|Title||:||The Maligned Monarch: A life of King John of England|
|Number of Pages||:||428 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Maligned Monarch: A life of King John of England Reviews
I read this book because Phyllis Ann Karr mentioned it in an afterword to The Gallows in the Greenwood. I was very interested in seeing a re-evaluation of King John.The author begins by telling me what I already knew--that Richard the Lion Hearted wasn't really much of a king. When I read the chapter about Richard's military adventures, I came to the conclusion that he wasn't much of a military leader either. It looked like he consistently made the wrong decisions. Since both his parents were intelligent, I wonder if he suffered a head injury during some jousting practice that scrambled his brains.Lloyd's portrait of John is complex. He neither idealizes John nor demonizes him. He was very much the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had their gifts and their flaws. I found Lloyd's analysis of the Magna Carta crisis and its causes illuminating. I felt that there were actually a number of astonishing parallels to the current political situation in Washington DC.As a Robin Hood fan, I will now have to relinquish the King John of the conventional Robin Hood stories that I grew up with. That King John was a caricature of villainy. The real King John was a human being which is far more interesting.
Lloyd seeks to redeem the much-hated King John in this highly engaging biography. His argument is essentially that 1) John isn’t as bad as he’s been made out to be, and 2) Even if he was that bad, other kings of the time were just as awful. Although Lloyd’s second point is convincing, his first argument isn’t as strong. An example I can find right off: “For one whose basically peaceful disposition had earned from the English barons the disparaging sobriquet ‘Softsword,’ John had so far proved a remarkably capable commander” (115). There’s very little in the record of John’s character or exploits to convince me that he was either a capable general or a man of a peaceful disposition. In fact, Lloyd’s interpretation of events is so determinedly generous in John’s favor that I can’t help wondering at times if the book wasn’t written in jest. But the book is very well written, with fascinating stories and clear handling of the extremely complex shifting political arrangements of the time.
Looking at the picture of King John pouting, I can’t decide if the cover art is awful or dead on accurate.But cover art aside, the book is a very well done biography of King John the often overlooked. Alan Lloyd’s main goal is to place King John within the context of his time and, more importantly, his family, who were all in desperate need of behavioral therapy. It’s an old rule of thumb – you can be a parent, or you can run a country, you can’t be both.So, he outlines John’s extended family, but makes sure to place him within it – always mentioning where John was while talking about his other family members, to make sure he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle in his own darned biography, which can often happen when you seek to write a biography about a lesser known member of a famous family – i.e. Anne Boleyn getting more ink than Mary in a biography allegedly about Mary Boleyn. A solid biography of John of England, giving equal time to the “maligned” king and the country he ruled.
Great read for minor history buffs! A reminder that there a many sides to a story!