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King John August 14, 2014 12:00 AM | Tagged as Jewelery, King John, Magna carta, Shakespeare

~~King John
I saw the play King John last summer for the first time and loved it!  I was surprised it wasn’t performed more, since we, my sister and I, thought it very entertaining.  King John is a very flawed king.  Shakespeare shows him as an ineffective king, who was cruel and corrupt.  My first introduction to King John, beside all the Robin Hood versions was in the wonderful book, “Here Be Dragons” by Sharon Kay Penman.  It is an excellent read.  I also always knew him as the King who signed the Magna Carta, which is why I chose the quill pen for the charm representing this play; however, the signing of the document has nothing to do with this play at all. 

When Shakespeare wrote this play, around 1596-97, he used the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles, by, most notably, Raphael Holinshed and others, that was published in 1587, as a source.  He also borrows extensively from “The Troublesome Reign of King John”, which is an anonymous play owned by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and published in 1591.  Shakespeare took some license by creating the fictional character of Philip the Bastard, who personifies English heroism, civility, and decency, along with a few other chronological changes to move the play along. 
The play begins with a message from King Phillip of France, to step down from the thrown in favor of Arthur, who was the rightful heir to the throne as he was the eldest son of Geoffrey, King John’s older brother.  But he refuses and the French King backs Arthur in his quest to get the crown. 
This play is really about family dynamics, and it is fascinating to watch how loyalties shift constantly when power is motivating it.  Also, the power of the Catholic Church and the French monarchy plays a huge role in John’s life and those who are involved with him.  Another great thing about this play is that Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine is in it.   To me she is one of the most interesting ladies of history. 

There are no movie versions of this play so you would have to see it performed.  Through the many years as I have been going to Shakespeare plays whenever and wherever I can, I have only seen it once, but it was a treat.  Luckily, many companies are committed to completing the entire Shakespeare cannon so your chances are better now.  Look for it where ever you are or traveling because there is probably a Shakespeare company performing at any given time.

Here are a few great quotes from the play of King John:

For courage mounteth with occasion. (2.1.82)

Talks as familiarly of roaring lions
As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs! (2.1.470)

When Fortune means to men most good,
She looks upon them with a threatening eye. (3.4.122)


Posted in King John, Silver charms, William Shakespeare | 0 Replies