Tag Archive | King John

Lost Treasure of King John

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.

King John lost his Crown Jewels at Wash

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.

King John was confronted by various problems through his reign

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.

Wash was a marshand with quick sands and rapid movement of water

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.

Disappearance of Richard the Lionheart’s Son

Richard the Lionheart is one of the most known kings of England. He ruled from July, 6 1189 till his death about ten years later in 1199. Historical sources reveal that Richard did marry but did not have any legitimate heirs from that marriage. Richard later on went on to have an illegitimate son from an unknown woman in 1180’s. This was just before Richard became king of England. Name of this son was Phillip of Cognac. Phillip was never considered as an heir and there is not much known of him after his father’s death.


Phillip of Cognac was the Son of Richard the Lionheart

Phillip was married to the heiress of Cognac, but she died shortly and suddenly after the marriage. Richard the Lionheart died of complications after a crossbow arrow was surgically removed from his shoulder. It is known that after the death of his father Phillip avenged the death by killing Aimar V of Limoges for his part in the death of Richard. We come to know of this act from the accounts of a chronicler named Howden in 1199. But there are no historical references for this killing.


Phillip of Cognac's name last appears in the Pipe Rolls of 1201

Phillip of Cognac’s name next appears in the Pipe Rolls of 1201. Pipe Rolls are financial statements kepty by the chief treasurer. Every transaction made by the English was recorded in these Pipe Rolls. There is transaction from the year 1201 where Phillip is seen to be selling his Lordship to King John. He has disappeared from the records after that. It is believed that he died in 1230’s.


King John went on to become the next ruler of England after Richard the Lionheart

Though Phillip’s character has appeared in many fictional works but his life after 1201 is not much known about. Some feel he was murdered by King John shortly afterwards, while some others feel he spent his days in hiding and had a son. Phillip of Cognac from many accounts available does not seem to be an ambitious young man. He never wanted to be the next king of England. So, he most probably spent his days away from the glamour.