John (24 December 1166 – 19 October 1216) was King of England from 1199 until his death in 1216. He lost the Duchy of Normandy and most of his other French lands to King Philip II of France, resulting in the collapse of the Angevin Empire and contributing to the subsequent growth in power of the French Capetian dynasty during the 13th century.
John, byname John Lackland, French Jean sans Terre, (born c. 1166—died October 18/19, 1216, Newark, Nottinghamshire, England), king of England from 1199 to 1216. In a war with the French king Philip II, he lost Normandy and almost all his other possessions in France.
- Youth and Struggle For The Crown
- John as King
- Rebellion and Magna Carta
King John was the youngest son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine to survive childhood, being born in 1166. It appears that John was the favored son of Henry, and so the king tried to find him large lands to live from. One grant of several castles, given when John was first to be married (to an Italian heiress), provoked anger among his brothers and started a war between them. Henry II won, but John was given only a little land in the resulting settlement. John was betrothed in 1176 to Isabella, heir to the rich earldom of Gloucester. When John’s older brother Richardbecame heir to his father's throne, Henry II wanted to promote Richard to inheriting England, Normandy, and Anjou, and give John Richard’s current holding of Aquitaine, but Richard refused to concede even this, and another round of family warfare followed. Henry turned down the Kingdom of Jerusalem for both himself and John (who begged to accept it), and then John was lined up for the command of Irelan...
In 1199 Richard died - while on a campaign, killed by a (un)lucky shot, before he could ruin his reputation - and John claimed the throne of England. He was accepted by Normandy, and his mother secured Aquitaine, but his claim to the rest was in trouble. He had to fight and negotiate, and he was challenged by his nephew Arthur. In concluding peace, Arthur kept Brittany (held from John), while John held his lands from the King of France, who was recognized as John’s overlord on the continent, in a manner greater than was ever forced out of John’s father. This would have a crucial impact later in the reign. However, historians who have cast a careful eye over John’s early reign have identified a crisis had already begun: many nobles distrusted John because of his previous actions and doubted whether he would treat them correctly. The marriage to Isabella of Gloucester was dissolved because of alleged consanguinity, and John looked for a new bride. He found one in the form of another I...
While many lords of England had grown discontented with John, only a few had rebelled against him, despite widespread baronial discontent stretching back to before John took the throne. However, in 1214 John returned to France with an army and failed to do any damage except gain a truce, having once more been let down by vacillating barons and the failures of allies. When he returned a minority of barons took the chance to rebel and demand a charter of rights, and when they were able to take London in 1215, John was forced into negotiations as he looked for a solution. These talks took place at Runnymede, and on June 15, 1215, an agreement was made on the Articles of the Barons. Later known as Magna Carta, this became one of the pivotal documents in English, and to some extents western, history. In the short term, Magna Carta lasted just three months before the war between John and the rebels continued. Innocent III supported John, who struck back hard at the baron’s lands, but he r...
Until the revisionism of the twentieth century, John was rarely well regarded by writers and historians. He lost wars and land and is seen as the loser by giving the Magna Carta. But John had a keen, incisive mind, which he applied well to government. Unfortunately, this was negated by an insecurity about people who could challenge him, by his attempts to control barons through fear and debt rather than conciliation, through his lack of magnanimity and insults. It is difficult to be positive about a man who lost generations of royal expansion, which will always be clearly chartable. Maps can make for grim reading. But there's little that merits calling King John 'evil', as a British newspaper did.
- Early Life
- Rebellion Against Henry II
- Rebellion Against Richard & Succession
- Philip II of France
- Pope Innocent II
- Magna Carta
- Robin Hood
- Barons' War & Death
John was born on 24 December 1167 CE at Oxford, the youngest of four sons born to King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Given no particular inheritance of note, he was nicknamed 'LackLand' meaning he had no lands, although his father did pack him off to Irelandin 1185 CE with the title Lord of Ireland. John, acting as viceroy, managed to upset both the English and Irish during his brief stay, and he was back in England after only four months in the job.
Richard and his younger brother John challenged their father Henry II in 1188-9 CE. The rebel sons formed an alliance with Philip II, the new King of France (r. 1180-1223 CE). The rebellion was supported by Eleanor of Aquitaine. Losing control of both Maine and Touraine, Henry eventually agreed to peace terms which recognised Richard as his sole heir. When the king died shortly after, Richard was crowned his successor in Westminster Abbey on 2 September 1189 CE. Also part of his kingdom were those lands in France still belonging to his family the Angevins (aka Plantagenets): Normandy, Maine, and Aquitaine. Richard refused to give John Aquitaine, as he had promised his father he would, and this only acerbated the rivalry between the two brothers.
While Richard was fighting abroad during the Third Crusade (1189-1192 CE) and then held in captivity by the Holy Roman Emperor, John took the opportunity to try and usurp the throne. The help of Philip II of France did not prove decisive, though, and Richard's able ministers Hubert Walter organised enough resistance to thwart the rebellion. When Richard returned briefly to England in 1194 CE, he forgave his brother his excessive ambition and even nominated him as his official successor. In 1194 CE Richard campaigned in France to defend his Angevin-Plantagenet lands, but disaster struck during his siege of the castle of Chalus on 6 April 1199 CE. Hit by an arrow and dying of gangrene, Richard left no heir and so John was made the new king of England; he was crowned on 27 May 1199 CE at Westminster Abbey.
John had married Isabella of Gloucester on 29 August 1189 CE and, obviously partial to the name, married Isabella of Angouleme (a county in Aquitaine) after his first marriage was annulled on 24 August 1200 CE. This second attachment proved troublesome for the English king since the second Isabella had been previously promised to a French count, Hugh de Lusignan, and so Philip II of France took exception to the wedding. Philip confiscated all of the territory in France then held by the English crown (John, like his Norman predecessors, was also the Duke of Normandy). John responded by sending an army but then once again spoiled relationships in 1203 CE by killing his 17-year old nephew Prince Arthur, the son of the late Geoffrey, Count of Brittany (1158-1186 CE), whom he saw as a threat with his claim to the English throne (which Philip II supported). This treachery cost John the support of many French barons, and with it all the English king's lands north of the Loire River by 1206...
Back in England, King John may not have been talentless but he was certainly managing to make himself one of the most unpopular kings in English history. The next group he upset was officials of the Church after his refusal to endorse Stephen Langton for the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. As Langton was the papal candidate, Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216 CE) excommunicated John in November 1209 CE and ordered the closure of all churches. The idea that the king was chosen by God to rule, the so-called divine right of kings, was looking a little problematic for John to use as a basis for his authority now that the Church had abandoned him. In 1212 CE the Pope even went so far as to declare that John had no longer any legal right to call himself king. The king backed down, Langton was appointed archbishop and John accepted that England and Ireland were fiefs of the Papacy.
Upsetting foreigners and the Church was par for the course for most medieval rulers but things really started to go badly for John when he began to upset the powerful barons. The king's heavy taxation to pay for his French campaigns was crippling, even worse, there was no military gain to show for it. Another policy that irked the barons was the king's creation of his own royal courts to rival local courts, thereby redirecting fines paid by the guilty away from the barons and into his own treasure chest. John was certainly inventive on measures to increase his revenue, he even upped the fee barons had to pay the king when their daughters married, and a young baron now had to pay a fee when he inherited his father's property. If a baron died without an heir, the custom was to pass on the land to another noble but King John often kept such land for himself as long as possible, as he did with church lands. Merchants did not escape the king's clutches either, and they had to bear a grea...
One name that is frequently associated with King John is Robin Hood, the 13th-century legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor in the area of Sherwood Forest, Nottingham. Robin represented the common man, hence his weapon was the bow and not the sword of a medieval knight. Unfortunately for romantics, there probably was no such individual. The only historical reference within the complex web of legendary tales is that a man called Robert or Robin 'Hood' was a wanted criminal in Yorkshire in 1230 CE. It is true, though, that there were other similar cases of men living in forests outside the law, notably one Geoffrey du Parc in Feckenham Forest, Worcestershire around 1280 CE (who, incidentally, also had his own priest amongst his group just like Robin had Friar Tuck). Whatever its basis in actual events, the legend was real enough from the 14th century CE onwards and, although receiving changes and embellishments over subsequent centuries, it has remained a very...
Back to the actual history of John's reign. The king had still not quite grasped the principles of statehood, as shown when he went back on his word and ignored what he had signed in the Magna Carta. Inevitably, the barons sought to rid themselves of their sovereign, they refused to give up their occupation of London, and they invited another candidate, Prince Louis, son of Philip (and future Louis VIII of France, r. 1223-1226 CE) to be their king. A civil war broke out, often called the First Barons' War, between supporters of the two royal persons, and although John famously besieged and captured mighty Rochester Castle in October-November 1215 CE, Louis grabbed southeast England, including the Tower of London, and proclaimed himself king in May 1216 CE. In the same year, Louis managed to grab back Rochester Castle for the rebel cause. The hapless John even managed to lose some of the Crown Jewelsin a river as he fled with his baggage train from Lincoln in October. Catching a feve...
- Mark Cartwright
- Family History
- Richard's Absence
- John's Reign
- Lost Lands and Disputes
As a young man, John already had a reputation for treachery. He conspired sometimes with and sometimes against his elder brothers, Henry, Richard and Geoffrey. In 1184, John and Richard both claimed that they were the rightful heir to Aquitaine, one of many unfriendly encounters between the two.
Richard, now King Richard I of England was absent on the Third Crusade from 1190 to 1194. John attempted to overthrow William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely, who was Richard's designated 'chief justiciar' (like a Regent or Prime Minister). This was one of the events which led later writers to cast John as the villain in the legend of Robin Hood. John was more popular than Longchamp in London. In October 1191 the leading citizens of the city opened the gates to John while Longchamp was confined in the tower. John promised the city the right to govern itself as a commune in return for recognition as Richard's heir presumptive. As he returned from the Crusade, Richard was captured by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, and handed over to Henry VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, who held him for ransom. Meanwhile, John had joined forces with Philip Augustus, King of France. They sent a letter to Henry asking him to keep Richard away from England for as long as possible, offering payment to keep Richard...
Dispute with Arthur
On Richard's death (6 April 1199) John was accepted in Normandy and England. He was crowned king at Westminster on 27 May, Ascension Day. However, Anjou, Maine, and Brittany declared for Arthur of Brittany, son of his elder brother Geoffrey. Arthur fought his uncle for the throne, with the support of Philip II of France. The conflict between Arthur and John had serious consequences for both. Finally, Philip recognised John over Arthur. The price paid was John's agreement to be Philip's vassal...
Dealings with Bordeaux
In 1203, John exempted the citizens and merchants of Bordeaux from the Grande Coutume, which was the principal tax on their exports. In exchange, the regions of Bordeaux, Bayonne and Dax pledged support against the French Crown. The unblocked ports gave Gascon merchants open access to the English wine market for the first time. The following year, John granted the same exemptions to La Rochelle and Poitou.
Normandy seized by the French
In June 1204, the fall of Rouen allowed Phillip to annex Normandy and also take parts of Anjou and Poitou. John needed money for his army, but the loss of the French territories, especially Normandy, greatly reduced the state income. A huge tax would be needed to reclaim these territories. He imposed the first income tax, raising the (then) huge sum of £70,000.
Dispute with the Pope
When Archbishop of Canterbury Hubert Walter died on 13 July 1205, John became involved in a dispute with Pope Innocent III. The Canterbury Cathedral Chapter claimed the sole right to elect Hubert's successor, and favoured Reginald, a candidate out of their midst. However, both the English bishops and the King wanted someone else to have this powerful office. The king wanted John de Gray, one of his own men. When their dispute could not be settled, the Chapter secretly elected one of their mem...
Excommunication and Papal Supremacy
In November 1209 John was excommunicated, and in February 1213, Innocent threatened stronger measures unless John submitted. The papal terms for submission were accepted in the presence of the papal legate Pandulph in May 1213 (according to Matthew Paris, at the Knights Templar Church at Dover); in addition, John offered to surrender the Kingdom of England to God and the Saints Peter and Paul for a feudal service of 1,000 marks annually, 700 for England and 300 for Ireland.With this submissio...
The heavy scutage levy for the failed campaign was the last straw, and when John attempted to raise more in September 1214, many barons refused to pay. The barons no longer believed that John was capable of regaining his lost lands. In May 1215, Robert Fitz Walter led forty barons to renounce homage to the king at Northampton. The so-called 'Army of God' marched on London, taking the capital as well as taking Lincoln and Exeter. John met their leaders and with their French and Scots allies at...
War with the Barons
John travelled around the country to oppose the rebel forces, and directed a two-month siege of the rebel-held Rochester Castle. While a small force arrived in rebel-held London in November, the Scots under their king, Alexander II, invaded northern England. By the end of December, John was leading a murderous expedition in the north, culminating with the sacking of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The French retook Rochester and much of the south, although the royalists held on to Windsor and Dover. With...
Retreating from the French invasion, John took a safe route around the marshy area of The Wash to avoid the rebel held area of East Anglia. His slow baggage train (including the Crown Jewels), took a direct route across it and was lost to the incoming tide. This dealt John a terrible blow, which affected his health and state of mind. Succumbing to dysentery and moving from place to place, he died at Newark Castle. He was buried at Worcester Cathedral, in the West Midlands. When King John died on 18 October, 1216 his nine-year-old son, Henry was too young to rule the kingdom. William Marshal was appointed as Regent to Henry III to make decisions on Henry’s behalf until he came of age. The barons switched their allegiance to the new king, forcing Louis to give up his claim and sign the Treaty of Lambethin 1217.
King John's reign began with military defeats – he lost Normandy to Philip II of France in his first five years on the throne. His reign ended with England torn by civil war and himself on the verge of being forced out of power. In 1213, he made England a papal fief to resolve a conflict with the Catholic Church, and his rebellious barons forced him to seal Magna Cartain 1215, the act for which he is best remembered. John is responsible for the creation of another English cultural icon, the historic, medieval London Bridge. To finance the construction of a large bridge across the Thames, King John allowed houses, shops, and a church to be built on top of the bridge. John was an efficient ruler, but he lost approval of the barons by taxing them in ways outside those traditionally allowed by feudal overlords. The tax known as scutage became particularly unpopular. John was a fair-minded and well informed king, however. He often sat as a judge in the Royal Courts, and his justice was m...
- Early Life
- John as King
- The Magna Carta
John was born on Christmas Eve in 1167, the fifth child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Since he was so low on the line of succession, Henry II assumed that there would be no land left to pass onto his youngest son and jokingly referred to him as John Lackland. Whether or not John found this amusing, we'll never know. John's early years gave him reason to by cynical. He was last in succession, had an unstable temper, and was nearly always in the shadow of an older sibling (most notably his tall and regal brother, Richard the Lionhearted). However, some of Henry's sons rebelled against him, and John ended up as Henry's favorite. By the time that Richard became king, John was much higher up the line of succession. Richard ended up naming his nephew as the heir apparent, so while the King was off fighting the crusades, John tried to overthrow the royal administrators and claim the throne for himself. This is when the Robin Hood legend takes place. However, Richard was captured by...
Richard died in 1199, and John became King of England. This also made him ruler of the Angevin Empire, which was basically English control of the part of France called Normandy. Unfortunately, John's proud and arrogant personality led to conflict. He had become infatuated with the young French heiress Isabella of Angouleme, and married her despite her being betrothed to a French noble. The French king, Philip Augustusdemanded that John submit himself to the French courts to answer for this insult, which John refused to do. War immediately broke out with France. John won some early victories but soon began to loose key points in the continental empire. It should be noted that Philip Augustus had a longstanding policy of messing with England's ruling family. As war began over John's marriage, Philip also began backing John's nephew Arthur as the rightful heir to the English throne. Arthur started a rebellion, which John squashed. John swore that his nephew was being kept alive in pris...
England formally lost the war with France, and Normandy, in 1214. John returned to England to find that the barons, furious with his continual restriction of their rights, had begun organizing against him. In 1215, the rebellious barons had become so powerful that John was forced to listen to their demands. Together, the two sides agreed upon a charter of rights, known to history as the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was, in the loosest sense, the first constitution in English history. It guaranteed certain rights for the barons and the Church, which the king was not allowed to suppress. It also established a basic council of nobles who had legislative authority, which would eventually become the English Parliament. Overall, it introduced the idea of a more defined government, where the King was not the sole source of power.
Jul 04, 2019 · King of England from 1199 to 1216. John was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and youngest brother of Richard "the Lionheart". He married twice with the first being a political move to a distant cousin Isabel of Gloucester; this was annulled.
- December 24, 1166
- Not Cool, Bro. According to historical records of the time, John was known to have several mistresses. While this wasn’t uncommon among kings—shocker, we know—John took it a step too far by choosing noblewomen who were already married for his extramarital romps.
- A Man of Extremes. John’s temperament was said to be mercurial in nature. While he was able to be “witty, generous, and hospitable” at times, he was also said to become so angry that he would “[bite] and [gnaw] his fingers.”
- The Sins of the Sons. For most of his life, John remained loyal to his father when all his brothers rebelled for one reason or another. However, in the later 1180s, when Richard and the King of France warred with Henry II, John sided with Richard for once.
- What a Nice Uncle. Despite his massive losses, John did gain one victory with the capture of his nephew. Prince Arthur was taken prisoner, along with all his generals, at the Battle of Mirebeau.
King John, who ruled 1199-1216 AD, was not a particularly impressive figure in English history.
- Lee Rimmer
Apr 07, 2018 · KingJohn "Lackland" of England, 1. 2 son of Henry II "Curtmantel" King of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, was born 24 Dec 1166 or 1167 in Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England, died on 19 Oct 1216 in Newark Castle, Lincolnshire, England at age 49, and was buried in Worcester Cathedral, Worcester, Worcestershire, England. Other names for John were ...