THE LIFE AND DEATH OF KING JOHN
DE RENZI FRANCESCA
DE RENZI FRANCESCA
A messenger from France arrives in the English court, demanding that King John abdicate his throne in favour of his nephew Arthur. The messenger speaks for King Philip of France, who supports Arthur's claim as the rightful heir to the throne; when John refuses to step down, France threatens war.
The Bastard and his younger brother enter to dispute their inherited lands. John rules that the Bastard has the right to the lands, because a wife's offspring become a father's heir, no matter who the actual father. John's mother, Eleanor, takes a liking to the Bastard, because it is rumored that his father was her son and John's brother, Richard the Lionhearted. She proposes that he leave his lands to his younger brother and join her armies under the name of the Bastard of Richard the Lionhearted. He agrees, and John knights him.
In France, Philip and his forces prepare to attack the English-held town of Angers unless its citizens swear allegiance to Arthur. John and his armies arrive; Arthur's mother, Constance, and Eleanor insult each other, as various members of each side argue. Each king asks Angers's citizens whom they support as the King of England, but the citizens say they support the rightful king. Philip and John's armies go to war, but are so equally matched that neither side wins. The citizens of Angers still won't decide between them.
The Bastard suggests that the English and French armies unite to conquer the disobedient town of Angers, then fight each other later. They agree and prepare to attack. At this point, the citizens of Angers suggest an alternative. Marry Philip's son Louis to John's niece Blanche, they suggest, then peace can be settled. Louis and John are pleased with the idea, because it strengthens John's ties to the throne, and Louis gains English-held French territory. The Bastard marvels at the changeable minds of the nobles.
Constance is upset by the turn of events and blames Philip for having abandoned his support for Arthur when presented with a more fruitful bond to the English throne.
Louis and Blanche are married when Pandolf, an ambassador from the pope, arrives. He charges John with having disobeyed the pope in the matter of a posting of an archbishop, but John is not about to obey the orders of the distant pope. Pandolf excommunicates John and charges Louis with the duty of overthrowing John. Philip, whose family has just been linked to John's by marriage, hesitates while his nobles try to influence him. Pandolf reminds him that his ties to the church predate his connection with John and threatens excommunication. Finally Philip gives in and breaks with John.
After inconclusive battles in which the English capture Arthur, John prepares to return to England, leaving his mother in charge of English-held French territories and sending the Bastard ahead to collect the finances of the English monasteries. John instructs Hubert to look after Arthur and then asks him surreptitiously to kill him. Meanwhile Pandolf tries to encourage the French to fight, suggesting to Louis that he now can lay the same claim to the throne of England as Arthur, because he has married into a branch of the English royal family. Louis agrees to attack England.
Hubert tries to kill Arthur but he is so enchanted with Arthur's innocence that he is unable. He tells Arthur that no one can know he is alive. Meanwhile John's lords have asked for Arthur to be released, so John agrees to order Arthur's freedom. Hubert enters and reports that Arthur is dead; the lords believe Arthur was assassinated and depart to join Louis's army.
The Bastard returns from the monasteries, reporting that the people are not happy about John robbing the monasteries, and they predict John's downfall. John yells at Hubert, accusing him of having tricked him into ordering the death of Arthur, which he claims he never wanted. Finally Hubert reveals that Arthur is alive. A relieved John sends him after the departed lords to report the news.
Arthur tries to flee England but foolishly leaps off a castle wall and falls to his death. The lords come upon his body and are horrified at the brutality they believe was used to kill the boy. Hubert enters and reports that Arthur is alive; the lords point out Arthur's body and accuse Hubert of having killed him. Hubert says Arthur was alive when he left him. The lords depart to meet Louis.
John strikes a deal with Pandolf; he agrees to honor the pope if Pandolf can turn away the French army. The Bastard arrives to report the departure of the lords; John tells him about his deal with Pandolf.
The Bastard wants to fight the French and leads John's army at his behest.
John's departed lords swear allegiance to Louis. Pandolf arrives with news that John has reconciled with Rome and tries to dissuade Louis from attacking, but Louis says he won't be ordered around by anyone. The Bastard arrives to speak to Louis and threatens him with terrible destruction at the hands of the English armies unless Louis retreats. Each side prepares for battle.
A French lord is wounded, and he tells the English lords that Louis planned to kill them if he won. He urges them to rejoin John, and they do so. Louis's reinforcements are lost at sea, greatly dimming his prospects of victory. Meanwhile the Bastard meets Hubert, who reports that John has been poisoned by a monk at a monastery, where he had been awaiting reports from the Bastard. The English lords and John's son Prince Henry gather around the ill King. The Bastard reports that he has lost many of his men, who drowned in a tide.
John dies from the monk's poison. The Bastard prepares to attack Louis, but the nobles report that Pandolf had just brought them a peace treaty from Louis. The Bastard and the lords swear allegiance to Henry, and the Bastard speaks of England and how it will never be taken by foreign conquerors unless it is first damaged by internal strife.
KING JOHN - The King of England. John is the third son of Henry II. His older brother, Richard the Lionhearted, was king before him. Legally, his dead brother Geoffrey's son Arthur should have become the next king, but John takes the throne because Richard appointed him. The legitimacy of his rule is therefore in doubt--but John is happy to go to war to defend himself. However, his indifference to the decrees of the pope and his willingness to steal from the monasteries threaten his rule as much as the question of his legitimacy. But finally, it is his order to have Arthur killed that destroys the support of his lords. His robbery of the monasteries leads to his death at the hands of a monk.
ELEANOR - John's mother, Eleanor encourages John to have a strong hold on the throne even if his legitimacy is in question. She and Arthur's mother argue enthusiastically about who should be the next king. Eleanor's death in France means John is not adequately informed about the French invasion and briefly leaves him in despair.
PHILIP - The King of France, Philip is Arthur's champion, and demands that John abdicate in favor of his nephew. Yet Philip easily changes his mind and joins with John's family in marriage when the citizens of Angers suggest that Louis and Blanche marry. Philip is forced to change his mind again when Pandolf insists that he defend the pope and go to war with John. However, Philip's main problem is that he keeps losing his armies crossing the ocean between France and England.
ARTHUR - Son of John's elder brother, Arthur is the rightful heir to the throne. His mother, Constance, masterminds his attempt to seize the throne, and Philip provides the military strength he needs. Yet Arthur wishes he had nothing to do with the complex political life and dreams of being a simple shepherd. He convinces Hubert not to kill him, but then dies when he foolishly leaps off the castle walls in an effort to escape.
THE BASTARD - Illegitimate son of Richard the Lionhearted, the Bastard's proper name is Philip; he is named for his father, King Philip. He claims his inheritance from his foster father but then gives it to his younger brother, choosing to become a knight instead. At first he is a mischievous figure, urging the French and English to unite to destroy Angers and stealing money from monasteries (at John's request), but he soon becomes John's main supporter after all the king's lords abandon him. The Bastard speaks directly to the audience, interpreting and analyzing scenes. By the end of the play, his honorable behavior has made him look even better than John, but he has a string of bad luck when he loses half his army. He is persistent, though; he tries to declare war on Louis even after peace has been declared.
LOUIS - Philip's son, Louis marries Blanche and thus becomes another distant heir to the English crown. Pandolf encourages him to seek out this claim, so he attacks England. However, his reinforcements are lost in a storm at sea, and Louis letss Pandolf broker a peace treaty with England.
PANDOLF - A messenger from the pope, Pandolf first arrives to ask John why he has resisted the pope's nomination for archbishop. He excommunicates John and threatens to excommunicate Philip unless he breaks with John. Later he urges Louis to attack England, but then accepts John's belated recognition of the pope's requests. He tries to convince Louis to stop the attack, but fails, until Louis loses his army and needs Pandolf to negotiate peace between the nations.
HUBERT - One of John's men, Hubert is assigned to look after Arthur, but John asks him to kill Arthur. Hubert is so touched by Arthur's innocence that he cannot kill the boy, and he returns to John with the false news that Arthur is dead. When John accuses Hubert of having convinced him to kill Arthur when he didn't want to, Hubert reveals that he didn't kill Arthur. Yet when Arthur is found dead, the nobles assume Hubert killed him. Later Hubert is on hand when John is poisoned at a monastery and he informs the Bastard.
CONSTANCE - Arthur's mother, Constance convinces Philip to be her son's champion in his quest for the throne. After Arthur is captured, she mourns extravagantly and accuses Philip of having sold her out by arranging a marriage between Louis and Blanche.
PEMBROKE - One of John's followers, Pembroke switches allegiances when he believes Arthur has been killed at John's instruction. Later he returns to John's side and swears allegiance to his son after John dies.
SALISBURY - One of John's followers, Salisbury switches allegiances when he believes Arthur has been killed at John's instruction. Later he returns to John's side and swears allegiance to his son after John dies.
AUSTRIA - One of Philip's men, killed by the Bastard.
BLANCHE - Niece of John, Blanche marries Louis, thus cementing a bond between John and Philip. When Pandolf insists Philip break with John, Blanche is distraught to have to choose between her family and her new husband.
ESSEX - One of John's followers.
BIGOT - Lord Bigot is one of John's followers.
MELUN - One of Louis's men, Melun tips the English lords off after he is wounded, telling them Louis means to behead them if they beat John's army in the invasion.
FALCONBRIDGE - The Bastard's younger (legitimate) brother, Falconbridge claims his father willed his inheritance to him, but the Bastard possesses it legally because he is their mother's oldest son. But he regains the land when the Bastard forfeits it.
LADY FALCONBRIDGE - The Bastard's mother, Lady Falconbridge committed adultery with Richard the Lionhearted. Her oldest son was therefore illegitimate, though the legal heir to her husband's property.
CHATILLON - A messenger from France, Chatillon speaks for Philip when he asks John to abdicate in favor of Arthur, beginning the first battles between the nations.
PRINCE HENRY - John's son, Henry becomes King Henry III at John's death, and the lords all swear allegiance to him over his father's dead body.
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Fonte: Forum LCS di ROMA3