After the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, King John went back on his promise which led the country to fall into a civil war. This divided the barons between supporting the crown and rebel barons who invited Prince Louis, the son of the French King, to take the English throne.
In May 1216, King John died and his son, the now King Henry III, was only a child. So William Marshal, a famous medieval knight and the King’s champion, acted as regent. By May 1217, the city of Lincoln and much of the country had been taken by the combined French and rebel English forces, but Lincoln Castle held out for the royalist cause under the command of a formidable lady constable, Nicola de la Hay.
On the morning of 20 May 1217, the Royalist army set out from Stowe to take Lincoln Castle. The Royalists claimed victory but in pursuit of those retreating sacked the city, giving rise to the chronicler’s ironic nickname for the battle, the Battle of Lincoln Fair.
The wise old William Marshal, Guardian of the Realm, offered the Rebel Barons an amnesty and most switched allegiance to the young Henry III.
This battle was of national significance. If the Royalists had lost, England would have become part of France and our King Louis VIII, instead the Plantagenet dynasty ruled for another 250 years.
Trail information courtesy of Rod Wilson for The Lincolnite.
Follow this trail to learn more about the battle and to walk the footsteps of the armies of 1217.
Discover a world of rich history at Lincoln Castle, dating back to 1068 and home to one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta.
A cobbled street that leads from Lincoln Castle into the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.
A street leading from the west gate of Lincoln Castle to Lincoln's famous Bailgate.
One of the surviving jewels of Roman Britain, Newport Arch is the oldest arch in the UK still actively used by traffic.
One of Europe’s finest Gothic buildings, once the tallest in the world, with stunning views from the roof and tower and intricate design inside.
A steep, cobbled street, lined with independent shops, tea rooms and restaurants that leads to and from Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle and the Cathedral Quarter.
An early 16th century town building which forms an archway over the main High Street. Home to City Council meetings and the heritage of Lincoln's local politics.