When King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 he had second thoughts about the wisdom of doing so. Amongst other things it demanded that ALL men shall be equal before the law, and that no-one, including the king, shall be above it. Soon after signing it he repudiated the document. This had the effect of plunging England into a civil war, which included those pressured into rebellion against the crown, inviting a French prince across the channel to lead a revolt against King John.
Over time the crown began to lose control and was in danger of losing England to a foreign prince. Eventually the centre of rebellion and the centre of royal resistance became focused on Lincoln and the forests of the Midlands. It was in the Midlands, near Newark in 1216, that King John died, leaving his heir, the nine year old Henry to continue the fight.
During this time the forests of Lincolnshire, together with Lincoln Castle – Nottinghamshire, and part of Derbyshire, were all in the hands of two remarkable women.
Nicholaa of Lincoln was at one and the same time, Castellan of Lincoln Castle, Sheriff of Lincolnshire, and Keeper of the King’s Forest of Lincolnshire. Matilda of Laxton was the Keeper of the King’s Forests of Nottinghamshire, including Sherwood, and part of Derbyshire. Together they defended the king’s rights and domains and successfully turned the tide of rebellion until England was returned to the glory of young King Henry III – this is their fascinating story.