King John: The son of Queen Elinor, the father of Prince Henry, and the brother of King Richard I (Richard the Lion Heart), King John has seized the throne after his brother’s death, over the possibly more legal claim of his nephew, Arthur. Rather than evil like Richard III, Shakespeare’s King John is undistinguished; rather than dominating the numerous events around him, he rather lets them govern him.
Prince Henry: The son of King John, the prince is named King Henry III after his father dies at the end of the play.
Arthur, duke of Britain: The son of King John’s older brother and Constance, Arthur has a stronger claim to the throne than John, but is only a child. John captures Arthur and at first arranges his execution; however, John later relents, and Arthur dies accidentally as he tries to escape.
Earl of Pembroke
Earl of Essex
Earl of Salisbury
Hubert de Burgh: A citizen of Angiers and later in the service of King John, Hubert is loyal to the king but also is sympathetic and kind and cannot kill the young Arthur, despite the king’s wishes.
Robert Faulconbridge: The legitimate son of Lady Faulconbridge and her husband, Robert is the half-brother of Philip the Bastard.
Philip the Bastard: A fictional character, the Bastard is the illegitimate son of Lady Faulconbridge and King Richard I. King John likes his loyalty and takes him into his confidence where he quickly shows the courage and strength of his father. Perhaps the most grounded character in the play, the Bastard understands how things work in the kingdom, and ends the play with a patriotic speech predicting a great future for England.
James Gurney: Servant of Lady Faulconbridge
Peter of Pomfret: A prophet, Peter is hanged because he predicts (somewhat correctly) John will surrender his crown before the next Ascension Day.
Philip, king of France: The father of Lewis the dauphin and a supporter of Arthur’s claim to the throne, Philip is at war with John through most of the play. Although it appears that he loses these wars, he was successful in reclaiming much of the English possessions in France.
Lewis, the dauphin: The son of Philip and the heir to his throne, he is married to John’s niece, Blanch of Spain, in an effort to avoid war. The effort however, only stalls hostilities for a time; and, like his father, he is at war with John for much of the play.
Lymoges, duke of Austria: The supposed killer of King Richard the Lion Heart, Lymoges wears a lion skin taken from the late king. His loyalties shift with the vagaries of war, and he is eventually killed by Philip.
Cardinal Pandulph: The pope’s legate, Cardinal Pandulph negotiates with John, Philip, and Lewis on behalf of the pope. He excommunicates John because he refuses to follow the pope’s commands, but later reversed the sentence when John submits to Rome.
Melune: A French lord
Chatillion: An ambassador from France, Chatillion is the first to demand John give up his claims to the throne and his lands in France.
Queen Elinor: The widow of King Henry II and the mother of the late King Richard I and of King John, Elinor supports John’s claim to the throne and accepts the Bastard as her grandson. A powerful and lively character, she accompanies John on his French campaigns, but dies toward the end of the play.
Constance: The wife of Geffrey, John’s older brother, and the mother of Arthur, Constance supports her son’s claim to the throne. When France stops supporting her son, she becomes furious; when John defeats her allies and captures Arthur, she goes mad.
Blanch of Spain: The daughter of the king of Castile and the niece of King John, Blanch is given in marriage to Lewis the dauphin in hopes of uniting the two warring countries.
Lady Faulconbridge: Mother of Robert Faulconbridge and (with King Richard I) the Bastard.