Friday, 8 June 2012


I have embarked on a project called 'Watching Shakespeare's History Plays in Historical Order', the nature of which is too complex to describe here. Suffice to say, it started terrifically with the RSC's current production of King John.

One thing I had completely forgotten (and why wouldn't I, having gone to school in England?) was that the French totally invaded in 1216.* They were supporting the barons who had rebelled over the Magna Carta, they were welcomed in London where the Dauphin was proclaimed king (if not crowned), and they soon held half the kingdom. King John then died (he probably wasn't poisoned, whatever Shakespeare says) and the barons decided to support his son, so long as his son upheld the Magna Carta. Henry didn't mind, he was nine.

Most of the barons switched sides. Fighting carried on until September 1217. By this point Prince Louis has been excommunicated but this seemed to happen to a lot of people at some point so I don't suppose it really worried him.

Maybe if you are French you read about this invasion all the time. I don't suppose I have any French readers. If I do, have you ever heard of Agincourt? I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't.

Wikipedia says that the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood was about the Baron's War. Well, I didn't see it.

* I say forgotten because, with the things I have read in my life, there is no way I haven't known this at some point. But still, it came as a surprise to read about the extent and success of the invasion.

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