The Chronicles of Robin Hood is a novel for children published by the Oxford University Press in 1950. It was Sutcliff's first book, written at the suggestion of the OUP after reading Sutcliff's manuscript for a volume of Celtic legends.
Twenty-three year old yeoman Robin of Locksley returns to his farm of Goddethorne from a visit to his beloved Marian to be warned by Much, the miller's son, that his landlord the Abbot of St. Mary's in York has declared him an outlaw in order to seize his land. Robin and Much free Goddethorne's four villeins, arrested for resisting the farm seizure by the abbot's steward Guy of Gisborne, and all flee into the Greenwood of Barnesdale Forest, where they swear to make their living as outlaws only by preying on the rich lords and churchmen who abuse the people of England (1).
The next spring, Robin encounters a gigantic young man called John Naylor while crossing a narrow bridge, and they challenge each other to fight with quarterstaves to decide who must yield. Discovering that John has nowhere to go, Robin presents him to his band, now numbering twenty well-trained men, and they dub the newcomer Little John (2). In autumn, Robin meets a brightly-dressed young archer whom he challenges to a contest; he proves to be Robin's cousin Will Gamwell, outlawed for killing his father's steward in a fight, who is looking to join Robin's band, and is rechristened Will Scarlet. Will tells them of a sharp-shooting renegade monk from his native Fountains Dale, where Robin goes to recruit him. Robin and Friar Tuck exchange a series of tricks and throws over carrying each other across a ford, before the men-at-arms of St. Mary's Abbey appear and they team up to drive them off, with the help of Tuck's ban-dogs and Robin's men, with whom the Friar accepts a place (3).
On Midsummer's Day, the outlaws waylay a glum knight who explains that he has no money to give them or to pay the mortgage he owes to St. Mary's Abbey, and Robin loans him the cash to throw in the face of the greedy Abbot. When Sir Richard's loan comes due in a year, he arrives slightly late to find that the outlaws have stolen twice as much as he owed them from a passing monk of St. Mary's, and cancelled his debt (4).
In February, a juggler named Peterkin tells Robin that he is travelling to Marian's unwanted wedding to Sir Roger of Doncaster. Robin goes with him in disguise as a minstrel to rescue her, but Marian has already escaped. Searching the countryside for her, Robin encounters a jumpy young man who attacks him with a sword. Finally seeing through each other's disguises, Robin and Marian return to the outlaws's camp to be wed (5).
In May, the outlaws detain the proud Potter of Wentbridge, who boxes with Robin then lends him him his cart and wares to go to the archery contest in Nottingham. Robin sells the pots, presenting one to the sheriff's wife, wins the archery contest, and lures the sheriff and his men-at-arms into a trap with the promise of capturing Robin Hood (6).
In October, Sir Richard-at-Lea's son Alan A'Dale asks Robin for his help in rescuing his lady Alice de Beauforest from a forced marriage to the villainous Sir Niger le Bigot. The outlaws infiltrate the church, kill Sir Niger and fight off his men with the help of Alice's sympathetic villeins, and take Alan and Alice into their ranks, where they are shortly wed (7).
In July, the outlaws go to the sheriff's archery contest in Nottingham, where Robin upon winning the prize is seized by the sheriff's crony Guy of Gisborne. As the outlaws flee for the woods, Little John is shot in the knee, and they take shelter instead in the nearby castle of their old friend Sir Richard, which Gisborne and the sheriff cannot besiege without a Royal Warrant from Prince John, the King's regent (8). A week later, his wife Lady Elizabeth rides into the camp to tell them Sir Richard has just been arrested for sheltering them. The outlaws attack the arrest party on the road, killing the sheriff, and Sir Richard and Lady Elizabeth join the band (9).
At Christmastime several years later, Will Stukely takes a message from a belated traveller to Nottingham, is arrested, and scheduled to hang the next morning. At the execution, Little John disguised as a pilgrim cuts his bonds while the outlaws drive off the new sheriff and his men-at-arms (10).
In spring, King Richard Coeur-de-Lion is held for ransom, some of it supplied anonymously by the outlaws, and returns to England to set right the misrule of his brother John, the rebellious barons, and the churchmen. Hearing that the best archers in Nottingham follow Robin Hood, Richard disguises himself as an abbot and is duly waylaid by the outlaws, professing to be a messenger from the king. After watching a demonstration of their shooting and hearing their declarations of loyalty to the king, he reveals himself and pardons the outlaws. With mixed feelings, the brotherhood of the Greenwood parts to return to their homes or the king's service, with only Little John remaining with Robin and Marian (11).
While Robin and Marian and John restore the manors of Locksley and Malaset, King Richard dies and is succeeded by his brother John, whose barons to force him to sign a Great Charter ensuring their rights in 1215. John swiftly summons foreign mercenaries to ravage the barons' lands, and Robin returns to Malaset to find the castle under siege, and Marian shot through the heart while fighting in its defense. He and Little John return to the Greenwood forever (12).
Robin quickly gathers a brotherhood of old and new outlaws around him again, fighting the rich, the foreign mercenaries, and his old enemies Roger of Doncaster and Guy of Gisborne. Seven years after his return, Little John is captured by Sir Roger while Sir Guy, spying in disguise as the fearsome Phantom Horse of Barnesdale, stumbles upon Robin, attacks him, and is killed. Robin adopts his disguise to free Little John, though Sir Roger escapes them in the fighting (13). Robin takes a wound that becomes infected, and periodically thereafter visits his cousin the Abbess Ursula of Kirklees Abbey for blood-letting. Sir Roger bribes the ruthless Ursula to let Robin bleed to death, and Robin awakes with only enough strength to summon his men and shoot an arrow to mark his grave-site before dying in Little John's arms. Sir Roger flees to his French estates where he is assassinated by Peterkin the juggler, and the outlaw band once again splinters. Their exploits live on in the memory of the English people (14).
The Chronicles of Robin Hood is set chiefly during the reigns of King Richard I and King John, though it probably begins in the historical reign of Henry II, and extends into that of Henry III. Reference is made to the captivity and ransom of King Richard (Dec 1192-Feb 1194), his death at Chalus (April 1199), the signing of the Magna Carta in June 1215 (the only date specified in the text), and the death of King John (Oct 1216).
Fictional events in the text are dated relative to these. The passage of time between fictional events corresponds indifferently with the historical dates, notably the sixteen years (12, 13) specified between Robin's pardon and his return to the Greenwood in 1215. This puts King Richard in England in the summer of 1199, several months after his death, and makes unclear the implied date of his release (historically 1194), in the eleventh year of the story (11). (The length of time between Richard's release and his meeting with Robin Hood is unspecified and historically could be any time between spring 1194 and summer 1198, but the historical Richard did not spend these years in England.) Certainly the plot appears to open within the reign of Richard (begun July 1189), as no mention is made of Henry I and Sir Richard-at-Lea goes on crusade with "the king" (presumably Richard I in 1190-1192) at least three years before his appearance in the third year of the story (4). Little John's assertion that he has been with Robin for thirty years in 1215 (12), however, fits with a date of 1185 for the second year (2) and a lead up of ten years before the king's release in 1194 (11). This timeline opts to retain the historical dates (rather than move King Richard's release and the preceding ten years up to 1189-1199), with chapters 1-11 dated back from King Richard's release in 1194, and chapters 12-14 forward from 1215. This puts a lapse of twenty-one years (1194-1215) instead of sixteen (1199-1215) between chapters 11 and 12. The sixteen years can be read as an error for the length of King John's reign before the signing of the Magna Carta.
- 1161: Robin born (1)
- 1165: Marian born (1)
- 1174: Robin and Marian meet (1)
- 1180: Cousin Ursula enters Kirklees Abbey (3)
- John Kierslake outlawed (1)
- Sir Richard-at-Lea goes on Crusade (4)
- 1184 (1st year of narrative)
- Summer: Robin of Locksley, Much, et al. outlawed (1)
- 1185 (2nd year)
- Spring: Little John joins Robin Hood (2)
- June: Sir Richard returns, mortgages Linden Lea to St. Mary's Abbey (4)
- October: Will Scarlet joins Robin Hood (3)
- October: Friar Tuck joins Robin Hood (3)
- 1186 (3rd year)
- June 24 (Feast of St. John the Baptist): Robin Hood detains Sir Richard-at-Lea (4)
- June 25: Sir Richard pays off his mortgage (4)
- 1187 (4th year)
- June: Robin Hood's loan to Sir Richard repaid (4)
- 1188 (5th year)
- February: Marian's weddings; Marian joins Robin Hood (5)
- May: Robin robs the sheriff of Nottingham (6)
- October: Alan A'Dale joins Robin Hood; Alice de Beauforest's weddings (7)
- 1189 (6th year)
- 6 July: King Henry II dies and Richard I succeeds him
- July: the sheriff of Nottingham's archery competition (8)
- A week later: rescue of Sir Richard; Sir Richard & Lady Elizabeth join Robin Hood (9)
- 1192 (9th year)
- December 26: Will-the-Bowman arrested (10)
- December 27: Will's execution (10)
- December: King Richard captured by the Duke of Austria
- 1193 (10th year)
- Spring: News of King Richard's captivity reaches England (11)
- 1194 (11th year)
- February: King Richard ransomed and released (11)
- Summer: King Richard pardons Robin Hood (11)
- Roger of Doncaster stripped of his lands (13)
- 6 April: King Richard dies and John succeeds him (12)
- 6 April: Will Scarlet also killed at Chaluz (12)
- Spring: barons draft the Great Charter at Brackley (12)
- May: Robin rides south with fellow barons (12)
- June: King John signs Great Charter at Runnymede (12)
- Early autumn: King John's mercenaries land in the north (12)
- October: Malaset castle besieged, Marian killed (12)
- 3 days later: Robin buries Marian and returns to the Greenwood (12)
- 19 October: King John dies and Henry III succeeds him (13)
- Robin commands 80 men in the Greenwood (13)
- Late September: Little John captured by Roger of Doncaster, Robin kills Guy of Gisborne (13)
- 1225 (or later)
- May: Sir Roger bargains with Abbess Ursula (14)
- November: Robin Hood dies and is buried at Kirklees Abbey (14)
- Robin (1), Robert of Locksley or Robin Hood.
- Much-the-Miller's-Son (1), of Birkencar, a small brown man (1). A very good archer (3). The treasurer (4).
- Marian (1), daughter of Robert, Lord Fitzwater of Malaset.
- Little John (2), John Naylor or John the Little, a giant villein of Cumberland (2). A very good archer (3). "ever the best surgeon in the band" (7).
- Diccon (1), Goddethorne villein, the only married man [presumably to Sibby]
- Barnaby (1), Goddethorne villein, the cow-man (1). Last of the original four (13).
- Gurth (1), Goddethorne villein
- Watkin (1), Goddethorne villein, an older man
- Will-the-Bowman (2), Will Stukely, an older man who served in King Henry's armies, joined between the first summer and spring (2). A very good archer (3).
- Simon-the-Fletcher (2), joined between the first summer and spring
- Ket-the-Smith (2), joined between the first summer and spring
- 11 other outlaws joined between first summer and spring (2)
- 31 more by second autumn, including:
- George-a-Green (3), "that valiant pound-keeper of Wakefield", recruited by challenge
- Arthur Bland (3), recruited by challenge
- William of Goldsborough (3), recruited by challenge (3), or Goldsbrough (9)
- Will Scarlet (3), Will Gamwell, Robin's mother's sister's son, killed his father's steward of Fountains Dale by accident. A very good archer (3).
- Friar Tuck (3), the Curtel Friar of Fountains Dale, a very good archer and a very large man (3).
- Gelert, Beaufort, Cavell (3), Tuck's dogs killed by the men-at-arms of St. Mary's
- Luath, Levin, Bran, Orthros, 3 others (3), Tuck's remaining dogs
- Breon (8), the largest dog (8), the pack leader (10)
- Gelert, Beaufort (10), new generations
- Keri (10), Breon's son
- Hob-o'-the-Hoar-Oak (4, 5)
- Red Hugh (4)
- Sir Richard-at-Lea (4), a knight in debt, master of Linden Lea (4). Arrested for sheltering the outlaws; joins the band (9).
- Lady Elizabeth (4), Sir Richard's wife (4), a tall woman (8); joins the band with Sir Richard (9).
- Alan A'Dale (4), Sir Richard's son, imprisoned for killing a man (4). With curly yellow hair (7).
- Peterkin (5), a juggler
- Gilbert-of-the-White-Hand (5), Gilbert Shuttleworth, girlish-looking ex-serf of Roger of Doncaster
- Diggery (5)
- Roger Lightfoot (5), "the swiftest runner of them all"
- Right-Hitting-Brand (7), a tall blond Dane
- Alice de Beauforest (7), fair and gentle, Alan A'Dale's wife
- Hugh Greenleafe (8), "one of the younger outlaws", "square and ruddy"
- Reynold (8), one of the six shooters for the silver arrow, "square-built, grizzled Reynold"
- Diccon (8), Linden Lea archer, a wizened little old man (8), joins with Sir Richard (9)
- Simon D'Aubernoun (8), Sir Richard's squire, "a pleasant, dark-eyed lad" (8), joins with Sir Richard (9).
- Roger (10), holding the fort during Will's rescue
- Rafe-the-Archer (12), chief of the Malaset men-at-arms in Robin's absence
- Martin-the-Ploughman (13) of Malaset
- Andrew (13), a young wood-ranger, captured by Roger of Doncaster
- David-the-Smith (13), a fast runner
Locksley and Malaset:
- Uncle Stephen (1), Robin's uncle, whose land borders the chase
- Robert, Lord Fitzwater (1), Marian's father, lord of Malaset Castle (1). "paunchy, old, and ill-humoured" (5)
- Sir Hugh de Staunton (5), Marian's cousin, a scarred young knight
- Humfrey (5), Malaset's chief steward, short
Goddethorne and Birkencar:
- Sibby (1), a villein's wife [presumably Diccon], gone to her brother in Birkencar
- Trusty (1), Robin's cattle-dog, killed by the abbot's men
St. Mary's Abbey, York:
- The Abbot (1), fat and acquisitive
- Sir Guy of Gisborne (1), the Abbot's steward (1). Shot in the shoulder by Robin at Fountains Dale (3). Steward of the Manor of Birkencar (8).
- Brother Julian (4), the prior, a lean pale-faced man, and honest
- The cellarer (4), "an elderly man, bloated of body, and red of nose", drunk and dishonest. Robbed of 800 pounds by the outlaws.
- The Lord Chief Justice (4), "stately, bleak-faced"
- Ralf Murdoch (6), the sheriff of Nottingham, surly (6). Killed by Robin during the rescue of Sir Richard (9).
- Mistress Murdoch (6), the sheriff's wife, a hospitable soul
- New sheriff of Nottingham (10), "a leaner, younger man...every wit as much a creature of the barons"
- Black Jonathan (10), a Nottingham blacksmith with a little brother and a sweetheart in Papplewick
- Hugh (10), his eleven-year-old brother, "over-venturesome"
- Mistress Peascod (10), their neighbour, Hugh's minder
- Innkeeper of the Salutation Inn (10), Nottingham, a friend of the outlaws
- George the Potman (10), the innkeeper's usual messenger
- Simon Scorby (10), greybearded farmer and patron of Salutation
- Jon of Kirkby (10), master fletcher and ditto
- Sir Hugo de Razeby (10), Lord of Nottingham Castle, "a short, burly knight", "a kindly man" (10), an old friend of King Richard (11)
- Sir Ranulf (11), a hawk-nosed old knight, robbed by Robin
- John Kierslake (1), outlawed on false pretenses the year before Robin
- Ursula (3), of Kirklees Nunnery, Robin's only cousin save Will Scarlet
- Sir William de Trumpington (4), a victim of poultry-theft
- Sir Roger of Doncaster (5), Marian's fiancé, "a black, covetous young villain"
- the Potter of Wentbridge (6), "a stiff-necked creature"
- Sir Simon de Beauforest (7), Alice's father
- Sir Niger le Bigot (7), Alice's bridegroom, an infamous old villain
- The Archbishop of York (7), presiding at Sir Niger's wedding
- Prince John (8), the king's brother and regent, misruling (8), "the wild young man", a would-be usurper (11)
- King Richard Coeur-de-Lion (8), off on Crusade
- the Phantom Horse of Barnesdale (10), lurking
- the Duke of Austria (11), King Richard's captor
- Blondel (11), Richard's favourite minstrel, who discovered his captivity
- Hubert Walter (11), Archbishop of Canterbury, the king's ally
- Fitzwalter, William Marshal, Stephen Langton (12): leaders of the northern barons
- Flemings, Saxons, Brabanters and Poitevins (12), dreadful foreign mercenaries
- Squire Stephen of Thurgoland (14), taught to respect his mother
- the mossmen (14), border reavers
- the Douglases and Armstrongs (14), fought back to Scotland
- the Bishop of Hereford (14), bootless dancer
- Barnesdale Forest (1) or Barnsdale Forest, the Greenwood.
- Stane Ley (2), the outlaws' summer camp, a glade dominated by the Trysting Lime tree. With a small stream, huts, a forge
- A bridge upstream (2), where Robin meets Little John
- Barnesdale Bar (13)
- York (1) county town
- St. Mary's Abbey, landlords of Goddethorne (1). Benedictine monks (3)
- Pomfret (1), Pontefract, market town near Birkencar
- Market Cross, where Robin was proclaimed outlaw
- Birkencar (1), village near Goddethorne and Pomfret, a single street and a church.
- Goddethorne (1), Robin of Locksley's holding from St. Mary's Abbey at York, a farm of three fields in the bottom of the valley which also holds Birkencar village, on the verge of Barnesdale Forest.
- Pomfret road (1), Robin's road between Birkencar and Locksley
- Doncaster (1), location of the Justice
- Doncaster to Lincoln road (2), profitable
- Wakefield (3), home of George-a-Green
- Goldsborough (3), home of William of Goldsborough
- Doncaster to York road (3), profitable
- Selby (3), town through the forest from Pomfret
- Fountains Dale (3), northwest of Barnesdale near York, Will Scarlet's home and father's lands
- Fountains Abbey (3), marches with Will's lands, former home of Friar Tuck
- A paved ford (3), where Robin meets Friar Tuck
- Irming Street (4) [Ermine Street], Roman road from Doncaster to York
- Crossroads (4) by the willow plantation, on high ground southeast of Barnesdale, where the east road joins
- Barnesley (5)
- Sheffield (5), small village
- Wentbridge (6), home of the Potter
- the Peak District (8), partly within Yorkshire
- Kinley Scar (13) a wooded gully overlooking the Pomfret-Doncaster road, 10 miles from Stane Ley
- the Mark Oak by Wragthorn Heath (13), a meeting point
- ? Werrisdale (14), where Little John and Much retire
Nottinghamshire, south of Yorkshire
- Locksley Chase (1), forest bordering the farm of Robin's uncle Stephen, twenty miles south of Goddethorne.
- Locksley Village (5)
- Malaset (1), hamlet bordering the Chase
- Malaset Castle (1), home of Lord Fitzwater and Marian (1), west of Sherwood (5)
- Sherwood Forest (2), fifty miles south of Barnesdale Forest (2). Chestnut (9).
- Dunwold Scar (2), the outlaws' winter camp in the Long Cave (14) and other sandstone caves
- Clumber Forest (3), point south to which Robin's fame reaches after a year and more in the Greenwood (3), a dozen miles from Nottingham (6). Oak (9).
- Nottingham (4), the county town
- Chandler's Lane (6), site of the Salutation Inn (10)
- The sheriff's house
- The walls
- The archery butts, outside the north walls
- St. Mary's Church (10)
- Black Jonathan's smithy (10), in a street behind the corn market
- Bridlesmith Gate (10), outside of which outlaws are hanged
- A spinney (10) outside the gate, belonging to the Good People
- Linden Lea (4), hard by Nottingham, Sir Richard-at-Lea's family's lands since before the Norman Conquest (4). A moated castle in a small valley, with gardens and an orchard (8).
- Sheffield to Nottingham road (5), the route from Dunwold Scar to Malaset
- Worksop (5), small village near Dunwold Scar
- Newstead (7), Alan A'Dale's farm is nearby
- Kirkby Manor (7), Simon de Beauforest's land, five miles from Dunwold Scar
- Mansfield (8), Robin's party joins Hugh de Staunton's at the Mark Stones en route to Runnymede (12)
- Woodstock (8), Sir Richard has a hunting lodge there
- Papplewick (10), village where Will-the-Bowman has a friend
- Newark Castle (13), where King John dies of poison
Lincolnshire, southeast of Yorkshire
- Lincoln (2), where the green cloth comes from
- Grimsby (14), whence Roger of Doncaster flees to France
Cumberland (2), northwest of Yorkshire, Little John's native land
The south of England:
- London (11, 12)
- Brackley, Northamptonshire (12), the Great Charter is drafted by the barons
- Runnymead, Surrey (12), or Runnymede, Thameside meadow where King John signs the Charter
- Chaluz (12), where King Richard and Will Scarlet die
- Roger of Doncaster's estates (13, 14), where he is assassinated by PeterkinThe Holy Land (4), where Crusaders go
- Calvary (4), Sir Richard has trodden it