Last updated: September 12, 2019
Topic: FamilyChildren
Sample donated:

I think that even though he was good at some points during his reign and at other times thoroughly terrible, he was mainly unlucky. He was unlucky on a number of occasions, most caused by the Pope. The Pope wanted to out-rule John. John realised this and in 1205, he got involved in a dispute with Pope Innocent II. They then had a disagreement over who should become archbishop. So in 1208, the Pope punished John by passing a law called an interdict. This meant that all christenings, marriages and burials were forbidden. Also all church services were banned.

This created an enormous problem for John as the whole country was devoted to Christianity. They believed that those who did not attend church were destined for hell and they hated John for jeopardising their destiny. Then, to make matters even more disastrous, john was ex-communicated, meaning that he would himself go to hell. Eventually, in 1213 John gave in to the Pope. Now that his quarrels with the Pope had come to an end, John needed to regain popularity amongst his own people and that caused yet another problem.

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John was not a good fighter. So much so, that he earned the name ‘soft sword’. The people at the time worshipped anyone who could win wars and gain land and therefore John failed once more. So the king decided, even though he was weak in battle, to go to war with France, to regain lost land. In doing so, he had to increase the taxes to fund the war. Having raised enough money from his people (who he was still yet to impress), he went to battle. He then, inevitably, lost and had to pay out ?40,000.

He then had another go and lost another ?40,000 and was forced to sign the Magna Carta. However in some people’s opinion this was bad ruling rather than bad luck. One of the main reasons he was a bad king was because of his ruthless punishments. As noted by J. R. Green “His punishments were cruel: the starvation of children, the crushing of old men under copes of lead. His court was a brothel where no woman was safe from the royal lust. He scoffed at priests. Foul as it is, Hell itself is defiled by the fouler presence of King John. He also banished the blind and crippled from the country. Even though he had all these bad points, he must have had a good side. Mustn’t he? King John wasn’t all bad, he may have punished people in ways that are unimaginable and being a hapless ruler, but some may say that he tried his best to be good.

The best evidence of this comes from an order from John to an English city “We commit the Jews dwelling in your city to your charge; if anyone attempts to harm them always protect and assist them. This shows that John cared for those that others chose to ignore. However good or bad John was, he was mainly unlucky. Some say that it was his badness that caused the fall out with the Pope, but it originally stemmed from the Pope wanting to overpower him and that couldn’t have been his fault. Furthermore, he cannot be blamed for his lack of swordsmanship and ability to rule. So that is why I conclude that King John was an unlucky monarch.