King John is widely considered the most unfortunate and unsuccessful King in the history of the British Isles, so much so that no king since his time has taken that name. He was the son of Henry II, and usurped the throne while his brother, the rightful king, Richard I (Couer de Lion) was away on Crusade. John's relations with the Pope were so bad that he was forced to become the Pope's vassal and declare all of England the Pope's personal fief to prevent the entire kingdom from being placed under interdict. The most remarkable event in his life was of course when the nobles met him at Runnymede, and forced him to sign the Great Charter (Magna Carta) which made the King subject to English law, and forever prevented the possibility of England becoming an absolute monarchy. In his dying moments, John took holy orders so that he could die a monk, a curiously Russian habit.