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King John.

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King John.

(1166 -1216)

King John stayed at Carrickfergus castle County Antrim from the 19th to the 28th July 1210 after taking it by siege, from some of Hugh de Lacy's knights, de Lacy had previously fled to Scotland. The image below depicts he perhaps a little unfairly, in a distinctly un regal pose on the loo. Although a king he was like us all a mortal, and a call of nature must be answered.

John is represented by some chroniclers, as a bad king, the public seem to perceive him similarly, the latter perhaps a legacy of the Errol Flynn movies and the Television series about Robin Hood. Matthew Paris writing in 1250's some thirty odd years after John's death, and taking his source from his predecessor Roger of Wendover, Paris stated "foul as it is, hell itself is defiled by the fouler presence of John".

The only chronicler that had actually met John then a youth of nineteen was Gerald Cambresis, he wrote.

"Caught in the toils and snared by the temptations of unstable and dissolute youth, he was as wax to receive the impressions of evil, but hardened against those who would have warned of its danger; compliant to the fancy of the moment; more given to luxurious ease than to warlike exercises to enjoyment than to endurance, to vanity than to virtue"

Similar sentiments are expressed almost daily of teenager, the world over, by old men who have conveniently forgotten their own follies of youth.

Part of this negative attitude to King John was perhaps due to his dispute with Pope Innocent III over the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury. (1208 Interdict proclaimed). The imposition Cannon Law and authority of Roman Church remained a contentious issue until Henry VIII declared himself head of the church of England, in a fit of pique over his divorce from Katherine of Aragon. England became a Protestant country as a result of a whim not of intellectual debate This is not to discount the efforts of William Tyndal who's translation of the Bible into English aroused the enmity of Thomas More. Tyndal was illegally captured and executed, More however was to suffer the same fate shortly after.

Richard the Lion Heart elder brother of John, ruled England for ten years, during this time he spent a mere ten months actually in England, the remainder when not on crusade in the holy land, he is alleged to have been engaged in debauchery in the castles of France. Given this fact it seems strange that his imposing statue sitting astride a war horse should be placed outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

See King John in History.

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