King John has been betrayed by his nephew, Arthur who, backed by the French King, is conducting a rebellion. The King of France demands that he surrender his throne but, instead, John sends a force against the him under Philip Faulconbridge. The armies clash at Angiers but there is no decisive victory. John makes a peace settlement with the French King.
John is, in the meantime, having a problem with the Pope. The Pope has excommunicated him, and his envoy, Pandulph, orders the French King to resume hostilities with John. During one of the battles John captures his nephew, Arthur. He gives orders for his execution but his chamberlain, Hubert, disobeys the order. While trying to escape, Arthur falls to his death. The nobles accuse John of murder and defect to the French side. John is forced to hand over his crown to Pandulph, although receives it back, but his kingdom is now under the Pope’s control.
Pandulph now tries to stop the conflict but the French won’t co-operate and the armies meet at Edmundsbury. The nobles don’t trust the French King and they return to John. The French King comes to terms with John through Pandulph but John is not there to see that as he is poisoned by a monk while he is staying at Swinstead Abbey. He is succeeded by his son, King Henry III.