Was King John Really a Bad King?

Was King John Really a Bad King?


The question that I am trying to answer is “ was King John really a bad king”?. There are many views on this topic and different pieces of written evidence on this subject, some written in the time of King John. In this essay I will try to explore the different documents and arguments that discuss if he was a good or bad king. Nowadays many people view King John as having been a bad king and I think this is mainly due to his character in the animated version of Robin Hood, which makes him out to be a money loving villain but is this true? Many people argue that King John was a greedy, weak and incompetent King. I think that he probably was a bad king but what does the evidence actually show?

King John is often referred to as a bad king these days and there is a lot of evidence both modern and written by sources in King John’s time, to give reason for that name. John is often viewed as having been a cruel King and this is supported with evidence from a recent history book which says “John was a thoroughly bad lot. He was cruel and beastly. He made many enemies and killed people with his bare hands. He was the worst king ever to have sat on the English throne.” In addition the historian J R Green in his “Short History of the English People” published in 1875, says “His punishments were cruel: the starvation of children, the crushing of old men under copes of lead. His court was a brothel where no woman was safe from the royal lust. He scoffed at the priests. Foul as it is, hell itself is defiled by the fouler presence of King John”. He was also a weak King which is shown by the way that he was incapable of keeping his lands in France without his mothers help.

Many of the sources were written by monks or religious people and their views may have been influenced by the fact that King John had had a big argument with the Pope and was responsible for the killing of several monks at Canterbury Cathedral. It can then be argued that theses sources are less...

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