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1167–1216, king of England (1199–1216), son of Henry IIHenry II,
1133–89, king of England (1154–89), son of Matilda, queen of England, and Geoffrey IV, count of Anjou. He was the founder of the Angevin, or Plantagenet, line in England and one of the ablest and most remarkable of the English kings.
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 and Eleanor of AquitaineEleanor of Aquitaine
, 1122?–1204, queen consort first of Louis VII of France and then of Henry II of England. Daughter and heiress of William X, duke of Aquitaine, she married Louis in 1137 shortly before his accession to the throne.
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Early Life

The king's youngest son, John was left out of Henry's original division of territory among his sons and was nicknamed John Lackland. He was, however, his father's favorite, and despite the opposition of his brothers (whose rebellion of 1173–74 was provoked by Henry's plans for John), he later received scattered possessions in England and France and the lordship of Ireland. His brief expedition to Ireland in 1185 was badly mismanaged.

Under Richard I

John deserted his dying father in 1189 and joined the rebellion of his brother Richard, who succeeded to the throne as Richard IRichard I,
 Richard Cœur de Lion
, or Richard Lion-Heart,
1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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 in the same year. The new king generously conferred lands and titles on John. After Richard's departure on the Third Crusade, John led a rebellion against the chancellor, William of LongchampLongchamp, William of
, d. 1197, chancellor and justiciar of England, bishop of Ely. After service with Geoffrey, duke of Brittany, he joined Richard (later Richard I) and John in their uprising (1189) against their father, Henry II.
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, had himself acknowledged (1191) temporary ruler and heir to the throne, and conspired with Philip IIPhilip II
or Philip Augustus,
1165–1223, king of France (1180–1223), son of Louis VII. During his reign the royal domains were more than doubled, and the royal power was consolidated at the expense of the feudal lords.
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 of France to supplant Richard on the throne. This plot was successfully thwarted by those loyal to Richard, including the queen mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Richard pardoned John's treachery.


Early Conflicts

On Richard's death, John ascended the English throne to the exclusion of his nephew, Arthur IArthur I,
1187–1203?, duke of Brittany (1196–1203?), son of Geoffrey, fourth son of Henry II of England and Constance, heiress of Brittany. Arthur, a posthumous child, was proclaimed duke in 1196, and an invasion by his uncle King Richard I of England was repulsed
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 of Brittany. The supporters of Arthur, aided by King Philip, began a formidable revolt in France. At this time John alienated public opinion in England by divorcing his first wife, Isabel of Gloucester, and made enemies in France by marrying Isabel of Angoulême, who had been betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan. In 1202, Arthur was defeated and captured, and it is thought that John murdered him in 1203. Philip continued the war and gradually gained ground until by 1206 he was in control of Normandy, Anjou, Brittany, Maine, and Touraine. John had lost all his French dominions except Aquitaine and a part of Poitou, which was a critical factor in his subsequent unpopularity.

The death (1205) of John's chancellor, Hubert WalterWalter, Hubert,
d. 1205, English archbishop and statesman. He was clerk to his uncle, Ranulf de Glanvill, and in 1186 he was made dean of York. In 1189 he was appointed bishop of Salisbury, and he accompanied Richard I on crusade in 1190.
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, archbishop of Canterbury, not only removed a moderating influence on the king but precipitated a crisis with the English church. John refused (1206) to accept the election of Stephen LangtonLangton, Stephen,
c.1155–1228, English prelate, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was educated at Paris. Innocent III named him cardinal in 1206, and he became archbishop of Canterbury the following year.
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 as Walter's successor at Canterbury, and as a result Pope Innocent IIIInnocent III,
b. 1160 or 1161, d. 1216, pope (1198–1216), an Italian, b. Anagni, named Lotario di Segni; successor of Celestine III. Innocent III was succeeded by Honorius III.
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 placed (1208) England under interdict and excommunicated (1209) the king. The quarrel continued until 1213 when John, threatened by the danger of a French invasion and by increasing disaffection among the English barons, surrendered his kingdom to the pope and received it back as a papal fief.

The Magna Carta

John's submission to the pope improved his situation. Now backed by the pope, he formed an expedition to wage war on Philip in Poitou. However, while John was at La Rochelle, his allies, Holy Roman Emperor Otto IVOtto IV,
1175?–1218, Holy Roman emperor (1209–15) and German king, son of Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony. He was brought up at the court of his uncle King Richard I of England, who secured his election (1198) as antiking to Philip of Swabia after the death of Holy
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 (his nephew) and the count of Flanders, were decisively beaten by Philip at Bouvines in 1214. John had resorted to all means to secure men and money for his Poitou campaign, and after returning home he attempted to collect scutagescutage
, feudal payment, usually in cash, given in lieu of actual military service due from a vassal to an overlord. It applied especially to the vassals of the king. Scutage collection increased noticeably in the later 12th cent.
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 from the barons who had refused to aid him on the expedition.

Abuses of feudal customs and extortion of money from the barons and the towns, not only by John but by Henry II and Richard I, had aroused intense opposition, which increased in John's unfortunate reign. The barons now rose in overwhelming force against the king, and John in capitulation set his seal on the Magna CartaMagna Carta
or Magna Charta
[Lat., = great charter], the most famous document of British constitutional history, issued by King John at Runnymede under compulsion from the barons and the church in June, 1215.
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 at Runnymede in June, 1215. Thus, the most famous document of English constitutional history was the fruit of predominantly baronial force.

John, supported by the pope, gathered forces and renewed the struggle with the barons, who sought the aid of Prince Louis of France (later Louis VIIILouis VIII,
1187–1226, king of France (1223–26), son and successor of King Philip II. He fought (1215, 1219) against the Albigenses in S France. Invited by English lords in rebellion against their king, John, to become king of England, he invaded (1216) England,
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). In the midst of this campaign John died, and his son, Henry III, was left to carry on the royal cause.

Character and Influence

John, though often cruel and treacherous, was an excellent administrator, much concerned with rendering justice among his subjects. The basic cause of his conflicts with the barons was not that he was an innovator in trying to wield an absolute royal power, but that in so doing he ignored and contravened the traditional feudal relationship between the crown and the nobility. The modern hostile picture of John is primarily the work of subsequent chroniclers, mainly Roger of WendoverRoger of Wendover,
d. c.1236, English chronicler, a monk of St. Albans. As historiographer of St. Albans, he began the Flores historiarum (see Matthew of Westminster), a general chronicle starting with the creation.
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 and Matthew of ParisMatthew of Paris
or Matthew Paris,
d. 1259, English historian, a monk of St. Albans. He became the historiographer of the convent after the death (c.1236) of Roger of Wendover.
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See biographies by K. Margate (1902, repr. 1970), J. T. Appleby (1958), W. L. Warren (1961, rev. ed. 1978), J. C. Holt (1963), and A. Lloyd (1972); A. L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087–1216 (2d ed. 1955); D. T. Curren-Aquino, ed., King John: New Perspectives (1988). King John is the central character in Shakespeare play of the same name.


in the Bible. 1 See John, SaintJohn, Saint,
one of the Twelve Apostles, traditional author of the fourth Gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation (see John, Gospel according to Saint; John, letters; Revelation); it is highly unlikely, however, that all five works were written by the same author.
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. 2 See John the BaptistJohn the Baptist, Saint,
d. c.A.D. 28–A.D. 30, Jewish prophet, considered by Christians to be the forerunner of Jesus. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who was also a kinswoman of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his birth was miraculously foretold.
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. 3 See Mark, SaintMark, Saint
[Lat. Marcus], Christian apostle, traditional author of the 2d Gospel (see Mark, Gospel according to). His full name was John Mark. His mother, named Mary, had a house in Jerusalem, which the Christians used as a meeting place. Mark accompanied St. Paul and St.
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. 4 In the Acts of the Apostles, one of the high priest's family. There are also several persons named John in the books of the MaccabeesMaccabees,
two books included in the Septuagint and placed as the last two books in the Old Testament of the Vulgate; they are not included in the Hebrew Bible and are placed in the Apocrypha in Protestant Bibles. First and Second Maccabees are both historical narratives.
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three letters of the New Testament. Traditionally, they are ascribed to John son of Zebedee, the disciple of Jesus. All three letters probably date to the end of the 1st cent. A.D., and may have been written as a corpus. First John is a homily. Owing much philosophically to the fourth Gospel, it was written on the occasion of a schism in the community. The schismatics claim to know God but do not live in fellowship with other believers, a contradiction according to the author. The writer takes issue with their apparent denial of the significance of the human reality of Jesus for his sacrifice for sin on the cross. The schismatics do not perceive that failure to love fellow believers is both a sin and a denial of their claim to know God. The necessity of love to reveal the authentic Christian is stressed throughout. In Second John, the author refers to himself as "elder" and is addressing some "elect lady," perhaps an allegorical title for a particular church. The letter warns against showing hospitality to false teachers who deny the historicity of Jesus. Third John is addressed to a certain Gaius of an unidentified church. It protests against the failure of Diotrephes, the leader of the church, who fails to receive itinerant teachers and missionaries in fellowship with the author and who does not acknowledge the authority of the letter-writer.


See R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John (1982); D. Moody Smith, First, Second, and Third John (1991).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



In Portugal:

John I. Born Apr. 11, 1357, in Lisbon; died there Aug. 14, 1433. He became king in 1385 and was founder of the Aviz dynasty.

The illegitimate son of the Portuguese king Pedro I, John was master of the Order of Aviz. Following the death of Ferdinand I in 1383 the Cortes selected John of Aviz as king and not the Castilian king, the other pretender to the Portuguese throne.

John I went on to solidify his authority, defeating the Castilian troops at Aljubarrota in August 1385 and thus securing Portugal’s independence from Castile. He sought to carry through a policy of centralization of the state, in the process using the service nobility and towns as a counterpoise to the feudal aristocracy. The conquest of Ceuta in 1415 initiated the policy of Portuguese expansion in Africa.

John II. Born May 3, 1455, in Lisbon; died Oct. 25, 1495, in Alvor. He became king in 1481. John II restricted the property and jurisdiction of the feudal nobility. A supporter of active expansion to lands beyond the seas, he contributed to the expeditions along the west coast of Africa (voyage of B. Diaz). At his initiative an agreement was concluded between Portugal and Spain (Treaty of Tordesillas, 1494) demarcating spheres of colonial conquest in the western hemi-sphere.

John IV. Born Mar. 19, 1604, in Vila Vigosa; died Nov. 6, 1656, in Lisbon. He became king in 1640 and was founder of the Braganza dynasty. From 1630 to 1640 he was duke of Braganza. John IV was elevated to the throne as a result of a general uprising of the Portuguese in 1640 that put an end to Spanish domination in Portugal. The Cortes recognized him as king in January 1641. In 1654 he succeeded in ousting the Dutch from Portuguese colonies in Brazil.

John VI. Born May 13, 1767, in Lisbon; died there Mar. 10, 1826. He became king in 1816. From 1799 to 1816 he was regent (he actually ruled the country from 1792 because his mother, Maria I, was mentally ill). A supporter of absolute monarchy, John VI was forced to maneuver between the liberals and absolutists. In foreign affairs he adhered to a pro-English line. In 1793 he joined the first anti-French coalition. With the invasion of Portugal by troops of Napoleon I in 1807, he went to Brazil. After his return to Lisbon he was forced in 1821 to recognize Portugal’s liberal constitution (it went into force in 1822). In 1825, John recognized Brazil’s independence.



Byzantine emperors. The most important are John I, John II, John III, and John VI.

John I Tzimisces.Born circa 925, in Hierapolis; died Jan. 10, 976, in Constantinople. Byzantine emperor from 969.

A member of the aristocratic Armenian Curcuasae family from Asia Minor, John I seized the throne as the result of a revolt by the aristocrats. He made a number of concessions to the Byzantine church, such as abolishing the antichurch legislation of Nicephorus II Phocas. He succeeded in driving the forces of the Kievan prince Sviatoslav out of Bulgaria (971) and in subjugating the northeastern part of Bulgaria. In 974–75 Byzantine armies occupied Tiberias and other Syrian cities. John I put down a revolt of the Byzantine feudal aristocracy, led by the Phocas family.


Istoriia Vizantii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1967. Chapters 7–8.

John II Comnenus.Born Sept. 13, 1087, in Constantinople; died 1143, in Cilicia. Byzantine emperor from 1118.

A member of the Comnenus dynasty, John II relied on the support of the feudal aristocracy but especially the support of the large Comnenus family and its vassals. He succeeded in defeating the Pechenegs (1122), Serbs (c. 1124), Hungarians (1129), and Seljuks (1135), smashing Cilician Armenia (c. 1136), and subjugating Antioch (1137). John IPs government carried out a reform of the navy, aimed at centralizing its administration.


Istoriia Vizantii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1967. Chapters 12–13.
Chalandon, F. Les Comnène, vol. 2. Paris, 1912.

John III Ducas Vatatzes.Born 1193, in Didmoteikhon, Thrace; died Nov. 3, 1254, in Nymphaeum. Emperor of the Nicaean Empire from 1222.

In his struggle against the Latin Empire, John III relied on the city dwellers and free peasantry in the mountainous regions of Asia Minor. By 1225 he had driven the Latins from almost all of their holdings in Asia Minor, as well as from Samos, Lesbos, and other islands. In 1235 he established himself in Thrace, allying himself with the Bulgarian tsar Ivan II Asen’. Thes-salonica recognized his sovereignty in 1242, and in December 1246 he entered the city without encountering opposition. In 1252 he forced the ruler of Epirus to become his vassal and to cede the lands of western Macedonia and Albanian Kruja to him. Under John Ill’s rule the Nicaean Empire became the strongest state on the Aegean Sea.


Istoriia Vizantii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967. Chapters 3–4.

John VI CantacuzeneBorn circa 1293, in Constantinople; died June 15, 1383, in Mistra. Byzantine emperor from 1341 to 1354.

During the reign of Andronicus III Palaeologus (1328–41), while he was grand domestic (commander in chief of the imperial armies), John concentrated all power in his hands and pursued a policy in the interests of the provincial aristocracy. After the death of Andronicus HI in 1341, he became regent for the young John V Palaeologus. In that same year he led a revolt against John V and was proclaimed emperor by the feudal magnates in October. In 1347 he seized Constantinople. John V was declared nominal coruler with John VI. In 1349, John VI put down the revolt of the Zealots. His domestic and foreign policies ran counter to the interests of the urban artisans, the merchants, and the entrepreneurs. In the struggles against his political opponents he relied on the help of the Ottoman Turks, allowing them to establish themselves on the European shore. General dissatisfaction with his rule forced John VI to abdicate, and in 1355 he became a monk.

John VPs History, which he wrote in a monastery, deals with the events of 1320–56, and despite its tendentiousness (in it, he seeks to justify his policies) it is one of the best works of late Byzantine historical writing. Its author, who stood at the center of the events he described, was very observant. Based on documents, the History contains much factual material.


Historiarum libri IV, vols. 1–3. Bonn, 1828–32.


Istoriia Vizantii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967. Chapter 9.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


disciple closest to Jesus. [N.T.: John]


the Baptist feels unworthy before Christ. [N.T.: Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16]


the Baptist foretells the coming of Jesus. [N.T.: Luke 3:16]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. New Testament
a. the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, identified with the author of the fourth Gospel, three epistles, and the book of Revelation. Feast day: Dec. 27 or Sept. 26
b. the fourth Gospel
c. any of three epistles (in full The First, Second, and Third Epistles of John)
2. known as John Lackland. 1167--1216, king of England (1199--1216); son of Henry II. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his brother Richard I, having previously tried to usurp the throne. War with France led to the loss of most of his French possessions. After his refusal to recognize Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury an interdict was imposed on England (1208--14). In 1215 he was compelled by the barons to grant the Magna Carta
3. called the Fearless. 1371--1419, duke of Burgundy (1404--19). His attempt to control the mad king Charles VI and his murder of the king's brother led to civil war: assassinated
4. Augustus (Edwin). 1878--1961, British painter, esp of portraits
5. Barry born 1945, Welsh Rugby Union footballer: halfback for Wales (1966--72) and the British Lions (1968--71)
6. Sir Elton (Hercules). original name Reginald Dwight. born 1947, British rock pianist, composer, and singer; his hits include "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (1973) and "Candle in the Wind 1997" (1997), a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales
7. Gwen, sister of Augustus John. 1876--1939, British painter, working in France: noted esp for her portraits of women
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
J John, St Mellons.We do not get value for money with the present level of council tax.
by Steve Edwards, Dr John, St David's Hall, Cardiff