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King John: An Underrated King (Anthem Perspectives In History) Paperback – 1 Aug 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Anthem Press (1 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857285181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857285188
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

‘“King John: An Underrated King” is, without a doubt, an excellent introduction to political, social and religious aspects of twelfth and thirteenth century England. The author draws a clear portrait of king John without losing his readers in a labyrinth of family dramas and shifting alliances.” —Geneviève Pigeon, ‘Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies’

Review

‘King John is one of the most interesting and controversial figures in English history, provoking extreme responses from both contemporaries and modern historians. The general opinion is that John was a bad king, perhaps the worst to have worn the English crown. In this volume Graham Seel reviews the sources for, and the historiography of, John’s reign in order to understand how this poor reputation has been acquired. He explores its key events and decisions, and attempts to place them within the context of contemporary expectations and norms. The result is a sympathetic reinterpretation that offers a well-informed yet accessible introductory survey, and which provides a readable and critical summary of all the main arguments. It will serve as a useful and attractive starting point for the general interest reader, students of A-level history, and first year undergraduates.’ —Professor Mark Bailey, University of East Anglia

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are very few books on King John that stand out in the way that Seel's does. Although no revisionist myself, the argument put forward is compelling and accessible. The text should appeal to both the layman and the historian alike.

Thoroughly recommended.
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I was tempted to read this after the wholly negative portrayal of the King in the (very good) Elizabeth Chadwick novel, To Defy A King. I will also admit to having been for a long time slightly miffed that, while Richard III has a society dedicated to enhancing his reputation and many writers of fiction and non-fiction anxious to boost (some would say whitewash) his reputation, King John has none of this panoply of modern day defenders. This book analyses primary sources such as contemporary and near contemporary chroniclers' accounts, official records such as Pipe Rolls and Patent Rolls and 19th and 20th century secondary sources. It concludes: that the chroniclers' colourful accounts have held sway among many historians and among the general public, even when they are contradicted by empirical evidence such as the Pipe and Patent Rolls giving a strictly contemporary account of the King's actions and movements; that the precarious unity of the so called Angevin Empire made the loss of Normandy in 1204 inevitable as Anglo-Norman nobles had mostly concentrated their lands on one side of the Channel or the other, and John's attempts to regain it were therefore bound to be opposed by the barons; that John's actions (e.g. execution of hostages and other prisoners) are often viewed against a modern liberal scale of values, whereas similar actions by those of his father Henry II and brother Richard the Lionheart are often minimised or viewed against their proper historical context; and that Magna Carta's significance has been exaggerated since the Enlightenment and the birth of the modern concept of civil rights. Of course, this is not to deny John's faults, his capriciousness and probable sexual licentiousness, though he is hardly unique among English kings in this.Read more ›
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This book provided the basis and inspiration for my undergraduate dissertation. King John has always been a monarch that fascinated me - specifically due to the way that he was taught to us at school.

The stereotype of 'bad King John' has been one that has been repeated throughout history and it's exciting to see a book such as this which challenges the typical and accepted view of John.

Seel makes excellent use of a wide range of sources and his writing style is thoroughly enjoyable to read.

I had the chance to watch a lecture of his and his writing style is similar to his lectures - enjoyable, personable and funny.

Well worth a read.
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I found this book a very good read, and told me what I had already worked out for myself that John was not the tyrant King that we would
be made to believe. He was stuck basically between a rock and a hard place for most of his reign but one thing is sure he put England first
not France ( unlike a certain older brother using England as a cash cow)
Although hard work going through the Magna Carta itself a very good read it makes, well done to Mr Seel for putting the record straight.
If anyone does think that the new telling is humbug just work it out for yourself with the things John was meant to have done he would
of long since met with a accident!
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