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  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM          
          KING JOHN LANDS  
             
a mitred Abbot and Prior in financial straits was fain to take the road to Lincoln, and toil up the Steep Hill for a business interview with the Jew at his house just below the Cathedral. Having pledged for so many marks this, that, or the other property belonging to his monastery, Abbot or Prior wended his way home again with the coin jingling in his money bags, yet withal an uncomfortable feeling that the Jew would require the heavy usury, which he had demanded in return for the loan, to be paid punctually.        
  After his crusade and subsequent captivity in Germany, Richard I. returned to England in his favourite galley, "Trench - la-Mer " or "Cleave-the-Sea." She was commanded by Alan 'Trenchmere, one of a notable family which flourished at Shoreham in the twelfth century.
  On the death of the last-named monarch, King John, setting aside the claims of his nephew, Prince Arthur (the son of an older brother) seized the crown. In the then reigning lord of Bramber, William de Braose, he had a very powerful adherent, who was one of the foremost in urging that John should be crowned King of England.
Aaron's terms were indeed high-sometimes he charged a penny per pound per week, sometimes twopence, or in other words from above 20 per cent. to 40 per cent. per annum. At such a rate of interest he speedily became " Aaron the Rich " and continued to heap up treasure for many a long year.  
  Possibly this fact decided the King to make Shoreham his landing-place when he came to assert his claim, six weeks after Richard's death. When he landed tvith his army on the 25th Mav, 1199, he came to a town whose people were friendly disposed toward him and were to remain so during the greater part of his restless and unsatisfactory reign.   The first part of his progress to Westminster was through friendly territory-the Rape of Bramber-which owned his powerful friend as lord.
But, in 1186, another and less welcome visitor knocked at Aaron's door and the old money-lender died. His chests and coffers were then full to over-flowing, while the debts owing to his estate were enormous-nine monasteries in Yorkshire alone were indebted to him for the large sum of 6,400 marks.  
King Henry II., viewing this vast accumulation of wealth and securities with greedy eyes, seized both treasure and debts. Although Aaron left several sons they were allowed to inherit. only a very small portion of his riches.  
  Shortly after his Coronation, King John commenced that restless journeying from town to town and to and from the Continent, for which his reign seems so remarkable. In less than a month after his arrival he was again at Shoreham (16th June, 1199) accompanied by his friend de Braose, busy assembling the fleet and embarking an army for the invasion of France, the King of that country having declared war against him and favouring the cause of the young Prince Arthur. On this occasion, King John sojourned in the town four days, and in all probability he was lodged at the house of the Templars. Before his departure for Normandy he dated from Shoreham a Charter, which conferred ,certain privileges on the City of London.
Henry Plantagenet intended to send the treasure to Normandy, and doubtless it was with the idea of making the sea voyage as short as possible, and so reducing the risk of piracy, that Shoreham was chosen as the port from whence it was to be shipped.  
The King's retinue accomplished the long over-land journey from Lincoln to Shoreham in safety and this seems to argue the existence of good roads at that period. In February, 1187, the treasure was put on board ship for Dieppe. It never reached. the Continent. A violent storm arose, the angry sea swallowed. up the wealth which the greedy King had stolen from the Jew's: sons, and the greater part of the royal retinue went down with it to a watery grave.  
       
        The commercial activity of the town and port greatly increased during the reign of this King. The fair of eight days established in 1202 was on important event. The bailiffs were continually receiving letters and mandates to provide ships for the King's Rise or for the use of his servants in their voyages to and from Normandy. At one time they are required to provide a ship " to convey the Master of Knights Templars, and `'Falter de Wells, our clerk, whom we are sending as mesengers to Normandy." On another occasion they are commanded " to give conveyance and safe conduct to Petrus de Leonibus, our clerk, who is bringing
That impetuous and fiery monarch, Richard I., having asserted that the King of France had " connived at the invasion of Toulouse " and thereby given great offence, sent Archbishop Baldwin to the French court to " pacify Philip,"   January 16th, 1188. Prince John followed the Archbishop, embarking at Shoreham for Dieppe, apparently on the same mission.  
       

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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002