Like William I, King John is one of the more questionable rulers of Medieval England.
King John I of England is a figure who is often overlooked in the history of his country. He was the brother of Richard the Lionheart, and took the throne after Richard’s death.
During his reign, King John signed the Magna Carta, which has been called “the cornerstone of liberty.” Despite this important achievement, King John is also remembered for his tyrannical rule and his disputes with the Church.
He died after being struck by a fever following a battle near Newark Castle.
King John I was born on December 24, 1167 in Oxford, England. He was the fifth son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. His older brother was Richard the Lionheart.
When his father died in 1189, Richard became king and John was made Duke of Normandy.
Richard spent most of his reign outside of England fighting in the Crusades, Richard died in 1199 and John ascended to the throne. At the time there was much dispute as to who the rightful heir was.
Due to English and Norman law, John had the strongest claim to the throne but under Angevin custom, his nephew Arthur (son of Geoffrey) should be king.
In 1200 John married his second wife Isabella of Angoulême they had five children:
- Henry III, King of England (1 October 1207 – 16 November 1272)
- Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall (5 January 1209 – 2 April 1272)
- Joan, Queen of Scotland (22 July 1210 – 4 March 1238)
- Isabella, Holy Roman Empress (1214 – 1 December 1241)
- Eleanor, Countess of Pembroke (1215 – 13 April 1275)
During the early years of John’s reign he had many conflicts with France, Wales and Scotland. John raised taxes to fund these wars and stretched his forces thinly.
In 1215, a group of barons in England rebelled against King John I. They wanted to limit the power of the king and make him obey the law. The barons wrote a document called the Magna Carta. This document said that the king could not rule without the consent of his lords. It also said that people had certain rights, like freedom from unlawful imprisonment.
King John I agreed to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. He later tried to cancel it, but he was forced to sign it again in 1216. The Magna Carta became an important part of English law.
Despite his problems with the barons, King John I also had a difficult relationship with the Church. In fact, he was the first English king to be crowned in Westminster Abbey.
King John I died on April 19, 1216 after being struck by a fever following a battle near Newark Castle. He was buried in Worcester Cathedral.
King John I was succeeded by his son Henry III.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "John I" https://englishhistory.net/middle-ages/john-i/, January 16, 2022