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King John

King John became King in 1199 when his brother, King Richard I, died. To many, John was cruel, greedy and ultimately a failure as King. He fell out with both his father and his brother in family feuds.

He argued with his nephew, Arthur, over succession. This trouble led to the loss of English territory in France in 1205. King John unsuccessfully attempted to regain France for the rest of his reign.

When he came to the throne, his reign was full of trouble. After a quarrel, England was placed under an interdict in 1207, and King John was excommunicated in 1209. John had refused to go along with the Pope's choice as Archbishop of Canterbury.

By 1215, the nobility of England had enough of paying extra taxation. The discontented barons rebelled and captured London in May 1215. In June, the King met these barons to try and reach a peaceful settlement.

The meeting took place at Runnymede on the river Thames. The King agreed to their demands by signing a document known as the Magna Carta - Latin for 'Great Charter'. It was amended and reissued with alterations in 1216, 1217, and 1225.

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