King John

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter King John, Queen Eleanor, Pembroke, Essex,

and Salisbury, with Chatillon of France


Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?
will (v.), past form would 1 desire, wish, want


Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France,

In my behaviour, to the majesty,
behaviour (n.) 1 person, embodiment, personification

The borrowed majesty, of England here.
borrowed (adj.) assumed, pretended, feigned


A strange beginning – ‘ borrowed majesty ’!


Silence, good mother. Hear the embassy.
embassy (n.) 1 message [especially via an ambassador]


Philip of France, in right and true behalf
behalf (n.), especially: in behalf (of) 1 advantage, interest, benefit

Of thy deceased brother Geoffrey's son,

Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim

To this fair island and the territories,
territory (n.) dependency, dominion

To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,

Desiring thee to lay aside the sword
desire (v.) 2 require, command

Which sways usurpingly these several titles,
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count
sway (v.) 1 control, rule, direct, govern
title (n.) 2 possession, lordship, dominion

And put the same into young Arthur's hand,

Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.


What follows if we disallow of this?
disallow of (v.) reject, deny, refuse to admit


The proud control of fierce and bloody war,
control (n.) compulsion, constraint, mastery

To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.


Here have we war for war and blood for blood,

Controlment for controlment. So answer France.
controlment (n.) control, restraint, check


Then take my King's defiance from my mouth,

The farthest limit of my embassy.
embassy (n.) 2 ambassadorial role, function as ambassador


Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace.

Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;

For ere thou canst report I will be there,
report (v.) give an account [of], describe in words

The thunder of my cannon shall be heard.

So, hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath

And sullen presage of your own decay.
decay (n.) 1 destruction, downfall, ending
presage (n.) 1 sign, indication, portent
sullen (adj.) 1 gloomy, dismal, melancholy, mournful

An honourable conduct let him have.
conduct (n.) 5 escort, attendant, guide

Pembroke, look to't. Farewell, Chatillon.

Exeunt Chatillon and Pembroke


What now, my son? Have I not ever said

How that ambitious Constance would not cease

Till she had kindled France and all the world

Upon the right and party of her son?
party (n.) 1 side, faction, camp

This might have been prevented and made whole
make whole put right, bring to agreement

With very easy arguments of love,
argument (n.) 4 discussion, debate, dialogue
easy (adj.) 4 effortless, straightforward, uncomplicated

Which now the manage of two kingdoms must
manage (n.) 3 government, rulers

With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count


Our strong possession and our right for us.


(to King John)

Your strong possession much more than your right,

Or else it must go wrong with you and me.

So much my conscience whispers in your ear,

Which none but heaven, and you and I, shall hear.

Enter a sheriff, who whispers to Essex


My liege, here is the strangest controversy,

Come from the country to be judged by you,

That e'er I heard. Shall I produce the men?


Let them approach.

Exit sheriff

Our abbeys and our priories shall pay

This expeditious charge.
expeditious (adj.) speedy, sudden, quickly needed

Enter Robert Faulconbridge and Philip, his bastard


                         What men are you?


Your faithful subject I, a gentleman,

Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son,

As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,

A soldier, by the honour-giving hand

Of Coeur-de-lion knighted in the field.
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count


What art thou?


The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.


Is that the elder, and art thou the heir?

You came not of one mother then, it seems.


Most certain of one mother, mighty King –

That is well known; and, as I think, one father.
well-known (adj.) certain, clear, apparent

But for the certain knowledge of that truth

I put you o'er to heaven, and to my mother;
put over (v.) refer, hand over, direct

Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.


Out on thee, rude man! Thou dost shame thy mother,
rude (adj.) 4 uncivilized, uncultivated, unrefined

And wound her honour, with this diffidence.
diffidence (n.) distrust, misgiving, lack of confidence


I, madam? No, I have no reason for it.

That is my brother's plea, and none of mine;

The which if he can prove, 'a pops me out
pop out [informal] disinherit, turn from

At least from fair five hundred pound a year.
fair (adv.) 7 fully, quite, wholly

Heaven guard my mother's honour, and my land!


A good blunt fellow! Why, being younger born,
blunt (adj.) 2 plain-spoken, unceremonious, forthright

Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?


I know not why, except to get the land –

But once he slandered me with bastardy.
once (adv.) 1 once and for all, in a word See Topics: Discourse markers

But whe'er I be as true begot or no,
beget (v.), past form begot 1 give birth to, father, conceive

That still I lay upon my mother's head.

But that I am as well begot, my liege –

Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me! –
bone (n.) 3 (plural) man, person
fair (n.) 2 fortune, happiness, favour
fall (v.) 2 befall, fall on, come to

Compare our faces and be judge yourself.

If old Sir Robert did beget us both

And were our father, and this son like him,

O old Sir Robert, father, on my knee

I give heaven thanks I was not like to thee!


Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!
lend (v.) give, grant, bestow [on]
madcap (n.) mad-brained fellow, lunatic


(to King John)
trick (n.) 3 peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, distinguishing trait

He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face;

The accent of his tongue affecteth him.
accent (n.) 3 sound, voice quality, way of talking
affect (v.) 4 imitate, copy, mimic

Do you not read some tokens of my son
read (v.) 1 interpret, discern, make something of
token (n.) 1 sign, evidence, mark

In the large composition of this man?
composition (n.) 1 constitution, make-up, state [of mind and body]
large (adj.) 7 general, broad; or: powerfully built, robust


(to Queen Eleanor)
part (n.) 1 quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]

Mine eye hath well examined his parts

And finds them perfect Richard. (to Robert Faulconbridge) Sirrah, speak.

What doth move you to claim your brother's land?


half-face (n.) profile, side-view

Because he hath a half-face like my father!

With half that face would he have all my land –

A half-faced groat, five hundred pound a year!
half-faced (adj.) 2 [of a coin] showing a monarch's profile; also: clipped, imperfect


My gracious liege, when that my father lived,

Your brother did employ my father much –



Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land.

Your tale must be how he employed my mother.


– And once dispatched him in an embassy
dispatch, despatch (v.) 5 send away, send off
embassy (n.) 2 ambassadorial role, function as ambassador

To Germany, there with the Emperor

To treat of high affairs touching that time.
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to

Th' advantage of his absence took the King
advantage (n.) 1 right moment, favourable opportunity

And in the meantime sojourned at my father's,
sojourn (v.) 1 pause, reside, stay for a while

Where how he did prevail I shame to speak –

But truth is truth. Large lengths of seas and shores

Between my father and my mother lay,

As I have heard my father speak himself,

When this same lusty gentleman was got.
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed
lusty (adj.) 1 vigorous, strong, robust, eager

Upon his death-bed he by will bequeathed

His lands to me, and took it on his death
take (v.) 12 swear, take an oath

That this, my mother's son, was none of his;

And if he were, he came into the world

Full fourteen weeks before the course of time.
course (n.) 2 habit, custom, practise, normal procedure

Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine,

My father's land, as was my father's will.


Sirrah, your brother is legitimate.

Your father's wife did after wedlock bear him,

And if she did play false, the fault was hers –
false (adv.) 4 unfaithfully, disloyally, inconstantly,

Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands
hazard (n.) 2 [gambling] chance, fortune; throw [of dice]

That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother,

Who, as you say, took pains to get this son,

Had of your father claimed this son for his?

In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept

This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world;

In sooth he might. Then, if he were my brother's,

My brother might not claim him, nor your father,

Being none of his, refuse him. This concludes:
conclude (v.) 4 prove the truth, settle the matter

My mother's son did get your father's heir;

Your father's heir must have your father's land.


Shall then my father's will be of no force

To dispossess that child which is not his?


Of no more force to dispossess me, sir,

Than was his will to get me, as I think.


Whether hadst thou rather be: a Faulconbridge,

And like thy brother, to enjoy thy land;

Or the reputed son of Coeur-de-lion,
reputed (adj.) acknowledged, recognized, accounted

Lord of thy presence, and no land beside?
presence (n.) 4 gracious self, dignity as a person, personal position


Madam, an if my brother had my shape

And I had his – Sir Robert's his, like him;

And if my legs were two such riding-rods,
riding-rod (n.) cane used in riding, switch

My arms such eel-skins stuffed, my face so thin

That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose

Lest men should say ‘ Look where three-farthings goes!’

And, to his shape, were heir to all this land –
to (prep.) 6 in addition to

Would I might never stir from off this place,

I would give it every foot to have this face;
give (v.) 9 give up, renounce

I would not be Sir Nob in any case!
Nob (n.) familiar form of Robert


I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,

Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me?
bequeath (v.) resign, give up, assign, hand over

I am a soldier and now bound to France.


Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance.

Your face hath got five hundred pound a year,

Yet sell your face for fivepence and 'tis dear.

Madam, I'll follow you unto the death.


Nay, I would have you go before me thither.


Our country manners give our betters way.


What is thy name?


Philip, my liege, so is my name begun;

Philip, good old sir Robert's wife's eldest son.


From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bearest:

Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great –

Arise Sir Richard, and Plantagenet.


Brother, by th' mother's side, give me your hand.

My father gave me honour, yours gave land.

Now blessed be the hour, by night or day,

When I was got, Sir Robert was away!


The very spirit of Plantagenet!

I am thy grandam, Richard. Call me so.
grandam (n.) grandmother See Topics: Family


Madam, by chance but not by truth; what though?
truth (n.) 1 loyalty, allegiance, faithfulness
what though what of it, never mind See Topics: Discourse markers

Something about, a little from the right,
about (adv.) 4 indirectly, irregularly

In at the window, or else o'er the hatch;
hatch (n.) 2 lower part of a door, half-door, gate

Who dares not stir by day must walk by night,

And have is have, however men do catch;
catch (v.) 1 seize, get hold of, capture

Near or far off, well won is still well shot,

And I am I, howe'er I was begot.


Go, Faulconbridge. Now hast thou thy desire;

A landless knight makes thee a landed squire.

Come, madam, and come, Richard, we must speed

For France, for France, for it is more than need.


Brother, adieu. Good fortune come to thee,

For thou wast got i'th' way of honesty!

Exeunt all but the Bastard

A foot of honour better than I was,
foot (n.) 2 step, degree, foothold

But many a many foot of land the worse!

Well, now can I make any Joan a lady.

‘ Good den, Sir Richard!’ – ‘ God 'a' mercy, fellow!’ –

And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter;

For new-made honour doth forget men's names –

'Tis too respective and too sociable
respective (adj.) 1 careful, attentive, considerate

For your conversion. Now your traveller,
conversion (n.) 2 newly honoured person, ennobled fellow

He and his toothpick at my worship's mess,
mess (n.) 3 dining company, banqueting table

And when my knightly stomach is sufficed,
suffice (v.) 1 satisfy, nourish, provide for

Why then I suck my teeth and catechise
catechize (v.) 1 ask questions of

My picked man of countries: ‘ My dear sir ’ –
picked (adj.) 1 fastidious, neat, foppish

Thus, leaning on mine elbow, I begin –

‘ I shall beseech you ’ – that is question now;

And then comes answer like an Absey book:
Absey book (n.) [pron: aybee'see] ABC, child's primer

‘ O sir,’ says answer, ‘ at your best command;

At your employment; at your service, sir.’
employment (n.) 1 task, service, commission

‘ No, sir,’ says question, ‘ I, sweet sir, at yours.’

And so, ere answer knows what question would,
will (v.), past form would 1 desire, wish, want

Saving in dialogue of compliment,
compliment, complement (n.) 2 ceremony, etiquette, protocol

And talking of the Alps and Apennines,

The Pyrenean and the River Po,

It draws toward supper in conclusion so.

But this is worshipful society,

And fits the mounting spirit like myself;
fit (v.) 1 suit, befit, be suitable [for]
mounting (adj.) ambitious, aspiring, rising

For he is but a bastard to the time
time (n.) 2 times, present day, present state of affairs

That doth not smack of observation.
observation (n.) 1 observance, rite, customary practice
smack (v.) 2 show the characteristics, savour the taste

And so am I – whether I smack or no,
smack (v.) 2 show the characteristics, savour the taste

And not alone in habit and device,
device (n.) 11 heraldic design, emblematic figure, armorial
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume See Topics: Frequency count

Exterior form, outward accoutrement,
accoutrement (n.) formal embellishment, special trappings

But from the inward motion – to deliver
motion (n.) 2 emotion, inclination, desire, impulse

Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth;
poison, sweet flattery
tooth (n.) 3 appetite, taste, hunger

Which, though I will not practise to deceive,
practise (v.) 1 plot, scheme, conspire

Yet to avoid deceit I mean to learn;

For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.
footsteps (n.) footpath, pathway, steps
strew (v.) 2 scatter, be spread over

But who comes in such haste in riding robes?

What woman-post is this? Hath she no husband
woman-post (n.) female carrier of dispatches

That will take pains to blow a horn before her?

Enter Lady Faulconbridge and James Gurney

O me, 'tis my mother! How now, good lady?

What brings you here to court so hastily?


Where is that slave thy brother? Where is he

That holds in chase mine honour up and down?
chase (n.) 1 pursuit, sequence, hunt


My brother Robert? Old Sir Robert's son?

Colbrand the Giant, that same mighty man?

Is it Sir Robert's son that you seek so?


Sir Robert's son? – Ay, thou unreverend boy,
unreverend (adj.) irreverent, impertinent, impudent

Sir Roberts son. Why scornest thou at Sir Robert?
scorn (v.) 1 mock, jeer, express disdain [at]

He is Sir Robert's son, and so art thou.


James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave a while?


Good leave, good Philip.


                         Philip? – Sparrow! James,

There's toys abroad. Anon I'll tell thee more.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count
toy (n.) 3 trinket, trifle, trivial ornament

Exit Gurney

Madam, I was not old Sir Robert's son.

Sir Robert might have eat his part in me

Upon Good Friday and ne'er broke his fast.

Sir Robert could do well – marry, to confess –
confess (v.) 2 be honest, be frank

Could he get me! Sir Robert Faulconbridge could not do it!
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed

We know his handiwork. Therefore, good mother,

To whom am I beholding for these limbs?
beholding (adj.) beholden, obliged, indebted

Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.


Hast thou conspired with thy brother too,

That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine honour?

What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count
untoward (adj.) 2 unmannerly, improper, unseemly


Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like!

What! I am dubbed, I have it on my shoulder.

But, mother, I am not Sir Robert's son.

I have disclaimed Sir Robert and my land;
disclaim (v.) disown, repudiate, renounce [connection with]

Legitimation, name, and all is gone.
legitimation (n.) legitimacy

Then, good my mother, let me know my father;

Some proper man, I hope. Who was it, mother?


Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridge?


As faithfully as I deny the devil.


King Richard Coeur-de-lion was thy father.

By long and vehement suit I was seduced
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

To make room for him in my husband's bed.

Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge!

Thou art the issue of my dear offence,
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Which was so strongly urged past my defence.
urge (v.) 3 solicit, force, press forward


Now, by this light, were I to get again,
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed

Madam, I would not wish a better father.

Some sins do bear their privilege on earth,
privilege (n.) 1 sanctuary, immunity, asylum

And so doth yours. Your fault was not your folly.

Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,
dispose (n.) 1 disposal, control, discretion

Subjected tribute to commanding love,

Against whose fury and unmatched force

The aweless lion could not wage the fight,
aweless (adj.) 2 fearless, unintimidated
wage (v.) 1 risk, venture upon, engage in

Nor keep his princely heart from Richard's hand.

He that perforce robs lions of their hearts
perforce (adv.) 1 forcibly, by force, violently See Topics: Frequency count

May easily win a woman's. Ay, my mother,

With all my heart I thank thee for my father.

Who lives and dares but say thou didst not well

When I was got, I'll send his soul to hell.
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed

Come, lady, I will show thee to my kin,

And they shall say, when Richard me begot,
beget (v.), past form begot 1 give birth to, father, conceive

If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin.

Who says it was, he lies – I say 'twas not!


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