King John of England 1166 – 1216

King John

Family tree for King John, son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine showing:
parents
siblings 
partner 
children 

 

Short Biography

Early Years

King John was born on 24th December 1166 and died 19th October 1216. He was the youngest son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. His parents began leading separate lives around 1168 and John was card for by nursemaids and educated by private tutors.

During 1170s John’s elder brothers and his mother rebelled against his father wanting more power for themselves. To appease them, Henry put together a future plan for the governance of his lands when he died. John earned the nickname Lackland because his father did not grant him any land.

King Richard I

Henry II died on 6th July 1189 and John’s elder brother Richard became King of England. However, Richard had already committed to joining the third Crusade and left for the Holy Land the following year. Having heard nothing from his brother, John believed Richard had died and tried to take the throne in 1193. However, Richard was not dead but had been captured and held to ransom for 150,000 marks. John raised the ransom through taxation which made him more unpopular.

Richard returned to England in 1194 and was warmly received by the people. He was only in England for a matter of weeks before he left for France to defend Normandy against attacks by the French.

King John

Richard died in France in 1199. He had no children so John succeeded as King. John’s first task as King was to make peace with France but it was fragile and only lasted 2 years. Tension between France and England worsened when the French King gave Aquitaine, Poitou and Anjou to John’s nephew, Arthur of Brittany. In 1202 Arthur of Brittany was captured and imprisoned. He was murdered the following year, probably on John’s order.

John came into conflict with Pope Innocent III in 1207 after refusing to accept the Pope’s nomination of Stephen Langton for Archbishop of Canterbury. He was subsequently excommunicated by the Pope. John eventually agreed to the nomination in 1212 and the excommunication was lifted.

Magna Carta

Throughout his reign John faced criticism from his barons. He introduced a tax on income in 1207 which was extremely unpopular with the wealthy nobility. The barons wanted a greater say in government and also wanted the King to stop meddling in religion.

In 1215 John was forced to sign Magna Carta, a charter which met the baron’s grievances and limited the power of the King. John complained to the Pope that the document was signed under duress and it was declared null and void. This angered the Baron’s further and war broke out between the Crown and the Barons. John died in October 1216 leaving his son Henry III to resolve the war.

Marriages and Family

In 1189, John married Isabella, daughter of William of Gloucester. The Archbishop of Canterbury protested against the marriage because they were both great-grandchildren of King Henry I.

In 1200 John divorced Isabella and made her his ward. Later that year he married Isabella of Angouleme, the 12 year-old daughter of the Count of Angouleme. The couple had 5 children: King Henry III (1207 – 1272), Richard (1209 – 1272), Joan (1210 – 1238), Isabella (1214 – 1241) and Eleanor (1215 – 1275).

 

First published 2018, updated and re-published Mar 06 2021 @ 1:05 pm – Updated – Sep 23, 2021 @ 1:13 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2021). King John of England 1166 – 1216. Available: https://www.treesofblue.com/king-john-of-england-1166-1216. Last accessed September 30th, 2021