King John: Damned by his Peers

Attempts to rehabilitate ‘Bad’ King John always come up against a major stumbling block: the verdicts of his contemporaries.

King John presenting a church, painted c.1250-59 by Matthew Paris in his Historia Anglorum

There will be no getting away from King John in 2015, the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Huge celebrations are planned, not only in the UK but across the globe as the Great Charter is lauded as the foundation document of liberties and rights. While there are debates about Magna Carta’s importance, these are nothing compared with the historical disputes over the monarch himself: bad King John or misunderstood, unfairly maligned King John?

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