John II of England was the eldest son of Arthur I of England and succeeded him when the elderly King died on the way to an abortive Crusade. He is regarded as a nonentity, much like his brothers: Guy, Earl of Cornwall and John, Earl of Lancaster

Early Reign

Before his succession in 1312, John II lived the life of a typical Prince of those days, with an emphasis on hunting. His father despaired of his perceived incapacity to rule energetically and lavished his attentions on his second son, Guy of Cornwall. Guy, therefore inculcated a tendency toward laziness and pleasure-seeking, being bored by politics. John, feeling rather neglected, began to take opposing positions to his father on any matter that might arise. He was notoriously critical of Arthur I's second marriage, by which he had his youngest son, whom he called John as an insult to his heir. It was in this unhappy family that power lay, and the elder John assumed that power on the death of his father. However, he quickly became disillusioned with his position, and recalled his uncle, John, Earl of Richmond, from Ireland, where the respected diplomat had been making some headway in arranging a concerted conquest of those areas still under Gaelic authority. To do this, he had to win over a multitude of baronial factions and promise to deal with their various complaints, which he did with dignity and real skill. Nevertheless, his recall left his promises unfulfilled, and the Anglo-Irish barons lost any faith in their monarchs that still remained.

By 1330, the ageing William II of Scotland, who began his career as a mere Count of Hainault, was hungry for more glory. He had pacified the majority of his realm, and felt that some unity could be gained by a war with England.  Thus, he personally led an army down to Newcastle. It was at this point that a new development occurred. Hitherto, the defence of the North had been the business of individual Lords, but now John of Richmond and John of Lancaster prevailed upon King John II to send a Royal force. Suspicious and jealous of Richmond's popularity and irrationally spiteful toward his half-brother, John II called a Parliament to raise funds for the venture with a bad grace. The bourgeoisie had been whipped up into a patriotic frenzy, and taxes were approved almost immediately, with Richmond set to lead the army. But the meddling King instead gave Guy of Cornwall, the least offensive of his relatives, ultimate command. Guy was killed at the Battle of Cramlington in 1331 and Richmond took over anyway. However, despite his diplomatic skills, Richmond did not prove a good strategist, and lost a string of battles so badly that only his personal charm could keep the army even vaguely loyal. At the Siege of Middleham in 1334, Richmond was hit by a stray arrow from one of his own men, who (it was claimed) was in the pay of the King. the Earl of Lancaster now became Commander, and eventually succeeded in repulsing the Scottish invasion in 1336. King William II died a year later, massively pleased with himself.

Later Reign

The death of Guy of Cornwall had caused a succession crisis in England. the indolent Prince had left only a daughter, Joan of Cornwall, and as a female she was barred from the throne. Once she had an adult son, he would be the heir, but until then John's successor was set to be John of Lancaster, whom he despised. The King planned to change the laws of succession to allow Joan to inherit his lands, and he married her off to Charles of Blois, a nephew of the French King. However, Parliament, increasingly exasperated by the debts incurred in the prosecution of the Anglo-Scottish War 1330 - 1336, and also reluctant to ordain a female monarch, especially given the precedent of Henry I trying and failing to do a similar thing, refused to alter the law. Thus, when John II died in 1341, the stage was set for the Hundred-and-Thirteen Years' War, in which England was split into two camps: the Bloisevins, who supported Joan of Cornwall and were aided by the Armagnac faction in France, to whom Charles of Blois belonged; and the Lancastrians, who favoured John of Lancaster, were allied with the Burgundians in France, and were mainly comprised of the emergent middle class, especially merchants, who benefited from trade with lands owned by the Duke of Burgundy. John's epithet "the Good" belies his extremely detrimental effects on peace in Europe.

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