There are three Richards about which I could write and still be in period. I have chosen Richard I or Richard Coeur de Lion (the Lionhearted). Richard was born in 1157, the fourth child and third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was the great-great grandson of William I (or William the Conqueror). As a third son, he never expected to become king. However, his eldest brother, William IV died the year before Richard was born.

Richard, his older brother, Henry, and younger brother, Geoffrey, banded together against their father supported by Louis VII of France in a conflict that lasted from 1173 to 1183 when young Henry died and Richard became heir apparent. However it was not until 1189 that Henry II gave in and officially named Richard his heir. Two days later, Henry died and Richard became King of England.

He ruled England for just under ten years, but spent less than six months of those ten years in England.

In January 1188, Richard and Philip of France prepared to lead the Third Crusade into the Holy Lands. They arrived in Sicily in 1190 where Richard’s sister had been imprisoned after the death of her husband. Richard obtained her release and finally signed a treaty with Tancred I of Sicily in March 1191. In April, Richard sailed a large fleet toward Acre. A storm split the fleet and after some time, the ship carrying Richard’s sister, Joan, and his fiancée, Berengaria, was anchored off the coast of Cyprus and was not allowed to land. Richard attacked Cyprus to retrieve the treasure and prisoners being held by Isaac Komnenos. Before leaving Cyprus, Richard and Berengaria were married. She accompanied him for a short while but returned without him. She did not set foot in England until after Richard’s death.
The fighting in the Holy Land finally resulted in a three-year truce and Richard started home. However, he was taken prisoner in Austria in December, 1192 and after long negotiations regarding ransom, he was finally released in February, 1194.

Most people today when asked about Richard I, think about the Tales of Robin Hood and Prince John who was Richard’s younger brother.

In March, 1199, Richard was shot with a crossbow by a young boy who said Richard had killed his father and two brothers. The wound became gangrenous and Richard died April 6, 1199. Although Richard granted the young bowman pardon, after his death, his captain had the boy hunted down and killed.

Richard named John as his heir.

Although there has been a lot said about his sexuality, it’s unclear as to whether he was actually a homosexual or a bi-sexual.

One response to “R-Richard

  1. I’ve always found the portrayals of his brother John interesting. He’s quite the villain in the Robin Hood tales, but he is the one who signed the Magna Carta (after much protest, I know). Given that most of what we hear are legends and tales, I think a lot of the human complexity of all these men (and women!) get lost in the shuffle.

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