King John

play by Shakespeare

The Life and Death of King John (1598) is a play by William Shakespeare dramatizing the life of King John of England.

Act I

  • The worst Lord of thy presence, and no land beside.
    • Elinor, scene i

  • And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter;
    For new-made honour doth forget men's names.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene i

  • For he is but a bastard to the time,
    That doth not smack of observation.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene i

  • Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age’s tooth.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene i

Act II

  • For courage mounteth with occasion.
    • Archduke of Austria, scene i

  • I would that I were low laid in my grave:
    I am not worth this coil that’s made for me.
    • Arthur, scene i

  • Saint George, that swindg'd the dragon, and e’er since
    Sits on his horse back at mine hostess’ door.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene i

  • He is the half part of a blessed man,
    Left to be finished by such as she;
    And she a fair divided excellence,
    Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.
    • Hubert, scene ii

  • Talks as familiarly of roaring lions,
    As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs!
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene ii

  • Zounds! I was never so bethump’d with words,
    Since I first call’d my brother’s father, dad.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene ii


  • I will instruct my sorrows to be proud;
    For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout.
    • Constance, scene i

  • Here I and sorrows sit;
    Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it.
    • Constance, scene i

  • Thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward,
    Thou little valiant, great in villainy!
    Thou ever strong upon the stronger side!
    Thou Fortune’s champion, that dost never fight
    But when her humorous ladyship is by
    To teach thee safety!
    • Constance, scene i

  • Thou wear a lion’s hide! doff it for shame,
    And hang a calf’s-skin on those recreant limbs.
    • Constance, scene i

  • Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England
    Add thus much more — That no Italian priest
    Shall tithe or toll in our dominions.
    • King John, scene i

  • So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith;
    And, like a civil war, sett'st oath to oath,
    Thy tongue against thy tongue.
    • Pandulph, scene i

  • Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
    Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
    Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
    Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
    Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form.
    • Constance, scene iv

  • Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
    Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.
    • Lewis, scene iv

  • When Fortune means to men most good,
    She looks upon them with a threatening eye.
    • Pandulph, scene iv

  • And he that stands upon a slippery place
    Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.
    • Pandulph, scene iv

Act IV

  • How now, foolish rheum!
    • Hubert, scene i

  • Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
    To guard a title that was rich before,
    To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw a perfume on the violet,
    To smooth the ice, or add another hue
    Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
    To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
    Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess.
    • Salisbury, scene ii

  • And oftentimes excusing of a fault
    Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.
    • Pembroke, scene ii

  • We cannot hold mortality’s strong hand.
    • King John, scene ii

  • There is no sure foundation set on blood;
    No certain life achieved by others' death.
    • King John, scene ii

  • Make haste, the better foot before.
    • King John, scene ii

  • I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
    The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
    With open mouth swallowing a tailor’s news.
    • Hubert, scene ii

  • Another lean unwash'd artificer.
    • Hubert, scene ii

  • How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
    Make deeds ill done!
    • King John, scene ii

Act V

  • O inglorious league!
    Shall we, upon the footing of our land,
    Send fair-play orders and make compromise,
    Insinuation, parley and base truce
    To arms invasive? shall a beardless boy,
    A cocker'd silken wanton, brave our fields,
    And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil,
    Mocking the air with colours idly spread.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene i

  • ’T is strange that death should sing!
    I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
    Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death;
    And, from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings
    His soul and body to their lasting rest.
    • Prince Henry, scene vii

  • Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room.
    • King John, scene vii

  • This England never did, nor never shall,
    Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
    But when it first did help to wound itself.
    Now these her princes are come home again,
    Come the three corners of the world in arms,
    And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,
    If England to itself do rest but true.
    • Philip Faulconbridge, scene vii

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