England is forced into war when the French challenge the legitimacy of Johns claim to the throne and are determined to install his nephew Arthur in his place. Political principles, hypocritically flaunted, are soon forgotten as the French and English kings form an alliance based on cynical self-interest. And as the desire to cling to power dominates Englands paranoid and weak-willed king, his country is threatened with disaster.King John goes to war against the French after claims that his nephew should be king instead. John has conflict with the church, orders his nephew's death, and turns the nobles against himself. In the end, John dies from poison, the French retreat, and his son becomes King.SCENE IKING JOHN'S palace.[Enter KING JOHN, QUEEN ELINOR, PEMBROKE, ESSEX, SALISBURY, and others, with CHATILLON]KING JOHNNow, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?CHATILLONThus, after greeting, speaks the King of France In my behavior to the majesty, The borrow'd majesty, of England here.QUEEN ELINORA strange beginning: 'borrow'd majesty!'KING JOHNSilence, good mother; hear the embassy.CHATILLONPhilip of France, in right and true behalf Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's son, Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim To this fair island and the territories, To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, Desiring thee to lay aside the sword Which sways usurpingly these several titles, And put these same into young Arthur's hand, Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.KING JOHNWhat follows if we disallow of this?CHATILLONThe proud control of fierce and bloody war, To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.KING JOHNHere have we war for war and blood for blood, Controlment for controlment: so answer France.CHATILLONThen take my king's defiance from my mouth, The farthest limit of my embassy.KING JOHNBear mine to him, and so depart in peace: Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France; For ere thou canst report I will be there, The thunder of my cannon shall be heard: So hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath And sullen presage of your own decay. An honourable conduct let him have: Pembroke, look to 't. Farewell, Chatillon.[Exeunt CHATILLON and PEMBROKE]QUEEN ELINORWhat now, my son! have I not ever said How that ambitious Constance would not cease Till she had kindled France and all the world, Upon the right and party of her son? This might have been prevented and made whole With very easy arguments of love, Which now the manage of two kingdoms must With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.KING JOHNOur strong possession and our right for us.QUEEN ELINORYour strong possession much more than your right, Or else it must go wrong with you and me: So much my conscience whispers in your ear, Which none but heaven and you and I shall hear.
James Anthony is an award-winning author, yet comes from a distinctly non-literary background. A former tech-entrepreneur, he followed his passion for poetry by 'translating' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, published by Penguin Random House in 2018. James writes across many genres, including travel, screenplays, and fiction, but retains an enduring love of the poetics of Shakespeare's iambic pentameter. After spending many years in the US, James now lives in his native London with his beloved wife Versha. For more information on James's writing, visit www.james-anthony.com