The New Student's Reference Work/John
John surnamed Lackland, king of England (1199–1216), was the youngest of the five sons of Henry II, and was born at Oxford on Dec. 24, 1167. John joined his brothers in their rebellion against his father, and knowledge of this ungrateful act hastened Henry’s death (1189). Richard I succeeded but died in 1199, choosing John as his successor. Arthur, the son of Geoffrey, was the rightful heir to the crown; but he was seized, imprisoned at Rouen, and soon put secretly to death. John proved an active king. He compelled William of Scotland to do him homage, put down a rebellion in Ireland, and subdued the independent prince of Wales. Not satisfied with these activities, he quarreled with the pope and confiscated the property of the church and clergy. The pope in return placed John’s kingdom under an interdict, and in 1212 deposed the king and Jave his subjects permission to revolt. John was compelled to submit to Rome and hold his kingdom as a dependent of the pope. The English barons were anxious to end the tyranny of John, and drew up a petition, which the king rejected. This was the signal for war. The army assembled at Stamford, and marched to London, led by the rebel barons. They met the king at Runnymede, and on June 15, 1215, he was forced to sign the Great Charter (Magna Charta), the basis of the English constitution. The pope soon refused to sanction the new charter, and war again broke out. The barons called upon the dauphin of France to be their leader, and Louis landed at Sandwich on May 21, 1216. In attempting to cross the Wash, John lost his regalia and treasures; was taken sick; and died at Newark Castle on Oct. 19, 1216, in the 49th year of his age. See the histories by Pearson, Green and Stubbs; The Early Plantagenets in the Epochs of Modern History Series; and Norgate’s England under the Angevin Kings.