John is one of the most puzzling figures of England's history in the Middle Ages, and any account of his reign must begin by looking at the evil reputation he left behind him. Medieval men disliked violent and rapid change, and the twenty years of John's reign transformed England's politics. It was these changes, together with John's strong hand as administrator, that led him to be remembered with such hatred, and gave the gossip-mongers their opening. Henry had been unpopular in his day, but no-one could deny his greatness; Richard's charm had redeemed his lack of concern for his English subjects; but John had lost an empire, brought England under interdict, and fought with his barons. All the buried grievances of the lords against his father and brothers were vented on John, and it was their version of history, through the persuasive pages of the chronicler Matthew Paris, which prevailed.
When John came to the throne, he had already made himself a bad name. In Henry's time, when he had been sent to rule Ireland, his followers had mocked the bearded Irish chieftains who came to pay him homage. This behavior had achieved the impossible in uniting the Irish against their new Norman rulers. He left Ireland in ignominy after less than a year. Under Richard, he had openly plotted with Philip Augustus against his brother, just as Richard had plotted against Henry in their father's last years. He had shown few redeeming qualities: he had none of Richard's charm or reputation as a general, and only in
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Publication information: Book title: The Devil's Crown:A History of Henry II and His Sons. Contributors: Richard Barber - Author. Publisher: Combined Books. Place of publication: Conshohocken, PA. Publication year: 1978. Page number: 129.
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