What kind of King was John? Was he a great monarch, a good leader, a feeble king or a downright awful medieval leader? King John is the subject of a great deal of debate among historians. Popularly portrayed in cartoon films as the wicked Prince, his character is subject to much criticism. As an optional study in Key Stage 2 and a popular topic within Key Stage 3 history, the life and rule of Prince then King John is an intriguing area to investigate.
This lesson pack explores different interpretations of King John. It is aimed at upper primary or Year 7 pupils. They are provided with the chronology of significant events in John’s life, including his time as Prince and Regent. The views of a number of historians are then used to explore the question of what makes a medieval monarch effective. This criteria is then applied to John, using examples of his actions and the views of historians.
Following the lesson pack enables pupils to begin to explore historical interpretations. They can begin to identify the way in which views are created and to explain why one historical figure can be viewed so differently. They are taught to extract information from source material to support opposing hypothesis and given assistance in developing a reasoned, depth, response to the question of whether John was an effective medieval monarch, or a poor one.