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John
John
406

an attempt on Vaudreuil, and was put to flight by Philip. In 1195 Richard granted him the county of Mortain, the honour of Eye, and the earldom of Gloucester, keeping the castles in his own hands, and giving him in lieu of his other lands a pension of 8,000l. Angevin. In 1196 he took Gamaches in Ponthieu; on 19 May led a company of Brabantine mercenaries against Beauvais; captured the bishop and many others, and delivered them to Richard. These services seem to have so far atoned for his past unfaithfulness as to cause him to be regarded as his brother's heir (Angevin Kings, ii. 381). At this time he upheld his deputy in Ireland in his quarrel with Archbishop John Comyn. During Philip's invasion of Normandy in the autumn of 1198 John burnt Neufbourg and captured some French knights. Early in 1199 Philip informed Richard that John had again entered into an alliance with him. Richard for the moment believed the story, though his brother swore it was false, and seized the possessions of John, who retired to Brittany, and stayed with his nephew Arthur. Before long the king was convinced that Philip had deceived him, and when he was dying in the beginning of April declared John his successor in England and all his dominions, and made those who were present take an oath of fealty to him.

John was in his twenty-second year at the date of his brother's death. He had been brought up amidst family dissensions and intrigues; his father had pitted him against his brothers, and he had learnt to be ungrateful and unfaithful to him. All the vices of his house appear in his character unredeemed by any greatness. He was mean, false, vindictive, and abominably cruel. At once greedy and extravagant he extorted money from his subjects, and spent it in an ignoble manner. He had a violent temper and a stubborn disposition, but he lacked real firmness of mind, and was at heart a coward. Although not without capacity he was so frivolous and slothful that at the most critical times he would behave like a fool. His levity was constant, and he indulged in jesting at moments which specially demanded decorum and gravity. While he was abjectly superstitious he was habitually profane and irreligious, though he once or twice yielded to religious emotion. He was self-indulgent and scandalously immoral, and no small part of the hatred with which his nobles came to regard him was due to the injuries which his unbridled lust inflicted on them and their families (for John's character see Stubbs, Preface to Walter Of Coventry, vol. ii. pp. xiv-xix).

Immediately after Richard's funeral he went to Chinon, where the treasure of Anjou was kept, and having sworn to carry out the late king's will and to respect the customs ot the lands he should govern received the keys. He sent for Bishop Hugh of Lincoln [q. v.], in whose company he visited the tombs of his father and brother at Fontevraud, and for three days behaved in an exemplary manner. On Easter Sunday, 18 March, which he spent at Beaufort, he relapsed into his usual habits, spoke with such irreverent levity that Hugh refused his offering, sent three times during the bishop's sermon to ask him to stop because he wanted his breakfast, and left the church without communicating (Magna Vita, pp. 287-93). The next Sunday he was invested with the insignia of the duchy at Rouen.

Meanwhile, though the Normans acknowledged John willingly, the lords of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine met together, and declared that according to their customs the son of an elder brother came before a younger brother. John's nephew, Arthur [q. v.], and his mother, Constance, marched with a force of Bretons into Anjou and Maine, were joyfully received, and nearly surprised John at Le Mans, while Philip took Evreux, and, joining them at Le Mans, received Arthur's homage, and soon after accepted him as his ward. In May John made a raid on Le Mans, punished the citizens, and leaving his mother and the mercenary leader, Mercadier, to ravage Anjou set out for England, whither he had previously sent Archbishop Hubert and William Marshall to secure the country for him. On the news of Richard's death much disorder ensued, and a strong party among the baronage acted as though they did not consider John's succession a matter of course. John's envoys received an oath of fealty tohim from his men, earls, barons, citizens, and freeholders, and proceeding to Northampton met the doubtful earls. They, on the envoys' promise that John would do justly by them, also swore to be faithful to him. On the 25th the king landed at Shoreham, and on the 27th was crowned at Westminster by Archbishop Hubert, who made a speech insisting strongly on the right of the nation to elect their king, and declaring that John was chosen. The choice was confirmed by the shouts of the people. When administering the usual oaths, he also adjured John not to take the kingly office unless he was steadfastly minded to keep them, and John answered that by God's help he would do so. John did not usurp the throne; he was chosen by the nation as the fittest of the royal line to reign, and was lawfully crowned and