King John (1166-1216) - King of England 1199-1216

John was the youngest son of King Henry II and brother of his predecessor, King Richard. In his youth, he ruled Ireland for his father, but only managed to alienate everyone he came across. He never got on with his brother, Richard, and tried to take over the country while the former was imprisoned in Germany. When John became King he refused to appoint the Pope’s man as Archbishop of Canterbury and was excommunicated for his efforts. He lost almost all the English possessions in France and taxed the Barons to pay for his failure. They revolted and forced him to sign a document outlining their common rights. This was called the ‘Magna Carta’. The King, however, failed to keep his promises and the Barons were forced to ask the French to invade England and help them!

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