I am hoping to challenge the verdict of history. Few British monarchs have suffered at the hands of history as much as King John —doomed to our collective memory as the bumbling archenemy of Robin Hood, oppressor of the common folk, and Richard the Lionheart’s malingering, malcontent younger brother. While there may be very little good to say of King John as a man, we lawyers owe him a debt of gratitude because of his pivotal role in the early development of the common law. And so, I have begun to explore that aspect of his reign in the (perhaps vain) hope of restoring John’s reputation to its rightful place.
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