note)
(see note)

stood; (see note)
leaned against



if you would dine early


strange visitor; (see note)

(see note)

squire; (see note)


masses; hear

Virgin Mary; (see note)
the most of all

fear; of deadly sin

If; table

beat and tie up

no matter
small farmer



(see note)

high; (see note)

far on in the day; guest

Let; go; thee

(see note)

look for; unknown
Upon, by



(see note)

secret way
(see note)
At once; did meet him

sad; appearance


hood; eyes
array (clothing)

went down

Courteous; noble
awaited you without food

(see note)

in company

(see note)

sorrowful expression
tears; eyes

hut door; (see note)

took off
kneeled down



dried (their hands); (see note)
in plenty
organ meats (sweetbreads); (see note)

birds; river-bank

Eat well
Grant mercy, thank you




before you go; (see note)

(see note)

money chest



(see note)

money chest
ten shillings; (see note)

master, i.e., Robin; (see note)


(see note)

by compulsion (see note)
else; (see note)

conflict and strife
usurer; lecher


disgraced (deprived of status)




kindness; (see note)



goods; (see note)

pledged as security

sum; (see note)





Tears; eyes

boast; spread



Fill your cups with

security (guarantee)

Except; the cross


Think you

security; (see note)

failed; before



twenty twenties

(see note)

alms, charity

livery (suit of clothing); (see note)

(see note)



measured; (see note)
draper (a dealer in cloth)



carry; goods

Give; courser (swift horse)

saddle horse


shining spurs


repayment day

place; serve thee

came; (see note)

(see note)
(see note)


convent, body of monks

(see note)

Unless; same

prior (monk ranking under the abbot)

would rather; (see note)

(see note)
England's cause; (see note)


in my way
(see note)

cellarmaster (chief stewart)

redeemed me at a high price

chief justice; (see note)


judged; severely
But if (Unless); same

as a disappointment

from overseas; (see note)

(see note)


at dinner

bodied (built)

seated at dinner


(see note)


To beg for

You missed your appointed payment

defend me from my enemies

retained by; (see note)
(see note)

paid my debt to you


Someone will suffer for it

Grant; to succeed
try out

with hatred
vilely; (see note)


You know no good manners

in as great danger

(see note)
If; release his claim


(see note)
no nearer success



(see note)

royal food


Give; (see note)

(see note)


(see note)



are in agreement



ell (45 inches)
peacock (feathers); fitted
Grooved at the end (see note)

(see note)

light lance
carried his trunk

(see note)


cask; in truth
prize; (see note)

(see note)


together; (see note)


gathered together; made room for him

made him champion

mark, two-thirds of a pound
tapped and set running

game, sport



fetched; at once

split the stick stuck in the ground; (see note)

Stood by the targets

(see note)

brave (strong)

dwelling place

(in east Yorkshire)



at once
A good strong horse

May God grant us to succeed!

To pay him his just desert


forgotten (left)

without food

keeper of the hall
(see note)

(see note)

I would rather





took a big helping

(see note)

cursed servant



They didn't think of fleeing

For two miles

For the period of an hour

(see note)


as thy fee

sweetbreads of a doe


went; treasure-house

locks; steel

Dishes, drinking cups, nor spoons

pence; (see note)

went straight
ancient wood; (see note)

watch over thee

is (welcome)


greets thee
(see note)

(the sheriff's) good will
These possessions

crafty trick

All his wish came to pass

knew about

watch over you
(see note)

male deer
(see note)






badly provided with

To take off; shoes

tunic; parti-colored cloak

gave; (see note)
To wrap

(dressed) the same

breeches; shirt


anchorite (religious hermit)



Strike off my head

(see note)

plot me harm

(see note)

as far as

hip (fruit) with stone


at once

(see note)



(see note)

look for; unknown; (see note)
By chance

minstrel who entertains

anger and annoyance; (see note)

(see note)

Benedictine monks

as a pledge
(see note)

make ready; (see note)
sure and steadfast

fifty-two men; (see note)
sumpters (pack horses)



that crowd stop; (see note)


churl (crude, low-born)

evil luck

make you sorry

bidden (commanded)

Quickly and at once
aimed at; before
So that he dismounted

Except; groom
pack horses

Whether he liked it or not

In spite of them

lowered his hood

left in place

no matter


loose, sleeveless coat
striped cloth


(see note)

in company

Eat with pleasure
Thank you


humble; (see note)

chief steward

So may I always prosper

(see note)


in return

miserable countenance

(see note)

may thank thee more

As I may prosper


traveling expenses

(see note)

traveling chest
(see note)

(see note)
doubled your throw (the knight's loan)

greet; gracious

three times the amount


(see note)

Where are you going?
To deal with our bailifs

(see note)

search; baggage



To waste little

spurred his horse

Ask permission

more cheaply

took himself

company; (see note)


Don't be offended; (see note)


enjoy it forever
wine steward; (see note)




Enjoy it

meeting tree

finely feathered







(see note)

best of all; (see note)

Whoever; best of all

fine butts; (see note)



finely feathered arrows

protect my head; (see note)

a match; (see note)
slit; (see note)
(see note)

(see note)

He was given

prize (gift)

demanded the arrest of; (see note)

Misery come to you!

pleasing thy guest


knee-length tunic

barrage of shooting



(see note)


(see note)


in a row



by the Cross

given his property

(see note)


(see note)

make your way

Quentin; (see note)

To raise the countryside

openly acknowledge what

Go forth



(see note)
fortnight (14 days)

organize; enough (i.e., many)

whole (i.e., healed)


missed; (see note)
prey, quarry
watched for

(see note)
(see note)

toward Nottingham

the Cross
would rather



boon, favor


Because he supported you

At once

(see note)

the Cross

this sad case




(see note)

Badly may you end!
trust in you; (see note)


in two; (see note)



mire, moss, and fen


handsome; (see note)

in great force


Through the whole; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)


cut off

seal; (see note)

true in his faith
liege (feudal superior)

(see note)

hiding place



according to


garment or habit

religious guide; (see note)



clothed; (see note)


cowl (a monk's hood worn rood worn round the neck)
top of head

group of "monks"

baggage horse; pack horses



(see note)

(see note)

fortnight (14 days)

promise half to thee; (see note)

divided it into two parts

sends; (see note)

food and meat

shield (see note)
at once
knew his manners

tidings, news


to himself
St. Augustine




Before you go away



He thought he would be killed

they began to go

a small target
forfeit his arrows (or gear)

blow (cuff)

fell to Robin (to strike)
struck; sorely


missed the target
By more than three fingers' width




full permission


stalwart (strong) brother

I warrant; shoot


(see note)

I assent

(see note)

Unless; pleases me
(see note)
accustomed; (see note)



for Christmas

cast off his cowl; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)

as if

(see note)


payment (of buffets)

not (hard) to learn



(see note)

hardly walk
hopped on their crutches

laughed very much
gave them orders

kneeled down

(see note)

paid out

far; (see note)


reckoned; (see note)



with wool next the skin; vowed; (see note)


long ago

It pleases me

they recognized


(see note)

(see note)
near; kin

(see note)






Go to Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne: Introduction