John Lackland, King of England

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John Lackland Plantagenet (KingJohnofEngland), King of England

Also Known As: "Johan sanz Terre", "Lackland", "Softsword", "Sans Terre", "Sword of Lat", "Soft-sword", "John (John I) "Lackland", "Soft Sword", "King of England""
Birthplace: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England
Death: Died in Newark Castle, Newark, Nottinghamshire, England
Place of Burial: Plot: The Quire, Worcester Cathedral, Worcester, Worcestershire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry II, King of England; Henry Plantagenet; Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and England and Eleanor Plantagenet
Husband of Isabelle d'Angoulême, Queen consort of England
Ex-husband of Isabel Avise FitzWilliam FitzRobert, Countess of Gloucester
Partner of Clementia le Boteler, Concubine of John "Lackland"; Agatha de Ferrers; ? Unknown de Warenne, Concubine #1 of John "Lackland" of England; Clementia Pinel Concubine #2 of John "Lackland" of England; Hawise De Tracy, of John "Lackland" and 2 others
Father of Henry III of England; Richard Plantagenet, 1st Earl of Cornwall / "King of the Romans"; Joan of England, Queen Consort of Scotland; Isabella of England, Holy Roman Empress; Eleanor of Leicester, Countess of Pembroke & Leicester and 11 others
Brother of William IX, Count of Poitiers; Henry "The Young King", King of England; Matilda Plantagenet, Duchess of Saxony; Richard "the Lionheart", King of England; Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and 3 others
Half brother of Hugh Plantagenet, Bishop of Wells; Geoffrey of Plantagenet, Archbishop of York; William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury; Peter Plantagenet, Archdeacon of Lincoln; Rosamond FitzHenry and 3 others

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About John Lackland, King of England

alternate birth location details

Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

several sources also give his birth year as 1167

other possible death date ; 19 October 1216


a short summary from tudorplace website (since it does give the most "wide" summary I could find);

JOHN I "Lackland" PLANTAGENET (King of England)

Born: 24 Dec 1166, Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England

Acceded: 27 May 1199, Westminster Abbey, London, England

Died: 18/9 Oct 1216, Newark Castle, Newark, Nottinghamshire

Buried: Worcester Cathedral

Notes: Signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede, 1215. Reigned 1199-1216. His reign saw renewal of war with Phillip II Augustus of France to whom he has lost several continental possesions including Normandy by 1205. He came into conflict with his Barons and was forced to Sign the Magna Carta. His later repudiation of the charter led to the first barons war 1215-17 during which John died. Burke says he was born in 1160. King of Ireland 1177, Count of Mortain 1189, Earl of Gloucester. It is known that Agatha Ferrers was a mistress of John, but it is only supposition that she is the mother of Joan.

Father: HENRY II PLANTAGENET (King of England)

Mother: Eleanor of Aquitaine

Married 1: Isabella FITZRICHARD (C. Gloucester) 29 Aug 1189, Marlborough Castle, Wiltshire Divorce 1199

Married 2: Isabella of Angoulême (b. 1189 - d. 31 May 1246) (dau. of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angoulême, and Alice De Courtenay) 24 Jun/Aug 1200, Bordeaux


1. HENRY III PLANTAGENET (King of England)

2. Richard PLANTAGENET (1º E. Cornwall)

3. Joan PLANTAGENET (Queen of Scotland)

4. Isabella PLANTAGENET (Empress of Germany)

5. Eleanor PLANTAGENET (C. Pembroke / C. Leicester)

Associated with: Agatha De FERRERS



Associated with: Clemence DAUNTSEY (wife of Henry Pinel)

Associated with: Suzanne PLANTAGENET


7. Richard FITZJOHN (B. Chilham)

Associated with: Hawise De TRACY



9. Osbert GIFFORD (d. AFT 1216)

10. Geoffrey FITZROY

11. John FITZROY of Courcy (Knight or Clerk of Lincoln) (d. 1242)

12. Eudo FITZROY (d. ABT 1242)


14. Henry FITZROY

15. Richard FITZROY (Constable Wallingford Castle)

16. Matilda PLANTAGENET (Abbess of Barking)

17. Blanche (Isabella) PLANTAGENET


Wikipedia Links:

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Citations / Sources:

[S4] C.F.J. Hankinson, editor, DeBretts Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 147th year (London, U.K.: Odhams Press, 1949), page 20 . Hereinafter cited as DeBretts Peerage, 1949.

[S7] #44 Histoire de la maison royale de France anciens barons du royaume: et des grands officiers de la couronne (1726, reprint 1967-1968), Saint-Marie, Anselme de, (3rd edition. 9 volumes. 1726. Reprint Paris: Editions du Palais Royal, 1967-1968), FHL book 944 D5a; FHL microfilms 532,231-532,239., vol. 1 p. 474, vol. 6 p. 77.

[S8] Les Capétiens, 987-1328 (2000), Van Kerrebrouck, Patrick, (Villeneuve-d'Ascq [France]: P. Van Kerrebrouck, 2000), FHL book 929.244 C171v., p. 453.

[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), pages 65-66, 71. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Families.

[S13] #379 [7th edition, 1992] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, Who Came to America Before 1700: the Lineage of Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and Some of Their Descendants (7th edition, 1992), Weis, Frederick Lewis, (7th edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, c1992), FHL book 974 D2w 1992., p. 3 line 1:26.

[S17] Plantagenet Ancestry, 2011 ed., Richardson, Douglas, (Kimball G. Everingham, editor, 2nd edition, 2011.), vol. 1 p. 23, 25.

[S18] Matthew H.C.G., editor, Dictionary of National Biography on CD-ROM (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1995). Hereinafter cited as Dictionary of National Biography.

[S22] #374 The Lineage and Ancestry of H. R. H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (1977), Paget, Gerald, (2 volumes. Baltimore: Geneal. Pub., 1977), FHL book Q 942 D22pg., vol. 1 p. 15, 17.

[S23] #849 Burke's Guide to the Royal Family (1973), (London: Burke's Peerage, c1973), FHl book 942 D22bgr., p. 195.

[S32] #150 [1879-1967] A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage, Together with Memoirs of the Privy Councillors and Knights (1879-1967), Burke, Sir John Bernard, (London: Harrison, 1879-1967), FHL book 942 D22bup., 1949 ed. preface p. ccliii.

[S37] #93 [Book version] The Dictionary of National Biography: from the Earliest Times to 1900 (1885-1900, reprint 1993), Stephen, Leslie, (22 volumes. 1885-1900. Reprint, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993), FHL book 920.042 D561n., vol. 29 p. 402-416.

[S39] Medieval, royalty, nobility family group sheets (filmed 1996), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Department. Medieval Family History Unit, (Manuscript. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1996), FHL film 1553977-1553985..

[S40] Handbook of British Chronology (1986), Fryde, E. B., editor, (Royal Historical Society guides and handbooks, no. 2. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1986), FHL book 942 C4rg no. 2., p. 37.

[S54] #21 The complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct, or dormant, Cokayne, George Edward, (Gloucester [England] : Alan Sutton Pub. Ltd., 1987), 942 D22cok., vol. 3 p. 29, 430.

[S69] #2251 The Royal Bastards of Medieval England (1984), Given-Wilson, Chris and Alice Curteis, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), FHL book 942 D5g., p. 127.

[S70] The Henry Project, Baldwin, Stewart, (,

[S71] Domesday Descendants, Keats-Rohan, K.S.B., (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2002), 942 D3kk., p. 231.

[S81] #125 The Royal Daughters of England and Their Representatives (1910-1911), Lane, Henry Murray, (2 voulmes. London: Constable and Co., 1910-1911), FHL microfilm 88,003., p. 58, 158.

[S84] Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Richardson, Douglas, (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21202, copyright 2004), p. xxviii.

[S96] Henry II (1973), Warren, Wilfred Lewis, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), JWML book DA206 W37 1973., p. 137.

[S266] #379 [7th edition, 1992] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, Who Came to America Before 1700 (7th edition, 1992), Weis, Frederick Lewis, (7th edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, c1992), FHL book 974 D2w 1992., p. 106 line 117:27, p. 134 line 153:28.

[S338] Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (2004), Richardson, Douglas, edited by Kamball G. Everingham, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004), FHL book 942 D5rd., p. xxviii.

[S347] Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth-century Colonists: the Descent from the Later Plantagenet Kings of England, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III, of Emigrants from England and Wales to the North American Colonies Before 1701 (2nd ed., 1999), Faris, David, (2nd edition. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999), FHL book 973 D2fp., p. 279 PLANTAGENET:16. -------------------- The Early Life of John

When John, the last child of the great Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine was born on Christmas Eve, 1167 at Beaumont Palace in Oxfordshire, his father jokingly nick-named him Sans Terre or Lackland, as there was no land left to give him. It seems ironic then, that John Lackland was eventually to inherit the entire Angevin Empire.

A born cynic, with a puckish sense of humour, feckless, treacherous and entirely without scruple, he was possessed of some of the restless energy of his father and was prone to the same violent rages but unlike his father, John was unstable and cruel and a thoroughly flawed character. His deep distrust of others sometimes verged on paranoia. After eight hundred years, John remains the maverick of the House of Plantagenet.

Originally brought up for a career in the church, he had been placed at the Abbey of Fontevrault in Anjou, as an oblate, while still in early childhood, to which the young John reacted rebeliously. He was educated by Ranulf de Glanvill, his father's Chief Justiciar. Henry II hoped to improve his youngest son's prospects, by betrothing him, at the age of nine, to a wealthy heiress, his second cousin, Isabella of Gloucester. Isabella was the granddaughter of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the illegitimate son of Henry I. The couple were duly married when John was 21 but the marriage failed to produce children.

Henry II attempted to make his favourite son King of Ireland. The adolescent John and his companions alienated the Irish chieftains who came to pay him homage, mocking their clothes and pulling their beards, resulting in rebellion against his rule and he was forced to leave Ireland. A fickle character, in his youth John conspired against both his father and his brother Richard for his own gain. During Richard's absence on the Third Crusade, John had attempted to overthrow his justicar, William Longchamp. In the course of returning from his crusade, Richard was captured by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, and imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI. England had to raise a huge ransom for the return of its king. On his release in 1194, Richard readily forgave his younger brother for plotting his overthrow.

John's appearance

In appearance, John was nothing like his tall and majestic brother Richard. He was five feet five inches in height, as opposed to Richard's six feet four inches. Although his height may be considered short by modern standards, it was not considered so in his own time, when men were considerably shorter. He was stockily built as his father had been. He is reputed to have spent a fortune on rich clothing and jewels.


John succeeded to the throne at the age of thirty-two, on the death of Richard the Lionheart in 1199. Arthur of Brittany, the son of his deceased elder brother, Geoffrey, had an arguably better claim, but Richard was reported to have announced John his heir on his deathbed. John acted promptly, siezing the royal treasury at Chinon. His coronation took place on Ascension Day, 1199. The shrewd Phillip Augustus, in accordance with his policy of weakening the Angevin Empire by creating division amongst the Plantagenets, supported Arthur's claim and attacked Normandy.

John incurred further opposition through his infatuation with Isabella of Angouleme, the twelve year old daughter of Count Aymer of Angouleme and Alix de Courtenay. She had been betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan, although the marriage had been delayed because of her extreme youth. The unprincipled John stole the enchanting Isabella from under Hugh's very nose.

His first marriage to Isabella of Gloucester had been declared invalid, since they were related within the prohibited degrees. Hugh de Lusignan, incensed, joined forces with Phillip and Arthur, forming a coalition against the King of England. It was said that John was so besotted with his young bride that he refused to rise from bed until well after noon.

The Rebellion of Arthur of Britanny

True to his policy of causing dissension amongst the Angevins, Phillip Augustus recognised Arthur's claim in May 1200 Treaty of Le Goulet. In attempt to take Anjou and Maine, the teenage Arthur of Brittany besieged his octagenarian grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, at Mirabeau. Eleanor sent an urgent message for aid to her son John and succeeded in drawing out the negotiations for as long as possible. John responded with uncharacteristic speed and came to her rescue, in the process taking both Arthur and Hugh prisoner. Arthur was imprisoned at Falaise Castle in Normandy.

King John attempted to make peace with his young nephew, on a visit to Rouen in 1203, he promised Arthur honours if he would separate himself from Phillip Augustus and adopt his uncle's cause. Arthur, proud, indignant and unbowed by his imprisonment, responded by demanding his rightful inheritance and unwisely warned John that he would never give him a moments peace for the rest of his life. 

John "much troubled", responded by ordered him to be blinded and castrated, an order which Hubert de Burgh, Arthur's custodian, refused to carry out. By late 1203 rumours were circulating that the young Duke was dead. Phillip, seeing an opportunity to create further trouble, demanded that Arthur be produced. It appears that by this time Arthur was already dead, said to have been killed by John himself in a drunken rage. A contemporary chronicler states 'After King John had captured Arthur and kept him alive in prison in the castle of Rouen....When John was drunk and possessed by the devil, he slew (Arthur) with his own hand and tying a heavy stone to the body, cast it into the Seine.'

John also imprisoned Arthur's sister, Eleanor, known as the Fair Maid of Brittany. She was to remain a prisoner for the rest of her life. She died in 1241, during the long reign of John's son, Henry III.

The Loss of the Angevin Empire

Guy de Lusignan, the slighted fiancee of Isabella of Angouleme had sought redress from his overlord Phillip Augustus, who promptly summoned John to the French court to answer for his actions. John refused to comply and accordingly, Phillip, acting under feudal law, claimed those territories ruled by John as Count of Poitou and declaring all John's French territories except Gascony forfeit, he invaded Normandy. Chateau Gaillard, Richard's impregnable castle, fell to the French after a long siege in 1203, it was followed by the rest of Normandy. John, his resources exhausted, was forced to flee the smoking rubble of his father's once great French Empire.

Eleanor of Aquitaine entered the Abbey of Fontevrault, where she took the veil. She died there on 1st April, 1204, aged eighty-two, a remarkable age for the time. Eleanor had slipped into a coma, according to the annals of Fontevrault she 'existed as one already dead to the world'. She was buried at Fontevrault beside the tombs of the husband who had imprisoned her and whom she had hated and her beloved and favourite son, Richard.

Welsh Affairs

In 1205 whilst he was fighting to recover his French territories, the King married his illegitimate daughter, Joan, then aged around fifteen, to Llywelyn the Great, or Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of Gwynedd (circa 1173-1240) An astute political manipulator, Llywelyn then did homage to John for all his Welsh possesions. Joan was John's daughter by a mistress known only as Clemence.

In 1209 Prince Llywelyn accompanied John on his campaign into Scotland. Llywelyn went on to steadily increase his influence in Wales and conquered southern Powys in 1208. John became concerned at the growth of his son-in-law's power and viewed it as a theat to his own authority in the province. When Llywelyn attacked the lands of the Earl of Chester in 1210, John threw his support behind the latter.

The king marched into Wales with an army, receiving the support of many of the other Welsh princes, he marched toward Deganwy. Llywelyn's army employed the classic guerilla tactic of retreating to the hills, and taking the supplies with them. John had made no provision for supplying Deganwy Castle by sea, and was therefore forced to return to England or face starvation.

John returned to Wales within three months, with a well provisioned army, crossing the River Conway, he encamped on the Menai Strait, penetrating deep into the heart of Gwynedd. Llywellyn sent his wife, Joan, John's daughter, to sue for peace. The king imposed humiliating terms on his son-in-law, and annexed the area of North Wales known as the Four Cantrefs, installing Gerard d'Athée and two other mercenary captains into the southern marches.

Llywelyn capitalized on growing Welsh resentment against John, and led a revolt against him, which received the blessing of Pope Innocent III. By 1212 Llywelyn had regained the Perfeddwlad and burned a castle erected by John at Ystwyth.

Llywelyn's revolt delayed John's planned invasion of France, Llywelyn formed an alliance with John's enemy, King Phillip Augustus of France, later allying himself himself with the discontented English barons who were in rebellion against him. In 1215 he marched on Shrewsbury and captured the town with little resistance. Over the following three years Llywelyn extended his power base into South Wales, becoming without doubt the single most powerful figure in Wales. 

John's daughter, Joan died in 1237 at Garth Celyn and Llywelyn suffered a paralytic stroke later in the same year. He died at the Cistercian Abbey of Aberconwy, his own foundation, on 11th April, 1240 and was buried there. His stone coffin was later removed to the parish church of Llanwrst, where it can still be seen.

Magna Carta

The King turned his attention to administration and justice in England, having inherited some of his famous father's administrative ability and restless energy. Pope Innocent III was annoyed at John's interference in the election of an Archbishop of Canterbury in 1205, a quarrel ensued, resulting in England being placed under an interdict, no church services could be held for six years. In 1209, the difficult John himself was excommunicated. The English barons were entering into plots against him, and John wisely made peace with the Pope. In May, 1213 he agreed to hold England as a fief of the papacy.

Eventually, John was met with the full force of his baron's grievances, they demanded their "ancient liberties" and the renewal of Henry I's Coronation Charter.

Faced with an armed revolt which may have cost him his kingdom, the king was forced into compliance. At Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15th June 1215, he signed the historic Magna Carta or Great Charter. The Charter curtailed royal power in matters of taxation, justice, religion and foreign policy.

The Death of John

Disputes with the barons, however, continued and they again rose in rebellion, they incurred the aid of Phillip Augustus of France, who sent his son, the Dauphin Louis (later Louis VIII), to attack England in support of the barons. While retreating before this incursion, King John attempted to avoid East Anglia, which was rebel territory and safely negotiated a route around the Wash, his baggage train, however, famously lost his treasure, including the Crown Jewels, in The Wash, due to an unexpected incoming tide.

Aggrieved and depressed at the loss, mourning his ill fortune and suffering severely from dysentery, he was carried to Newark Castle in a litter and a physician was sent for. He consoled himself with a "surfeit of peaches". John's condition worsened rapidly and he died at Newark on the wild stormy night of 18th October, 1216, leaving England in a state of anarchy and civil war. Rumours abounded at the time that the king had been poisoned. Matthew Paris was later to comment that "Foul as it is, Hell itself is defiled by the presence of John". Despite his obvious failings, evidence exists that John was not as bad as his posthumous reputation would seem to suggest.

King John was buried at Worcester Cathedral by the shrine of his favourite saint, the Saxon, St. Wulfstan, becoming the first of the Angevin kings to be buried in England. He was succeeded by his nine year old son who became Henry III. King Henry III later raised an effigy over his father's tomb.

When John's body was exhumed in 1797, he was found to have been buried in a damask robe and wearing gloves with a sword in his hands. The skeleton was measured at five feet, six inches and a half inches.

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John Lackland, King of England's Timeline

December 24, 1166
Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England

Born at Beaumont Palace, Oxford, John was the fifth son and last of eight children born to Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Some authors, noting Henry's stay at Woodstock, near Oxford, with Eleanor in March 1166, assert that John was born in that year, and not 1167.[4][5]

John was a younger maternal half-brother of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France, his mother's children by her first marriage to Louis VII of France, which was later annulled. He was a younger brother of William, Count of Poitiers; Henry the Young King; Matilda, Duchess of Saxony; Richard I of England; Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany; Leonora, Queen of Castile; and Joan, Queen of Sicily

March 31, 1167
Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
March 31, 1167
Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
March 31, 1167
Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
March 31, 1167
Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Age 6

In March 1173, aggrieved at his lack of power and egged on by his father's enemies, the younger Henry launched the Revolt of 1173–1174. He fled to Paris. From there 'the younger Henry, devising evil against his father from every side by the advice of the French King, went secretly into Aquitaine where his two youthful brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, were living with their mother, and with her connivance, so it is said, he incited them to join him'. The Queen sent her younger sons to France 'to join with him against their father the King'. Once her sons had left for Paris, Eleanor encouraged the lords of the south to rise up and support them. Sometime between the end of March and the beginning of May, Eleanor left Poitiers to follow her sons to Paris but was arrested on the way and sent to the King in Rouen. The King did not announce the arrest publicly. For the next year, her whereabouts were unknown. On 8 July 1174, Henry took ship for England from Barfleur. He brought Eleanor on the ship. As soon as they disembarked at Southampton, Eleanor was taken away either to Winchester Castle or Sarum Castle and held there.

Age 13
Age 17

The final battle between Henry's Princes came in 1184. Geoffrey of Brittany and John of Ireland, the youngest brothers, had been promised Aquitaine, which belonged to elder brother Richard. Geoffrey and John invaded, but Richard had been controlling an army for almost 10 years and was an accomplished military commander. Richard expelled his fickle brothers and they would never again face each other in combat, largely because Geoffrey died two years later, leaving only Richard and John.

Age 19
Chilham Castle, Kent, England