Monday, 9 February 2015

Fascinating Facts: King John

King John is a man I know a lot about, since he is the protagonist in my history book Broken Reed: The Lord of Gower and King John. I'm studying him again right now for my new book The Magna Carta Story.

Fascinating Facts: John [1199-1216]
  • He was a stocky, red-haired man, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, who put on weight as he aged.
  • He was his father Henry II's favourite.
  • As the youngest son, he was trained under Ranulf de Glanville to be a royal governor.
  • King Henry knighted John himself at Windsor Castle.
  • When Richard died, John claimed Normandy at Rouen, seized the royal treasury, and had himself crowned at Westminster, all in short order.
  • When John's rival Arthur was captured, John starved to death his followers.
  • John later murdered Arthur and threw his body in the Seine, weighted with a stone.
  • In June 1204 Normandy was lost to France, the last of the French lands of the Angevin empire.
  • He fell out with the Pope, who put England under an interdict – the church was effectively on strike.
  • When Matilda de Braose revealed John's greatest secret, he starved her and her son to death. Her husband William died a beggar in France.
  • A prophet said John's reign would end on Ascension Day 1213. On that day, when John was still on the throne, he had a party and then executed him. But, the day before, John had bowed in homage to the Pope and given him his kingdom!
  • John agreed to Magna Carta, but he wrote to the Pope, who annulled it a few weeks later.
  • Civil war broke out and London opened it's gates to Prince Louis of France and offered him the throne.
  • John really did lose his crown jewels in the Wash! The Wash is a five mile wide river estuary, and the sea came in and swallowed his baggage.

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