“I’ll tell you a story,
a story anon,
Of a noble Prince, and
his name was King John,
For he was a Prince, a
Prince of great might,
He held up great
wrongs, he put down great right.”
The Reign of John, 1199-1216.
The reign of King John was the time when people did not know what
tomorrow would bring to them. Their King was cruel and unpredictable. It
was the time when churches halted their services for a while, when taxes
were raised day after day, when nearly everyone could be destroyed
without having any guilt.
In his early age John was given the nickname of Lackland, because
being the youngest in the family, he indeed had no his own lands, unlike
his elder brothers. The other historians say that this nickname was
given to him because during his reign he practically lost everything
that he possessed. When he was 19 he was send to govern Ireland. But in
a few months he returned, covered with disgrace, because he offended the
loyal chiefs by his childish insolence, and entirely failed to defend
the people from the hostile tribes.
John became the English king in 1199, at the age of 33. His little
nephew Arthur had also the claim to the throne. John with the help of
his men seized him in his bed and send to the castle in Normandy. Then
he told his people: “Put out his eyes and keep him in prison”, others
said: “Have him stabbed”, others: “Have him hanged”, others: “Have him
poisoned”. Finally the boy was stubbed and his body was sunk.
John was a victim of his own character and of circumstances. Although
he was courageous and clever he had knack of alienating nearly everyone
by his cruelty, greed and failure to honor his word. And circumstances
were: Richard’s empty treasury, the restive barons and a war in France.
Besides he had the bad lack of being an enemy of two the most powerful
figures of The Middle Ages: Philip Augustus of France and Pope Innocent
John and the King of France.
John was preparing for his second marriage. He was planning to wed a
Portuguese princes, but he fell in love with a fourteen-year-old French
girl who was betrothed to one of his vassals. Despite of that he married
her and his vassal appealed to King Philip II for justice. In order to
resolve the situation the King of France as John’s suzerain (according
to feudal custom, since John held Normandy, Anjou, and Aquitaine as
fiefs, he was a vassal of the French King), summoned him to stand trial.
When John refused to appear, Philip pronounced the forfeiture of all his
French domains. The King’s prestige was completely lost.
John and the Pope.
After the death of Hubert Walter in 1205, John and the monks of
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