Easton Royal Heritage Group

A case of Right Royal Ingratitude

When King Richard the Lionheart was away from England on Crusade, and later as a prisoner in Austria, the Warden of Savernake Forest, Geoffrey Esturmy, became involved in a plot against the King, on behalf of Earl John, Richard’s younger brother.  John was on the scene, holding Marlborough Castle, and Richard was for most of his reign absent from the kingdom.  John had a silver tongue, and managed to persuade the politically inexperienced Geoffrey to come into his following.  However, Richard returned in 1194, and quite understandably imposed a fine of 500 marks (1 mark = 13s 4d) on the unfortunate warden who also lost the post of Warden.  Although John was disgraced, his life and liberty were spared.  Then after a brief time in England Richard leaves to pursue his wars in France, never to return, being shot by an arrow at the siege of Chalus.

Geoffrey managed to pay off half his fine, and the wardenship was restored to him.  However this must have severely stretched his finances as when John succeeded to the throne in 1199, 250 marks was still owing.  You might have expected his troubles would be at an end.  After all the man he had supported in his rebellion was now king.  Not a bit of it!  The ungrateful king insisted on payment of the fine.  Geoffrey disappears from the records, presumably dying a broken man, being succeeded by his son Henry, who in 1200 is recorded as paying off a further 80 marks from the fine.

(based on account in The Wardens of Savernake by Lord Cardigan)