King John by William
A messenger from France arrives in the English court, demanding that King John abdicate his throne in favor of his nephew Arthur. The messenger speaks for King Philip of France, who supports Arthur's claim as the rightful heir to the throne; when John refuses to step down, France threatens war.
The Bastard and his younger brother enter to dispute their inherited lands. John rules that the Bastard has the right to the lands, because a wife's offspring become a father's heir, no matter who the actual father. John's mother, Eleanor, takes a liking to the Bastard, because it is rumored that his father was her son and John's brother, Richard the Lionhearted. She proposes that he leave his lands to his younger brother and join her armies under the name of the Bastard of Richard the Lionhearted. He agrees, and John knights him.
In France, Philip and his forces prepare to attack the English-held town of Angers unless its citizens swear allegiance to Arthur.
John and his armies arrive; Arthur's mother, Constance, and Eleanor insult each other, as various members of each side argue. Each king asks Angers's citizens whom they support as the King of England, but the citizens say they support the rightful king. Philip and John's armies go to war, but are so equally matched that neither side wins. The citizens of Angers still won't decide between them. The Bastard suggests that the English and French armies unite to conquer the disobedient town of Angers, then fight each other later. They agree and prepare to attack. At this point, the citizens of Angers suggest an alternative. Marry Philip's son Louis to John's niece Blanche, they suggest, then peace can be settled. Louis and John are pleased with the idea, because it strengthens...