Above is a picture of the tomb of King Edward II in Gloucester Cathedral in England. In the Geste of Robyn Hode, one of the earliest surviving ballads of Robin Hood, ‘comly’ King Edward hearing of the death of the Sheriff and that his deer in his forest have been killed, visits Sherwood disguised as an abbot. Eventually Robin recognises the king and asks for mercy for himself and his followers. But the king will only grant them a pardon on condition that they leave the forest and come to court.
In the ground breaking discoveries of Joseph Hunter which were first published in his book The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood his Period etc. Investigated and Perhaps Ascertained in 1852, he proposed that the king was Edward II ( 1307-1327).
A day book surviving from Edward's Royal Chamber between 14th April to 7th July 1323 mentions on 27th June a Robyn Hode received wages as porter of the king’s chamber from 5th till 18th June. In the fragment of the Account book, £6 is paid out to thirty four, including Robyn Hod, Simon Hod, Wat Cowherd and Robin Dyer.
In P.R.O. E101/380/4 there are payments of 3d a day starting on the 25th April 1324 to ‘Henri Lawe, Colle de Ashruge, Will de Shene, Joh. Petimari, Grete Hobbe, Litell Colle, Joh. Edrich, Robyn Hod, Simon Hod, Robert Trasshe.......... (And nineteen others).’
On May 17th 1324: ‘ To Robert Hod and thirty one other porters for wages from the 22nd April to May 12th, less five days for Robert Hod when he was absent.’
On June 10th 1324: ‘To Robyn Hod twenty seven days wage less one day absence deducted for absence.’
On June 30th 1324: 'Twenty Six porters received their wages but Robyn Hod received nothing.'
On July 22nd 1324: ‘To Robert Hood and six other valets being with the king at Fulham by his command from the 9th day of June arrears of wages at 3d a day for twenty one day’s pay.'
August 21st 1324: ‘Robin Hod had eight days pay deducted for non-attendance.'
October 6th 1324: ‘Robyn Hod received full pay.'
October 21st 1324: No pay to Robyn Hod, absent altogether.
From October 21st to November 24th 1324 the Clerk of the Chamber paid Robyn Hod for 35 days, but deducted seven days because of absence.
November 22nd 1324: ‘To Robyn Hod formerly one of the porters, because he can no longer work, five shillings as a gift by commandment.'
Edward II (1307-1327)
In the Geste Robin has spent all his money on entertaining and on gifts to knights and squires. Only two of his men, Little John and Scathelock, are left with him. Robin longs to go back to the greenwood, and begs leave of the king to go on a pilgrimage to a little chapel in Barnsdale that he had built.
We know now that this Robert Hood/Robin Hood was already in the King’s service before his visit to Nottingham; perhaps he was given the five shillings because he was too old and sick to work. But whatever way you look at it, this is indeed a remarkable coincidence between ballad and historical fact.
To read more about Joseph Hunter's discoveries, please click here.