John, the youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, was born in Oxford in 1167. His father sent him to Ireland in 1185, but his misconduct son compelled his recall. He attempted to seize the crown while Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in Austria. Richard pardoned John and when on his deathbed nominated his brother as his successor.

Some barons in the French part of his empire refused to accept him and supported Arthur of Brittany instead. In the war that followed Arthur was captured and imprisoned. He was never seen again and many people believed that John had arranged for his young rival to be murdered. Even without their leader, the rebellious barons in France refused to surrender, and by 1205 John had lost control of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou and Maine. These military defeats obtained John the nickname "Softsword".

John also lost the support of Pope Innocent III when he refused to agree to Stephen Langton becoming the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Eventually John was forced to back down. He also had to agree to the pope being his overlord. In 1215 he made another attempt at gaining control on his lost territory in France. Once again John was defeated and forced to pay ?40,000 for the five-year truce.

In 1200, King John became involved in a long-drawn out war with France. This war was expensive and John was forced to introduce new taxes to pay for his army. This created a great deal of resentment in England, and John's position was not helped when, in 1205, the king's army lost control of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou and Maine.

Edward, 1042-1066 William I, 1066-1087 William II, 1087-1100 Henry I, 1100-1135 Stephen, 1135-1154 Henry II, 1154-1189 Richard I, 1189-1199 John, 1199-1216 Henry III, 1216-1272 Edward I, 1272-1307 Edward II, 1307-1327 Edward III, 1327-1377 Richard II, 1377-1399 Henry IV, 1399-1413 Henry V, 1413-1422 Henry VI, 1422-1461 Edward IV, 1461-1483 Edward V, 1483-1483 Richard III, 1483-1485 Henry VII, 1485-1509 Henry VIII, 1509-1547 Edward VI, 1547-1553 Mary, 1553-1558 Elizabeth I, 1558-1603 James I, 1603-1625 Charles I, 1625-1649 Charles II, 1660-1685 James II, 1685-1688 Mary II, 1688-1694 William III, 1688-1702 Anne, 1702-1714 George I, 1714-1727 George II, 1727-1760 George III, 1760-1820 George IV, 1820-1830 William IV, 1830-1837 Victoria, 1837-1901 Edward VII, 1901-1910 George V, 1910-1936 Edward VIII, 1936 George VI, 1936-1952