JOHN: King of England, with dominion over assorted continental territories
QUEEN ELINOR: King John’s mother, widow of King Henry II
BLANCHE: of Spain, niece to King John
PRINCE HENRY: son to King John
CONSTANCE: widow of Geoffrey, King John’s elder brother
ARTHUR: Duke of Brittany, her son
KING PHILIP II: of France
LOUIS THE DAUPHIN: his son
DUKE OF AUSTRIA: Also called Limoges
CHATILLION: ambassador from France to King John
COUNT MELUN: A French Herald
CARDINAL PANDULPH: Papal Legate
LADY FAULCONBRIDGE: mother of Philip the Bastard
PHILIP THE BASTARD (PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE): Son of Lady Faulconbridge and King Richard I
ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE: Son of Lady Faulconbridge and Sir Robert Faulconbridge
JAMES GURNEY: Servant to Lady Faulconbridge
HUBERT: supporter of King John
EARL OF SALISBURY: An English Noble
EARL OF PEMBROKE: An English Noble
EARL OF ESSEX: An English Noble
PETER OF POMFRET: a Prophet
CITIZEN OF ANGIERS
AN ENGLISH HERALD
This play is about political history in England, and if you are not familiar with the history that comes before it is easy to become very lost very quickly. Here's is a brief description of the historical events predating the start of the play:
King John was the younger born son of Henry II. His oldest siblings, Henry and Geoffrey, were deceased so his older brother Richard I was destined for the throne. While left in charge of the kingdom and as his brother was participating in the Crusades, John attempted to claim the throne. Richard returned, discovered what happened, and forgave John. When Richard passed away in 1199, John wanted the throne. However, France wanted the French Prince Arthur to become king, for his father was John’s older brother, Geoffrey. The French claimed Prince Arthur to be the rightful heir, claiming Richard I made his will in both John and Arthur, causing major conflict. King John does anything he can to win this war and keep Arthur off the throne. He taxed those to raise money for this bloody battle, was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church for not obeying Pope Innocent II, and had many loyal followers turn away from him for his actions. He died in 1216.
Power of the Pope: Throughout history, the struggle of "crown and church" is a common theme. King John struggles with Catholic France and with his own unrecognized archbishop appointment.
Treaties: When two countries at war feel that it had to end, they would meet in a neutral ground and discuss terms for a treaty. Often in the time period of King John these disputes were solved with marriage, which could be considered a kind of peace agreement.
Heirs: The rights to the throne were typically passed down from father to son. If there were no son to take the crown, then the power would go to the first born daughter. If the king had no children, it would go to his brother and continue with his children.
- John was the youngest of three royal brothers. (Richard, Geoffrey, John)
- Richard Lion heart was the eldest and king after their father (King Henry II) died.
- After Richard was captured and killed by the Duke of Austria, and with Geoffrey already dead, John became the king of England.
- Geoffrey had a son though, Arthur, who could fall next in line instead of a John. This leaves room for the dispute of the play- who is the rightful heir to the British crown