King John who ruled England from 1199-1216 is best known for being a villain in the Robin Hood stories. He lost possessions of the Angevian Empire, he irritated the Barons so much so that he was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215 and lost his Crown Jewels at Wash. The legend about this lost treasure has been doing rounds over 700 years now. John was born on the Christmas Eve and was the eldest son of Henry II. As a child John was largely overshadowed by his enigmatic brother Richard. Just like his father John developed a habit of violent outrages which lead to foaming mouth. When Henry died he left no land to John so he gained the name John Lackland. All of Henry’s territories went to his eldest son Richard I (who was better known as Richard the Lionheart). In 1199 Richard was killed in France and John spent no time in declaring himself the King of England. His reign started in a very unfortunate manner as his nephew Aurthur of Brittany was murdered. Many accused John for this murder and even rebelled against him.
The story of King John’s lost treasures has been in vogue from 13th century. King John was travelleing to East of London in late 1216. By this time the fortunes of the King had sunk very low, he pawned money to pay for the crusades of his brother Richard I and spent them on luxuries for himself. He had already lost his lands in Normandy to French king and was facing a French army on his own soil who was aided by the barons. Only a year before he had to sign the Magna Carta that reduced his powers to the throne.
On October 9, 1216 he arrived at Lynn, one of the very few places where he was still a little popular. On his arrival the king started feeling ill and decided to return back to Loncolnshire for safety reasons. On October 12 King John tried cross the Wash (a large bay that separates East Anglia from Licolnshire). During those times the region was filled with mudflats and marshes. It was traversable only during the low tides but was dangerous because of the quick sands and rapid movement of water. The king himself crossed at Wisbech and his baggage train consisting of many Royal treasures including the Crown Jewels was just behind him. The water rose suddenly and the treasures were lost in the water and quick sands. The incident has been a part of many writings. The king was ill with dysentery and moved a few more times before dying on October 18 at Newark.
There has always been a lot of speculation over what the King lost at Wash. Though most feel there were priceless Crown Jewels lost, but there are no records to support the claim. While others feel that the king was carrying some furniture and nothing more. But modern researchers feel that the king was travelling through the English countryside at a fair pace of 60 kilometres a day. The luggage trains in those days were very sluggish, and the army could not travel with such pace if they were to carry a baggage train.