Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bad King John

The Holy Roman Emperor decided to capture Richard & hold him for ransom! Is that sporting?  Twas related to the quarrel w/ Leopold. So Eleanor, who went back to England to run the joint in Richard's absence b/c John was skulking round & up to no good, had to raise taxes AGAIN. Peeps were not fussed & this is where Robin Hood was robbing the rich to give to the poor & John was being sneaky & encouraging rebellion while Eleanor kept slapping his hands & asking him did he want a crown or not, so behave! Taxes weren't quite enough for the exorbitant amt demanded, so Eleanor had to even pawn the crown jewels!  Meanwhile John was whispering to Philip & the Emperor about mayhap keeping Richard captive a little longer, b/c he was afraid Richard would be really irked w/ him for all the backstabbing he'd been doing in his absence.

Once released, Richard popped over to say thanks y'all & glare at John some b4 he relented & decided, after Eleanor poked him a lot, that John would be a better heir than little Arthur.  The kid was still in Brittany w/ his mum, who didn't trust the Plantagenets as far she she could spit.  Richard was annoyed w/ Constance's refusal to send the kid to England so Eleanor could learn him how to be a good king, so he disinherited him in John's favor.  Both Eleanor & Richard glared at John some more & told him to cease being such a pot-stirrer b/c twas EZ-PZ for Richard to change his mind about the succession again.  John gulped & promised to be good.  He also asked could he mayhap get an annulment from his English heiress wife Avisa of Gloucester, who wasn't doing her heir duty, & look round for another bride.  That was OKd & Richard hied back across the Channel for more warrior stuff, like building the great fortress of Chateau Galliard from which he could thumb his nose at them Frenchies.

what's left of Chateau Galliard

He went back over to Normandy b/c there was warring to be done over a spat w/ Philip. Richard got himself an arrow wound at the siege of Chalus & twas rumored it was a poisoned arrow & he demised. Berengaria said pffft & went to join a convent. Her BFF Joanna had married Raymond of Toulouse but alas demised of that pesky childbed fever thing.


John got to be King of England now. Or so he thunk.  Maine, Anjou, & Brittany said um NO, tis Arthur here who's the king, & going strictly by primogeniture, they were kinda right.  But John was 33 & Arthur was going to get a nice regency b/c he was only just turned 13, so most peeps preferred a grownup even if it WAS John LOL  But he still had to hasten across the Channel after his coronation & put down some rebellions in Arthur's favor.  Philip decided meh John tis & did a nice treaty recognizing him officially whilst Arthur was imprisoned in Falaise.

Whilst over there a chick called Isabella of Angouleme caught John's eye.  Isabella wasn't any older than Arthur but twas said she gave him the eye right back.  She was betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan, Count of LaMarche, but John said meh to that & married the wench posthaste.  There was a bit more squabbling w/ Philip b/c Hugh was one of his vassals (peeps what owed him fealty & in exchange expected to have their own probs taken care of).  Meanwhile, old Eleanor (she was about 78) had gone off on a long journey to Spain to visit her daughter Eleanor & fetch her granddaughter, Blanche of Castile, as a wife for Philip's son Louis.  Blanche & Louis got on like houses & Eleanor was very good at talking peeps into doing stuff, so she managed to smooth over the conflict of John's precipitous marriage & whisk Isabella off to Westminister Abbey for a splendid coronation.  Twas said John was besotted w/ Isabella, who was supposed to have been a great beauty, & lollygagged in bed w/ her till noon instead of doing kingly stuff.  Twas a good thing he still had Mummy to roll her eyes at such hijinks & nudge him when he had to do important things.

Arthur escaped from his prison & do you know he had the gall to besiege Granny's castle of Mirabeau w/ the aid of his Bretons, whilst Eleanor was in it, & John had to come save her from the brat?  The 16 yo punk was re-captured & tossed into the bowels of Rouen Castle. Right after that peeps started going, hey, where'd that Arthur kid get to?  Twas rumored that either John got drunk & ticked off at the kid's smart mouth & slew him w/ his own sword, or that he'd ordered him poisoned, OR that he'd ordered him castrated so he couldn't breed & the operation had kilt him.  Either way, peeps agreed he was weighted w/ stones & dumped off in the Channel b/c no one ever saw him again.  Scarlet is irked b/c John is the original wicked uncle way b4 Richard III & the Princes in the Tower, yet no one ever says a word about John getting rid of Arthur!  They just pick on my Richard all the time GRRRRR

John was OK whilst Eleanor was still breathing, but she was quite old for that time (82) & finally demised.
tomb effigy of Eleanor of Aquitaine
at Fontrevault

W/o Mummy to do all the work for him, it was quickly apparent that John wasn't no great shakes at kingship. He took a pg from the Conqueror's book & ruled w/ an iron fist. He went about fining peeps left & right for disrespecting him & seizing castles if he liked them & peeps had to lock up their daughters & their wives when John came calling b/c he was like that.  He had a final tally of 12 acknowledged bastards. 

The Welsh thunk twas a good time to start a rebellion even tho John had married off one of his bastard daughters, Joan, to Llewellyn, so there was trouble there for yonks & once the Welsh got so far over the border that they tried to take Shrewsbury. John's peeps dragged him off to Runnymede & invented the Magna Carta for him to sign & promise to be a good king. John signed & then said pffft & went right back to being a bad king. So his peeps went to Philip & complained & Philip sent over Louis w/ a nice invasion force & pretty soon it was starting to look like Stephen was in charge all over again.

The Pope was unfussed & had excommunicated John over a dispute about who should be the new Archbishop of Canterbury, which is the worstest thing that can happen to a Catholic, & b/c he was a king that meant all of his domains were laid under an weddings, no funerals, no christenings, no confessions, no Masses, nuffin.  John actually wasn't unhappy w/ it once he realized how much Peter's Pence was flowing out to Rome & that he could keep it all for himself LOL Peeps were afeared for their immortal souls until John decided he needed the Pope's help w/ his rebellious barons & sighed & did what the Pope wanted. 

Pretty soon John had no peeps left at all & was running for his life. He was crossing a river & one of his carts toppled over & ALL the crown jewels were in it! Lost! O my. John took sick w/ a cold (or dysentery, or poisoned plums, or a surfeit of peaches, depending on who ya read) & had the demises right after that....

tomb effigy of John at Worcester Cathedral
tomb effigy of Isabella of Angouleme
at Fontrevault

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