King John | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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King John | Scene Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • About 1200

    King John refuses to acknowledge Arthur's right to rule England.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    English and French armies prepare to besiege Angiers.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • That day

    In Angiers war with France is narrowly averted by a royal marriage.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Not long after

    Pandulph excommunicates the insolent King John on the pope's behalf.

    Act 3, Scene 1
  • Immediately after

    Pandulph urges Philip to break the treaty and continue fighting against England.

    Act 3, Scene 1
  • Within days

    Fighting resumes between England and France.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • During the war

    English forces capture Arthur, whom Hubert brings back to England.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • Almost instantly

    King John secretly orders Arthur's assassination.

    Act 3, Scene 3
  • Soon after

    French forces prepare to invade England.

    Act 3, Scene 4
  • Meanwhile

    Ordered to kill Arthur, Hubert cannot bring himself to do so.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • Days later

    John has himself re-crowned to the dismay of his noblemen.

    Act 4, Scene 2
  • Almost immediately

    A group of "angry lords" defect from King John to France.

    Act 4, Scene 2
  • Within hours

    John sends Hubert and the Bastard to make peace with the lords.

    Act 4, Scene 2
  • Shortly after

    Allowed to escape, Arthur dies in a suspicious-looking accident.

    Act 4, Scene 3
  • As war continues

    John makes peace with the pope.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Meanwhile

    The Dauphin defies the pope by continuing to wage war.

    Act 5, Scene 2
  • Autumn 1216

    King John falls ill and retires to Swinstead Abbey.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • Soon after

    Poisoned by a monk, John dies at Swinstead after an earlier reconciliation with his barons.

    Act 5, Scene 7
  • Immediately after

    The English nobility depart to seek peace with France.

    Act 5, Scene 7

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 At his palace in England, King John receives an ambassador from the French king, Philip II. Also present are John's moth... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Act 2 consists of a single massive scene, set outside the French city of Angiers. First to enter is Philip II of France,... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Back at the French king's pavilion near Angiers, Constance, "full of fears," reacts negatively to the news of peace. Art... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 This short scene dramatizes a battle between the French and English armies. The Bastard enters the stage, bearing the se... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 The battle at Angiers has ended. King John enters with Queen Eleanor, the captive Arthur, the Bastard, and Hubert. He te... Read More
Act 3, Scene 4 Still at Angiers, King Philip of France complains to Cardinal Pandulph about his army's losses and England's safe retrea... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 At a castle (in Normandy or England; Shakespeare does not specify), King John's servant Hubert instructs some executione... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 At his palace in England, King John has been crowned again in the presence of the Earls of Pembroke and Salisbury. His n... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 Back at the castle where he was held prisoner, Arthur has donned a disguise and climbed to the top of the wall. He now d... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 At his palace King John ceremonially receives the crown from Cardinal Pandulph, who has reconciled England to the pope. ... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 In the French camp at St. Edmundsbury, Louis, the Dauphin is receiving the English defectors: Lord Bigot and the Earls o... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 On the battlefield King John receives bad news from Hubert and divulges his own failing health. A messenger from the Bas... Read More
Act 5, Scene 4 Elsewhere on the battlefield, Lord Bigot and the Earls of Salisbury and Pembroke commiserate about the strength of the E... Read More
Act 5, Scene 5 This final battlefield scene takes place in the French camp, where the Dauphin is congratulating himself on an evident v... Read More
Act 5, Scene 6 The scene shifts to the environs of Swinstead Abbey, where King John lies sick. Hubert and the Bastard enter the stage s... Read More
Act 5, Scene 7 In the orchard of Swinstead Abbey, Prince Henry reports some grim news to Lord Bigot and the Earl of Salisbury. King Joh... Read More
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