After two long years, terrible news reached England that King Richard’s Crusade had failed and that Richard himself was imprisoned in Germany. There was a ransom of one hundred and fifty thousand marks for the lion-hearted King of England.
In the Tower of London, Queen Eleanor and Lady Marian waited anxiously for news from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had arrived travel stained and weary.
“I pray you bring good news,” said Queen Eleanor.
“We are thirty thousand marks nearer our goal,” replied the Archbishop. “The monasteries have melted up their plate, hearing that their king stood in need of ransom.”
“God bless them,” said the Queen. “What else?”
“London and the southern counties have given their all. So have the barons of the north. Yet one fourth of the ransom is still to be raised.”
The Archbishop paused and shook his head.
“Your own son, Prince John, has refused to contribute one stiver on behalf of King Richard.”
Queen Eleanor angrily sprang to her feet.
“He shall not hold back in the face of the king’s necessity. Tonight we leave for Nottingham!”
Queen Eleanor’s arrival in Nottingham was an unpleasant surprise for Prince John. He stood uneasy by the great stone fireplace in the keep of Nottingham Castle and embarrassingly faced his mother.
“Now that I know my brother’s plight,” he said with a sly smile, “upon the morrow, I’ll order a public donation in Nottingham Square. Even though I be shamed if the poor out give me.”
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