Your RDA of Irony

King John’s Involuntary Gift to Us

Fortunately, King John was Anti-Semitic; so it was unlikely that he would have married Ayn Rand. She would never have let him sign the Magna Carta on this–or any other day–in 1215.

You could imagine their conversation at Runnymede.

John: Well, I’ve lost another war. This never happened to Richard. Perhaps heterosexuals don’t belong in the army. In any case, the barons are demanding that I sign this charter guaranteeing them all sorts of rights and protections.

Ayn: Only a weakling wants anything in writing. If these barons want their rights, they must seize them.

John: If I don’t sign, they’ll kill me.

Ayn: Only a weakling dies.

But John did sign–and immediately reneged on the terms. The barons decided to oust the little weasel and invited the French crown prince Louis (what else) to be king of England.

John, who had the remarkable ability of being both unscrupulous and incompetent, was losing this war, too. England seemed likely to be ruled by King Louis I. But John took the initiative and actually did something decisive that completely undermined his opposition: he dropped dead. The death was suitably ridiculous: a surfeit of peaches and ale. Yet, it effectively ended the rebellion.

The barons realized that John’s heir, his nine year-old son Henry, would make a much more malleable king than an adult French prince. In return for the barons’ allegiance, the regency of Henry III un-reneged the Magna Carta. And it has been in effect ever since.

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