© Trinity College Library, University of Cambridge
The murder of King John’s nephew, Prince Arthur (1187–1203) had far-reaching consequences, since it led indirectly to the French seizure of Normandy, from which John never recovered. Arthur had a strong claim to the English throne, being the son of John’s older brother Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany (1158–86). The threat posed by Arthur to John’s rule was exacerbated when the Prince allied himself with King Philip Augustus of France (r. 1180–1223). Arthur was captured by his uncle in 1202 and imprisoned at Rouen, where he died in mysterious circumstances. Rumours soon circulated that Prince Arthur had been killed by John himself. According to the account in this near-contemporary chronicle, John attacked Arthur in a drunken rage, tied the body to a rock and threw it into the River Seine, where it was caught in a fisherman’s net and buried in secret.