Sunday, May 12, 2013
King George I: If nothing else, one can at least say that Britain’s first German monarch was a colorful character. A distant relative thrust onto the British throne by the 1701 Act of Settlement, something which further cemented the notion that the King reigned ‘by the grace of Parliament’ rather than the grace of God. He had no burning desire to be King of Great Britain and had already proven himself a fairly competent Elector of Hanover. He is known for his mostly “hands-off” approach to governing, which gave rise to the first British Prime Minister as we would understand it today, for his mistresses, his contempt for his eldest son (a Hanoverian tradition) and his inability to speak English. Still, he understood English law and government better than most of his subjects realized, he kept a steady hand on the wheel and if his British subjects did not understand him, he likely understood them just as little. Hanover was always his home and his first concern, he hadn’t sought to be king and certainly launched no invasion to bring it about like the Prince of Orange but he nonetheless made the most of it. He was not a likeable character but was probably at least somewhat better than most think.
King George II: Like his father, there is not an overabundance with which to recommend George II. He hated his son just as his father had hated him, though he was more kind to his wife (not difficult) and the British Empire grew considerably under his reign. Still, he spent some lengthy periods in Hanover and was always more concerned with Germany than with, for instance, the British North American colonies. The 1745 Jacobite uprising gave him quite a scare but he was certainly no coward, being the last reigning British monarch to lead his troops on the battlefield. Overall, he was a fairly effective monarch, fulfilling the traditional requirements for a successful monarch; securing the succession, defending his throne, winning victories in war and enlarging his domain. Still, he tended to put Hanover before Britain, was not a very likeable person and his forces were positively brutal in Scotland in the aftermath of the ‘45. So, all in all a successful monarch but one I could never muster a great deal of enthusiasm for.
King George III: It is a shame that George III will probably always be remembered most for losing “the United States” and for going “mad”. He really deserves to be counted among the greatest of British monarchs. For the first time since Queen Anne the country had a monarch who didn’t speak with a German accent and who was as thoroughly “British” as he could be. Unlike his predecessors, he took an active role in the government of his kingdoms and far from being harsh or tyrannical was almost invariably a voice of fairness and consideration. Also unlike his predecessors, King George III was a man of upstanding moral integrity, a faithful husband, devoted father and a man of great generosity while still having enough of George II in him to appreciate a balanced budget and deplore extravagance. Still, tradition being tradition, he and his eldest son never got along very well, mostly because of the extent to which the King disapproved of the rather weak moral fiber in his son. It should not be forgotten though that while losing what became the USA, he won the wider war and although he would not forget he was able to put the past behind him without holding a grudge, establishing diplomatic relations with the United States and going to war with revolutionary France after his old enemy Louis XVI was murdered by the mob. He also certainly secured the succession (in a big way) and was, in every way, a monarch any of his subjects could be proud of.
King George IV: When it comes to character, George IV was everything his father was not; licentious, lazy and wasteful. Still, he was not a terrible monarch though certainly not a great one. He may have been extravagant but he had a tremendous sense of style and he left Britain a more grandiose country than he found it. Yes, he was a scoundrel, but also a patron of the arts, a driver of fashion and a great builder. Those are about his only redeeming qualities though, aside perhaps from reviving highland dress in Scotland. His reign (and regency) coincided with some of the greatest moments in British history, the passing of historic legislation and at least he did not manage to mess any of that up though, based on what his ministers wrote some may have suspected him of trying. He was not a monarch one could admire, though many found him likeable. He did have sense enough to realize at least to some extent when politicians were trying to take advantage of him and his political views shifted after inheriting the throne. So, not a great one, not very praiseworthy but neither can it be said that things went to ruin under his watch.
King William IV: The “Sailor King” William IV often seems to get lost in between his colorful and controversial brother and the historic reign of his niece. Overall, my impression of William IV is as a pretty good, solid monarch. In sharp contrast to his brother he was frugal, plain and blunt which was probably a good thing on the heels of the fuss and feathers of George IV. William IV could behave in ways rather lacking in “majesty” but he was a man of strong leadership, good instincts and common sense. Since the reign of his father the politicians had become more and more dominant, which mostly continued under William IV though he was the last monarch to appoint a prime minister of his own choosing. He provided steady leadership during his time on the throne and had the wisdom and fortitude to hold on to life long enough for his niece to succeed him without a regency -probably saving the country from a great deal of trouble.
Queen Victoria: In some ways, Queen Victoria can be seen as being more revered than she should be and yet, I at least cannot help but have the greatest admiration for her. She made her share of mistakes over the years but she had a presence few other English sovereigns could ever hope to match. Like Elizabeth I, she gave her name to an era and on the world stage it was the Victorian era that was far greater. The Queen deserves at least some of the credit for the great, powerful, dynamic force that the British Empire became during her reign and she was an admirable woman. A very devoted wife, a reluctant (but frequent) though dutiful mother and a woman of impeccable moral fortitude. Queen Victoria made the monarchy widely respected again as well as a force for good in society with the outreach to the poor, the working class and her strident opposition to racial bigotry. Like a few others, it is hard to separate the Queen herself from the image of the Queen but that image was so great and remains so brilliant that it seems a pity to even try. The first to made Empress of India, the British Empire may have grown larger after her time on the throne yet it is still the reign of Queen Victoria that stands out, in my mind at least, as the pinnacle of the British Empire. Plus, she really was the “Grandmother of Europe” and anyone who doesn’t love their grandmother must have something wrong with them.
Monday, May 6, 2013
King James I: My opinion of the first Stuart to rule England is rather mixed but overall the needle does tip slightly in the positive direction. He did not always keep his word but in general he was a fairly tolerant man so long as no one made trouble. He was renowned for his intelligence yet mocked for his odd habits, hence being called “the wisest fool in Christendom”. A better epithet for James I was “Britain’s Solomon” and his writing about monarchy was excellent and some of my favorite material. I also love his imperial style in emphasizing the unity of England, Scotland and Ireland under one monarch. He was not perfect but much of the negative things said about him may not be true and while I cannot really cheer for him, his written works make it impossible for me not to be a little positive towards him, I think they’re that good.
King Charles I: One of my all-time favorites, I like King Charles I both for what he did and for enraging all the right people. The problems he faced were not of his own making (some of the economic mess went all the way back to Henry VIII) and he should be applauded rather than criticized for his firm principles. It may have been smarter for him to have backed down but I admire him all the more for standing up for what was right, regardless of the circumstances. I admire his piety, his great devotion to his family, his fidelity to his wife (a remarkable woman) and for his courage. He met his death in a truly heroic way and, as he point out at his trial, was fighting for the rights of everyone by fighting for his own rights as king. That being said, he was not as rigid as most think and tried to be reasonable, giving in to most of the demands of Parliament but not on the most important points and he should be saluted for that. He was a man of great integrity who make have made some missteps but who was always motivated by a desire to do the right thing.
King Charles II: I cannot admire Charles II as much as I do his father, but he was certainly more successful and a very good man deep down. That being said, he was a hopeless womanizer and serial adulterer which prevents him having my unabashed admiration. However, while his court was certainly on the licentious side, after the dour years of the Puritanical Cromwell, it was probably to be expected. While lacking the unbending principles of his father, he did see the monarchy restored and that would probably not have happened if he had not been willing to compromise on some things. Still, at the end of the day, he did reach his limit and stood firm in defense of the monarchy and the monarchial principle of hereditary succession in particular, for which he can be applauded. It is easier to see the good man underneath when considering how he defended his wife and begged her forgiveness on his deathbed. One can also see his principled belief in monarchy and the importance of family in his defense of his brother in spite of the fact that he predicted disaster for him.
King James II: I have a much higher opinion of James II than most, but that’s not hard. He’s one of the most unpopular and maligned monarchs in English history and unjustly so in my opinion. Like his brother, he fell prey to the temptations of the flesh, but to a vastly lesser extent. He was a brave and capable soldier (sailor) and was a man of principle and conviction. The opposition to him was mostly hysterical rather than reasoned and while he certainly wanted to do away with the anti-Catholic prejudice then rampant in Britain, most forget that he never actually did anything to reestablish Catholicism as the state religion. Everyone was just afraid that he would and his efforts to remove laws that discriminated against Catholics and non-Anglican Protestants would today be taken for granted as reasonable and laudable. He did, however, probably go too far too fast considering how much Catholic-phobia existed in the country. Despite what many say, he was a courageous man but the fate of his father no doubt loomed large in his mind and in England and later in Ireland one cannot help but wonder if he might have maintained his throne if he had stuck it out just a bit longer. However, that he was the legitimate, hereditary sovereign of the three kingdoms cannot be denied and, for this monarchist, that matters most.
King William III & Queen Mary II: Given my sympathy for James II, I cannot but have some mixed feelings when it comes to William and Mary. Yet, while turning against your father and legitimate monarch is something I could never condone, each were very talented and remarkable individuals. William III showed immense skill and determination in fending off the French and was quite a capable military leader. Queen Mary was a dutiful wife, a capable ruler in her own right, a devout woman intolerant of sin and vice and who at least had enough of a conscious to feel rather guilty about what she and her husband had done to her father. That inclines me to be a bit more favorable toward her than I would otherwise. For William III, he set up the system of constitutional monarchy the U.K. still has today, which seems less ideal than what had existed previously to me, yet, William III was never really focused on Britain but on The Netherlands and the broader strategic situation in Europe. The changes effected under his reign, if one is inclined to dislike them, should direct most of their criticism at the men who invited William to launch his invasion and then who welcomed it with open arms rather than at the King himself.
Queen Anne: I have much the same difficulties with Queen Anne as with Queen Mary II. Her betrayal of her father (and sovereign) and spreading doubts about the legitimacy of her half-brother are things I find it impossible to overlook. There were some great national achievements during her time but little had to do with her. The Act of Union was passed, but done in a less than ideal way. On the battlefield Marlborough (“Corporal John”) proved himself to be one of the great captains of his age and one of the greatest military geniuses Britain has ever produced but there too there were problems between his family and the Queen. She was a devout Anglican, took her royal duties seriously (and was famously the last monarch to veto an act of Parliament) but overall she leaves me with the impression of a gloomy and pathetic figure, plagued by illness and a succession of miscarriages. It would be hard not to feel sorry for the poor woman but, under the new royal system, the ship of state sailed on in any event and she must be given at least some measure of the credit for Britain emerging or reemerging as a great power during her reign.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
King Henry VII: The Wars of the Roses that had stagnated and bled England for years finally came to an end with Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. My impression of Henry VII was that of a not terribly pleasant man, not someone very flashy or inspirational but a very cautious, shrewd and talented national leader. The stability he brought was welcome though he seems to have been a bit of a control freak which opened the door for some problems but he was basically a competent and successful monarch, keeping the country on an even keel, providing for the succession and securing a marriage alliance with the emerging super-power of Spain. He was rather cold and miserly but given his life it is not surprising that he was a rather hard-nosed, unemotional sort of man who kept his eye on the prize and the bottom line. Neither great nor terrible he was a pretty solid monarch.
King Henry VIII: Oh, what a waste! One of the worst things about all of the chaos caused by Henry VIII was how unnecessary it all was. He changed the religion of a country and cut a woman’s head off just to have a son and as it turned out his most famous offspring was his youngest daughter. Henry VIII was like the schoolboy captain of the football team, fawned over in his youth and then a fat disgrace in middle age. His religious tinkering set England on the path for many, many years of turmoil and it seems so useless as he was never really a Protestant. He had great qualities, being quite the dashing warrior-king in his youth, presiding over some great achievements and he was quite intelligent and took his duties seriously. But he was also vindictive, paranoid, cruel and possibly the most selfish man to ever sit on the English throne. I approve of some of his foreign policies but by the time it was over he had undone most of the good he ever did and was just not a good man. Not one of the good ones to be sure. Others were worse in their own time but Henry gets extra demerits for setting the stage for future disasters.
King Edward VI: The boy king, or “God’s Imp” as someone called him, there is not much I can say about Edward VI because he never had a chance to prove himself and the fanaticism he displayed was the result of the guardians who raised him. In his personal dealings with people he seems to have been a sweet boy. He was certainly very gifted, extremely intelligent and might have made an exceptional monarch were he given the chance. If the religious zealotry instilled in him had remained he might have turned out to be terribly harsh and done Protestantism more harm than good, which is odd given that his mother was nothing like that. So, it was definitely environmental rather than genetic.
Queen Mary I: No other English monarch has received more bad press than “Bloody Mary”. Protestants despise her and even most Catholics consider her to have done the Church of Rome more harm than good. Nonetheless, I will always defend Queen Mary, truth be told, she was nowhere near that bad. In fact, she was quite a kind woman, compassionate, generous to the poor and very fond of children. Despite what the xenophobes claim, her marriage alliance with Spain was a smart move and while she will always be known for having 300 Protestants burned alive, she didn’t turn nasty until people started turning against her. Initially, she was prepared to forgive and forget and she actually had fewer people executed than her father or more popular sister did. Many burned for heresy could have been executed for treason anyway. For me, the biggest point to remember is that she never inflicted anything on others that she would not have endured herself. She was not, like her father, executing people just for not going along with her but because she truly believed that Catholicism was the only true faith and anything else was dangerous and even under great pressure from her father and brother she never renounced her Catholicism for the sake of convenience. Her zeal was genuine.
Queen Elizabeth I: Not one of my favorites, I must admit. Still, I will give credit where credit is due. “Good Queen Bess” was a public relations genius and totally brilliant when it came to promoting the public image of herself and the monarchy. She presided over some great cultural and political achievements but, all that being said, though I was once a fervent admirer back in my frivolous college days, I cannot say many good things about her. She failed to marry and secure the succession (a dereliction of duty in my view), she supported republican rebels in Holland fighting against their lawful sovereign, supported rebels in France and most outrageously, signed the death warrant for a fellow monarch. Yes, she agonized over it, but she still did it (she wasn’t a very decisive leader at all) and in my book that is unforgivable. Her religious persecutions seem worse to me than those of her sister because, as a Protestant historian said of her, she was both “intolerant and indifferent”. She changed her religion depending on who was in power at the moment and yet, when her turn came, put people to death for having stronger principles than she did. I know many consider it an unpardonable sin not to love Queen Elizabeth I, but I cannot, though I will readily admit that her “image” was certainly glorious.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
King Edward IV: It would be hard for anyone not to admire Edward IV. He was a tall, handsome man, a smart dresser, a veteran warrior, an able administrator and a good businessman. He was adept enough on the battlefield and at winning support that he won the crown for himself, then took it back once it was lost and he managed to win the support of Parliament. He was though a horrible womanizer and that would ultimately cause him so problems. His constant affairs with married women as often as single ones makes it hard to have a completely positive opinion of the man. He was certainly very good at his “job” but his private life left much to be desired. His secret marriage to the widow of a Lancastrian brought new intrigues and stopped a reconciliation effort with France. Still, as far as the House of York is concerned, Edward IV was nothing if not thorough, seeing the Lancastrians almost completely wiped out with the exception of Henry Tudor who was out of the country anyway. He collected a large library and was still trying to take to the field up to his death.
King Edward V: I cannot have much of an opinion on Edward V as the poor boy barely had a chance. He was only nominally the king for a few months and, I have noticed, many lists of English monarchs omit him entirely. A coronation was planned but was repeatedly put off until the boy was deposed and presumably murdered.
King Richard III: Many people have asked my opinion of Richard III and seemed surprised that I don’t have more to say. He certainly wasn’t successful, spending his reign fighting rebellions against him by both friend and foe alike. As for his guilt or innocence in the murder of Edward V, there may not be enough hard evidence to hold up in a modern court but the circumstantial evidence is fairly overwhelming. No matter how kind one tries to be, Richard III will usually come off looking pretty villainous no matter how you cut it. He certainly had some talent and early in his life was fairly well regarded but he was also undoubtedly vindictive yet it is also true that he had enemies ranging themselves against him before he ever came to power and that would tend to make one rather peevish. I give him credit for going down fighting but it just doesn’t seem that there is much to recommend the man.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
King Henry IV: The House of Lancaster came to power with Henry IV, shortly before the deposed Richard II was starved to death. He spent most of his reign putting down rebellions but does have the distinction of being the only English king to entertain a visiting Byzantine Emperor. Like Shakespeare, I cannot help but view his many misfortunes as divine punishment for usurping the throne of Richard II. Still, Henry IV was an accomplished soldier and he always managed to prove equal to the tasks that confronted him. He really was a decisive, brave and talented monarch, attentive to religion and the Church and he defeated all of his enemies as they appeared but he seemed perpetually unlucky, plagued by constant civil unrest and terribly poor health, leading to his demise at a relatively young age.
King Henry V: With the second Lancastrian monarch, we have again another top contender for the list of greatest English kings of all time. To say he displayed heroic courage doesn’t begin to describe it. As a very young man he fought his first battle, carrying on until victory was won despite having been shot in the face with an arrow. He proved a capable administrator, he appreciated the necessity of a strong economy as a matter of national security and he was a very devoted son of the Church, dispatching heretics with the same zeal as he showed dispatching Frenchmen. And, that, of course, is what he is most famous for, renewing the Hundred Years War and invading France. As a battlefield commander, Henry V was second to none and his string of victories were hard fought, spectacular achievements. It is impossible for me to think of Henry V without the stirring words of Shakespeare ringing in my head. Most astounding was his great victory at Agincourt where, despite having every disadvantage, his longbows decimated the charging French knights, dealing a blow to the French nobility that was truly devastating. I fail to see how anyone with an ounce of English blood in their veins cannot experience a surge of pride when thinking about King Henry V on the field of Agincourt. He conquered Normandy, making a victorious peace and forcing the French king to recognize him as his heir. His reign was an unbroken string of masterful successes gallantly won.
King Henry VI: Another monarch with an impossibly tough act to follow, Henry VI is not often thought well of but I have a bit of a soft spot for the poor man. Only nine months old when he inherited the crown, he remains the youngest monarch to ever sit on the throne of England. During his reign most of the gains of his father were taken back, in large part due to a certain French girl from Domremy. Even when he was older his reign was not successful with reverses in France and the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses at home, but I cannot have a very negative opinion of King Henry VI. He simply lacked the personality to meet the crisis at hand, being the shy and compassionate sort. But he should not be criticized too much for these qualities. He founded Eton and King’s College but was not up to the task of dealing with disasters abroad and a continuously feuding court. The disasters were not his fault, he simply inherited them. He was also a very good man, very religious, devoutly so, generous to those around him and it says something that he has been accused of being both saintly and insane.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
King Henry III: After the disastrous reign of King John, a recovery was called for but Henry III would not be the monarch to lead it. He was not as bad as his predecessor it is true, but he wasn’t much to write home about either. His efforts to centralize power alienated the nobles, the country was awash with mostly French exiles looking to make a quick buck and Henry III had little luck on the battlefield and ended up renouncing vast territories in France. Defeated at home by Simon de Montfort, Henry had the shame of seeing the first parliament called during his reign by the man who had bested him. Today that means Simon de Montfort is a celebrated forefather of representative government but it mostly makes me annoyed with Henry III for being unable to stop him and allowing things to get to that point. He did finally escape rebel clutches and led the royalist forces to victory, which I give him credit for, but he died not long after, not a terrible king but far from successful.
King Edward I: Now we are getting back on the right track. Scotland may still hate his guts (and they should) but Edward I was one of the greatest English kings ever. He was a brave man, a shrewd statesman, a clever military commander and just an overall inspiring figure. He improved the law code so much that he became known as the “English Justinian”, conquered Wales and subdued Scotland. When William Wallace led the Scots in revolt, Edward I crushed them and had the troublesome Scot executed. That will always make him controversial, as does his expulsion of the Jews from England (Oliver Cromwell let them back in) but from the point of view of England alone, Edward I was everything one could hope for in a monarch. Harshness in his direction regarding Scotland should be tempered by the fact that his initial involvement came at the request of the Scots themselves (again, always a bad idea) and when it came to the basic things that kings of his time were expected to do; be strong, provide decisive leadership, win victory on the battlefield, expand the kingdom and secure the succession, he did them all. He was awesome.
King Edward II: Perhaps the only thing England can fault Edward I with was fathering so lackluster a monarch as Edward II. Thankfully, his reign was merely an unfortunate interval between two of the best kings the Plantaganets had to offer. What can be said of Eddie the second? I’ll admit it is tempting to just say “colossal puff” and move on, but I tend to be suspicious of gossip be it contemporary of Medieval vintage. He lacked all of the drive, ambition and strength of his father, seemed to care little for anything other than parties, sports and his friends. The Scots gave him a sound thrashing, undoing the victories of his father, then suffered the indignity of being defeated by his own rebellious nobles. In the end, he was brought down by his formidable wife, Queen Isabella of France, who was a much more fascinating character than her husband. Advised to abdicate, Edward II predictably cried and then did the best thing of his reign and handed the crown over to his son.
King Edward III: After the embarrassing reign of his father, Edward III was just what the doctor ordered and one of my favorite English monarchs of all time. King Edward III was like a force of nature, he started the Hundred Years War by laying claim to the French throne, led his knights into victory after victory, defeating French forces far larger than his own and even taking the French king, Jean II, prisoner. He may not have been the best administrator but his victories make up for it. His success on the battlefield was so total and so brilliant that the English army came to be seen as the premier military force of the time. He also made English the official language at court for the first time, created the Most Noble Order of the Garter and was the one who divided Parliament into the two houses of commons and peers. He had the misfortune to reign during the Black Death and were it not for that his achievements might have been greater still. Contemporaries hailed him as the greatest monarch since King Arthur and with good reason. Even if he had done nothing else, the battle of Crecy alone would warrant him being considered one of the greatest of English kings and that was one victory among many. In every way one could measure a great Medieval monarch, Edward III more than measures up.
King Richard II: Perhaps no other English king had a tougher act to follow than Richard II and it is inevitable that he fails to measure up to the lofty standard set by his father. He is blamed for being a bad ruler and even for setting the stage for the disastrous Wars of the Roses but I tend to be a little less harsh toward Richard II than most people. He won early credit with me for his courage in standing up to the Peasant’s Revolt even though he was practically a boy at the time but he dealt with those rebels solidly enough. Still, he was not very adept at keeping calm and unity in the kingdom and has been accused of tyranny then as now. However, my impression is that it is not so much what King Richard II did but how he did it that proved to be his downfall. He was not a “people person”, he bided his time, built a considerable private army (wearing a white heart as a badge, I remember that) and then struck back at his enemies after most had come to see him as a pleasure-loving weakling. Still, Richard II will probably always be remembered as a schemer rather than a leader and he was finally abandoned by most of his men and defeated.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
King Henry II: Today, especially among Church circles, Henry II has a pretty bad reputation because of the Becket affair and that is certainly legitimate. However, I cannot have a low opinion of Henry II. He made his mistakes, sure, with most pointing to the fate of poor Becket and his invasion of Ireland. However, his Irish invasion came at local request (bad move there) and as for Becket, he didn’t actually order the murder and he did some considerable penance afterwards, something which it is impossible to imagine any modern national leader lowering themselves to do. Taken as a whole though, he was an extremely successful monarch who forged an Angevin empire that made England the most powerful country in Western Europe at the time. During the height of his reign all of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and western France (if not more) were either directly or indirectly under his control. No small achievement that.
King Richard I: Richard the Lionhearted is one of those traditional heroes it is popular to downplay these days. Yes, he spoke French almost exclusively, yes he spent most of his reign outside of England, but the popular image of Richard I is just too good to pass up. I cling to that image because it is so compelling and have no time for the naysayers, even if they have some facts on their side (pesky, annoying things). As a crusader, he didn’t manage to retake Jerusalem but considering the odds against him, Richard did very well and the mutual respect he and Saladin had for each other may have become legendary but it is backed up by actual history. His main failing was in being too kind and indulgent with his brother John, but it is hard to fault him too much for that. Riding into the thick of the fight, swinging his Danish battle axe it is easy to see why he became such an iconic, chivalrous figure. He did regain some of the Holy Land for Christendom, undid much of the damage that was done in his absence and died in battle, again, a great way for such a famous warrior-king to go. I cannot dislike Richard I, I’m all for him.
King John: England has been fortunate in having mostly good to great monarchs but, every now and then, just to keep the English humble, a King John comes along. Despite my best efforts over the years to find a bright side, he really was pretty much as bad as his reputation attests. He betrayed his own family, conspired with the King of France, failed at doing wrong as much as doing right (if he ever tried), brought down excommunication on himself from Pope Innocent III (who was not the tolerant sort) and ended up turning the nobility of England against him. Failing again, as usual, he was forced to sign the Magna Carta so even for fans of the “Great Charter” King John cannot be given much credit for it since it was done basically under duress. He was not bad at administration but even there his tendency to micromanage won him few friends. By the time all was said and done no one respected him and worse no one could trust him. I have to go with the crowd on this one; King John was just not good.