Why is King John always the villian in movies? Because he really was awful, say historiansHistorians in the News
Surrendering lands in France, forced into a humiliating climbdown with the nobility and ex-communicated by the Church. Not to mention being blamed for the murder of his nephew.
The medieval reign of King John has been characterised by disaster and his reputation languishes among the lowest for all the kings and queens of England.
This poor standing is illustrated by his persistently negative appearances in British cultural life 800 years on. Depictions on television, stage and big screen, particularly in Robin Hood films, usually present a man who is treacherous and weak.
In 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood, John (played by Claude Rains) is an overtaxing oppressor, while Disney's Robin Hood showed John as a cowardly lion sucking his thumb....
Make no mistake, he was a bad king, says John Hudson, of the Institute of Medieval Studies at the University of St Andrews.
"He was a very considerable failure as a king. He loses a large amount of possessions inherited, in particular lands in France, like Normandy and Anjou. He manages to surrender his realm to the pope and ends up facing a huge baronial rebellion, a civil war and a war with France. In terms of failures, he is one of the worst kings."...
...[I]t was the Victorians who made King John the pantomime villain he is today, says Paul Sturtevant, who is researching Hollywood depictions of the medieval period, at the University of Leeds.
"The Victorians used King John as a punchbag. Prior to the 18th and 19th Century, Robin Hood was not put in a historical place. It wasn't about the monarch at all, just Robin Hood and his adventures....
Most historians would agree he was quite a bad king but whether he was a caricature of evil is another question entirely, he says....
comments powered by Disqus
- Snopes debunks slavery Internet meme
- Revamped Chinese History Journal Welcomes Hard-Line Writers
- Poll: 3 Out of 5 Texan Trump Supporters Want Secession if Hillary Clinton Is Elected
- The Psychiatric Question: Is It Fair to Analyze Donald Trump From Afar?
- Minorities still feel Eugene, Oregon’s historical link to the Ku Klux Klan
- Ernst Nolte, Historian Whose Views on Hitler Caused an Uproar, Dies at 93
- Japan should give formal apology for wartime aggression, says historian
- Historian Benjamin Madley says what whites did to Indians in the 19th century in California was genocide.
- Kevin Baker says America needs to bring back political machines
- Covell Meyskens uses his blog to show what life was like under Mao. (Interview)