In the Gest we read that Robin and the king shot arrows together, they ate together in the Greenwood, Robin paid homage to the king who he loved, he was an excellent archer and the longbow he used was another name for the war-bow. Obviously the two men were on good terms and presumably Robin had been a kings archer which is hinted at when Robin said to the king, “Another day ye will me clothe (in the kings uniform), I trust, against the Yule.”
Lincoln Green was the colour of the kings archers and valour on the battlefield was often rewarded with a knighthood which is in line with Robin’s knightly courtesy and generosity that is plain to see in the ballads. Knights needed a good income as a fine horse, armour and an esquire were expensive (esquires were often knighted). One famous knight was Sir Geoffrey Luttrell who was also a rich cloth merchant specializing in Lincoln Green the same as Robin who had either risen in status to the level of a knight perhaps starting as an esquire, or he was a prosperous merchant, or both?
A New King
The Peasants Revolt was in the reign of Richard II. Edward III had died four years earlier and Robin himself was getting older. Towards the end of his life we read in the Gest that he lived in the king’s court for fifteen months by which time he “had spent his money and all his men’s fee on both knights and squires, to get him great renown. By the time the year was over he only had two men—Little John and good Scarlett all the rest had gone.” (From the Gest translated into modern English by Robert Landis Frank.)
Robin’s strength as an archer was failing and feeling he would die of sorrow if he remained in the kings court any longer he asked the king’s permission to return to Barnsdale where he had previously built a chapel which is something only a person of high standing could afford to do, but after failing to return to the king after his seven days leave of absence he went “Absent With Out Leave” from the kings court and spent his last remaining twenty-two years in the forest as an outlaw, not wanting to go back for “fear of the king” who was not the king Edward of happier times who he had known and loved.