t the end of 1189, William de Longchamp was given the position of Justiciar and the task of administering the affairs of England by Richard I, the Lionheart while he was away on Crusade. Longchamp was a Norman, the chancellor and Bishop of Ely. The reason that Richard appointed Longchamp was to prevent his brother John from taking the English throne for himself. Richard also elected his four year old nephew, Arthur of Brittany as heir to the throne and ordered John to stay away from England for three years. But Longchamp became a tyrant. He dismissed Hugh, the Bishop of Durham, who Richard had appointed to jointly run the country. Many castles were seized and family members were put into positions of power. At the end of 1190 John returned to England and began a campaign against Longchamp. Longchamp was not popular with the Barons and it was easy for John to gain support against him. In 1191, Longchamp demanded the surrender of Lincoln Castle and set about besieging the important fortress. Even though Richard I was in Sicily, he learnt of the conflict back in England and sent Walter de Coutances, Archbishop of Rouen to investigate and deal with the problem. Longchamp was deposed and Walter took his place as Justiciar.
While Richard I was away on Crusade, William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely and Chancellor ordered the enlargement of the bailey surrounding the keep Tower in London. A new ditch and bank were constructed with a new section of curtain wall.
William Longchamp besieged Lincoln Castle accusing its owner of corruption. In response, Prince John captured Nottingham and Tickhill castles from William. The sheriff of the castle escaped and found refuge at Prince John's court while his wife Nicolaa successfully held the castle against the siege.
John and William Longchamp met at Winchester to discuss their differences. Several senior bishops were appointed as arbitrators and at the end of the meeting both John and William agreed to follow the recommendations. Longchamp was to return Lincoln Castle to it's owner and accept limits to his powers. In return John was to surrender Nottingham and Tickhill Castles.
Geoffrey, the illegitimate son of Henry II and half-brother to Richard and John landed secretly at Dover. He had been consecrated as the new archbishop of York while in Tours and his return was banned by William Longchamp. Several days after he arrived he was arrested. Citing the Winchester treaty, John sought another meeting between himself and Longchamp. This was agreed and the two were to meet at Loddon bridge near Reading. Geoffrey was freed, but Longchamp decided to flee and headed to Dover Castle.
William Longchamp was captured when his disguise as a female merchant was seen through. John ordered that he should be expelled from the country.
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