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John I "Lackland" Plantagenet King of England

John I "Lackland" Plantagenet King of England[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]

Male 1166 - 1216  (49 years)

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  • Name John I "Lackland" Plantagenet King of England 
    Born 24 Dec 1166  Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
    Gender Male 
    Died 19 Oct 1216  Newark Castle, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
    Age 49 years 
    Buried Cathedral, Worcester, Worcestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Matthew Paris wrote, 'Foul as it is, hell itself is defiled by thepresence of King John', and this pretty well sums up John'sreputation--until 1944, that is. For in that year Professor Galbraithdemonstrated in a lecture to an astonished world that the chief chroniclesource for the reign of John was utterly unreliable. Since then bad KingJohn has been getting better and better, until now he is nearly wellagain, and a leading scholar in the field has seriously warned us thatthe twentieth century could well create it own John myth.

      A man who can create so many myths, or rather have them created abouthim, is clearly outstanding in some way, but the myths hide the truth.Plainly the chroniclers who invented stories about him after his deathcan tell us little, and we should not take too much notice of people whocondemned John for carrying out his father's (and his brother'sofficials'] policies and administratrive routines, nor indeed those whocondemned him because of the bitter troubles that happened in thesucceeding reign, troubles which were in no means entirely of John'smaking. Recent historians have turned to the administrative records ofhis reign, and found there a very different picture; but still thelingering doubts remain--were these records the result of John's skilland application or of those of his able staff?

      John was a paunchy little man, five feet five inches tall, with erecthead, staring eyes, flaring nostrils and thick lips set in a cruel pout,as his splendid monument at Worcester shows. He had the tempestous natureof all his family, and a driving demoniac energy: Professor Barlow saysthat 'he prowled around his kingdom,' which is an evocative phrase, butit would be truer to say that he raced around it. He was fastidious abouthis person--taking more baths than several other medieval kings puttogether, and owning the ultimate in luxury, for that time, adressing-gown. He loved good food and drink, and gambled a great deal,though he usually lost--the results of his typical impatience andcarelessness are recorded on his expense rolls; above all things he lovedwomen. Some say his 'elopment' was the cause of his loss of Normandy. Hewas generous to the poor (for instance, he remitted to them the penaltiesof the forest law), and to his servants; at the least he went through themotions of being a Christian king. He was extortionate, though if oneconsiders the terrific increase in his outgoings (a mercenary soldiercost him 200 per cent more in wages than he would have in Henry II's day)one can understand some of his actions in the field. He was deeplyconcerned about justice, took care to attend to court business, andlistened to supplicants with sympathy; he had also an urgent desire forpeace in the land, saying that his peace was to be observed 'even if wehave granted it to a dog.' But for all that, he had two totallyunredeeming vices; he was suspicious, and enjoyed a cloak-and-daggeratmosphere--simply he did not inspire trust in his subjects. Dr. Warrensays of him with some justice that if he had lived in the twentiethcenture he would have adored to run a secret police.

      He was born at Oxford on Christmas Eve 1167. He was oblated for a monk atthe abbey of Fontevrault at the age of one year, but was back at court bythe time he was six--plainly he had no vocation, but he probably pickedup at this early stage his fastidiousness and his passion for books: hislibrary followed him wherever he went. He was his father's favourite, buthe turned against the old man when his chance came, as he did againstRichard (who had been very generous to his brother) when the latter wasin captivity in 1193. The episode was a miserable failure, but itpossibly sowed the seeds of distrust for John in England, where theybegan to sprout luxuriantly in 1199 when Richard died and John came tothe throne.

      Immeditaely the challenge came: Philip Augustus, the wily King of France,was backing John's nephew, Prince Arthur of Brittany (son of John's elderbrother Geoffrey) as a contender for the throne, and England's Frenchpossessions fell prey to civil war. John found grave difficultly indealing with the situation for a number of reasons, but in 1202 he madethe remarkable coup of capturing Arthur by force-marching his troupseighty miles in forty-eight hours; but then his prosecution of the warbecame listless, and he lost much sympathy by his brutal murder of Arthurwhilst in a drunken rage. By 1204 Normandy was lost.

      The loss of Normandy seemed to wake John up, and he now deployed hisevery energy in building up the coastal defences of Britain, now facedwith an enemy the other side of the Channel, instead of just more of herown territory. The navy was built up, and the army, and John poured aquarter of his annual revenue into defence. But he could not persuade thebaronage to support him in a counterstroke to regain Normandy: the baronsof the north country had never owned land in Normandy and did not see whythey should pay to regain southerners's castles for them. These'Northerners' as they called themselves, were a hive of discontent, andmore was to be heard from them. Meanwhile, John sailed angrily about inthe Channel, cursing ineffectually.

      Other troubles were to come first, however. In 1205 the Archbishop ofCanterbury, Hubert Walker, died, and John assumed that he would have thechoice of the new archbishop. However, Pope Innocent III was no man tosupport secular control over church appointments, and supported the rightof the monks of Canterbury to select their own archbishop. For two yearsthe storms blew betwen England and Rome, then Stephen Langton wasappointed. Meanwhile John had driven the monks into exile andappropriated the revenues of the archdiocese. He had fallen out also withhis half-brother, Geoffrey Archbishop or York, over tax-collection, andhe too fled abroad while John collected his revenues. Four bishops joinedin his fight--tension was growing to the snapping point. In 1208 the Popeput an Interdict on England, which in effect meant the clergy went onstike, or, in certain cases and areas, worked to rule. John begannegotiations with Innocent, but, finding that he demanded unconditionalsurrender, stopped them and took over all ecclesiastical properties andincomes. He did leave the clergy sufficient to live, though barely; buthe still gained a large increment to his usual finances. In November 1209the Pope took the final step of excommjunicating the King, which, in thatit made him an outlaw in Christendom, did far more damage than theInterdict.

      John used his enlarged treasury to restore order in Scotland, Ireland andWales, and to rebuild the old alliance with Otto IV of Germany and theCount of Flanders against Philip Augustus. He planned a two-prongedattack on France, to take place in 1212. But that year turned out anunlucky one for John, for the barons again refused to serve abroad, andthe army he had was needed to put down a revolt in Wales; the Pope wasthreatening to demote him, and Philip Augustus was planning a massiveinvasion of England. John had to give in in one direction, for theprssure was much too great: he chose the Pope, and wisely so. He agreedto return to the status quo in the matter of church property andestablishment, and to pay compensation; he further resigned his kingdominto the hands of the Pope, to receive it back in return for his homageand an annual tribute of 1,000 marks (a mark being two-thirds of a pound].

      He had won a notable ally in Innocent III, who supported him faithfullythroughout his troubles. Then his fleet, his own creation, had the goodluck to find the French fleet at anchor and unprotected, destroyed it,and so made a French invasion impossible. On the crest of a wave, Johndetermined to put his two-pronged invasion plan into action, but oncemore the northern barons refused to play, and he set off to punish them.Stephen Langton had arrived on the scene by now and managed to persuadeJohn not to provoke the barons further.

      In 1214 he finally managed to put his long cherished plan into action,but the two attacks were not properly coordinated; Otto was defeated atBouvines, and John was deserted by his Poitevin knights.

      In 1215 John faced a baronage in turmoil: they could point to the failureof his expensive schemes, he ascribed his failure to their total lack ofsupport. The situation could not be more tense. John's nervousness can beseen in his taking of the cross, a blatant attempt to reinforce hisalliance with the papacy. In April the Northerners met at Stamford; theywere by now a mixture of northerners and southerners--the name was nowmerely a nickname--but by and large they were the younger element in thekingdom, roughnecks out for a spree. They moved south and were let intoLondon by a faction, and received the expected encouragement from PhilipAugustus in the form of siege engines brought over by one Eustace, arenegade monk turned pirate.

      John offered arbitration, but the barons turned it down, and while he puthis faith in an appeal to Rome, Stephen Langton, in cooperation withWilliam Marshal and other more stable and sensible barons, were workingon the Northerners' demands to incorporate them into a general charter,which would not only govern feudal relationships, but would also lay downa more general pattern of legality in government. On 15 June John fixedhis seal to the draft of Magna Carta, and on 19 June attested copies weresent to all parts of the kingdom.

      The King did his part thoroughly, though for how long he would havecontinued is another matter, but the barons continued to distrust him.They remained in arms, organising tournaments as their excuse, sayingthat the prize would be 'a bear a certain lady would send.' This wascivil war, and John took to it with a fiendish glee. He reduced the northand the east, and was about to mop up the remainder of the opposition inLondon when Philip Augustus' son Louis landed in force to help the barons(May 1216). John had been riding hard for months, and was sick withdysentery after a bout of over-eating; whilst crossing the Wash, thewhole of his baggage-train was lost. At Neward Castle on 18 October, hedied, desiring to be buried near his patron saint Wulfstan in WorcesterCathedral.

      He was by no means a good man, and his energies could well have been putto a better use, but in a different situation he might well have made agreat king. His constant failure was discipline, over himself first, andothers second. John reminds me of nothing so much as the type of personwho is brilliant in many ways, and has many gifts, but leaves after twoterms 'not suited to teaching in this type of school.' [Who's Who in theMiddle Ages, John Fines, Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1995]
    Person ID I2371  Wilson-Maynard Family Tree
    Last Modified 29 Feb 2012 

    Father Henry II "Plantagenet" King of England,   b. 5 Mar 1133, LEMANS, SARTHS, Sarthe, FRANCE Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jul 1189, Chinon Indre et Loire France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years) 
    Mother Eleanor of Aquitaine,   b. 1122, Chateau de Belin-Belit,Gironde,Aquitaine,France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jun 1202, Fontevrault, Anjou, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Married 18 May 1152  Bordeaux, Gironde, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
    Family ID F885  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Isabel FitzRobert Countess of Gloucester,   b. Abt 1173, Tewksbury, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Oct 1217, , , ENGLAND, Great Britain Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 44 years) 
    Married 29 Aug 1189  1st husband 1st wife - Divorced 1199 Find all individuals with events at this location  [26, 27, 28
    Family ID F1287  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Isabella Taillefer de Angouleme,   b. 1188, Angouleme, Charente, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 May 1246, Fontevault Abbey, Fonervrault, Maine-et-Loire, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years) 
    Married 24 Aug 1200  Bordeaux, Gironde, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [13, 14, 16, 18
    Children 
     1. Henry III Plantagenet King of England,   b. 1 Oct 1207, Winchester Castle, Winchester, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Nov 1272, Westminster Palace, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years)
     2. Richard Plantagenet, , Earl of Cornwall, HRE,   b. 5 Jan 1208/1209, Winchester Castle, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Apr 1272, Berkhampstead Castle, Hertfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years)
     3. Eleanor Plantagenet, , Princess of England,   b. 1215, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Apr 1275, Montargis Abbey, Loiret, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years)
     4. Isabel Empress of Germany, [Empress of Germ,   b. 1214, of, Winchester, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Dec 1241, , Foggia, Apulia, italy Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years)
     5. Joan Plantagenet, , Princess of England,   b. 22 Jul 1210, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Mar 1236/1237, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 26 years)
    Family ID F1160  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Suzanne Plantagenet de Warenne,   b. Abt 1166, Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 1185  No Marriage Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Richard FitzRoy, , Baron of Chilham,   b. Abt 1186, Winchester, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1232, Chilham Castle, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 47 years)
    Family ID F1213  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 4 AGATHA DE FERRERS,   b. 1168, Of, Charltey, Staffordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. of Aberconway, Carveren, Wales Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 1188  No Marriage Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Joan Plantagenet,   b. 22 Jul 1190, Newark Castle, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Feb 1237, ABER, CRNRVN, Carnarvonshire, WALES Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 46 years)
    Family ID F1074  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 5 Matilda Giffard, Concubine,   b. 1184 
    Children 
     1. Osbert Giffard,   b. 1205
    Family ID F1288  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 24 Dec 1166 - Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1185 - No Marriage Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1188 - No Marriage Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 24 Aug 1200 - Bordeaux, Gironde, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 19 Oct 1216 - Newark Castle, Nottinghamshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Cathedral, Worcester, Worcestershire, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    zcon
    zcon
    King John of England
    King John of England

  • Sources 
    1. [S14533] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 88-4, 161-12.

    2. [S14418] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 260-29.

    3. [S14540] Ancestral File (R), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Copyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998).

    4. [S14503] Ancestral File (R), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Copyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998).

    5. [S14314] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, line 88, 161.

    6. [S14313] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, line 88, 161.

    7. [S14286] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 88-4, 161-12.

    8. [S14433] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 260-29.

    9. [S14581] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 88-4, 161-12.

    10. [S14596] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 260-29.

    11. [S14426] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 88-4, 161-12.

    12. [S14422] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 260-29.

    13. [S14533] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-12.

    14. [S14314] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, line 161.

    15. [S14313] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, line 161.

    16. [S14286] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-12.

    17. [S14581] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-12.

    18. [S14426] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-12.

    19. [S14415] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 1-25.

    20. [S14286] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-11.

    21. [S14433] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 1-25.

    22. [S14581] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-11.

    23. [S14596] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 1-25.

    24. [S14533] The Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999, 161-11.

    25. [S14418] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, by Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 1-25.

    26. [S14630] Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999, cxviii.
      1189

    27. [S14287] Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999, cxviii.
      1189

    28. [S14427] Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999, cxviii.
      1189