Because he couldn't break them and ultimately he needed them. He did nasty things to both these magnates before he ceased harrying them. It seems highly likely he did murder his nephew and then there was the whole de Braose incident. William Marshal said to the young Henry III that he hoped his reign would be very short if he happened to behave like a certain foul ancestor of his (meaning John).[quote=""Telynor""]Towards the knightly classes and nobles, he was pretty ruthless when he had to be. But it also looks that he had some genuine ties of affection -- with his children, both legitimate and natural, his half-brother William Longespee, and there were men that he respected such as Rannulf of Chester and William Marshal.
And it seems that towards the lower classes he did have a sense of justice. Certainly a very complicated king. And at least he wasn't ordering wholesale massacre like Richard was fond of doing!
Unless you count the harrying of the Isle of Ely during the later civil war where he burned the land and everyone in it to a crisp. Wouldn't you know I've put down the reference book I was using that had a comment from a chronicler about this laying waste and the detail that John sent his mercs out day and night - so that he could watch the fires by darkness and that he would rather watch the blazes than attend to routine business. There were other occasions too, but then he's no different to many of his rellies both forward and back in time. William the Conqueror's harrying of the North for example. I think with John, it was often personal. He'd fix on something or someone and set out to destroy it. Whereas Richard's massacres were impersonal decisions of war. John's were individual ones of personality. He tore de Braose apart. He harried but couldn't break Chester and Marshal. Salisbury was an underling, dependent on him for largesse and kept on the leash, never allowed to grow bigger than his 65 knights fees for his earldom (given to him by Richard).
I think trust was a large part of it, but John never knew who he could trust and his notions changed from day to day (witness the dodgy handshake ploys which the freemasons would have been hardput to stay with), so one minute you were his best friend and the next, depending on his state of mind, your lands and even your life were forfeit.think it boils down to trust on John's part. As long as you didn't betray him,and you were aiming for the same goals as he was, he was tolerable.
[/quote]Once you start digging into the pasts of any of the monarchs of the medieval period, they tend to be on the ruthless and bloodthirsty side.
I agree there, but I think some were more intense than others. Sometimes not in terms of body count. I think with John, that prickling between the shoulder blades, both his and other people's must have been at an all time high! You never knew when the knife in the back was coming, and neither did your family.