> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 1 February 2016
  • ISBN: 9780099591825
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $19.99

King John

Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta




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.

  • Pub date: 1 February 2016
  • ISBN: 9780099591825
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Marc Morris

Dr Marc Morris is an historian and broadcaster, specialising in the Middle Ages. Following the success of his bestselling biography of Edward I, A Great and Terrible King (Hutchinson, 2008), he has recently completed a major new book, The Norman Conquest (Hutchinson, 2012). A definitive new account of King John will be published in 2015, the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

In 2003 Marc presented the highly acclaimed six-part series Castle for Channel 4 and wrote its accompanying book (now published in paperback by Windmill). He has also contributed to history programmes such as Time Team, as well as other shows on both television and radio.

An expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, Marc has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Magazine and Heritage Today. In a recent academic paper he proposed a new date for the construction of King Arthur’s Round Table at Winchester.

Marc speaks regularly to schools, historical societies and literary festivals, and also leads specialist tours of UK castles. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
For more information, visit www.marcmorris.org.uk.

Also by Marc Morris

See all

Praise for King John

“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


Related titles