William Shakespeare

King John

King John is commanded to hand over his throne to Arthur of Bretagne or face war with the French.

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An ambassador sent by King Philip of France delivers an ominous threat: King John must relinquish his throne to its rightful heir, his nephew Arthur of Bretagne, or France will declare a “fierce and bloody war.” John refuses. After receiving this news, Philip orders his forces to prepare an attack on the English-controlled French town of Angiers, and the citizens must then swear allegiance to Arthur or die.

King John also must deal with a dispute over land ownership between the Faulconbridge brothers. Their father knew that the older son was not his, and before his death, he bequeathed all of his lands to the younger son. John rules that the bastard son rightfully owns the lands regardless of who is his true father. John’s mother, Elinor, sees that the bastard son resembles Richard the Lionheart and proposes that he renounce his claim to the Faulconbridge land in exchange for a knighthood. He agrees and becomes Sir Richard Plantagenet.

This Modern Serial edition is based on William George Clark and William Aldis Wright’s 1887 Victoria edition, which is taken from the Globe edition.