King John - what kind of a king was he?

Historians have argued for many years about what kind of a king John was. Some historians think that he was a King who made terrible mistakes, leaving the country in a real mess by the end of his troubled reign. Other historians think that he did a good job, having had to deal with problems inherited from his father and brother. Read on to discover what happened in the reign of King John - and then make up your own mind.

John as a Prince in a cartoon version of the Legend of Robin Hood.
King John is often remembered for the role he has in the legend of Robin Hood. In this story John is portrayed as being a mean and horrible man. Remember though that legends are not really reliable sources of evidence!

A very brief background

John's father was King Henry II. he ruled over an empire that stretched from the Scottish border in the north through all of England, much of France and into Spain. His reign was troubled as his sons and wife rebelled against him in France. Upon Henry's death Richard, john's eldest brother became king. Richard is one of the countries most loved Kings, being nicknamed 'the lionheart' because of his bravery and expoits fighting in the Crusades. Whilst fighting in the crusades Richard left the running of England in John's hands, leaving him to collect taxes and administer justice. In 1199, when Richard died, John proclaimed himself King of England. He went on to become one of the countries most controversial monarchs.

Click here to discover what happened in the reign of King John