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King John (English Monarchs) Paperback – October 9, 1978
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John is mocked with the name "Softsword" for having lost his hold on the French domains his father, Henry II, and his brother, Richard I, worked so hard to keep. Warren points out, however, that such far-flung territories could never have been maintained, and, even had Richard lived, the French outcome would probably have been the same. Far from being a military do-nothing, John is the founder of the Royal Navy. Warren marvels that a nation that came to treasure its naval superiority as England did could so completely vilify the founder of its navy.
But this book is no whitewash, either. John was duplicitous and grasping and didn't trust anyone who wasn't beholden to him. He surrounded himself with baseborn hangers-on, excluding and alienating the barons of his realm. He took money for dispensing justice and then still ruled against the side that paid him. He was cunning and conniving, and was known to issue decrees that said one thing while secretly issuing instructions that ran exactly counter to what he wrote.Read more ›
Historical giants surround King John throughout his life. His father is the famous King Henry II who established Common Law in England. His mother is the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was the wife of two kings and the mother of two kings . His famous brother Richard the Lionhearted, was a celebrated and overrated crusader. His archrival is King Philip II of France, known as Philip Augustus, who begins the process of transforming France into a nation by expanding French royal power at the expense of King John. Amongst these great people John seems small by comparison and his reputation suffers.
"The persisting images are of Henry as a strong and beneficent ruler, of Richard as a glamorous hero, and of John as a villainous failure; but these sharp contrasts reflect the attitudes of the more influential of the chroniclers rather than real differences of personality. The dominant impression of Henry is closest to reality, that of John furthest removed." (p.4)
Warren describes John as the son who was most like his father--who is generally regarded as great monarch. Like his father, John is interested in governing his kingdom.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You don't think of medieval history books as page-turners, but here's the exception. Terrific, vivid recreation of the life and times of this "worst King in English... Read morePublished 18 days ago by TroughtonFan
an exemplary "short life," written by our best biographer of John's father, Henry II.Published 13 months ago by Thomas L. Jeffers
Having already read Professor Warren's 1977 biography of Henry II of England, when I was an undergraduate and having read the book twice more since that time, I recently began to... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Brian Wayne Wells
I purchased this book because I needed a solid, overall review of John Plantagenet's life. Based on the other reviews of this book I chose it to read. Read morePublished on April 4, 2014 by Laura Crockett
Enjoyed learning more about my least favorite King. Warren's research is good, though he did a more thorough job on John's father Henry.Published on February 28, 2014 by Mark Richard Beaulieu
W.L. Warren's King John attempts to resurrect John's reputation or, at least, improve it. It reads quite differently from Warren's biography of Henry II, published over ten years... Read morePublished on February 6, 2011 by Daniel Putman
In this excellent book, W. L. Warren attempts to rehabilitate the image of King John of England. Warren sees a gulf existing between the reality of John's reign and its popular... Read morePublished on August 5, 2008 by Collin Garbarino
An excellent history book, factual as a text book but reads like a novel. Hollywood could never dream up a life or character so complex.Published on October 22, 2007 by Teresa Pietersen
King John has the reputation as being the absolutely worse King England has ever had. Accused of lechery, murder, treason and much more, John is looked on as an absolute failure,... Read morePublished on August 16, 2007 by Glen V. Mcintyre