John Plantaganet, Lackland, born December 24, 1166, the youngest legitimate son of King Henry II. In 1185 Prince John was appointed King of Ireland, but before the end of 1186 he was driven from the Ireland and all was left in confusion.
. . . John Plantaganet, Lackland, King of England (1199-1216), the fifth and favorite son of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor, was born at Oxford on December 24, 1166, and he died at Newark Castle, Notts, October 19, 1216, and was buried at Worcester Cathedral.
He was named Lackland by his father because he was the youngest son, meaning he had little land inheritance.
He married on August 29, 1189 (1) Isabella (Hawisa), Countess of Gloucester, daughter of William, Earl of Gloucester, by whom he had no children. She was previously married to Hugh of Lusignan. John divorced her in 1199 after ten years of marriage and married (2) Isabella of Angouleme, daughter of Aymer (Adhemer) de Taillefer, Count of Angoulesme, the swordsmith, who died in 1246, who may possibly have descended from Taillefer, who was supposed to be the court jester of Duke William of Normandy, sister and heir of Amyer Taillefer, Earl of Angoulesme.
Henry of Huntington in his Chronicle states that Taillefer, who was supposed to be the jester of Duke William, before the armies closed for the fight at the Battle of Hastings, "sportively brandishing swords in front of the English troops, while they were lost in amazement at his gambols, slew one of their standard-bearers. A second time one of the enemy fell. The third time he was slain himself."
On the other hand Wace says that Taillefer called to Duke William, "A boon, sire. I have long served you and you owe me for all such service Today, so please you, you shall repay it. I ask as my guerdon and beseech you for it earnestly that you will allow me to strike the first blow in the battle." To which the Duke replied, "I grant it." Then Taillefer put his horse to a gallop, charging before all the rest.
Isabella was the mother of all his legal children, she was only 12-years of age when she was married. She married (2) Hugh X. of Lusignan, by whom she had the following children: Henry, Count of La Manche; William of Valence, died in 1269, father of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (1307-1324); Guy of Valence: Geoffrey of Lusignan; Aymer, Bishop of Winchester, died in 1280; and Alice le Brun, who married John de Warenne. Isabella died in 1246.
King John traveled extensively in England, as few of his predecessors had done, often dealing with mundane financial and legal matters. He reluctantly signed the Magna Charta, permitting basic rights to the barons and landowners, a landmark document in the history of western civilization. [Editor's Note: Of interest from a genealogical standpoint is the fact that the majority of barons opposed to King John all became common ancestors as the royal family and the baronial families intermarried in the following several generations. The specific baronial families who had signers of the Magna Carta are detailed in Volume II. of this genealogical record.]
According to the Plantaganet Chronicles, "John was a great prince but scarcely a happy one, experiencing the ups and downs of Fortune. He was munificent and liberal to outsiders but a plunderer of his own people, trusting strangers rather than his subjects, wherefore he was eventually deserted by his own men and, in the end, little mourned."
("The Genealogy of Homer Beers James", V1, JANDA Consultants, c 1993 Homer James)
John was the fourth and youngest son of Henry II. He was a skilled politician and forceful administrator, but one of England's most unpopular monarchs due to his cruelty and deceit. While Richard I was imprisoned abroad, in 1193 John vainly attempted to usurp the throne. He was banished, but soon reconciled and made his brother's heir. On Richard's death, John became king and imprisoned his young nephew Arthur of Brittany, a better claimant who soon died in prison. He married Isabella of Gloucester and then divorced her after his accession to the throne and married Isabella of Angouleme. John imposed crippling taxes and tightened the already severe forest laws, all to raise revenue for his war against the French. This war cost him Normandy and led to high inflation resulting in widespread poverty. He antagonised the Church bringing on an interdict from the Pope, and John himself was excommunicated. The whole population, high and low alike, were in a state of near rebellion. The barons drew up a document which they were intent upon John signing. This document was not a formal constitution but a practical statement that the King must respect institutional customs and law. On Monday 15th June 1215 King John reluctantly signed and sealed the document on the island of Runnymeade in the Thames. This was one of the most memorable events in English history, the document being known as the Magna Carta. Afterwards, John reverted to his bad old ways and Louis, son of the French King, was invited to replace him. Louis entered London unopposed in May 1216 and civil war began to flame. Fortunately for England, John died of dysentry on Wednesday 19th October 1216 at Newark after losing the crown jewels in the Wash. During John's reign, in 1212, London Bridge caught fire and and over 3,000 were killed by the flames or drowning.