Newark Castle was originally a Saxon fortified manor house, founded by King Edward the Elder. In 1073, Robert Bloet, bishop of Lincoln founded an earthwork motte and bailey fortress on the site. From 1123-33, Bishop Alexander the Magnificent completely rebuilt the castle, when founding a prominent stone structure of ornate construction. In the early 13th century King John died here from a very severe bout of dysentry and in the late 13th century, the castle was substantially rebuilt with a new riverside curtain wall and after alterations in the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle became more of a palace. Slighted after it was held for King Charles I during the Civil War, sadly only the gatehouse, including chapel and lodgings, curtain wall and north-west tower now remains.
John was forced to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. This guaranteed the people of England rights that the king could not go back on. In 1216, John tried to go back on the Magna Carta but this only provoked the barons into declaring war on him. By 1216, John was ill. During the war, he suffered from dysentery. He also lost all of his treasure when he tried to take a shortcut across a stretch of water in the Wash, Lincolnshire. As the tide rose faster than he expected, his baggage train was engulfed. Just a few days later, John died at Newark castle and was succeeded by Henry III.
Despite the obvious failings of John, there is still some evidence that he was not as bad as some have tried to make him out to be since his death. It certainly was not uncommon for kings to have their names tarnished when they were not alive to defend themselves!
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