The Geste has been included because it gives a lot of detail about Robin Hood and his activities and some of the events and places may tie in with recorded history, for example St. Marys Abbey in York was completed in 1055AD which is the year Siward the Earl of Huntingdon died and that is where he lies. From our history books we know that all the Norman sheriffs were in place by about 1078AD and one of the first things they did was to pillage the Saxon churches giving a possible date. In the Geste mention is made of King Edward who knew Robin Hood and six months before the Conquest King Edward was on the English throne, in fact it was he who converted Siward, and his son Waltheof to Christianity. Both these men were the Earls of Huntingdon in their turn and we know that Robin Hood was a devout man who liked to take communion, so perhaps when he was able he took the sacrament at a little church in Barnsdale, which was a place he loved. We know the Normans were ruthless and committed many atrocities so what would happen if one day Robin Hood went to take communion and when he got to the church he received news that a gang of marauders had stripped his favourite place of worship of all its possessions including the communion cup, they had killed the men who had tried to stop them and the final indignity was that before leaving they had raped the women who were worshiping there. We know that Robin Hood never harmed a woman holding them in high regard, so could this have been the start of the legend and the beginning of Robin Hood’s grievances against the Normans and the sheriffs in particular? If so, then let the legend begin.
Hark and listen gentlemen that are of freeborn blood, you shall hear tell of a good yeoman his name was Robin Hood. Robin was a proud outlaw while he walked upon the ground; so courteous an outlaw as he was never found. Robin stood in Barnesdale, and leaned him on a tree; and by him stood our Little John, a good yeoman was he. And also did good Scarlok, and Much, the miller’s son; there was none inch of his body that was worth a groom. Than spoke Little John unto Robin Hood: “Master, if ye would soon dine it would do you much good.” Than bespoke him good Robin: “to dine have I no desire, till that I have some bold baron, or some uncouth guest. That may pay for the best, or some knight or some squire that dwells here by west. A good manner then had Robin; in land where that he were, every day ere he would dine three masses would he hear. The one in the worship of the Father, and another of the Holy Ghost, the third of our dear Lady, That he loved all most of all. Robin loved Our dear Lady; For fear of deadly sin, would he never do company harm that any woman was in. “Master,” then said Little John, “And we our board shall spread, Tell us whither that we shall go, And what life that we shall lead.” Where we shall take, where we shall leave, where we shall abide behind; where we shall rob, where we shall steal, where we shall beat and bind. “Thereof no force,” then said Robin; “we shall do well enough; but look ye do no husbandman harm, that tilleth with his plough. No more ye shall no good yeoman that walketh by green wood, nor no knight nor no squire that will be a good fellow. “These bishops and these archbishops, ye shall them beat and bind; the high sheriff of Nottingham, Him hold ye in your mind.” “This word shall be hold,” said Little John, “And this lesson we shall learn; it is late in the day; God send us a guest, that we were at our dinner!” “Take thy good bow in thy hand,” said Robin; “Late Much wend with thee; and so shall William Scarlok, And no man abide with me.” “And walk up to the Sayles, And so to Watling Street, And wait after some uncouth guest Up chance ye may them meet. “Be he earl, or any baron, Abbot, or any knight, bring him to lodge to me; His dinner shall be prepared. “They went up to the Saylis These yeoman all three; they looked east, they looked west; they might no man see. But as they looked in to Barnesdale, by a secluded street, than came a knight riding full soon they did him meet. All-dreary was his semblance, and little was his pride; His one foot in the stirrup stood, that other waved beside. His hood hanged in his eyes; He rode in simple array; a sorrier man than he was one rode never in summer day. Little John was full courteous, and set him on his knee: “Welcome be ye, gentle knight, Welcome are ye to me.” “Welcome be thou to green wood, courteous knight and noble; my master hath espied you fasting, Sir, al these hours three.” “Who is thy master?” Said the knight John said, “Robin Hood;” “He is a good yeoman,” said the knight, of him I have heard much good. “I grant,” he said, “with you to wend, “my brethren, all together; my purpose was to have dined to day At Blith or Dancastere.” Forth then went this gentle knight, with a care-filled cheer; the tears out of his eyes ran, and fell down by his face. They brought him to the lodge-door; When Robin him did see, Full courteously did off his hood and set him on his knee. “Welcome, sir knight,” then said Robin, “Welcome art thou to me; I have espied you fasting, sir, All these hours three.” Than answered the gentle knight, with words fair and noble; “God thee save, good Robin, and all thy fair company. “They washed together and wiped both, and set to their dinner; Bread and wine they had right enough, and choice slices of the deer. Swans and pheasants they had full good, and fowls of the river; There failed none so little a