John "Lackland" King of England
Aged: 48.8 years
Called John Lackland. Also Lord of Ireland, and Count of Mortain, best known for signing the Magna Carta. Henry II provided for the eventual inheritance of his lands by his older sons before John was born. By 1186, however, only Richard I, the Lion-Hearted, and John were left as Henry's heirs. In 1189, as Henry neared death, John joined Richard's rebellion against their father, and when Richard was crowned, he gave John many estates and titles. John tried but failed to usurp the Crown while Richard was away on the Third Crusade: Upon returning to England, Richard forgave him. When his brother died in 1199, John became king. A revolt ensued by the supporters of Arthur of Brittany, the son of John's brother, Geoffrey. Arthur was defeated and captured in 1202, and John is believed to have had him murdered. King Philip II of France continued Arthur's war until John had to surrender nearly all his French possessions in 1204. In 1207 John refused to accept the election of Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury. Pope Innocent III then excommunicated him and began negotiating with Philip for an invasion of England. Desperate, John surrendered England to the pope and in 1213 received it back as a fief. Trying to regain his French possession, he was decisively defeated by Philip in 1214. John's reign had become increasingly tyrannical; to support his wars he had extorted money, raised taxes, and confiscated properties. His barons finally united to force him to respect their rights and privileges. John had little choice but to sign the Magna Carta presented to him by his barons at Runnymede in 1215, making him subject, rather than superior, to the law. Shortly afterward John and the barons were at war. He died while still pursuing the campaign, and was succeeded by his son, Henry III.