Taking a history class that covered Angevin England has actually given me a pretext to do a little more research about William Longespee, and what I’ve found is fascinating.
First of all, the best source as far as modern history books are concerned for information about William Longespee is just about any biography of King John or a good history of his reign. In fact he was such a central figure in John’s troubled reign that he remains inseparable from the narrative. How exactly he managed to keep from being stained by King John’s reign, I don’t know because he was loyal most of the time.
Second, I discovered two interesting coincidences with John’s life.
There was an episode that took place in Sherborne during a revolt in Devon. William Longespee, warned of an ambush awaiting him just a little further up the road, turned back only to be berated by John (though he later went back and the soldiers who waited for him fled in terror because he had brutal Flemish mercenaries with him). Sherborne, incidentally, is six miles from Yeovil and John was born in a house along Sherborne road. This is yet another instance where a distance of only a few miles separated important events in both lives.
Another interesting fact emerged. A while ago I had a memory that during John’s life, I had a weakness for card games and lost money and items (including a keepsake box I kept my cigars in) by gambling compulsively. It turns out that William Longespee was fond of cards and also, an habitual gambler who often had King John pay his gambling debts.