Was King John of England that bad?

Haesten

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,924
"anyone who has ever carried out research using documents held at The National Archives may well have cause to thank him.

Why? Because for all his flaws, King John was an assiduous administrator. He was very keen on filing, and it is the filing system that seems to have originated in his reign that formed the backbone of the recordkeeping systems of English (and later British) royal government for centuries."

King John and recordkeeping - The National Archives blog
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,750
The French were on the rise once they got a decent king
John had to squeeze England to pay the ransom of his foolish brother Richard and got blamed for it
Not just that. And mother Eleanor was instrumental in bleeding the English white to get favourite son Richard out of hock with the HR Empreror (Henry the Devil, him and Richard had a lot in common and apparently Richard had a pretty good time with him) – but then when John became king he instituted the most rapacious tax-hunt in England to try to reconquer the Angevin French possessions that Philippe Auguste had already taken, and THEN he was comprehensively defeated meaning the entire massive investment he had made in that project went completely down the toilet.

These kingly ransoms and streams of money around 12-13th c. Europe are interesting in themselves. Henry the Devil had married the heiress to the Norman kingdom of Sicily (as per Fredrick Barbarossa's plans), but didn't control the kingdom he nominally had picked up. Henry used part of Richards ransom to raise the necessary army to impose himself on Sicily. Then he emptied the Sicilian vaults of all the treasure the d'Hautevilles had amassed and blew it all on an attempt to conquer Constantinopolis, only he died before he could get the project properly under way, and the entire fortune was lost.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,750
No better or worse than many monarchs, and he was as much a victim of circumstance as of his own decisions. Literature and folklore have done him no favours either.
Less successful than most certainly.

Had John's plans for a reconquest of the Angevin French domains then he could have recouped his losses, reimbursed his nobles, and hypothetically gone down in history as a great Plantagenet, maybe rivaling father Henry even?

But he lost it all, with everyone of substance in England hating him, and being flat broke had no means of doing anything about any of it.