Robin has been saved from the Sheriff of Nottingham's trap by a good knight (See The Golden Arrow), who gave him protection in his castle. The sheriff rode away to London to seek the help of King Richard.
Now we hear how King Richard came to Nottingham with the aim of seeing England's most famous criminal in person. It's a fast moving and action-packed episode and the climax of our Robin Hood Series.
Proofread by Claire Deakin. Read by Natasha. Duration 10.10
With the Sheriff gone, it was safe to leave the castle and Robin returned to Greenwood with his men, many of whom had been wounded. A day or two later, the knight went out hunting along the river with his hawks.
The sheriff was waiting for him. His archers caught the knight at a bend in the river, and there was no escape. The sheriff took him back to Nottingham as a prisoner, bound hand and foot. When the knight’s wife heard the dreadful news, she rode out to Greenwood to find Robin Hood and to beg him for help.
“Dear Robin Hood,” she said, “For our Lady’s sake grant me this boon. Never let my wedded lord be shamefully put to death like a common criminal.”
Robin, who himself was no common criminal, would not leave his friend to such a fate. He chose twenty of his best archers and they rode straight into the City of Nottingham, not even bothering to wear disguises.
They found the Sheriff and his bodyguards on the steps of the law courts.
“Good sir, what news of the King?” called out Robin. He did not wait for a reply, and fired his arrow directly at his enemy, the sheriff, striking him dead. Then his men attacked the guards with their swords and put them to flight. They rushed into the courts and down to the cells, where they found their friend.
“Good Sir knight,” called out Robin, “Come with me to Greenwood through the moss, the mire, and the fen.” The knight was only too happy to ride with Robin to the forest and to freedom.
News of this lawlessness soon reached the King in London, and he decided to waste no more time in coming to Nottingham to restore order.
When the King Richard reached the city, he called all the elders and local dignitaries to a council.
“This is my decree,” said the King. “Whosoever shall bring me the head of the errant knight will receive his castle and all his lands.”
Many around the table murmured their approval, and only one wise old knight dared to speak an opposing view.
“My liege. There is no living soul in this country who may enjoy the lands of my fellow knight while Robin Hood rides free with a bow in his hands.”
All had to agree that the wise old knight spoke nothing but the truth.
“So does anyone have a better plan?” asked King Richard. But no one around the table could think of one.
That evening, a forester asked permission to speak to the king. He was brought before his majesty and spoke as follows:
“Sire. If you wish to meet with Robin Hood, you should take five of your best knights and ride with them to the Abbey. There, put on monks’ habits and then make your way to Greenwood. You will meet with Robin Hood soon enough.”
The king saw the cunning of this plan, for surely even the lawless Robin Hood would not fire their arrows into a group of travelling monks.
Later that night, The king and his five best knights rode over to the abbey to borrow some clothes. The king chose a broad hat, which he wore over his crown, so that he looked like the abbot. His knights pulled monks’ habits over their armoured breastplates.
The king did not have to travel for very long through Sherwood Forest before he met with Robin’s men. Naturally, the outlaws believed him to be the Abbot – who was famous for his high living and his greed. They brought him, together with the five knights dressed as monks, to their leader under the Greenwood tree.
Robin declared that the Abbot must stay a while in Greenwood, and hand over some of his gold for charity.
The king in disguise replied that he was carrying but forty pounds, adding, “For I have been in Nottingham this past week, and I have spent much gold entertaining the king.”
Robin divided the forty pounds, half for the families of his men who had recently been killed or wounded, and the other half he returned to the man dressed as an Abbot saying:
“Keep this for your spending. We shall meet another day.”
The king replied with an invitation to Robin to come and dine with him in Nottingham. Robin admired his spirit and replied, “Indeed I will. But for now, Sir Abbot, stay a while and dine with me under the yew tree.”
Robin blew his horn and seven men came and kneeled before him. He commanded them to stand up and draw their bows. The King thought that they meant to kill him, but happily he was mistaken. Robin declared that there would be a shooting match, and whosoever would miss the target should receive a blow. Will Scarlet, Little John and Gilbert all hit true but Robin missed his target by three fingers width.
Gilbert said, “Master. You must pay.”
“Indeed I must,” said Robin, and turning to the Abbot said, “My honoured guest. Do me the service of a blow.”
The king protested that he would do no harm to a good yeoman of the forrest, but Robin said, “Dear Abbot, you hit me with my full permission. In fact, I insist.”
Then King Richard the Lionheart rolled up his sleeve and gave Robin such a blow that he laid him out on the ground. It was almost a minute before Robin opened his eyes and was able to sit up. He was about to congratulate his guest on the strength of his arm when the king threw off his hat and revealed his crown. Robin and the Knight recognised their king right away and kneeled before him. Shortly afterwards, so did all of his men.
“Good sire,” said Robin at length, “If I have shown you hospitality, grant me this boon. Pardon me and all my men for our crimes.”
The king gladly granted his Royal pardon to Robin Hood.
And that’s the story of how King Richard met Robin Hood. Bertie says that most of our stories about Robin Hood come from an ancient ballad called “A Gest of Robin Hood” that was written around the year 1450. Although Robin Hood was a real outlaw who committed crimes, he was supported by the people because the Sheriff was unjust.