Floss' thoughts

Our castle warden, Floss Newman has been researching King John since starting her role. Floss is passionate about Newark Castle and was keen to learn more about its most famous inhabitant.

"Before becoming Newark Castle Warden I had never really taken much notice of King John and along with the majority believed him to be not only a bad king but an evil man. After months of trawling through books, magazine articles and web pages I now have a soft spot for this much maligned King.

He is always portrayed as the man responsible for heavy taxation and the enemy in the Robin Hood folklore. However, if you look at the facts it was his brother and his father before him that had started England's spiral into financial decline. In fact Richard the great lionheart and fighter of Christendom who was much loved by his people spent less than seven months in England during his 10 year reign. Englishmen paid dearly to support a campaign more than 2000 miles away in a land that they knew nothing about, paid up again for a huge ransom for his return from captivity in Germany, only to see him disappear to fight in France where he was again kidnapped. This time when England had paid another hefty ransom, he was mortally wounded in another battle in France.

Back in England it was the responsibility of his brother John to raise these monies to free his brother and fund his appetite for war. Unfortunately for John, it also tarnished his name. By the time of John's death the country was in a poor financial state. A heartbroken John did not want the pomp of a Westminster burial as the country could not afford it. Instead he is buried at Worcester cathedral between two saints as he hoped this would give him a better chance of going to heaven.

1216, as well as the year of John's death at Newark Castle on the night of 18 October, was when he lost his war chest of cash and jewels in The Wash. John fell ill at Swineshead during one of his power struggle battles with his barons. On route back to London he stopped at Newark Castle and it is here his journey ended."

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