Sussex Castles




The Barons Rebel against John


The Barons Rebellion and Sussex

In 1215, unhappy with King John’s greed, cruelty and his unwillingness to abide by the terms of the magna carta, the English barons rebelled and invited Prince Louis of France to come and be king of England. Louis met with little initial resistance quickly moved through Kent. In Sussex he was joined by William de Warrene, Earl of Lewes and William d'Aubigny, Earl ofArundel

However, There was some resistance in Sussex and a squire, William Cassingham, raised a militia numbering several hundred  men. Armed with longbows, they retreated to forest of the weald and continued to resist the French until the French were eventually forced from England.

In 1216 King John died after gorging himself on peaches and new cider while sick with a fever. With John’s death and some skillful political maneuvering by William Marshall, Henry III’s regent, support for the rebellion faded. And after defeats in Dover and Sandwich, Prince Louis decided to return to France. 

Prince Louis escapes to France

While trying to leave England, Louis was ambushed near Lewes and pursued through the weald by William Cassingham. Louis made for Rye only to find the town held for king Henry. Louis then tried for Winchelsea. The townspeople of Winchelsea, aware that Louis was coming, abandoned their town, taking or destroying most of the food. There was some wheat in Winchelsea, but Louis' men did not have the means to turn the wheat into bread, there was no meat in the town and they had no means to catch fish. The wardens of the Cinque ports were now holding the Sussex and Kent coast for the king and the French rescue fleet was unable to land. Louis and his men are only saved from starvation by a French relief force was allowed to ride down from London.

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