Under the rule of King John, England is forced into war when the French challenge the legitimacy of John's claim to the throne and determine to install his nephew Arthur in his place. But political principles, hypocritically flaunted, are soon forgotten, as the French and English kings form an alliance based on cynical self-interest. And as the desire to cling to power dominates England's paranoid and weak-willed king, his country is threatened with disaster.
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Stanley Wells is Emeritus Professor of the University of Birmingham and Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Robert Smallwood, who recently retired as the Head of Education at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, is an Honorary Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham, editor of Cambridge University Press's Players of Shakespeare collection, and general editor of the Arden Shakespeare's Shakespeare at Stratford series.
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