John Lackland

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Related to John Lackland: Magna Carta, Henry III
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

John Lackland


Born Dec. 24, 1167, in Oxford; died Oct. 19, 1216, in Newark. English king (ruled from 1199) of the Plantagenet dynasty. John was the youngest son of Henry II and was nicknamed Lackland because unlike his older brothers he was not given any lands in France.

As a result of an unsuccessful war with France (1202–04) John lost a considerable part of England’s possessions on the Continent. In 1207 he came into open confrontation with Pope Innocent III over his refusal to recognize the new archbishop of Canterbury appointed by the pope. After Innocent laid an interdict on England in 1208 and excommunicated John the following year, the latter completely submitted to the pope in 1213 and acknowledged himself as the pope’s vassal. The fiscal and political pressure that John exerted against the important feudal lords (barons) coupled with his openly arbitrary way of ruling and his unsuccessful foreign policy brought about a baronial rebellion in England in 1215. The rebellion was supported by the knights and the townspeople who were dissatisfied with the sharp increase in taxes. John was thus forced to sign the Magna Carta. After his refusal to abide by the charter the barons started a war against him in 1216, during the course of which he died.


Petrushevskii, D.M. Ocherki iz istorii anglisskogo gosudarstva i obshchestva v srednie veka, 4th ed. Moscow, 1937.
Petit-Dutaillis, C. Feodal’naia monarkhiia vo Frantsii i v Anglii X–XIII vv. Moscow, 1938. (Translated from French.)


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