The poisoning of King John and coronation of King Henry III


King John was taken ill in October 1216, having suffered an attack of dysentery, and he died at Newark, Nottinghamshire, most likely on 18 or 19 October. According to the chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John’s final illness was brought on by gluttony; but rumours soon started to circulate that he had been poisoned by a monk of Swineshead Abbey in Lincolnshire. This miniature is taken from a verse chronicle of the kings of England, compiled late in the 13th century. It depicts John being offered a cup of poison: as the accompanying text relates, in Anglo-Norman French, ‘e fuit enpoysone par une frere de la meson’ (he was poisoned by a brother of the house). John accepts the chalice with a look of suspicion, while the monk’s brethren watch eagerly to see whether the ruse will succeed.

Full title:
Chronicle of the kings of England from Edward the Confessor (1042–1066) to Edward I (1272–1307) (Dean 31)
Manuscript / Illustration
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Vitellius A XIII

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