Robin Hood and the Potter
So far we are seeing Robin Hood who despite being outlawed is a merchant in the Peasants' Revolt. He is obviously wealthy and ruthless and is prepared to break the law, he is used to getting his own way, he is afraid of no-one and he has men to support him. An example of Robin’s no-nonsense approach can be seen in Robin Hood and the Potter who refused to pay pavage tax. First Robin confiscated his pots and then he disguised himself as the potter and sold his pots in Nottingham market for less that they were worth.
The result was that the potter was effectively fined when his pots were confiscated. The money Robin got from their sale would pay the pavage tax he owed and presumably there would be some money left over for Robin in lieu of wages, good thinking Robin. It also guaranteed a quick sale and it got Robin to meet the sheriff’s wife and through her he was able to meet the sheriff and lure him into the forest where he was surrounded by Robin’s men.
It was thanks to the hospitality of the sheriff’s wife that Robin let the sheriff go free. In this way Robin punished the bad and honoured the good. All the time Robin had the upper hand, the potter’s debt was paid and Robin had the sheriff of Nottingham in the palm of his hand. This is where Robin differs from the common brigand who would either have held the sheriff to ransom, killed him, or both.
(As pavage tax was not introduced into Wentbridge until 1319 Robin must have been living after that date.)
Robin Hood and the Monk
In “Robin Hood and the Monk” Robin is accused of robbery which may be well founded because we read in the Gest that Robin took money from two thieving monks at the Saylis who could easily have been at St. Mary’s in Nottingham the same time as Robin. Whether Robin robbed them or not depends on whether it is possible to rob two monks of money they do not have, which is what they told Robin. He put it down to the Blessed Virgin who brought the money to him thus absolving himself from blame.
As it turned out the monks had embezzled £400 from the impoverished knight so they were right to say ‘they’ had no money because it was not theirs to have. Whichever way you look at it, firstly they were lying when they said they had no money and secondly the money they had, was stolen from someone else, so they had no need to complain that they had been robbed. The upshot was that after quite an adventure Robin was jailed and when Little John released him from prison they escaped into the forest by climbing over the city wall.
(The city wall and gates were not completed till 1337 in the reign of Edward III which is more dating evidence.)