Was King John bad
Was King John bad? Discuss with mention to other Angevin male monarchs
“In his interior psyche John was the worst result of the Angevins. He united
into one mass of wickedness their crust, their selfishness, their unchecked lecherousness,
their inhuman treatment and dictatorship, their brazenness, their superstitious notion, their misanthropic
indifference to honour or truth[ 1 ] ”
History has judged King John harshly. The last in the long line of the Angevin sovereign and seen to hold lost great piece of lands of land and a great trade of monarchal power during his reign, his narrative, on the surface, is one of failure. By 1205, six old ages into his reign, merely a fragment of the huge Angevin imperium acquired by Henry II remained, John was embroiled in disputing with the Pope over the assignment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was besides forced to subscribe the Magna Carta in 1215, which restated the rights of the church, the barons and all in the land and left him a broken swayer. But is this just? Despite being branded a ‘adult male of about superhuman evil[ 2 ]’in the early 20th century, can he merely be described as ‘bad, ’ or is this a simplistic and historically naive statement?
Of class, King John, it could be said, was slightly hampered in historical footings by the force per unit areas put on him by his royal line of descent. His male parent King Henry II had been one of England’s greatest mediaeval male monarchs. And, despite his fiercely violent conquerings and slightly limited clip spent in Britain, Richard the Lionheart was perceived as a baronial sovereign, and was a significantly stronger and more forceful swayer than his brother John who preceded him on the throne. Despite the fact his calling seemed to be lavished more on his campaigns and less on England itself, Richard was ‘revered as one of the great warrior male monarchs of England[ 3 ]’– a place John was ever traveling to hold problem following, particularly due to the fiscal force per unit areas Richards campaigns had put upon the states wealth.
Coupled with this, compared with Richards ‘noble, Christian spirit, ’ John had already been mired in moral dirt and was possibly non perceived as wholly trustworthy, which may good hold encouraged the negative aura around him. Indeed, before his Ascension, John had already acquired a repute for perfidy, holding conspired sometimes with and sometimes against his senior brothers, Henry, Geoffrey and Richard and his regulation over Ireland had ended acrimoniously after merely eight months, after the states people grew to contemn him. Equally good as this, King John’s regal regulation was seen as bastard by a ample proportion of the baronial population who refused to accept his reign, and regarded his immature nephew Arthur of Brittany as Richard the Lionhearts rightful inheritor.
However, possibly John’s biggest weakness came approximately as a consequence of what could be seen as good pattern in the painstaking attention he took in his legal and administrative responsibilities. Indeed, one historiographer claimed that ‘merely the old male monarch himself [ i.e. Henry II ] is comparable to the ulterior John in his powers of administration and the ability, priceless in a swayer, to flex his energy to points of administrative item[ 4 ]’and it was possibly this applaudable sum of clip and attempt he put into the common jurisprudence and judicial procedures that really seemed to keep him back slightly. Indeed, despite the fact that during Johns reign, he and his superb decision makers began to set the state in order preserving charter axial rotations, patent axial rotations and close axial rotations and motivating one historian to note that ‘1199 is a existent turning point in English history. The stuffs available to the historian all of a sudden became more legion and exact,’ it can non be denied that John surely upset his people.
Indeed, many disagreed with his manner of ‘hands-on’ authorities and his apparently ceaseless administrative work he took on during his implemented expatriate in England after the loss of Normandy, made his regulation seem more forces and oppressive that those of his freewheeling and vivacious predecessors. ‘His remorseless Tourss of the state, his vigorous attending to the smallest points of item resulted in efficiency but a general feeling of subjugation[ 5 ] .’True, his powers of administration and regard for the common jurisprudence are seen, in footings of modern-day history, to be far better than his brother and possibly equal to his male parent, but this really formal, precise signifier of government was rejected by his people who clearly preferred a brave brave male monarch who would non trouble oneself them with his regulation – instead they preferred a traditional brash military sovereign, like his brother Richard.
However, holding said all this, it would non be just to wholly underestimate Johns military art, so unostentatious in traditional historical text edition, and it has been noted that even in personal businesss of the blade he was capable in demoing existent bluster, despite his instead barbarous moniker of ‘softsword’ . For one thing, he continued the good work that Richard had undertaken in the development of the English naval forces and was speedy to move when the loss of the northern Continental feoffs ensured that the channel one time once more became an unfastened frontier [ 6 ] . One historiographer has commented that ‘It is surprising that a state so proud of its naval history has non honoured King John more[ 7 ] .’ Indeed, it is besides true that his well publicised putsch in Mirebeau ensured that he besides showed an undeniable daring in delivering his female parent and capturing many of his most powerful enemies.
However, as I have antecedently suggested, John’s existent strengths surely lay in his daily regulation of the state instead than his ‘heroic exploits.’ Almost uncharacteristically of the Angevin lineage, other than this Mirebeau incident, he was non a peculiarly bold sovereign, despite his occasional successes. Indeed, when beleaguering rebellious barons during his reign, he took stray palaces and harried their defences, but was hesitant in assailing the nucleus of their power in London. He was besides ne’er wholly without fright of perfidy amongst his ain military personnels by repute, and despite his speedy action, would it non be true to state he was responsible for losing out on the feoff of the Angevins in the first topographic point?
However, I surely do non believe that this was adequate to justify his stigmatization as a ‘bad’ male monarch. Despite the historical glorification environing his brother Richard, I feel closer scrutiny displays the jobs that had set in before John had even taken to the throne. For a start ‘Richard had left him an empty exchequer, a people rousing to disenchantment, and a hard and dearly-won foreign policy[ 8 ] ’ and while elements of John’s alleged Acts of the Apostless of dictatorships have echoed down the old ages as his jobs entirely – it has been suggested that his sensed weaknesss are more to make with the Angevin line of descent and a putrefaction that had set in because of their ways of authorities, one which John, in the face of a changing universe, was forced to take on nevertheless good he had ruled.
One such illustration of this was the celebrated sign language of the Magna Carta, a charter that was efficaciously seen as a agency to halt John’s alleged dictatorship. It is said it was partially instigated due to the manner he cracked down on fundss, taxing grosss, the Jews, carry oning probes into the royal woods and feudal term of offices, and pitilessly working his privileges, but was this non a reaction to Britain’s overall fiscal predicament? And in kernel, was the Magna Carta non a pact against the whole line of descent of the Angevin line and their basic feudal thoughts and policies? ‘Magna Carta was a opinion, a expansive inquest upon the whole yesteryear of Angevin kingship! [ 9 ] ”
Indeed, one unfavorable judgment leveled against John’s dictatorship was his pattern of demanding sureties from his barons as sureties of their trueness – but was this non ‘a normal disciplinary method of authorities amongst his predecessors? [ 10 ] ’ And was non his usage of coercing barons into debt, so as to maintain them from going excessively powerful, by high alleviation revenue enhancement non a similar policy excessively one employed by his successful challenger, Philip of Augustus [ 11 ] ? It seems to me that John had become male monarch of a ignored province and was hence castigated through certain weaknesss of his brother who had neglected England in chase of his brave, yet questionable campaigns and his male parent who despite his brilliant regulation, had implemented a feudal system that could non digest without the really strongest of swayers implementing it. New methods of raising gross were needed and John was obliged to accept the jobs that came with that undertaking.
So in reply to the inquiry, I think it is safe to state that John can non be described merely as a ‘bad’ male monarch, despite his important weaknesss. Indeed, he did utilize his powers in a instead intrusive manner, and it can non be denied that his bluster and royal personal appeal was non up to that of his predecessors. Coupled with that, he was non decisive plenty against dictatorship, and was ever unfastened to unfavorable judgment, chiefly because of the manner he had himself succeeded to the throne. However, the state of affairs in which he had to run was surely hard. Richard had ensured that money was short and the great land multitudes that had been won in old coevalss were really much under menace. Coupled with this, the universe was altering off from the Angevin feudal system and his manner of authorities could non get by against the rebellious nature of ‘the new strain of barons.’ His organisational accomplishments and common jurisprudence cognition could non be denied and it has been said that they went near to supplying him with a manner out of Britain’s jobs – It didn’t nevertheless, go forthing me to propose that ‘Bad King John’ so, was a swayer, who in no manner was Britain’s worst of all time male monarch, but ruled at an luckless clip.
‘The closer survey of John’s history clears off the
charges of sloth and incapacity with which work forces tried to
explicate the illustriousness of his autumn.[ 12 ] ’