An Unexpected Twist

One of the features about my medieval memories that always bothered me was that my identification of William Longespee was always tenuous. At least, in the most accurate memories I’ve had there was nothing to identify me beyond being a figure in the Angevin courts. I can rule out Richard I and Roland the Farter, but that doesn’t narrow it down a whole lot. Even the church I thought to be Salisbury Cathedral may well have been Westminster Abbey in a much later life in the 14th century for which I have no other clear memories.

However, the memory of running to the castle privy feeling extremely unwell did yield a bit of research. Apparently, King John died in 1216 of dysentery at Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire.

Does this prove anything? Not yet. A few points to consider:
1. Dysentery was rather common in those days.
2. The exact details of William Longespee’s death have been obscured by unsubstantiated rumors of poisoning; it may well be that he too died of dysentery and his chroniclers, not wanting him to die the same way as his less popular half-brother, obscured this fact.
3. I don’t know if this was something I actually died from, only that I seemed deathly ill.
4. Newark Castle is a gutted ruin now so it would be pretty difficult to say if the privy had glazed windows.
5. This is the only memory I’ve had that even vaguely suggests that I might have been King John.

I think right now it’s too soon to say if this means anything at all.

Edit: There are remains of a garderobe on the remaining western wall of Newark Castle and its entrance way is arched.  I can also establish that there is an outward window corresponding to the garderobe chutes.  What I cannot find is a detailed image of the inside of the garderobe (which is now several feet off the ground) or a close enough image of the window to determine if it was topped with a rounded arch and glazed at the time.  Considering the sources I’m reading suggest the garderobe structures are similar to those at Caernarfon Castle in Wales (also a Norman keep), I am inclined to believe that the garderobe was there in King John’s time.


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