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Marc Morris’s new bestseller: the definitive and brilliantly compelling biography of the treacherous and tyrannical King John. Published in the run-up to the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and written by a historian at the top of his game.

The brilliantly compelling new biography of the treacherous and tyrannical King John, published to coincide with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

King John is familiar to everyone as the villain from the tales of Robin Hood — greedy, cowardly, despicable and cruel. But who was the man behind the legend?

Drawing on contemporary chronicles and the king's own letters, bestselling historian Marc Morris brings the real John vividly to life. We see how a youngest son with limited prospects became the ruler of the greatest dominion in Europe, but at a terrible cost. His rise to power involved treachery, rebellion and murder, and his reign witnessed oppression on an almost unprecedented scale. It climaxed in conspiracy and revolt, and his leading subjects forced him to issue Magna Carta, a document binding him and his successors to behave better in future. John's rejection of the charter led to civil war and foreign invasion, bringing his life to a disastrous close.

Authoritative and dramatic, Marc Morris's King John offers a compelling portrait of an extraordinary man at a momentous turning point in the history of Britain and Europe.

Reviews

Fine, timely... jaunty, authoritative... Morris has already proven himself as a 13th-century royal biographer - his study of Edward I is a modern classic. He is on form here, too. His split-chronology approach to John’s life before and after the loss of Normandy highlights just how disastrous it was for the king’s reign and reputation.

DAN JONES, Sunday Times

Outstanding ... This is by far the best book on the monarch’s reign since W L Warren’s trail-blazing biography, King John, written in 1961 – with the literary bravura of which Morris’ book may not unfavourably be compared.

BBC History Magazine

An excellent and sardonic new biography of King John. It will delight all who enjoyed his books on 1066 and Edward I.

TOM HOLLAND

A masterpiece of historical writing… Morris is a wonderful storyteller

TLS

A riveting and timely portrait of an execrable king

Jessie Childs, author of God's Traitors

A compelling portrait of a king whose 17-year reign witnessed mass oppression on a huge scale... injected with a lively fluency... A fine reminder of the huge influence of Magna Carta that continues to form the basis of our freedoms even today.

Express

[A] magisterial biography ... Will surely become the book of choice on this fated reign for years to come.

BBC History Magazine

The John that emerges... is still a tyrant, but a more complex figure in a complex time. His importance for us, concludes the historian and broadcaster Marc Morris, is that “his oppressions led to the creation of a document that ensured they would not be repeated”.

Sunday Telegraph

A narrative history of the reign in muscular prose, full of anecdote and with a strong sense of period. He reconstructs with much skill some of the critical events of the reign, such as the murder of Arthur and John’s brutal feud with William de Briouze and his family.

Literary Review

A lively overview, which eschews a linear narrative in favour of flashbacks to John's earlier life and which offers a damning indictment of the king in the conclusion.

History Today

Morris is more than the master of his sources: he engages with them and brings his sharp critical intelligence to bear on them. His writing is clear, incisive and spiced time and again by a bon mot. This is by far the best book on the monarch's reign since W L Warren's trail-blazing biography, King John, written in 1961 - with the literary bravura of which Morris' book may not unfavourably be compared.

BBC History Magazine

[A] magisterial biography ... Will surely become the book of choice on this fated reign for years to come.

BBC History Magazine

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099591825

    February 1, 2016

    Windmill Books

    400 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
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    • Robinsons Bookshop
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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448185788

    March 12, 2015

    Cornerstone Digital

    400 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
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    • eBooks

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