On May 2nd in 1264 Henry’s favorite cook named Thomas was killed by an unseen archer while riding out ahead of the royal column. In his fury the king, after taking counsel with his brother Richard, ordered over 300 archers who had already surrendered to be executed by beheading in a village called Flimwell. Beyond the atrocity itself, Henry could have used these men at the upcoming battle of Lewes, where he was reported to have had no archers to stem the Montfortian tide rolling down the hill above the town.
The archers lurking about in the woods during these troubled times inevitably gave rise to the legend of Robin Hood. The famed outlaw would not appear in print for another century, but there is evidence he might have been a common fugitive named Robert Hood who ran afoul of the law before the reform period began. His execution at the hands of the sheriff doubtlessly began to take on a life of its own with every new extortion and injustice meted out by Henry’s oppressive sheriffs.