October 05, 2016

Bad King John? (Done different)

Bronze Statue of King John to be placed in the town centre
KLFM blogpost and video of the event (scroll down to Oct 12 on Si's blog)

Hear the studio version of The Ballad of Badass King John 
The poem is published in Doin Different )
BBC TV LOOK EAST NEWS FEATURE  (including a clip of the live rap and interview wth yours truly) 12 minutes in
Hear the Hunstanton Millennium Anthem (Calway-Sims, 2000, live at the Town hallmy previous essay in civic service

Does he have a special relationship with Lynn? Lynn News interview with Dr Paul Richards
King John's part in the history of Lynn from its beginnings until Stuart times is depicted below by schoolchildren taking part in 'The Murals in the Town' project in 2004. The 2004 King John Charter celebration was managed by the '800th Anniversary Committee' (Cllrs + Aldermen + reps from KLF and other town cultural bodies) set up by the Council and chaired by Sir Jeremy Bagge. The QEH was involved also and the murals now adorn a corridor there.
Before 1204
 King John's charter (pictured to his left) after which we were Bishop's Lynn (Lynn Episcopi)
 The King who put the King in King's Lynn- shifting his allegiance from the church (which he stripped of wealth and its social role in the town) to the Protestant merchants
Stuart Lynn, with witch burnings and a thriving trade well worth securing for the Parliamentarian side in the Civil War.

Some extra facts from Dr Richards I didn't have room to include in the published Lynn News features:
Bishop Losinga (of Norwich), was the original ruler and founder of Lynn and bishops of Norwich controlled Lynn as part of its diocese - all of Norfolk and Suffolk in those days. Norwich had 100 Benedictine monks and St Margaret's priory, Lynn,  was where they sent the troublesome ones!

The King John Cup (which like the Sword you can see in the Town hall) was made in Flanders in the C14 and its beautiful workmanship has deservedly been toured all over Europe.

The King John sword dates from Henry VIII's reign and like the Cup surfaced in ceremonials relating to the Charter. The names of both link the object with the king the Great Guild probably saw as their (1204) founder.  

These are symbolic links - John did not carry the sword or drink from the cup as is often believed - but nevertheless a powerful one.

The man who really put the 'King' into King's Lynn was Henry VIII who deprived the church of wealth and a social role in the port-town in 1537, 'to have an end to our Lord of Norwich.' This was partly grist to the dissolution and Reformation mill, partly Henry's personal hatred for the Norwich bishop of the time, Bishop Nix. After the fall of Katherine of Aragon, Henry threw in his lot with a great and lucrative rival to the church's power, the Protestant merchants and the rule of Lynn was given to them.

The association of the King in King's Lynn with it being a royalist town during the Civil War is nonsense - it was called King's Lynn from 1537 (Henry VIII) and anyway, the town had elected Parliamentarians as its two MPs and mayor and the royalist coup d'etat staged by Hamon Lestrange and his backwoods cavaliers was very short-lived (August-September 1643).

King John was buried (as a monk) at Worcester Cathedral - he was still intact until they crowbarred off the lid off his tomb in the last century upon which exposure to the air he disintegrated. He was buried there at his own request because St Wulfstan, to which Worcester Cathedral is dedicated, was his favourite saint.

Paul used my Ballad of Badass King John to introduce his True's Yard talk 'Is there a special relationship between King John and Lynn' (Sep 29, 2016) 
Lynn News Review of that talk here.

The Angevins were Very Bad,
And Worst of All was John:
As foul as hell is, it’s defiled
By Eleanor’s Little One.

Usurped his Lionhearted Bro,
The One Good Angevin;
Jugged Merry Freeborn English (yay!)
Forest-flying Robin.

Villain of the Good/Bad History
School and book and song,
‘Inadequate with some Capone’
John. King John. …Bad King John.

In 1216 at all time low,
His ‘soft sword’ half advanced,
His shrunk-crown empire Richard-pawned,
Normandy lost to France, (pah!)

Despised by all those Magna barons
Carting him to heel
Flinging him to French invaders
And Abdullah’s deal:

England given to Mohammed!
A rock moored off Morocco,
Hapless John at bay and 4 years

Villain of the Good/Bad History
School and book and song,
‘Inadequate with some Capone’
John. King John. …Bad King John.

From Lynn, he armied up to Lincoln
As the Wellstream rose,
Despised by Emperor, peasant, guild;
His Rome-rule churches closed;

3000 men, wheels coming off,
Up creek without a guide;
The royal dosh lost in the Wash -
He never lost our pride.

Three wheels on my wagon
And I'm still rolling along,
I'm wicked, selfish, lecherous, cruel,
You learned about me in your school,
Now I'm under the cosh, lost my dosh in the Wash
But I'm singing a happy song.

For out in Norfolk we do different,
And his haven, it was Lynn,
Their domain he made our borough
Gallant little Linnet king.

Victim of the Good/Bad History
School and book and song,
His Brother’s Bad Book Good Book Keeper
John. King John. …Good King John.

pic (and Trespass pic above) by Pat Jones

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