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King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: the Road to Magna Carta

King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: the Road to Magna Carta

Scritto da Marc Morris

Narrato da Ralph Lister


King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: the Road to Magna Carta

Scritto da Marc Morris

Narrato da Ralph Lister

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (4 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
11 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 15, 2015
ISBN:
9781494585129
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

King John is familiar to everyone as the villain from the tales of Robin Hood-greedy, cowardly, despicable, and cruel. But who was the man behind the legend? Was he a monster or a capable ruler cursed by bad luck? In this new book, bestselling historian Marc Morris draws on contemporary chronicles and the king's own letters to bring the real King John vividly to life.



John was dynamic, inventive, and relentless but also a figure with terrible flaws. In two interwoven stories, we see how he went from being a youngest son with limited prospects to the ruler of the greatest dominion in Europe, an empire that stretched from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees. His rise to power involved treachery, rebellion, and murder. His reign saw oppression on an almost unprecedented scale: former friends hounded into exile and oblivion; Wales, Scotland, and Ireland invaded; and the greatest level of financial exploitation since the Norman Conquest. John's tyrannical rule climaxed in conspiracy and revolt, and his leading subjects famously forced him to issue Magna Carta, a document binding him and his successors to behave better in future.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 15, 2015
ISBN:
9781494585129
Formato:
Audiolibro


Informazioni sull'autore

Marc Morris is a historian specializing in the Middle Ages. He is the author of A Great and Terrible King; King John; and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling The Norman Conquest. Marc lives in England.

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  • (4/5)
    This book covers the life and reign of King John, the infamous king whose war with the barons brought about Magna Carta, one of the most celebrated documents in constitutional history, and certainly the most celebrated in English or British history. It is well written and researched; thanks to the preservation of most of the Pipe Rolls, we have far more written evidence of John's reign than we do of any of his predecessors, so it is possible to track his movements and activities in much more detail. That said, the book's structure is in my view flawed. Its first half switches between two narrative streams, one from 1203 which is a key turning point in the reign, the other recounting Angevin history and John's early life and the first few years of his reign, in alternate chapters. I found the author's rationale for this approach unconvincing and the result irritating and a bit confusing for recalling whether a particular incident I'd read about was before or after another such (hence it's not for me a five star book).The book exposes well John's many flaws, while acknowledging his better points (though there are rather few of those). Some have said John was merely unlucky, though it seems very clear he was the author of most of his own misfortunes through his unnecessary provocation of those who might have been allies, his well founded lack of trustworthiness, pronounced treacherousness and extreme arbitrariness. Worse, in an age where kings were almost all, and arguably had to be, ruthless, John went further and many of his actions show a cold cruelty, in particular his policy of using deliberate starvation as a method of execution for some of his opponents and hostages. He was rapacious in extorting money from the whole population to fund his wars against the Scots, Welsh and Irish and his attempts to regain the Angevin empire he inherited and then lost within five years largely through his own ineptitude. His oppression of the church was such that England lay under a papal interdict for six years, with no marriage or burial services in consecrated ground able to be performed. Many of these injustices had been carried out in some instances by some of his predecessors, but John institutionalised them. It is small wonder that he was almost perpetually at war with his barons and knights. He tried to undermine Magna Carta almost as soon as he sealed it (to be fair, some of the barons didn't stick to what was agreed at Runnymede either). The barons invited Prince Louis, son of the French King Philip Augustus, to come and be their new king, and Louis conquered much of the south and was welcomed by Londoners. England came close to being ruled by the heir to the French throne; but then the situation was retrieved, ironically, by John's own death at the age of 49. The barons were unwilling to oppose and deny the birthright of John's infant son, Henry III, supported as regent by the indomitable William Marshal; within a year, England was at peace once more. A dark period of history was over. There were, of course, more trials and tribulations, and battles to come for justice and a system truly based on the rule of law, but the seeds had been sown.