A line-by-line translation

King John

King John Translation Table of Contents

King Philip of France threatens war if the tyrannical King John of England won’t abdicate his throne. In this history play, Shakespeare explores themes of inheritance in the figure of Philip the Bastard (illegitimate son of the late King Richard); medieval women’s (albeit limited) political influence in the characters of Eleanor and Constance; and double-dealing through Hubert’s conflicts over John’s orders for Hubert to kill John’s own nephew, Arthur, whom the French would like to see crowned King of England. This Shakescleare modern English translation of King John makes Shakespeare’s play more accessible to all readers, allowing you to uncover some of its most significant lines, including “new-made honor doth forget men’s names”

Act 1, Scene 1

England and France go to war over Arthur's right to the crown. Richard Coeur-de-Lion's illegitimate son is discovered.

Act 2, Scene 1

The English forces land in France. Angiers refuses to yield and suggests a royal marriage to settle differences.

Act 3, Scene 1

Constance is angry at the alliance. King John refuses to recognize the Pope's authority. The French king betrays him.

Act 3, Scene 2

The Bastard kills Austria and rescues Queen Elinor.

Act 3, Scene 3

Arthur is captured. King John hints to Hubert to murder him. They go with the Bastard to England.

Act 3, Scene 4

The French are sad about their losses. Cardinal Pandulph has a plan to defeat England that depends on Arthur's death.

Act 4, Scene 1

Hubert threatens to kill Arthur, then relents. He decides to lie to the king's spies.

Act 4, Scene 2

King John is crowned again. Arthur is reported dead. The people revolt. King John learns Arthur is still alive.

Act 4, Scene 3

Arthur tries to escape and dies. The nobles find his body and join the Dauphin's army.

Act 5, Scene 1

King John submits to the pope in exchange for a truce with France. The Bastard encourages him to fight instead.

Act 5, Scene 2

The nobles swear an oath with the Dauphin. Cardinal Pandulph fails to make peace. France and England declare war.

Act 5, Scene 3

King John retreats from battle with a fever, but gets good news about the French reinforcements.

Act 5, Scene 4

The nobles learn that the Dauphin intends to betray them and return to King John.

Act 5, Scene 5

The armies stop fighting for the night. Lewis hears news about Count Melun, the English nobles, and his reinforcements.

Act 5, Scene 6

Hubert reports that the king has been poisoned by a monk. The Bastard has lost half his army in a shipwreck.

Act 5, Scene 7

King John dies, leaving Henry to rule and bury him. The Dauphin makes peace. The Bastard warns against civil war.