John Lackland was the youngest Son of England's King Henry II and his Queen – Eleanor of Aquitaine. His name “Lackland” is an actual direction to his NOT being given significant lands or territories by his Father (upon his death). He maintained scattered possessions in Ireland, Northern England and France. He succeeded his Brother Richard I as King of England (upon Richard's death) – in 1199. Now having extensive Angevins holdings in France (and an Overlord with France's King Philip II). Philip was “slighted” by John NOT fulfilling his “Feudal Obligations” to him.
The death of a French Noble in Brittany was attributed to “his Orders”. This would cause John to lose control of lands within Normandy and Anjou (other than Aquitaine). John also had problems getting along at home. He refused to accept The Churches nomination for Archbishop of Canterbury. The Pope (Innocent III), installed him anyway and place an Interdict on England. Angered, John took Church property (from those Clergy in support of The Pope, only!) The Pope had the final word in 1209. He excommunicated John! In 1213, Innocent III “approved”of a French plan to “invade” England. John had no choice but to “grovel” and beg forgiveness. England was looked upon as a “Papal” Fiefdom (in Rome).John still had bigger problems in England. His often cruel administration of his Government (and lack of concern for his Subjects), caused various “Baron Wars” (Nobles in revolt against Royalty). They were tired of massive taxes to pay for John and his “problems”.
Facing Civil War, King John was forced into agreement (and the eventual signing of) a document called “The Magna Carta” in 1215. Designed to moderate his power and firmly establish “Common” Law, John had no intention of honoring his “signature”. He ignored much of the Baron's initiatives. He remained that way until his death the following year in 1216. John has NOT been viewed “kindly” by history. Although he did in fact renovate England's recording keeping system (to that date), his almost “manic-depressive” state of mind clouds this fact over. He was constantly “at War” with his Barons in The North (mostly through the raising of taxes that they in turn had to pass down to their Surfs). John also had a reputation for openly seducing married Noble women and Fiancees. His dealings with France and King Philip II severely damaged his reputation with most Crown Heads in Europe. It would not be until The Hundred Years War, that England would slowly recover it's reputation.