The brilliantly compelling new biography of the treacherous and tyrannical King John, published to coincide with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.
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?
Drawing on contemporary chronicles and the king’s own letters, bestselling historian Marc Morris brings the real John vividly to life. We see how a youngest son with limited prospects became the ruler of the greatest dominion in Europe, but at a terrible cost. His rise to power involved treachery, rebellion and murder, and his reign witnessed oppression on an almost unprecedented scale. It climaxed in conspiracy and revolt, and his leading subjects forced him to issue Magna Carta, a document binding him and his successors to behave better in future. John’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 at a momentous turning point in the history of Britain and Europe.
Fine, timely... jaunty, authoritative... Morris has already proven himself as a 13th-century royal biographer - his study of Edward I is a modern classic. He is on form here, too. His split-chronology approach to John's life before and after the loss of Normandy highlights just how disastrous it was for the king's reign and reputation. -- DAN JONES * Sunday Times * Outstanding ... This is by far the best book on the monarch's reign since W L Warren's trail-blazing biography, King John, written in 1961 - with the literary bravura of which Morris' book may not unfavourably be compared. * BBC History Magazine * An excellent and sardonic new biography of King John. It will delight all who enjoyed his books on 1066 and Edward I. -- TOM HOLLAND A masterpiece of historical writing... Morris is a wonderful storyteller * TLS * A riveting and timely portrait of an execrable king -- Jessie Childs, author of God's Traitors
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