That whosoe'er alive or dead Could bring bold Robbin Hood, Should have one thousand markes well paid In gold and silver good.
This promise of the king did make 145 Full many yeomen bold Attempt stout Robbin Hood to take, With all the force they could.
But still when any came to him Within the gay greene wood, 150 He entertainement gave to them With venison fat and good;
And shew'd to them such martiale sport With his long bow and arrow, That they of him did give report, 155 How that it was great sorow,
That such a worthy man as he Should thus be put to shift, Being late a lord of high degree, Of living quite bereft. 160
The king to take him, more and more Sent men of mickle might; But he and his still beate them sore, And conquered them in fight:
Or else with love and courtesie, 165 To him he won their hearts.
Thus still he lived by robbery Throughout the northerne parts;
And all the country stood in dread Of Robbin Hood and 's men: 170 For stouter lads ne're liv'd by bread In those days, nor since then.
The abbot which before I nam'd Sought all the meanes he could To have by force this rebele ta'ne, 175 And his adherents bold.
Therefore he arm'd five hundred men, With furniture compleate; But the outlawes slewe halfe of them, And made the rest retreate. 180
The long bow and the arrow keene They were so us'd unto, That still he kept the forrest greene In spite o' th' proudest foe.
Twelve of the abbots men he tooke, 185 Who came him to have ta'ne, When all the rest the field forsooke; These he did entertaine
With banquetting and merriment, And, having us'd them well, 190 He to their lord them safely sent, And will'd them him to tell,
That if he would be pleas'd at last To beg of our good king That he might pardon what was past, 195 And him to favour bring,
He would surrender backe again The money which before Was taken by him and his men From him and many more. 200
Poore men might safely passe by him, And some that way would chuse, For well they knew that to helpe them He evermore did use.
But where he knew a miser rich 205 That did the poore oppresse, To feel his coyne his hands did itch; He'd have it, more or lesse.
And sometimes, when the high-way fayl'd, Then he his courage rouses, 210 He and his men have oft assayld Such rich men in their houses.
So that, through dread of Robbin then, And his adventurous crew, The mizers kept great store of men, 215 Which else maintayn'd but few.
King Richard of that name the first, Sirnamed Cuer de Lyon, Went to defeate the Pagans curst, Who kept the coasts of Syon. 220
The bishop of Ely, chancelor, Was left a vice-roy here, Who like a potent emperor Did proudly domminere.
Our chronicles of him report, 225 That commonly he rode With a thousand horse from court to court, Where he would make abode.
He, riding down towards the north, With his aforesayd train, 230 Robbin and his men did issue forth, Them all to entertaine;
And with the gallant gray-goose wing They shewd to them such playe, That made their horses kicke and fling, 235 And downe their riders lay.
Full glad and faine the bishop was, For all his thousand men, To seek what meanes he could to passe From out of Robbins ken. 240
Two hundred of his men were kil'd, And fourescore horses good; Thirty, who did as captives yeeld, Were carryed to the greene wood;
Which afterwards were ransomed, 245 For twenty markes a man; The rest set spurres to horse, and fled To th' town of Warrington.
The bishop sore enraged then, Did, in king Richards name, 250 Muster a power of northerne men, These outlawes bold to tame.
But Robbin with his courtesie So wonne the meaner sort, That they were loath on him to try 255 What rigor did import.
So that bold Robbin and his traine Did live unhurt of them, Untill king Richard came againe From faire Jerusalem. 260
And then the talke of Robbin Hood His royal eares did fill; His grace admir'd that i' th' greene wood He thus continued still.
So that the country farre and neare 265 Did give him great applause; For none of them neede stand in feare, But such as broke the lawes.
He wished well unto the king, And prayed still for his health, 270 And never practis'd any thing Against the common-wealth.
Onely, because he was undone By th' crewele clergie then, All meanes that he could thinke upon 275 To vexe such kinde of men,
He enterpriz'd with hateful spleene; For which he was to blame, For fault of some to wreake his teene On all that by him came. 280
With wealth which he by robbery got Eight almes-houses he built, Thinking thereby to purge the blot Of blood which he had spilt.
Such was their blinde devotion then, 285 Depending on their workes; Which, if 'twere true, we Christian men Inferiour were to Turkes.
But, to speak true of Robbin Hood, And wrong him not a jot, 290 He never would shed any mans blood That him invaded not.
Nor would he injure husbandmen, That toyld at cart and plough; For well he knew, were't not for them 295 To live no man knew how.
The king in person, with some lords, To Nottingham did ride, To try what strength and skill affords To crush these outlaws pride. 300
And, as he once before had done, He did againe proclaime, That whosoe'er would take upon To bring to Nottingham,
Or any place within the land, 305 Rebellious Robbin Hood, Should be prefer'd in place to stand With those of noble blood.
When Robbin Hood heard of the same, Within a little space, 310 Into the towne of Nottingham A letter to his grace
He shot upon an arrow head, One evening cunningly; Which was brought to the king, and read 315 Before his majestie.
The tennure of this letter was That Robbin would submit, And be true liegeman to his grace In any thing that's fit, 320
So that his highnesse would forgive Him and his merry men all; If not, he must i' th' green wood live, And take what chance did fall.
The king would faine have pardoned him, 325 But that some lords did say "This president will much condemn Your grace another day."
While that the king and lords did stay Debating on this thing, 330 Some of these outlawes fled away Unto the Scottish king.
For they suppos'd, if he were tane, Or to the king did yeeld, By th' commons all the rest of 's train 335 Full quickely would be quell'd.