Robin learns from one of the king’s most devoted lords that his father had been a master mason & philosopher who drafted the Magna Carta &, by a bit of a revolution, almost got the king to sign it. But burdensome bothersome facts – he had no army, no baron feared for his life at his hands or hoped for treasure from his hand, & popular enthusiasm proved to be neither a principle of nor a path to rule – became apparent. In short, the man was killed.
Robin is superior to his father because he is a soldier. He knows war, armies, & men. He is therefore not the democrat his father had been: he butchers people for a living. That kind a life puts a premium on manliness & discounts the weak, especially women. Equality is only equality between soldiers who share in the dangers & must therefore share in the rewards. It seems like necessity is a kind of school of democracy. Fight or die.
We are shown that several barons were in fact quite taken with this Magna Carta document. It makes sense: they had the armies to force the king to sign; the reasons to attempt it, because the Norman king was abusing them; & the Magna Carta would have protected their titles, privileges, & properties. – Therefore, the Magna Carta could not have freed the Saxon peasants, the majority of the people, from the Norman barons, the conquering rulers. The few & the many would have fought; the few would have won, being soldiers & knights, living in strong castles; & the result would have been tyranny. The many, at the instigations of a rabble rouser, could have done enough to scare the few into cruelty & destruction, but not enough to force them to seek a generous peace.
Robin’s plans were not destroyed by the barons’ weakness, king John’s evil or the French invasion. Democracy was simply impossible, because the people of England had no arms & no property, & therefore no freedom. Robin could do nothing to change these habits & habits of mind, because he lacked authority. But his attempt to do good to the people would have required a complete revolution, because he was not a legitimate king. He would have needed to win a war, destroy the few, & install new modes and orders.
Instead, Robin gets the king to promise, but not to sign, when he has him in his hands. Robin may lead an army in war, but he cannot secure its loyalties. Attempting great deeds from a subaltern position always is imprudent. Robin may save his country, but not own it.