Johann Ohneland

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Johann Ohneland on his throne. Matthew Paris, Abbreviatio Chronicorum, England, 1250-1259. London, The British Library, Cotton MS Claudius D VI, fol. 9v

Johann Ohneland (born December 24, 1167 at Beaumont Palace , Oxford , † October 19, 1216 at Newark Castle , Newark-on-Trent ), English John Lackland , actually French Jean Plantagenêt , called Jean Sans-Terre , was from 1199 to 1216 King of England , Lord of Ireland , Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and Count of Anjou .

He was the youngest son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine . After the death of his brother Richard the Lionheart , he became King of England in 1199. In the war with France he lost Normandy and large parts of his land possessions, the so-called Angevin Empire, by 1204 . His attempts at recapture failed. During his reign there was a rebellion of the English barons, which forced him to recognize the Magna Carta in 1215 .

Upbringing and youth

Very little is known about John's youth and upbringing, and as the king's fourth son, he received little attention. As a toddler he was raised in the Fontevrault Abbey in Anjou , later in the household of his eldest brother Heinrich . His teacher was Ranulf de Glanville , and Johann also learned to read and write. As an adult, he owned a library with Latin and French scripts. Johann received his nickname " Ohneland" as a small child, because his father gave him no consideration in the division of inheritance among the sons agreed with the French king in Montmirail in 1169 , while his three older brothers were given inheritance shares of their own.

Johann was of a small stature and is said to have been between 1.65 m and 1.68 m tall, according to various sources. Well-built at first, he is said to have grown fat from overeating in his later years.

Johann as the youngest son of Heinrich II.

In order to provide his youngest son with land, Heinrich arranged in 1172 Johann's engagement to Adelheid, the older daughter of Count Humbert von Maurienne . Adelheid would have brought a considerable legacy into the intended marriage, and in return Heinrich wanted to hand over the castles of Chinon , Loudon and Mirebeau in Poitou to his son . However, he had already promised the Poitou to his eldest son Heinrich the Younger. The transfer of the castles from his possession without asking him was the reason for the rebellion of the younger Heinrich against his father, which Johann's older brothers Richard and Gottfried joined. Heinrich II succeeded in suppressing the rebellion of his sons in 1174, but since Adelheid died in the same year, Johann's planned marriage to her could no longer be carried out.

After Henry II had reconciled himself with his sons, Johann was promised an annual pension of 1,000 pounds from England and 1,000 livres each from Normandy and Anjou on September 30, 1174 . After the death of Reginald de Dunstanville, 1st Earl of Cornwall , who had died in 1175 without surviving legitimate male descendants, Henry II forgave the income from this county to Johann, thereby disinheriting Reginald's daughters. This led to the rebellion of their husbands, who included Adémar , Vicomte de Limoges. In 1176 King John was betrothed to Isabel of Gloucester , daughter and co-heiress of William FitzRobert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester . However, William FitzRobert made Johann his main heir, disinheriting Isabel's sisters and their husbands Amalrich von Montfort and Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford . When William FitzRobert died in late 1183, a rebellion broke out in southeast Wales. After their suppression, Henry II took over the administration of Gloucester and Glamorgan himself for the time being. Johann continued to be dubbed the “King's son” in documents and remained subordinate to his father.

The countries of the Angevin Empire (red) in France around 1180

Unsuccessful reach for Aquitaine

In August 1184 Heinrich II wanted to transfer the Duchy of Aquitaine to Johann instead of to his son Richard. Richard naturally opposed this plan, which is why Johann attacked Richard's duchy with the approval of his father and the support of his brother Gottfried. The attack failed, however, and at a meeting of the three brothers with their father in December 1184, Richard managed to get his father to leave Aquitaine to him.

Failed campaign to Ireland

As early as May 1177, Henry II tried to elevate John to King of Ireland. He asked Pope Alexander III. for his approval and for the sending of a crown. In the early 1180s, Henry II was concerned about the increasing independence of his governor Hugh de Lacy in Ireland. He knighted Johann in March 1185 and sent him to Ireland as Lord of Ireland with a handsome force. Johann landed in Waterford on April 25th . Some of the Irish kings submitted to him immediately, but when John, contrary to traditional Irish law, gave great Irish fiefs to his own friends and followers, the Irish kings of Thomond , Desmond and Connacht rose up against John, apparently encouraged by Hugh de Lacy. After several defeats and because Johann refused to pay them the outstanding wages, some of his troops deserted. Johann had to retire to England in September, where he blamed Hugh de Lacy's supporters for his failure.

The two contemporary chroniclers Gerald of Wales and Roger von Hoveden, on the other hand, report on John's arrogance and greed in Ireland. While his brother Richard had subjugated the rebellious barons of Aquitaine when Johann was old, Johann was considered a wasteful good-for-nothing after the fiasco of Ireland. After Hugh de Lacy was murdered in 1186 and Pope Urban III. Having sent the king a crown for the future Kingdom of Ireland, Henry II prepared again a campaign for his son to Ireland. In August 1186, however, Johann's brother Gottfried had a fatal accident at a tournament. In order to arrange the succession in Brittany , the king canceled the Irish campaign. The papal crown was never used and John remained only the nominal Lord of Ireland. All future English kings carried this title up to Henry VIII .

Support the Richard Rebellion

After Henry II publicly refused in November 1188 to confirm his eldest surviving son Richard as his heir, the latter revolted against his father and allied himself with the French King Philip II. Much of the nobility supported Richard and the power of old Henry II. Quickly decreased. After the fall of Le Mans on June 12, 1189, Johann also switched to his victorious brother's side. Henry II died shortly thereafter, and according to many contemporaries, the betrayal of his beloved youngest son led to the old king's death.

Johann under Richard the Lionheart

After her father's death, Richard quickly confirmed Johann in his holdings at Mortain in south-west Normandy and the castles of Peveril , Lancaster , Marlborough and Ludgershall in England. In addition, Johann received the areas of Tickhill , Wallingford and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire , but their castles remained in royal possession. On August 29, 1189, Johann married his fiancée Isabel of Gloucester. Johann and Isabel were second cousins, which is why Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury had forbidden marriage because of consanguinity . Johann then turned to the Pope, and the papal legate permitted marriage as long as it was not forbidden by the Pope. By marrying Isabel, Johann became Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan and Wentloog in the Welsh Marches . After the death of Henry II, wars broke out again in South Wales with Lord Rhys , Prince of Deheubarth . Lord Rhys had recognized Henry II as his overlord, but regarded this bond as extinguished by the death of the king. Richard placed an army under Johann, with which he relieved the Carmarthen Castle , which was besieged by Lord Rhys . Johann negotiated with Lord Rhys and escorted him to Oxford , where he intended to negotiate directly with the king. However, Richard refused to see the Welsh prince. Lord Rhys returned to South Wales and continued his attacks on English territory. In December 1189, Richard Johann also gave Cornwall, Devon , Somerset and Dorset in south-west England. Johann was now in control of substantial property and administered his estates from Marlborough .

Treason of Richard in England

Before setting off on the Third Crusade , Richard took an oath in Nonancourt Johann in March 1190 that he would not stay in England for the next three years. However, he later allowed his Justiciar and Lord Chancellor William Longchamp to release Johann from this oath if necessary. In October 1190 Richard put his nephew Arthur , the posthumously born son of his brother Gottfried, as heir in Messina in the event of his death . Johann was back in England as early as 1191. When Gerard de Canville , the sheriff of Lincolnshire , paid homage to John as Richard's heir in June 1191, Longchamp immediately besieged Canville's Lincoln Castle , while Canville gave Nottingham and Tickhill Castle to John. Longchamp lifted the siege of Lincoln and met with Johann in Winchester in July . Both Longchamp and Johann showed up with a large number of Welsh mercenaries. An agreement was negotiated through the Archbishop of Rouen, Walter de Coutances , who was sent back from Sicily by Richard , according to which Johann returned the castles, while Longchamp recognized Johann as a potential heir. On September 18, 1191, Longchamp had John's half-brother Archbishop Geoffrey of York , who had also sworn not to enter England within three years of Richard's departure, arrested in Dover . Johann took advantage of the resulting uproar over the foreign justiciar from Normandy. He declared himself the keeper of English law and English freedoms and broke the agreement with Longchamp. In the face of the uproar, Longchamp was forced to release Geoffrey of York.

Johann invited the Justiciar and other leading nobles to a meeting on October 5th at Loddon Bridge between Reading and Windsor , but Longchamp declined the invitation, fearing that Johann would seize the throne. Archbishop Walter de Coutances suspected Johann of wanting to depose the Justiciar. On October 7th, Johann and his supporters left for Windsor. Longchamp then withdrew from Windsor to London, and on the way there was a skirmish between Johann and Longchamp's entourage. Longchamp fled to the Tower of London , while Johann was able to assert himself in the City . On October 10, Longchamp resigned his offices as Justiciar and Lord Chancellor. Johann hoped to maintain unrestricted rule in England after Longchamp's failure, but eventually he had to appoint Archbishop Walter de Coutances as the new justiciar.

Treason of Richard in France

Philip II of France had already returned prematurely from the crusade to France at the end of 1191. He offered Johann rule over Aquitaine if he would marry his half-sister Alix . Alix had originally been engaged to Richard, but Richard broke off the engagement in 1189. Johann wanted to leave for France in February 1192 when his mother was able to convince him after long discussions that with this betrayal he would lose everything. When the news came in early 1193 that Richard had been captured by Duke Leopold in Austria , Philip II renewed his offer to Johann. John ignored all warnings and concluded an agreement with the French king in Paris in January 1193. Accordingly, he should marry Alix and hand over the Vexin to Philip II. Philip II immediately captured the strategically important castle of Gisors and gathered an invasion fleet in Wissant . Johann tried to get the Scottish King Wilhelm on his side, but the latter turned down his offers. John then occupied Windsor and Wallingford Castle with Welsh mercenaries , but his rebellion against his brother, the Crusader King, found little support. Johann announced that Richard was dead, but the English nobles did not believe him. They besieged Johann's castles and prepared to repel the feared French invasion. On April 20, 1193, Hubert Walter , the Bishop of Salisbury, returned from Germany and brought the ransom demand from Emperor Henry VI. On his advice, Johann was offered a truce, after which Johann was to surrender Windsor and Wallingford, but he was allowed to keep Nottingham and Tickhill Castle. Fearing that he would be charged as a traitor after Richard's release, Johann fled to France. Richard's negotiators assured him that he would own his lands if he raised 50,000 marks , half of the enormous ransom. Johann accepted this but found that he was considered a traitor by the administrators of his own castles in England, so they no longer accepted him as lord. He returned to France again. Philipp gave him Arques , Drincourt and Évreux . In return, he promised Philip, with the exception of Rouen, Normandy east of the Seine. Together they prepared a new invasion of Normandy and tried to defeat Emperor Henry VI. to bribe Richard to keep Richard in captivity for a longer period of time. Hubert Walter, who had meanwhile become Archbishop of Canterbury, then excommunicated John and the royal council formally expropriated him. Richard's followers besieged John's castles, which surrendered quickly except for Tickhill and Nottingham Castle.

Reconciliation with Richard

At the council meeting in Nottingham in May 1194, all of John's fiefs, including Ireland, were declared forfeited. When Richard translated to Normandy, Johann submitted to him in Lisieux . His brother forgave him and sent him to Évreux, where he took possession of the castle before the French garrison learned of his change of sides. For the next five years Johann lived unobtrusively and gradually regained the trust of his brother, who gave him back Ireland as well as Mortain and Gloucester. Richard also entrusted him with smaller military commands, which Johann was able to carry out, in some cases successfully, such as the conquest of Gamaches . Johann was a loyal supporter of his brother during this time, while his nephew Arthur had allied himself with the French king in 1196. Richard therefore declared Johann his heir in 1197 and his successor shortly before his death in April 1199.

King John and King Philip II seal their peace with a kiss. Illumination from the 14th century

Succession to his brother and fight for the possessions in France

After his accession to the throne, Johann tried primarily to secure his holdings on the mainland. King Philip II immediately occupied Evreux after hearing the news of Richard's death and invaded Normandy. Under the leadership of Guillaume des Roches , the barons of Anjou, Maine and Tours declared young Arthur Duke and convinced the city of Angers to open its gates to Arthur and his mother Konstance . In Aquitaine, Philip II was supported by his old allies, the Count of Angoulême and the Viscount of Limoges. Johann entrusted Aquitaine to his old mother, who had Richard's mercenaries under the leadership of his confidante Mercadier , and tried primarily to keep Anjou. On April 14th he occupied Chinon Castle with the crown treasure. His brother Gottfried's widow, Konstanze, was now trying to occupy Anjou, Maine and Tours for their son Arthur, and Johann was almost captured at Le Mans when Philip II, Arthur and Des Roches met there on April 20 . Johann moved to Rouen , where he was installed as Duke of Normandy on April 25th. He then moved back to Le Mans, which he plundered in retaliation for supporting Arthur and Philip II. In England, William Marshal had meanwhile advocated the succession to the throne and brought Archbishop Hubert Walter to his side. Johann left Vice Count Aimery de Thouars , whom he appointed Seneschal of Anjou against Guillaume des Roches , the administration of Anjou and traveled to England. On May 25, he landed in Shoreham and was crowned king two days later, on May 27, 1199, in Westminster Abbey . Just a month later he appeared with his army in Normandy and forced Philip II to give up the siege of Lavardin Castle . However, given his tight finances, Johann was unable to undertake a large-scale campaign.

In September 1199, Guillaume des Roches, the most powerful baron in Anjou, changed sides and allied with Johann. He came to Le Mans with Konstance and Arthur, but they were warned that they were to be handed over to Johann and, with the help of Aimery de Thouars and his brother Guido von Thouars, were able to flee to the French court. In France, too, there was resistance to the high taxes on war costs, so Philip II was also ready to negotiate. Peace negotiations began in January 1200 and the Le Goulet Treaty was signed on May 22nd . In this Philip II recognized John as lord of Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Tours and Aquitaine. Johann had to do without Évreux, the Vexin with the exception of Les Andelys and the lords of Issoudun , Graçay and Bas-Berry in Berry , for the other possessions on the mainland Johann paid homage to the French king . In addition, Arthur had to pay homage to Johann for Brittany.

The ruins of Château Gaillard, after which Philip II of France was able to conquer Normandy in 1204

Another war with France

Soon after his accession to the throne, Johann had found bishops who dissolved his contestable marriage to Isabel of Gloucester. He had first sent an embassy to Portugal to negotiate a marriage with a Portuguese princess. John's marriage to Isabella von Angoulême , the daughter of Count Aymar, on August 24, 1200 came as a surprise to many contemporaries, even to Isabella's fiancé Hugo IX. from Lusignan . By marrying the heiress of the strategically important county, Johann now had a claim to Angoulême , but at the same time he had made the powerful Lusignan family , to whom he had so far owed a lot, an enemy. Nor did Johann make any attempts to compensate the family for the humiliation and for the loss of the right to Angoulême. On the contrary, in the spring of 1201 he withdrew Hugo de Lusignan's rule of La Marche , which had only been granted at the beginning of 1200 and which he handed over to his new father-in-law, while he withdrew the county of Eu in Normandy from Hugo's brother Raoul . Since Johann did not respond to the complaints of the Lusignans, they turned to their supreme liege lord, the French king. Philip II first tried to resolve the conflict diplomatically. When Johann visited Paris, he reminded him of his duties as a liege lord and instructed him to resolve the conflict with the Lusignans before his own court. However, Johann did not comply with this request, which is why the Lusignans again brought their complaints to the French king. Johann was now to appear before the court in Paris. When he did not comply with this request, Philip II declared him an unfaithful vassal in April 1202 and withdrew all French fiefs from him. At the same time he accepted Arthur's homage to the Anjou, Maine and Touraine while he declared Normandy to be crown land . Due to his arrogance towards the Lusignans and the rejection of the mediation attempt by Philip II, John had therefore brought about a war with the French king less than two years after the Treaty of Le Goulet.

Loss of Normandy and other possessions in France

While the French king was attacking Normandy from the east, Arthur, with the support of rebellious nobles from Brittany, attacked John's possessions on the Loire . Johann trusted the mighty castles that protected the eastern border of Normandy and initially turned south. By a surprise attack he was able to destroy the rebels in Mirebeau at the end of July 1202 , with Arthur and numerous other rebellious nobles being captured. However, he did not take advantage of this success. The division of the prisoners led to a final break with Guillaume des Roches and Aimery de Thouars. By the end of 1202 Johann had to withdraw from northern Poitou, Anjou, Maine and the county of Tours.

In the spring of 1203, Johann's reputation was seriously damaged by rumors about the fate of his nephew Arthur. It is said that he himself killed Arthur, who was in his captivity, in Rouen. In early summer Philip II attacked Normandy again. Johann increasingly lost the support of the Norman nobles who switched to Philip II's side. In December 1203 Johann left Normandy and sailed for England. After more than six months of siege, the mighty Château Gaillard surrendered in March 1204 , followed by numerous other castles and towns. On June 24, 1204 the isolated capital Rouen surrendered, with which Normandy was lost to Johann. In Poitou, after the death of John's mother Eleanor on April 1, 1204, almost all the barons and towns passed to Philip II, who entered Poitiers in triumph in August . About fell on the news of Eleanor's death Alfonso VIII. Of Castile the Gascony since Henry II allegedly his daughter. Eleanor , Alfonso's wife, as Wittum had promised after the death of her mother. At the end of 1204, Johann owned little more than the ports from Bayonne to La Rochelle and the isolated castles of Chinon and Loches .

Attempt to recapture the French possessions

In May 1205, Johann tried to rally a large army and fleet in Portsmouth . However, the English barons refused to follow him to France, so that Johann had to cancel his planned campaign under humiliating circumstances. As a result, the crews of Chinon and Loches surrendered. Nevertheless, the great cities of the Gascogne resisted the French attacks, the Channel Islands were recaptured and Poitou succeeded Savary de Mauléon regaining Niort . In June 1206 Johann finally landed in La Rochelle with a mercenary army and with the support of some of his English barons. Upon hearing of John's departure, Philip II concentrated on the defense of Normandy, so that Johann could advance unhindered in south-west France, recapture Saintonge and consolidate control over the county of Angoulême, which he had inherited from his deceased father-in-law in 1202. In addition, he was able to drive out the last Castilian garrisons in Gascony. In September he moved north to the Anjou, but withdrew on the news that Philip II was moving against him with a strong army. In October 1206 he agreed a two-year armistice with Philip II. Philip's lack of interest in Gascon and the southwestern Poitou with Angoulême, Aunis and the Saintonge saved John's rule over this remainder of the Angevin Empire.

Battle between King John and King Philip II. Illumination from the 14th century

Government of England

After the campaign in Poitou in 1206, Johann devoted himself more to the government of England, which until then had been exercised as it was under his brother Richard. Although the Chancery Rolls had been introduced as the new evidence of day-to-day business, the raising of troops and the collection of funds proceeded under Johann as previously under Richard. Hubert Walter had served as Lord Chancellor until his death in 1205 . Geoffrey fitz Peter, 1st Earl of Essex , remained justiciar until his death in 1213 . William of Ely remained Lord High Treasurer and Hugh de Neville remained Chief Forester until they both rebelled in 1215.

It was only after December 1203, when Johann stayed in England most of the time, that there were innovations, stimulated by the French such as Peter des Roches , Engelard de Cigogné , Falkes de Bréauté and Gerard d'Athée , who remained loyal to Johann even after them had lost their own possessions in France to Philip II. After the south coast of England was threatened by French attacks after the conquest of Normandy, Johann no longer relied solely on the naval forces of the Cinque Ports . William of Wrotham and other officials set up a royal fleet of galleys and other ships on behalf of the king, for which the port of the young city of Portsmouth was expanded. Naval bases were established in other ports in southern England and Ireland, while John's half-brother William Longespée became the commandant of the fleet. The historian Winfried Warren therefore called Johann the founder of the Royal Navy .

After John feared a French invasion in 1205, every male resident of England over the age of twelve had to swear an oath of allegiance, and constables were appointed in each county to organize the defense. Until the autumn of 1206, however, the recapture of his mainland possessions remained Johann's primary goal. However, due to the ongoing wars, but also inflation and social change, the royal finances were exhausted. As early as 1203, John the Thirteenth had levied a general special tax in England. From 1206 he reorganized the royal financial system and introduced countersigning for accounts. Since his barons had to do military service only 40 days a year according to the feudal law, he instead collected a shield money from them almost annually . In 1207 he again levied a general special tax, which alone brought in 57,425 pounds, which was twice the normal tax revenue of a year. He tried to collect taxes in the counties directly through his officials instead of leasing the counties with their income annually to a sheriff, but the practical implementation of this experiment failed due to the limited medieval administrative resources. In addition, he collected more delinquent payments from his barons, some of which were heavily indebted to the crown through the shield money, fees for inheritance and other fees. However, this was done arbitrarily. In 1208 Johann Gerard d'Athée ordered the possessions of his previous favorite William de Braose in Wales to be occupied because of outstanding payments. Braose rebelled and then escaped with his family to Ireland, where his family was taken prisoner. Braose himself managed to escape to France, where he died in exile. Braose's wife Maud and his eldest son William let Johann starve to death in prison.

Johann also raised high taxes from the Jewish communities, which brought him 66,000 marks in 1210. The brutality with which these taxes were collected also affected the debtors of the Jewish moneylenders. Further taxes were charged to the cities, further sources of income were forest rights and fines. While the annual revenue of the crown before 1207 was about £ 30,000, it was £ 51,913 in 1210, excluding the income from Jewish taxes, and £ 83,291 in 1211. It is estimated that in 1212 Johann hoarded over 200,000 marks in coins in his castles Corfe , Bristol and Gloucester Castle , which led to a shortage of money in England. Johann's barons began not only to fear his arbitrariness, but also feared their financial ruin due to his regular monetary demands.

In addition to finances, Johann's main interest was jurisprudence, and common law continued to develop during his reign . He had no permanent residence in England, but moved restlessly and briskly through large parts of his empire. He often used the Palace of Westminster , the Tower of London, the castles of Windsor, Winchester , Nottingham, Ludgershall or Marlborough, as well as other castles and hunting lodges such as Bere Regis and Gillingham in Dorset or Freemantle in Hampshire, Geddington in Northamptonshire and many others. In addition, he was 17 times in York in the north of England and also regularly attended the Welsh Marches.

Interdict over England and excommunication by Pope Innocent III.

Like many other rulers, Johann wanted to rule the church. As early as 1198, when he was still Lord of Ireland, John Comyn , he had driven the Archbishop of Dublin into exile and thus angered the Pope. As Duke of Aquitaine, John's treatment of the bishops of Limoges and Poitiers brought the Pope against John, and in 1203 Pope Innocent III threatened . Johann with the interdict over Normandy, in case Johann refused to confirm the Bishop of Sées . In view of the military situation, Johann had submitted to the Pope.

In England, on the other hand, the royal power over the bishops was traditionally stronger, and John wanted to keep this. In 1205 Johann succeeded in installing his candidate Peter des Roches as Bishop of Winchester . In the same year Hubert Walter, the Archbishop of Canterbury and thus Primate of the English Church, died. Johann wanted the monks to elect his secretary John de Gray , Bishop of Norwich , as his successor. In a secret ballot, however, the monks chose their prior Reginald as Walter's successor, who then traveled to Rome to have his confirmation by Innocent III. to obtain. When Johann found out about this, he traveled to Canterbury, where the monks, fearing repression, assured him that Reginald had not been elected and had voted in the presence of the King John de Gray. When both parties in Rome brought their claims to the Pope, the Pope decided to cancel both elections. Instead, the Pope proposed Cardinal Stephen Langton as a new candidate, whom he hoped would advance his church reform in England. The Pope urged the monks' delegation in Rome to elect Langton as archbishop, and then confirmed the election.

Johann did not want to recognize this compromise, however, because he considered Langton unacceptable as a supporter of Philip II because of his many years of work as a teacher at the Sorbonne in Paris. He drove the monks from Canterbury and occupied the lands of the archbishopric. At the beginning of the year, Johann had already occupied the archbishop's temporal office after the latter, his half-brother Geoffrey, protested against a high special tax and went into exile. The Pope tried to persuade the king to give in, but after a year of waiting he consecrated Langton archbishop in June 1207 and began preparations to impose the interdict on England. Since almost all the barons, the majority of the priests and also many monks did not know the full course of the conflict, the prevailing opinion in England was that the Pope presumed the right to appoint the Archbishop of Canterbury and to impose on them the rather unknown Langton as primate wanted so that the barons were in conflict with the Pope behind their king.

When the Pope imposed the interdict on England in March 1208, Johann confiscated other church property in England in return. Under the pretext of monitoring celibacy , he had priests and their lovers arrested, only to be released after paying ransom. Other churchmen who submitted to the king got their property back, while Bishops William de Ste Mère-Église of London, Eustace of Ely and Mauger of Worcester went into exile. Negotiations between Pope and King remained fruitless because John did not want to set a precedent in the establishment of Langton; he also refused to plead guilty in order to avoid paying a fine. Thereupon he was excommunicated by the Pope in November 1209 , which is why the bishops Herbert Poor of Salisbury, Hugh of Wells of Lincoln, Jocelin of Wells of Bath and Gilbert de Glanville of Rochester went into exile. Since other bishoprics were vacant after the death of their bishops and Giles de Braose , the Bishop of Hereford , had already fled because of the persecution of his family by the king, there were with the exception of Peter des Roches of Winchester and John de Gray, the Justiciar of Ireland was no longer a bishop in England. Nevertheless, the barons, most of the population and part of the clergy in conflict with the Pope continued to support the king. After the Roman-German Emperor Otto IV and Count Raimund VI. of Toulouse , who were allied with John, had also been excommunicated, John saw little reason to give in to the Pope. Further negotiations between the Pope and the King were conducted only half-heartedly until they were broken off in 1211 when rumors surfaced that the Pope wanted to depose the King. At this point in time, the income from seven vacant dioceses and 17 abbeys flowed to the crown, which thus drew considerable profits from the interdict. After the interdict and excommunication were largely ineffective, the only option left for the Pope was to depose John as king and to release his subjects from their duty of loyalty.

Johann as Lord of Ireland

As Lord of Ireland from 1185, Johann had promoted the conquest and settlement of Ireland by English barons and settlers at the expense of the Irish population. As King of England, John's brother Richard the Lionheart had hardly bothered about Ireland at all. After the death of Domnall Mór Ó Briain in 1194 and the conquest of Limerick , William de Burgh divided the kingdom of Thomond. Johann encouraged him to attack the areas beyond the Shannon by promising him rule over all of Connacht . When Johann became King of England, he appointed Meiler FitzHenry royal justiciar . In 1204 he instructed the Justiciar to found cities and collect taxes. This led to the establishment of the counties of Waterford with Waterford and Cork as well as Munster , the royal lands in Meath , Limerick and Ulster were enlarged and English bishops were installed.

King John's Castle in Limerick

In 1201, however, Johann forgave Limerick to his favorite William de Braose , thereby breaking William de Burgh's growing power. The brothers Hugh and Walter de Lacy were now among the most powerful Anglo-Norman barons . In 1203 John was even ready to support Cathal Croibhdhearg Conchobair , the new Irish king of Connacht. He acted similarly in Ulster, where he tolerated Hugh de Lacy's attacks on John de Courcy . Courcy finally had to flee to Aodh Ó Néill in Tyrone in May 1205 , and Hugh de Lacy became Earl of Ulster. However, the arrival of William Marshal in Ireland in 1207 ended John's policy of playing off his barons. Marshal had inherited his father-in-law Strongbow's estates in Ireland as early as 1189 , but had not taken care of these possessions himself. Marshal had now fallen out of favor with Johann and now allied himself with the Lacys, whereby they could defeat the royal Justiciar Meiler FitzHenry in the winter of 1207-1208, and then disregard the new Justiciar John de Gray by defeating the rebelling William de Braose took refuge in Ireland from 1208 to 1209. Faced with this challenge, Johann decided to undertake a second campaign to Ireland.

In view of the enormous preparations of Johann, who assembled a fleet of 700 ships, William Marshal submitted to the king in Pembroke . Johann landed in Crook near Waterford on June 20, 1210. In a stormy campaign that lasted only nine weeks, he drove Walter and Hugh de Lacy from Meath and Ulster, and he was able to capture Maud de St Valery , the wife of William de Braose, and their eldest son William . His successful campaign made a great impression on the Anglo-Norman barons in Ireland. More than 20 Irish chiefs submitted to the king in Dublin, and John was able to introduce the English legal system and the English currency in Ireland. In contrast to the English, John's campaign did not make a great impression on the Irish. John's relations with the kings Cathal Croibhdhearg and Aodh Ó Néill remained strained, and in the end he achieved little with them. His campaign was an impressive reminder that the English kings continued to have great power. After his departure, John de Gray built a strategically important bridge over the Shannon between Meath and Connacht at Athlone, so that an Irish-English army, with the support of Ó Briain, could invade Connacht and force Cathal to hold his son hostage. In the north, however, Gray could not prevail against Ó Néill. In any case, John's support for the English barons in Ireland led them to be loyal to him during the Civil War from 1215 to 1216.

Johann Ohneland on a deer hunt ( Liber legum antiquorum regum around 1321 written for the Guildhall in London). London, The British Library, Cotton MS Claudius D. II, fol. 116r

Battle for Wales

John was more involved than any previous Norman or Angevin kings in Wales. By marrying Isabel of Gloucester, he was Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan in South East Wales from 1189. Even after his divorce from Isabella in 1199, he remained in the possession of Glamorgan . As the English king and thus overlord of the Anglo- Norman Marcher Lords and the Welsh princes, he first tried to exploit the inheritance disputes after the death of Lord Rhys in Deheubarth and the ambitions of Gwenwynwyn of Powys for himself. In 1199 he was able to acquire Cardigan Castle from Maelgwn ap Rhys , and in June 1200 he encouraged his confidante William de Braose to conquer Welsh territories. In contrast to his predecessors, Johann concluded written contracts with the Welsh princes, his contract in which Llywelyn recognized his sovereignty from Iorwerth of Gwynedd in 1201, is the oldest written contract between an English king and a Welsh prince. In return, Johann recognized Llywelyn in the treaty as Prince of North Wales.

Especially after the loss of Normandy, Johann was often involved in Wales himself and no longer left the conquest of Wales to the Marcher Lords alone. In the same year he married his illegitimate daughter Johanna to Llywelyn from Iorwerth. From 1204 to 1214 he was in Wales or on the Welsh border at least once a year. On October 8, 1208, he had Gwenwynwyn of Powys arrested in Shrewsbury and only released him under humiliating circumstances. As a result, Llywelyn from Iorwerth occupied Gwenwynwyn's principality. Since his son-in-law Llywelyn from Iorwerth had supported the rebellious Baron Braose, Johann led a campaign against Gwynedd for the first time in 1211 after Henry II's failed campaign in 1165 . The first attempt in May failed after the Welsh withdrew into the mountains of Snowdonia . Johann's advance led nowhere and his army suffered from a lack of food. Only two months later, Johann undertook another, better prepared advance with his feudal army. Johann had succeeded in persuading Llywelyn's allies to defeat and he advanced further into Gwynedd than any English army had ever done before. A raiding party burned Bangor . Gwynedd and the other princes quarreled by internal wars were quickly defeated by the militarily superior English army, so that Llywelyn's wife Johanna had to ask her father for peace. In the peace treaty, Llywelyn had to recognize Johann's supremacy and cede Perfeddwlad in north-east Wales to England. If he had no male offspring with Johanna, Gwynedd would fall to the English crown after his death. With this Johann had reached the height of his power in Wales, he ruled Glamorgan and Wentloog , Abergavenny , Gower , Brecon , Builth and other areas, so that by the end of 1211 he was more powerful in Wales than any English king before him.

When Johann wanted to expand his power over Gwynedd by building castles like Aberystwyth Castle , the weakened Llywelyn from Iorwerth was able to unite the quarreling other princes in the face of this new English pressure. The united princes began a revolt against English rule, which came unexpectedly for the English. Johann then planned to subdue Wales with a strong army in 1212 and called his feudal army to Chester . On August 14, 1212, he mercilessly hung 28 youthful hostages in Nottingham, which the Welsh had to bring him in 1211. Shortly before he could set off for Wales with his army, he learned from his daughter Joan of Wales and from the Scottish King William I of a conspiracy by his barons who wanted to murder him during the campaign in Wales or hand him over to the Welsh. Thereupon he broke off the planned campaign.

By 1213 the rebellious Welsh had recaptured the territories lost in 1211. Llywelyn from Iorwerth allied themselves with the rebellious barons in England and even conquered Shrewsbury . In the Magna Carta he achieved that under paragraphs 56 and 57 wrongly conquered land in Wales was returned and under paragraph 58 hostages like his son Gruffydd were released again. When it came to the war of the barons, he conquered large parts of south Wales in a successful campaign at the end of 1215, so that Johann's efforts in Wales were ultimately in vain.

Relationship with Scotland

In November 1200, the Scottish King William I paid homage to John in Lincoln for his English possessions. William I hoped that he would get Northumberland back, but refrained from further activities. After the kings had met at Bolton near Alnwick in April 1209 , Johann suddenly undertook a campaign from Newcastle to Scotland in the summer of 1209 . The reasons for this campaign are unclear, perhaps with the campaign he wanted to forestall a Franco-Scottish alliance that was initiated by a planned marriage of a daughter of William I to the French king. The sick Wilhelm had to accept the humiliating Norham Treaty in August 1209 . In this he had to agree to pay Johann 15,000 marks, to provide him with 13 hostages and to hand over his two daughters, whom Johann could marry after his choice. The still ailing king became even more dependent on John when Guthred Macwilliam claimed the Scottish throne in 1211 . Thereupon Johann accepted Wilhelm's twelve-year-old son Alexander as the future Scottish king. Johann knighted Alexander in London in 1212 and handed him the command of an army of Brabant Zones with which he could beat and kill Macwilliam.

The ruins of Corfe Castle in southern England, which was Johann's residence, fortress, prison and treasury

Continuation of the war with France

It was not until 1212 that Johann intended a new campaign to France. In view of his successes in Ireland, Wales and against Scotland, he believed in an early recapture of his possessions in France. Supported by Count Rainald von Boulogne and reinforced by the return of Emperor Otto IV in March 1212, he wanted to renew the alliance that he had given up in 1200 in the Treaty of Le Goulet. In order to gain further allies in the fight against King Philip II, Johann even sent an embassy to the Almohad caliph Muhammad an-Nasir in the spring or summer of 1212 , whom he dubbed Admiral Murmelius . Since this ruled southern Spain, he tried to move him to fight against France. However, the king was able to offer the caliph little in return for the alliance, and that he meant the allegedly offered conversion from his empire to Islam seriously has to be doubted. The caliph refused the offer, and after it was defeated by the Spanish Christians on July 16, 1212 in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa , the offer became completely irrelevant.

Johann had already gathered his land and naval forces for a campaign to France in Portsmouth in the summer of 1212 when he called his troops to Chester because of the Welsh uprising. After learning of the conspiracy of some barons in August, Barons Robert FitzWalter and Eustace de Vesci fled abroad while treasurer Geoffrey of Norwich was captured and died in dungeon. From then on, Johann always remained suspicious and surrounded himself with an armed bodyguard. He canceled the campaign to Wales and instead asked suspicious barons, especially from northern England, to give oaths of loyalty and the position of hostages. The preacher Peter of Wakefield publicly prophesied the impending end of John's reign. Johann promised to take action against the abuse of power by his officials and the sheriffs. Philip II of France planned an invasion of England in April 1213. Johann then negotiated with Aragón and Toulouse in order to threaten France from the south. To this end, he gathered a large army in Kent in April to fend off the feared invasion.

Reconciliation with the Pope

In order to forestall the threatened deposition by the Pope and the release of his vassals from their duty of loyalty, Johann resumed negotiations with the Pope at the end of 1212. He was now ready to recognize Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury as well as to reimburse the Church financially for its losses. In addition to the exiled clergy, he also had to accept the Barons Eustace de Vesci and Robert FitzWalter back into his kingdom. Pope Innocent III initially remained very suspicious of the king and authorized Archbishop Langton to re-impose the interdict on England and excommunicate the king if John violated the peace between him and the Church of England. However, Johann went on. In front of almost all of his barons, whom he had gathered to ward off the feared French invasion, he submitted to the papal envoy Pandulf on May 15 at Ewell near Dover . He recognized the pope's sovereignty over England and promised him an annual tribute of 1,000 marks. However, he left the preacher Peter of Wakefield hanging.

The Pope had high hopes that John would now lead a new crusade and in July 1213 lifted the interdict against England. On July 20, Archbishop Langton dissolved the king's excommunication at Winchester Cathedral . However, the Pope limited Langton's responsibilities by sending Cardinal Bishop Nikolaus von Tusculum to England as a personal representative. He agreed with Johann to compensate for the financial losses of the church during the interdict, to be paid in annual installments in the amount of 100,000 marks. The cardinal bishop also filled the vacant bishopric seats without Langton's consent or the cathedral chapter . He appointed William of Cornhill as Bishop of Coventry , Walter de Gray as Bishop of Worcester and later as Archbishop of York and John de Gray as Bishop of Durham confidants of the king who had supported him during the interdict. The Pope thus became an ally of the king and also supported him against the opposition English barons.

Battle of Bouvines. Illumination of the 13th century

Unsuccessful campaigns in France

Johann's half-brother William Longespée was able to destroy part of the French fleet in the sea ​​battle near Damme on May 30, 1213, so that the danger of a French invasion was initially averted. In June Johann gave the order to set off for Poitou, but numerous barons refused to follow him. In particular, some barons from northern England, led by Eustace de Vesci , declared that their vassal duties did not relate to service in the Poitou, which is why they refused to follow John to France. Other members of the aristocratic opposition were Robert FitzWalter , William de Mowbray and Geoffrey de Mandeville . The situation in northern England came to a head when, after the death of Geoffrey Fitzpeter in October 1213, Johann appointed Peter des Roches from Poitou as the new legal advisor.

Nevertheless, Johann undertook his campaign to France without the rebellious barons and landed in La Rochelle in February 1214. William Longespée led a second army to Flanders, where he joined forces with Emperor Otto IV, Count Ferdinand of Flanders and Rainald of Boulogne. Johann was initially able to win the support of numerous nobles from the Poitou, even the Lusignans, and advanced to Angers in June. He then besieged the castle of Roche-aux-Moines. When Prince Ludwig of France came for relief, however, his French allies refused to support him and Johann had to evacuate the battlefield without a fight and retreat to the south in the battle of Roche-aux-Moines . After his allies had suffered a crushing defeat against Philip II in the Battle of Bouvines on July 27, 1214 , John's campaign had failed completely. Philip II now advanced into Poitou, and on September 18, Cardinal Robert Curzon , of English descent, brokered a five-year armistice between the two kings. On October 13th, Johann landed back in Dartmouth . Since his financial means were exhausted because of the failed campaign, he demanded another shield money from his barons amounting to three marks per knight's fee .

One of the four surviving editions of the Magna Carta from 1215 (British Library)

Civil War in England

Recognition of the Magna Carta

Johann's demand met with unanimous rejection from his vassals. A group of disaffected barons, led by Eustace de Vesci and Robert Fitzwalter, demanded a royal charter from Johann that would confirm their traditional rights and freedoms. In fact, they pushed for an open civil war, which should also cost Johann the sympathy of the rest of the nobility. Johann initially delayed dealing with their claims, but when the City of London joined the rebels in May 1215, he agreed to negotiations at the urging of Archbishop Stephen Langton. On June 15, he accepted the rebels' demands in the Magna Carta, which ended the civil war for the time being.

War of the Barons

However, Johann secretly turned to his liege lord Pope Innocent III, who in his reply in September declared the Magna Carta null and void and excommunicated the rebels. The smoldering conflict then turned into open civil war. The rebels turned to the French king and offered his son Ludwig the English crown. After Johann had advanced successfully to Scotland in a campaign at the end of 1215, Prince Ludwig landed with French troops in London in May 1216. Through a campaign across England, the alliance of the rebels and the French was able to conquer large parts of England. Numerous nobles, even Johann's half-brother William Longespée, joined Prince Ludwig.

King John's tomb in Worcester Cathedral

Loss of the crown treasure and death

Johann launched a counter-offensive in September to relieve Lincoln. In the night of October 9th to 10th, he probably fell ill with dysentery . On October 10th he made another donation to Margaret de Braose for the benefit of her parents and her brother William , who had died in his dungeon. In the next few days, Johann's health deteriorated. Presumably part of his entourage with the crown jewels was lost when crossing the Wash . Johann still reached Newark , where he died on the night of October 19, 1216. Since his family's traditional burial site, Fontevrault Abbey in Anjou, was no longer in his realm, he was buried in Worcester Cathedral , as he wished . His grave is located between the graves of the Anglo-Saxon saints Oswald and Wulfstan and was probably chosen deliberately as a symbol of the shift of the political center of his empire from the possessions in France to England.

Family and offspring

Johann was married twice. His first marriage to Isabel of Gloucester was childless. He had five children with his second wife, Isabella von Angoulême :

In addition, the king had numerous lovers, and he is said to have stalked the wives of some of his barons. The barons Robert FitzWalter and Eustace de Vesci cited the reason for their rebellion that the king had desired their wives. Johann had at least five illegitimate children whom he presumably fathered during his first marriage:

During his second marriage, he kept several lovers, including the widow Hawise, 2nd Countess of Albemarle , and Suzanne and Clementia, who are presumably non-nobility.

After his death, William Marshal Johann's underage son Heinrich secured the crown by having him crowned king, as regent recognized the Magna Carta again and united the barons in the fight against Prince Ludwig. In the Peace of Lambeth in 1217, Ludwig had to renounce his claim to the English throne and leave England.


Johann was already extremely unpopular during his lifetime and was also consistently judged negatively by contemporary chroniclers as cruel, evil and voluptuous. However, this judgment was conditioned by the spiritual status of the chroniclers, who for that reason gave a bad judgment of the irreligious and temporarily excommunicated Johann, who had only founded the Cistercian Abbey of Beaulieu Abbey in 1203 or 1204 . The legends of Robin Hood , the drama King John of Shakespeare and Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe cemented John's bad reputation in posterity. Until well into the 20th century, historians rated John's reign as unfortunate. To this day he is considered a king, whose nickname " Ohneland" was confirmed by the loss of large parts of his possessions in France. The fate of his nephew Arthur, the rebellion of his English barons and the presumed loss of his crown shortly before his death confirmed the image of a tyrannical and unsuccessful ruler. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the government of Johann was viewed more differently. WL Warren assessed Johann's youth as a disaster. When he had to submit to his brother Richard in 1194, he was 27 years old and was considered a traitor and failure. But later as king he acted realistically like the young Henry II, more determined than his brother Gottfried and more strategic than Richard. He possessed a high degree of government experience, organizational talent and the willingness to familiarize himself with administrative details. He took over an empire that was financially drained and incoherent by long wars. His initial mistakes hastened, but were not the cause of the secession of Normandy and the other possessions in France. After the loss of Normandy, unlike his predecessors, he had to concentrate his rule on England, this and his financial policy led to increasing dissatisfaction of many barons who were keen on autonomy. After initial failures, in later years he was a consistently successful general who consolidated his rule through campaigns against Scotland, Ireland and Wales and who also remained personally unbeaten in France.


  • John T. Appleby: Johann "Ohneland" - King of England . Riederer, Stuttgart 1965 (Original title: John - King of England . Translated by Barbara Orthbandt).
  • Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 .
  • SD Church (Ed.): King John. New interpretations . Boydell, Woodbridge 1999, ISBN 0-85115-947-8 .
  • Marc Morris: King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta . Windmill Books, London 2015, ISBN 978-0-09-195423-9 .
  • Mac P. Lorne : The Lion's Blood. Dorfmeister, Tittling 2012, ISBN 978-3-927454-21-7 . (describes the events surrounding the Magna Carta as well as the loss of John's crown treasure and his death in Newark)
  • Sylvie von Frankenberg, Katrin von Glasow: The fourth king. Novel. Knaur, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-426-62979-8 .

Web links

Commons : Johann Ohneland  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Roger of Hoveden : Chronica. In: William Stubbs (Ed.): Rolls Series. 51 (1869), Vol. 2, pp. 5-6.
  2. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 31.
  3. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 37.
  4. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 76.
  5. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 125.
  6. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 153.
  7. ^ BBC History: Mike Ibeji, King John, the Lusignan Affair and the Early Years. Retrieved January 24, 2015 .
  8. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 136.
  9. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 165.
  10. ^ SD Church: King John. New interpretations . Boydell, Woodbridge 1999, ISBN 0-85115-947-8 , p. 273.
  11. ^ Rees R. Davies: The Age of Conquest. Wales 1063-1415 . Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 1991, ISBN 0-19-820198-2 , p. 294.
  12. ^ Rees R. Davies: The Age of Conquest. Wales 1063-1415 . Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 1991, ISBN 0-19-820198-2 , p. 292.
  13. ^ SD Church: King John. New interpretations . Boydell, Woodbridge 1999, ISBN 0-85115-947-8 , p. 259.
  14. ^ John T. Appleby: Johann "Ohneland". King of England . Riederer, Stuttgart 1965, p. 161.
  15. Hanna Vollrath; Natalie Fryde: The English kings in the Middle Ages. From William the Conqueror to Richard III . Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-58982-9 , p. 133.
  16. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 112.
  17. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 189.
  18. ^ John T. Appleby: Johann "Ohneland". King of England . Riederer, Stuttgart 1965, p. 231.
  19. ^ John T. Appleby: Johann "Ohneland". King of England . Riederer, Stuttgart 1965, p. 5.
  20. Wilfred L. Warren: King John . University of California Press, Berkeley 1978, ISBN 0-520-03494-5 , p. 47.
predecessor Office successor
English crown domain
( Heinrich II. )
Lord of Ireland
Henry III.
Richard I. the Lionheart King of England
Henry III.
Richard I. the Lionheart Duchy of Aquitaine
Henry III.
Richard I. the Lionheart Count of Poitou
Henry III.
Richard I. the Lionheart Duke of Normandy
French crown domain
( Philip II August )
Richard I. the Lionheart Count of Anjou
French crown domain
( Philip II August )