Deadlock and the Prisoner’s Dilemma in King John
Strategic thinking was a matter of cultural inherence for the Earls of Oxford. They never excused King John for the First Barons’ War and the excommunication of Robert de Vere, Third Earl of Oxford. King John goes further than lineal memory, however, as a game-theoretic perspective reveals. The social dilemmas of Deadlock and the Prisoner’s Dilemma come to the dramaturgical fore. During King John’s reign, preeminent men were embracing the necessary logic of statecraft, the English Great Council was commanding greater constitutional power, and European citizens were beginning to anticipate political behavior. The Citizen personifies the call for social evolution. The Bastard, who fears constitutional disintegration, resists this demand. King John hereby captures a tension that echoes the demand for social improvements under Queen Elizabeth.