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The NorthernersA Study in the Reign of King John$
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J. C. Holt

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203094.001.0001

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The Loss of Normandy and its Consequences

The Loss of Normandy and its Consequences

(p.143) IX The Loss of Normandy and its Consequences
The Northerners

J. C. Holt

Oxford University Press

Continental scholars have often pointed out that the Magna Carta followed inevitably on John's defeat at Bouvines in 1214. They are right in two senses. First, Bouvines stripped John of any defence against the English barons; he had now been defeated in the end towards which the whole of his administrative and diplomatic effort had been directed. Secondly, the unrest among the English baronage that achieved its final explosive form in the Magna Carta was an unavoidable product of the manifold ways in which English resources had been exploited since the early years of the reign of Henry II to support Angevin policy and possessions on the continent. To this general policy, John was committed by birth and position just as his brother and father had been. That he failed in the defence of Normandy was important, for it subjected him to criticism. John's most decisive action was not that he lost Normandy, the Touraine, and the old Angevin influence in the Midi, but that for ten furious years he devoted all his efforts to regaining what he had lost. To argue that he should have accepted the decision of 1204 is unrealistic. Not even his son, Henry III, was prepared to abandon the old Angevin claims until 1259, and he only did so then under the pressure of events in England. Thus, in the chronology of John's reign, 1204, not 1199, is the crucial date.

Keywords:   King John, Normandy, Magna Carta, barons, rebellion, Bouvines

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