Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 08-28-2011, 01:12 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 66
Why is King John considered to be the worst king in English history?

What did he or did he not do that earned him that reputation and made all succeeding monarchs unwilling to name their sons "John"? He lived in brutal times, but was he worse than his older brother, Richard I? Was he more stupid, or more venal or...? What? Other than the Barons Revolt, what did he do that was sos terrible that he was forced to sign the Magna Carta, which, if I understand, he did willingly?
#2
Old 08-28-2011, 01:23 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 13,347
Richard was gay, John married a 13 year old girl. (At least he married her; Richard seemed to have no interest in producing an heir).

Richard took off for the Holy Land for years and left John in charge. John kind of started liking being in charge. Richard was stupid enough to get caught by someone who held him for ransom, thus bankrupting his kingdom. John at least collected the ransom to free his brother instead of letting him rot in Germany. However, John ticked off the nobles enough that they all got together to force him to put limits on his power.

I dunno, I'm starting to see a tie here.
#3
Old 08-28-2011, 01:26 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 66
Yes, I"m aware of the outlines of both their histories, and of their Plantagenet father. None of it is very savory, but by the standards of the time, and in fact, up until the mid-19th century, nothing he did seems that awful. So why is he still, 900 years later, regarded as the worst king inEnglish history?
#4
Old 08-28-2011, 01:49 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 9,154
Is John considered to be the worst king? I'd like a good citation for that. Certainly he's near the bottom, but I'd bet that cases could be made for other monarchs. Richard III is pretty unpopular. There's James III (IIRC), William Rufus, Mary I, Edward VIII, George IV...
#5
Old 08-28-2011, 01:51 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Cockaigne
Posts: 2,818
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Richard was gay, John married a 13 year old girl. (At least he married her; Richard seemed to have no interest in producing an heir).

Richard took off for the Holy Land for years and left John in charge. John kind of started liking being in charge. Richard was stupid enough to get caught by someone who held him for ransom, thus bankrupting his kingdom. John at least collected the ransom to free his brother instead of letting him rot in Germany. However, John ticked off the nobles enough that they all got together to force him to put limits on his power.

I dunno, I'm starting to see a tie here.
Richard was gay? Is that a guess by historians, or something mentioned even at the time?
#6
Old 08-28-2011, 01:59 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 11,805
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penguinlady View Post
Yes, I"m aware of the outlines of both their histories, and of their Plantagenet father. None of it is very savory, but by the standards of the time, and in fact, up until the mid-19th century, nothing he did seems that awful. So why is he still, 900 years later, regarded as the worst king inEnglish history?
I think the main things were

a) He lost most of the English possessions in France, more or less ending the Angevin Empire and

b) He got slapped around by the Pope (granted, a lot of High Medeival monarchs were slapped around by the Pope.)

c) He got slapped around by his Barons, leading to the Magna Carta

d) He's gone down in popular culture as the bad guy in Robin Hood and

e) Aside from loosing his empire to the formally pathetically weak French Monarchy, he also almost lost England as well, and only managed to keep a Louis from conquering the Island by dying so that his Barons could unite behind someone they liked better.

Last edited by Simplicio; 08-28-2011 at 02:00 AM.
#7
Old 08-28-2011, 02:03 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Ainran
Posts: 11,449
I though it was almost unanimous that King Ralph is the worst monarch in English history.
#8
Old 08-28-2011, 05:12 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Newark
Posts: 2,054
Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom View Post
Is John considered to be the worst king? I'd like a good citation for that. Certainly he's near the bottom, but I'd bet that cases could be made for other monarchs. Richard III is pretty unpopular. There's James III (IIRC), William Rufus, Mary I, Edward VIII, George IV...
James III was the worst, didn't even have the decency to exist! But it's only John who's commonly called "Bad King John".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capitaine Zombie View Post
Richard was gay? Is that a guess by historians, or something mentioned even at the time?
Wasn't he married to Berengaria? Didn't he have a daughter who he wanted to give to Saladin?
#9
Old 08-28-2011, 05:59 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 33,147
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penguinlady View Post
Yes, I"m aware of the outlines of both their histories, and of their Plantagenet father. None of it is very savory, but by the standards of the time, and in fact, up until the mid-19th century, nothing he did seems that awful. So why is he still, 900 years later, regarded as the worst king inEnglish history?
While I am far from a historian, I do have a possible explanation from what I do know and what is given here.

It isn't the common people who write history. Historians tend to either be or work for the people who have money, and, in that time, that would be the nobles and the royalty. Neither of them think John was a good king, the former because they had to limit his power, and the latter because he let the power of royalty be limited.

Now this biased history wouldn't last forever, but it would likely last long enough to become a sort of meme, which is what "bad King John" really is. Despite realizing that he's not any worse than any other king, the meme still survives in the language as something everyone "knows."

And since a big function of royalty is PR, it makes sense that even they wouldn't like the name, due to the meme.

Furthermore, there's Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, where Prince John is definitely the enemy.

Last edited by BigT; 08-28-2011 at 06:00 AM.
#10
Old 08-28-2011, 06:27 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,281
Just out of curiosity, how strictly has the no-John rule been followed? Is it just the first-born sons of kings? Any sons of kings? Any even likely cousins?

Have any been of the above been named Richard since Richard III?

Last edited by brocks; 08-28-2011 at 06:32 AM.
#11
Old 08-28-2011, 07:12 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 14,187
Quote:
Originally Posted by brocks View Post
Just out of curiosity, how strictly has the no-John rule been followed? Is it just the first-born sons of kings? Any sons of kings? Any even likely cousins?

Have any been of the above been named Richard since Richard III?
There have been no Dicks and Johnson as Kings since (Sorry I had to say that).

The last 2 Johns were Edward VII son; died as a child and George V son (EIIR's Uncle) who was epileptic (I think) kept away from the family and died young circa 1919.

It is not a good luck name.
#12
Old 08-28-2011, 07:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tel Aviv
Posts: 22,551
Bear in mind that British monarchs get to choose the name they reign under. Even if some of them went by John their entire life, they chose something else when ascending to the throne.

Last edited by Alessan; 08-28-2011 at 07:29 AM.
#13
Old 08-28-2011, 07:35 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 14,187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Bear in mind that British monarchs get to choose the name they reign under. Even if some of them went by John their entire life, they chose something else when ascending to the throne.
I really think this is something which has occurred over the last few monarchs. I don't think it happened earlier; I think Victoria was the first; Alexandrina was her first name which she dropped.
#14
Old 08-28-2011, 07:55 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: The Land of Smiles
Posts: 15,294
Much of the antipathy against Kings named John in Britain is directed against John 'Empty Shirt', King of Scots.

Robert III of Scots was very unlikely to inherit the crown and was christened John. He refused to rule under the name of the Empty Shirt, so renamed himself to become Robert III.
#15
Old 08-28-2011, 09:22 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Much of the antipathy against Kings named John in Britain is directed against John 'Empty Shirt', King of Scots.

Robert III of Scots was very unlikely to inherit the crown and was christened John. He refused to rule under the name of the Empty Shirt, so renamed himself to become Robert III.
It may be different is Scotland, but I doubt whether most English people have ever heard of this guy, whereas most have heard of “Bad King John”.

Incidentally, everything you say about “John 'Empty Shirt'” is contradicted by the Wikipedia article you link to. There is no indication there that he ever used the name Robert. He acquired the nickname 'Empty Shirt' at the time he was deposed, so he never got the opportunity to refuse to rule under that name, and he was succeeded by Robert I (the much more famous Robert the Bruce) so could hardly have ruled as Robert III, even if he had wanted to or had the opportunity.

As for King John, one of the things that “every schoolboy” in England knows, is that King John lost his treasure in the Wash. This sounds a lot sillier than it actually was, and adds to the common perception that John was an incompetent.

I think John’s reputation also suffered a lot by comparison with that of his brother Richard “the Lionheart”, who was traditionally built up as a great hero of English history (perhaps as much because of his fairly well deserved nickname as for anything he actually did). John, his rival for power, and a very different sort of man, was bound to be made to look bad by comparison. Modern, revisionist history has been much less kind to Richard. Now, although he is recognized as a brave (or perhaps reckless) warrior in the crusades (which themselves have changed from being seen as a ‘good thing’ to a ‘bad thing’), he is seen as having done a lousy job as ruler of England. In fact, he was not even there for most of his reign, and never seems to have given the job much attention. In comparison, John’s reputation has improved, and much of what he was previously blamed for is now laid at Richard’s feet. However, this new perspective is barely beginning to filter into the popular mind and temper traditional perceptions of John as a baddie.
#16
Old 08-28-2011, 10:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: 50N West Georgia Strait
Posts: 8,600
Quote:
Originally Posted by OP
Why is King John considered to be the worst king in English history?
I thought perhaps that title belonged to Edward VIII.
#17
Old 08-28-2011, 10:50 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Flying Dutchman View Post
I thought perhaps that title belonged to Edward VIII.
Why would you think that? He was scarcely king at all, certainly not for long enough to screw anything up. As Prince of Wales, he had been very popular. The abdication had nothing to do with him being a "bad king."

His later brief dalliance with Naziism was nothing out of the ordinary for the English upper classes of the time, and almost certainly would not have happened if he had indeed been king. It was almost certainly the product of his frustration with having no more role in life (and perhaps anger at what had been done to him).

FWIW, my mother, who was around at the time, still thinks he was treated very shabbily, and would have made a much better king than what we actually got. I doubt if she is the only person of her generation who thought so.

Last edited by njtt; 08-28-2011 at 10:55 AM.
#18
Old 08-28-2011, 10:51 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,890
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
e) Aside from loosing his empire to the formally pathetically weak French Monarchy,
Losing!
#19
Old 08-28-2011, 11:10 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Gumi, S. Korea
Posts: 9,158
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Incidentally, everything you say about “John 'Empty Shirt'” is contradicted by the Wikipedia article you link to. There is no indication there that he ever used the name Robert. He acquired the nickname 'Empty Shirt' at the time he was deposed, so he never got the opportunity to refuse to rule under that name, and he was succeeded by Robert I (the much more famous Robert the Bruce) so could hardly have ruled as Robert III, even if he had wanted to or had the opportunity.
Robert III of Scotland was a different, later king. He was christened "John" and changed it.
#20
Old 08-28-2011, 11:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 66
My understanding is that while upper-class flirtation with Hitler may have been a popular stance in the 1930s, anti-Semitism was very deeply rooted in those classes. And E8 was definitely a fan of Hitler. So we can speculate all we want about what he might have done had he been allowed to continue as King, but the evidence points toward a flabby resistance, more show, really, rather than the robust resistance that actually occurred under his brother.

As for Lion-heart, per Wikipedia, he was most likely bisexual. He did produce a daughter from his marriage, and acknowledged one illegitimate son, Phillip of Cognac. It was this "failure" to produce a legitimate heir that was the thin edge of the wedge in the disslolution of the Angevin empire; John finished the process, but didn't start it.

Last edited by Penguinlady; 08-28-2011 at 11:30 AM.
#21
Old 08-28-2011, 11:37 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3,610
Quote:
Originally Posted by blindboyard View Post
Wasn't he married to Berengaria? Didn't he have a daughter who he wanted to give to Saladin?
Lotsa gay people married, especially back then. And as I understand it, Richard I wanted to give his sister Joanna to Saladin's brother.
#22
Old 08-28-2011, 11:43 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,057
Strict sexuality is very modern. Traditionally the upper class had a responsibility to marry and produce heirs. Whether a man fancied other men or women if he was royalty or nobility he was going to marry in an arranged marriage and he was going to buck up and at least try to sire children. If he liked men then he'd have side action discretely or openly depending on the culture. A few historical figures who were potentially gay may have opted for essentially abstaining from sex instead. Frederick the Great was married but famously lived apart from his wife, visiting her for one day each year he wasn't campaigning. He may have had a male lover as Crown Prince but there are no clear indications he was sexually active at all as King.
#23
Old 08-28-2011, 11:55 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: The Land of Smiles
Posts: 15,294
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
It may be different is Scotland, but I doubt whether most English people have ever heard of this guy, whereas most have heard of “Bad King John”.

Incidentally, everything you say about “John 'Empty Shirt'” is contradicted by the Wikipedia article you link to. There is no indication there that he ever used the name Robert.
Oops. Robert III (1337-1406) was christened John but refused to rule with the same name as the earlier King, John Toom Tabard (1249? - 1314). I've gotten in the habit of adding dates to a person's name when there's possible ambiguity. I noticed the possible ambiguity in my earlier phrasing and almost added such dates for clarity, but didn't want to seem pedantic.
(Instead I changed the wording slightly ... too slightly as it turned out. )

I'll stipulate that most English remember neither John Toom Tabard nor Robert III. One Englishman, speaking of King James of the Two Numbers called him "I of Scots, VI of England, or was it the other way around."
#24
Old 08-28-2011, 12:01 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Richard Faulkner's Party
Posts: 1,134
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
I'll stipulate that most English remember neither John Toom Tabard nor Robert III.
I'm not sure many Scots know who John Toom Tabard / Empty Shirt was either - I've only ever heard him being referred to as John Balliol.
#25
Old 08-28-2011, 01:06 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 13,360
My earlier thread on this topic: BritDopers: Why is King John so reviled?
#26
Old 08-28-2011, 02:03 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,801
Quote:
Is John considered to be the worst king? I'd like a good citation for that. Certainly he's near the bottom, but I'd bet that cases could be made for other monarchs. Richard III is pretty unpopular. There's James III (IIRC), William Rufus, Mary I, Edward VIII, George IV...
We'll presume James II was meant, as he was deposed in the "Glorious Revolution". It wasn't so much because of poor governance on his part, as because of rabid anti-Catholic sentiment. He had converted to Catholicism, which was accepted because he had no heir. When one was born, all hell broke loose as people then feared the establishment of a Catholic dynasty on the throne. "James III" was how his son ("The Old Pretender") was styled and recognized by the Jacobites.

Richard III probably didn't deserve a lot of his reputation. Shakespeare did a hatchet job on him, which probably pleased Elizabeth no end.

George IV and Edward VIII were pretty bad, but note that we're now talking about a later era where Parliament had gained enough control to limit the damage that could be done by an incompetent monarch.

Last edited by yabob; 08-28-2011 at 02:04 PM.
#27
Old 08-28-2011, 02:10 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 12,734
John lost, it is as simple as that.

Despite personality flaws a-plenty he was a fairly capable ruler, both militarily and administratively competent. He was hardly any more venal than any of his contemporaries ( a low bar, as all medieval kings were always scrabbling for cash due to structural issues with royal finances ). He was in no ways despised by his immediate descendants - his grandson Edward I's eldest born son was named John and would have succeeded to the throne if he hadn't died at age five. Other royal John's included John, Lord Beaufort ( third son of his other grandson Edmund ) and John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall ( second son of his great-grandson Edward II and heir for a period of time to his elder brother Edward III ).

Nope, he just lost and lost big as detailed by earlier posters. Also I agree he was contrasted with Richard I* who even in his day was lionized as a paragon of kings ( and Richard sort of was, in both the good and bad sense of that phrase ). But he came close to winning the whole enchilada in the Bouvines campaign and had that happened there almost certainly would have been no baron's revolt and no Magna Carta. And John would be remembered as a king that suffered some vicissitudes, but in the end came out on top.

Instead he is history's goat, reenforced in countless films and TV shows. Either a scheming smoothie as played by Claude Rains in The Adventures of Robin Hood, a bumbling idiot in either movie version ( or plays ) of The Lion in Winter or a bumbling, scheming, smoothie idiot in Disney's animated Robin Hood . Poor, poor John. He deserves better and should be recognized as the competent scumbag that he truly was .


* Despite their contretemps, Richard seems to have been fond of his little brother John to his dieing day. He forgave John his intrigues and brushed it off as John having been badly advised. John thereafter served Richard loyally and capably until Richard's death and Richard designated him his heir on his deathbed**, bypassing the elder line of his brother Geoffrey.

** Probably. Eleanor was witness and she always favored her various son's interests and backed John over Arthur. Still it seems in character for Richard.


ETA: Oh and my vote for least capable king would probably go to Edward II.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 08-28-2011 at 02:14 PM.
#28
Old 08-28-2011, 03:18 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Impaled on a Spear
Posts: 8,099
Tamerlane is completely correct. John really was quite capable. He was an excellent bureaucrat, and took a personal interest in the nuts-and-bolts of rule. His greatest failing was bad luck. He faced off against Philip Augustus in France. Few monarchs in history in any European country would have been able to get the better of him.

It doesn't help that the two leading contemporary chroniclers of John's reign, Matthew Paris and Roger Wendover, were monks. John had a very problematic relationship with the church, so it should probably come as no surprise that monks would hate him as well.
#29
Old 08-28-2011, 03:52 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: England
Posts: 2,727
He came out as a loser, and nobody likes losers. The Magna Carta is made to look more significant than it was by painting John as the loser who was forced to sign.

" He rides to where the barges lie in readiness, and the great Barons step forth from their ranks to meet him. He greets them with a smile and laugh, and pleasant honeyed words, as though it were some feast in his honour to which he had been invited. But as he rises to dismount, he casts one hurried glance from his own French mercenaries drawn up in the rear to the grim ranks of the Barons’ men that hem him in.

Is it too late? One fierce blow at the unsuspecting horseman at his side, one cry to his French troops, one desperate charge upon the unready lines before him, and these rebellious Barons might rue the day they dared to thwart his plans! A bolder hand might have turned the game even at that point. Had it been a Richard there! the cup of liberty might have been dashed from England’s lips, and the taste of freedom held back for a hundred years.

But the heart of King John sinks before the stern faces of the English fighting men, and the arm of King John drops back on to his rein, and he dismounts and takes his seat in the foremost barge. And the Barons follow in, with each mailed hand upon the sword-hilt, and the word is given to let go.

Slowly the heavy, bright-decked barges leave the shore of Runnymede. Slowly against the swift current they work their ponderous way, till, with a low grumble, they grate against the bank of the little island that from this day will bear the name of Magna Carta Island. And King John has stepped upon the shore, and we wait in breathless silence till a great shout cleaves the air, and the great cornerstone in England’s temple of liberty has, now we know, been firmly laid. "


John defied the Pope, and so could expect some approval from a Protestant audience, but as he was ultimately forced to yield the result is scarcely satisfactory.
#30
Old 08-28-2011, 06:03 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 9,154
Yeah, I meant James II, sorry. That's what I get for posting right before I go to sleep.

I googled 'England's worst king' last night and the top contenders were Charles I and Stephen.
#31
Old 08-29-2011, 12:14 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: The Notorious N.Y.C.
Posts: 2,653
One of the most commonly-known and repeated Plantagenet 'facts' is that King John was such a wretched king that it was decreed (by who?) that no English king would ever again be called by the name of John. I suspect most of the people confidently reporting this 'fact' couldn't name one reason King John was a terrible monarch (they might have some vague memory he liked to wail "Mother always liked you best!" while tugging on his ear and sucking his thumb). Well, I'm here, once and for all, to bury that damn 'fact' in the six feet of horseshit it so richly deserves.

There's no reason to believe that for the last 800-some-odd years the English/British royal family has been carefully avoiding the name John; even the most cursory investigation reveals quite the opposite. There were plenty of opportunities for England to get a John II, but it just wasn't fated to happen.

Edward I, who may I remind you was John's grandson, named his firstborn son John in 1266. He had every reason to expect John to succeed him as king, but the child died in 1271.

Likewise, Edward II named his secondborn son John. It was by no means outside the realm of possibility that Edward III could've died before the Black Prince was born, leaving John of Eltham to become king.

Edward III's fourth son was John of Gaunt. In turn, John of Gaunt named two of his sons John (one by Blanche of Lancaster, one by Katherine Swynford).

Henry IV's fourth son was John of Bedford.

The name enjoyed considerable favor in the main branch of the Plantagenet family almost until the arrival of the Tudors. Nothing in this suggests that King John's descendants were ashamed of their ancestor or reluctant to use his name. Other names gained in popularity, but you might as well ask why there haven't been more Humphreys or Thomases; neither was nearly so popular as John. For that matter, George V bestowed the name upon his son, the unfortunately epileptic Prince John, who died in 1919.
#32
Old 08-29-2011, 12:42 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 16,834
Wait a minute. Before we get all the "he wasn't that bad" arguments, (too late, we already did), I'm putting up the more popular view.

First off, John sucked. The man was a nasty, selfish son-of-a-gun and nobody liked him. The common people despised him, because he was greedier than a hungry lion; wherever he went somehow all the money wound up in his pocket. The nobles hated him for much the same reason, and also because he was a backstabbing treacherous lying snake. He simply could never be trusted to keep his word. Worse yet, he was only a wannabe Machiavelli: contemptuous of everyone else, and not ashamed to let them know it. He never formed a stable base of power outside his own coterie, because noone could trust him with anything.

This is not to say he was stupid. On the contrary, he was brilliant and extremely intelligent, strong-willed, and capable of bold and direct action. But he was such a jerk that everything he touched turned to trash. Richard was not brilliant except when he was interested (not very often). Richard, for all his faults, left England stronger even with his ransom. John, for all his virtues, left it weaker.

Likewise, while England faced a significant threat in the form of Phillip of France, it was hardly inevitable that the English would lose their continental posessions. Frankly (ba-dum-kssh!), John lost because his lords in France ultimately would rather bow to Phillip than John. And it's no accident that the Magna Carta was signed in John's reign: for all his scheming, he was ultimately a weak monarch... precisely because of his scheming.

And let's not pretend even that was anything to be proud of. His poor handling of the Canterbury affair demonstrates political tone-deafness. He quite possibly could have persuaded the Pope to support his candidate, but his insistance on bullying actively pushed Innocent III into a corner he could not back down from. After that, John stupidly doubled-down by assailing the entire English clergy. he was only able to turn this around at a dear price, and the changing political situation. As it was, he nearly got himself embroiled in a new war with France that did not bode well for John - it's very unclear if any English magnates would have come to his defence, or like the continental lords would have preferred a distant French king.

In short, he not exactly wht you'd call even a good, but under-appreciated, king. He was a born loser, not because he lacked ability but because he lacked character.
#33
Old 08-29-2011, 02:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 14,292
John sucked his thumb; his chief adviser was a snake; he hoarded gold coins compulsively. Worst of all, he didn't even have a mane. What kind of lion doesn't have a mane? A lioness, that's what kind. "King" John my ass. He was a phony king of England.

A POX on that phony king of England!
#34
Old 08-29-2011, 02:39 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 12,734
Quote:
Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Wait a minute. Before we get all the "he wasn't that bad" arguments, (too late, we already did), I'm putting up the more popular view.

First off, John sucked. The man was a nasty, selfish son-of-a-gun and nobody liked him.

In short, he not exactly what you'd call even a good, but under-appreciated, king. He was a born loser, not because he lacked ability but because he lacked character.
Well...yes . I generally agree with almost all of your post except your disagreement that "he wasn't that bad." Compared to the demonization he has received down through the ages IMHO he really wasn't that bad. But that doesn't mean he was that good, either.

It's really not a matter of straight dichotomy between bad vs. good. Well, not exactly anyway. If you equate bad king with failed king, John = bad. And if you equate bad king with asshole king, John = bad. He truly was a miserable little shit. But if you equate bad with incapable king, John wasn't that bad. And that's the mistaken impression worth correcting.

In terms of actual ability, John had it all over other English monarchs like Edward II or Richard III or even his own long-reigning son Henry III. For that reason I can't rate him as the worst king in English history as per the OP. And the thing is that he has been slandered with all sorts of charges and implications that simply aren't true. John has been cast as stupid, a coward, militarily incompetent, venal and of shitty character. The first three charges are really completely false. The latter two are essentially accurate, but again true of his contemporaries as well. Philip II was as slippery as an eel dipped in liquid teflon, Richard I was a vainglorious asshole and both were greedy and extortionate.

I agree that the loss of the Angevin empire was not a foregone conclusion. As noted John came within a hair of winning the whole thing back and Richard for whatever it is worth seems to have been winning militarily at the time of his death ( his generalship was Richard's one unassailable strength ). John was at a real disadvantage going into that conflict and suffered some bad luck, but you're right that he made plenty of wrongheaded decisions and must shoulder the blame for them.

So it's not that I'd slot John in with the good kings. At the end of the day he was a loser, like you said. But he wasn't stupid, incompetent or a coward as he has so often been portrayed, nor was he the worst king to ever sit on the English throne IMO.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 08-29-2011 at 02:40 AM.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:35 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: arris wbm760a specs retarded cat define fash uncredited role barbara fitts arugula taste tramp meaning buckley's angel shopping center names eyelash pimple kma plate onion comics chinese riff metal soup n2o buy definition of rounder my stepdaughter naked faye valentine r34 gypsy offensive nudity in fantasia poontang etymology polyurethane dangers dirty birthday limerick ela high note albanian curse words two part harmony redonkulous definition jersey undershirt synth bands compact mirror phone r2 units water in gas lawn mower horsepower of a horse can romex be used outside what is the difference between white and yellow popcorn water wells gallons per minute popping sebaceous cyst at home how do plastic explosives work how to remove marble from ramune how long does bread last in the fridge after expiration date popular science vs scientific american permanent crease in pants car idles up and down suite judy blue eyes spanish lyrics car keys copied home depot how did et come back to life prednisone 50 mg for 5 days bronchitis using a riding lawn mower how far can sound travel in air what do you call a 3d rectangle water coming out of my exhaust pipe oz of wine in a bottle acid orange juice story what does 205 mean on a tire belt squeals when starting car why is my facial hair multicolored university of phoenix degrees worth anything did civil war cannon balls explode fox urine to repel squirrels where can i buy coal near me hit em long and straight canon mg2922 not responding 5 suit card deck how to make voice less nasally