John Lackland was born to King Henry II and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitane in December, 1166; he was the youngest of five sons. However, he unexpectedly became the favored heir to his father after a failed rebellion by his older brothers in 1173. He became king in 1199, though his reign was tumultuous and short. After a brief peace with Phillip II of France, war broke out again in 1202 and King John lost most of his holdings on the continent. This, coupled with unpopular fiscal policies and treatment of nobles back home, led to conflict upon his return from battle. Buffeted from all sides, King John was pushed in 1215 to sign along with his barons the Magna Carta, a precursor to constitutional governance. But both sides failed to uphold the agreements terms and conflict quickly resumed, leading to John’s untimely death a year later to dysentery.
Pitched at newcomers to the subject, 1215 and All That will explain how King John’s rule and, in particular, his signing of the Magna Carta changed England—and the English—forever, introducing readers to the early days of medieval England. It is the third book in the acclaimed A Very, Very Short History of England series, which captures the major moments of English history with humor and bite.
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About the Author
Ed West is the recently appointed associate director of UK2020, a British policy think tank. Before that, Ed was deputy editor of the Catholic Herald and a frequent contributor to the Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Daily Express, and the Guardian. He is a popular British twitter personality and blogs for the Spectator. He currently lives in London.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Henry I's Charter 1
Chapter 2 The Family from Hell 7
Chapter 3 Twelve Angry Men 21
Chapter 4 A Lowborn Cleric 29
Chapter 5 The War without Love 43
Chapter 6 The Lionheart and the Crusades 59
Chapter 7 A King's Ransom 73
Chapter 8 Stealing from the Rich 81
Chapter 9 Not as Bad as Hitler or Stalin 89
Chapter 10 John vs. God 105
Chapter 11 The Northerners 117
Chapter 12 No Freeman Shall Be Arrested 127
Chapter 13 Parliament 139
Chapter 14 The Legacy of Magna Carta 153
Chapter 15 Magna Carta Today 161