What do you think of King John?
Was he a bad king, if so what did he do?
- MoriartyLv 75 years agoFavorite Answer
Poor John has been somewhat hard done by. In a similar way to Richard III, a hatchet job has been done on him by various authors and historians after he died. However, this attitude is beginning to change.
John was not the one of the best monarchs we've had, but he certainly wasn't the worst. A far more appalling king was his predecessor, his brother Richard I "coeur de lion" or "the Lionheart", who treated England as his personal treasury to finance his glory-hunting crusades and wars and was only in the country for less than a year despite being it's leader for almost a decade. This allowed the barons to run riot, doing as they pleased, forcing the tenants on their land to pay exorbitant rents or be forced off (which is what the barons were after so they could expand their territories in England), fighting with each other to claim greater land shares and generally making life in England a misery for the average Englishmen. The Church wasn't much better, subverting the Common Law that John and Richard's father, Henry II, had introduced and trying to over-rule the court houses to their own benefit. Richard cared not a jot as long as he wrung the last penny from England's coffers to maintain his ongoing conflict with Saladin the Sultan of Egypt. He even cost England 65,000 pounds of silver for his ransom when captured by the Holy Roman Emperor. The country was in a constant state of turmoil.
When Richard died of wounds received while besieging the castle of Chalus-Chabrol during his attempted put down of a revolt in his French lands, John inherited the Crown - and he was determined to put a stop to the chaos that had ensued from his brothers continuous absence. The problem was, unlike his father and brother, John didn't have the "essence" of a king. In reality he would've been an exceptional accountant or law clerk. He was extremely intelligent, but his diplomatic and political skills were lacking. As was his ability as a military leader. Unfortunately, Richard had left him with a war in France in which English lands there had been captured and John didn't have the training, experience or understanding of how to be a good general, mainly due to his being his father's favourite son and his every whim being indulged as a boy whose interest did not extend to swordplay or battlefield instruction. This was a great failing as the first and major way a monarch was to prove himself was by winning a great victory (look at how Henry V is still regarded) and had John succeeded, the barons may have thought twice about their eventual rebellion.
Unfortunately for John, this didn't happen. Consequently he had to seek more money from his nobles to continue the campaign - which eventually failed earning him the nickname "lackland". However, his desire to stabilise England from the marauding barons continued and he began to force the collection of taxes from them that his brother never had. Also, like his father, he disliked how the Church was conducting itself and when the Church tried to appoint a new Archbishop of Canterbury, John objected. He knew that their choice was a corrupt individual, one of the Church's "own men" and wished to have a different man appointed. This type of decision making also angered the barons, because John would appoint men of ability to important jobs, rather than men from the right family, which could mean they or their sons would miss out. The Pope intervened after complaints from the Church and appointed Stephen Langton as Archbishop. John was furious at what he saw as undercutting of his authority in his own kingdom. He also saw that Langton was in the pocket of the French court, which was the last thing he needed, so he barred Langton's entry into England and seized the lands of the bishopric. The Pope countered by excommunicating John and laying England under an interdict (no church services, so no marriages, burials, christenings etc). Eventually, under mounting political pressure, John conceded to the appointment and was forced to pay a tribute to the Pope.
John continued to chase the barons for their tax payment and those who refused he would imprison or confiscate their lands, sometimes both. Although this is often cited as the main reason for their dislike of John, the real overall reason is because, unlike his brother, he remained in England so they were unable to continue doing as they pleased and John was an excellent record-keeper so they couldn't get away with anything. John also strengthened the courts, making justice easier to obtain for the common folk, which was the original intention of his father. This prevented the nobility from robbing their tenants, which they hated. He also continued practices that had been introduced by Henry (such as making the barons pay to inherit - a sort of death tax) but because he wasn't as politically wily or militarily adept as his father, the barons loudly objected.
Essentially, John was a king with reasonable ideas for the good of his country, but lack of ability to implement them to keep everyone happy. He was also miserly and capricious and could change on a whim so no one was entirely sure where they stood with him. His biggest failing was that he was neither his father or brother, whom the barons were either scared of or respected, and he was never able to get treated in the same way. This made him suspicious and paranoid and prone to quick temper, which led the barons to refer to him as a tyrant.
- Enough TrollsLv 75 years ago
Robin Hood is a myth. He ruled the country on behalf of King Richard (absent having a war).
When Richard died childless (no surprise he was gay) John inherited.
The Barons revolt tried to limit his power, truce, Magna Charta - second Barons Revolt.
Second revolt crushed utterly by John. Balanced the budget, reasserted royal power and recovered territory in France.
I would rate that as successful.
Terrible pr now as we all pretend Magna Carta was inportant (revoked by the Pope due to the second Barons Revolt).
- LomaxLv 75 years ago
One of the worst. Vain, greedy, inconstant and stupid (by which I mean that he always managed to do the stupid thing - he was actually very intelligent). Managed to pick fights with a) France b) the Pope and c) his own barons simultaneously. No good was ever going to come of that.
By 1216 Britain was in danger of becoming a province of France. A Frenchman had already been acknowledged by some as King of England. The only service John ever did his country was to conveniently die, enabling England's barons to unite behind his young son, Henry III.
- Tim DLv 75 years ago
John required help to secure his throne. One of the men who helped him was driven into exile (where he died in poverty), John captured his wife and son, rather than executing them, he had the starved to death.
In a period where life was cheap, politics and power brutal, John was a particularly nasty specimen.
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- Anonymous5 years ago
he was a but head who got wedgied and hi head was shoved down a toilet because he was a geeky nerd
- MikeLv 75 years ago
He was mean to Robin Hood.