King Richard I, the revered 'Lionheart', is dead. His brother John has become King of England, but the French argue that the throne should belong to the boy Arthur, son of John's deceased older brother Geoffrey. Matching the dispute over the throne i... (more)s a dispute over inheritance in the noble Falconbridge family. It is discovered that Philip Falconbridge (the 'Bastard') is the illegitimate son of Richard I; he is accordingly knighted 'Sir Richard and Plantagenet'. French and English forces fight for the town of Angiers in France; a citizen proposes that the opponents should be united by a marriage between Lewis the Dauphin, heir to France, and John's niece, Lady Blanche. Arthur's mother Constance is furious that the French have given up on her son's claim. John is excommunicated for failing to agree to the Pope's choice for the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. The papal legate Cardinal Pandulph stirs the French to resume war against the English. Arthur is captured and John commissions his servant Hubert to execute the boy; young Arthur dies from a fall while trying to escape. John changes his mind and agrees to the Pope's wishes. A French invasion force is shipwrecked. John falls sick and dies. His son Henry becomes king, though the Bastard remains the most forceful character.