Role in the film
Before King Richard leaves for the Crusade with the Earl of Huntingdon while the King's younger brother, Prince John is left to govern his kingdom in his absence, the Archbishop of Canterbury is asked by the King to give a blessing for his Crusade at Nottingham.
Two years have passed, King Richard's Crusade has ended in failure, and the King finds himself imprisoned in Austria to be held for a ransom of 100,000 marks; much to Queen Eleanor, King Richard and Prince John's mother, and the Archbishop's dismay and Prince John's joy. Knowing that her son hasn't raised and refused to contribute to the fourth of the ransom, the Queen and the Archbishop go to Nottingham to consult him. At his castle, Prince John lies to his mother; claiming he never knew or heard of his own brother's capture and ransom from his mother's messengers, whom he also claims they never reached him as well.
Using his wit, he decides to hold a donation tomorrow at Nottingham Square. Still, the Archbishop and his mother suspect he's up to something. Prince John gives them an excuse by telling them that he's been busy forming an army of foresters against Robin Hood and his outlaws known as Merrie Men. Having known Robin Hood all her life, Maid Marian, the Earl of Huntingdon's daughter, the Queen's maid, and Robin's childhood playmate friend, refuses to believe his story (including the story of how his father was killed) and tries to persuade the Queen to allow her to find Robin and prove her his loyalty to their King. But the Queen refuses since she is her responsibility and Prince John continues to mock and rebuff Robin Hood.
The next day, during the donation, the Archibishop and the Queen are present as Prince John and other lords contribute to the King's ransom. Maid Marian, having disobeyed the Queen and disguised herself as a page, presents everyone with Robin Hood and his men's donations; much to Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham's chagrin and the Queen and the Archbishop's joy. When the Sheriff tries to object on behalf of the Prince, Robin and his men (disguised as peasants) make him pay 1,000 marks; an act which provokes the crowd to ask for as well from him. To avoid embarrassment and suspicion, Prince John has the Sheriff donate as well (1,187 marks) while Robin and his men inconspicuously empty out the rest of the treasury (more than 10,000 marks) into one big chest and present it forth to the donation in front of everyone too, thus, the deliverance of their King is assured; much to the Prince and the Sheriff's shock.
Refusing to give up all his tax money and to allow his brother to return home safely, Prince John plans to disguise his men as Robin Hood's outlaws to steal his money back tomorrow while the Queen and the Archbishop are conveying the ransom through Sherwood Forest. Knowing Maid Marian has been fraternizing with the outlaws and could see through their deception, thus, jeopardize their plan, Prince John and the Sheriff have her imprisoned in the dungeon and make his mother believe she is with Robin Hood.
As the Archbishop and the Queen are passing through Sherwood Forest with the ransom money, they are ambushed by Prince John's guards, disguised as Robin Hood's outlaws. The Archbishop tries to fight back with a mace until Robin and his real men arrive to stop the attack. The Archbishop and Queen learn of the deception and Prince John's treachery through the impostors' true uniforms and one of the impostors, forced to confess by Little John. The Archbishop and Queen also learn of Maid Marian's true whereabouts when the Queen mentions that she went off to see Robin again last night (or so Prince John wanted her to think since he actually imprisoned her in the dungeon). The Queen, having been given the responsibility to look after Marian by her father in his absence two years prior, wishes to go back to see to her safety but the Archbishop reminds her of their main objective concerning the King and his ransom. So, the Archbishop and Queen continue with their journey to Austria to pay the ransom for King Richard's return to England while Robin and his men handle Prince John and the Sheriff and rescue Maid Marian.