Format Hardcover
Publication Date 10/15/15
ISBN 9781605988856
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.5 in / 400

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King John

Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta

Marc Morris

A rousing and authoritative new biography of the notorious King John, by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Marc Morris. 

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 truly 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; the greatest level of financial exploitation since the Norman Conquest. A quarrel with the pope led to the king being excommunicated and England being placed under Interdict. 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. The king's rejection of the charter led to civil war and foreign invasion, bringing his life to a disastrous close.

Authoritative and dramatic, Marc Morris's King John offers a compelling portrait of an extraordinary man, whose reign marked a momentous turning point in the history of Britain and Europe.

Marc Morris, PhD, is an historian and broadcaster, specializing in the Middle Ages. An expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, Marc has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Magazine and Heritage Today; he speaks regularly to schools, historical societies, and literary festivals, and also leads specialist tours of UK castles. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives in England.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“In lively, cultured prose, English historian Morris (The Norman Conquest) investigates the complex road taken by 'Bad King John' to the signing of the Magna Carta in June of 1215. Full of fascinating details, with the added bonus of a translation of the full Magna Carta.” Publishers Weekly
“Highly readable.” Library Journal
“A traditional politics-and-war biography: a relentless succession of intrigues, quarrels, battles, sieges, negotiations, truces, and betrayals illuminated by lucid writing.” Kirkus Reviews