Richard "the Lionheart", king of England

England, United Kingdom


Lithuanian: Ričardas, Spanish: Ricardo, Portuguese: Ricardo "Coração de Leão", Rei da Inglaterra
Also Known As: "Ričardas Liūtaširdis", "angl. Richard the Lionheart", "pranc. Cœur de Lion", "Ricardo Coração de Leão"
Birthplace: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Death: April 06, 1199 (41)
Châlus, Haute-Vienne, Limousin, France (Infection caused by being shot in the arm by a crossbow bolt)
Place of Burial: Fontevraud, Departement de Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry II "Curtmantle", King of England and Eleanor d'Aquitaine, Queen Consort of England
Husband of Berengaria of Navarre, Queen consort of England
Fiancé of Alix de France, Comtesse de Vexin
Ex-partner of Joan de St. Pol
Father of Philippe de Faulconbridge, Seigneur de Cognac
Brother of William IX, count of Poitiers; Henry the Young King; Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony; Geoffrey II, duke of Brittany; Philip, Prince of England and 3 others
Half brother of Marie Capet de France, comtesse de Champagne; Alice de France, Comtesse de Blois; Geoffrey, Archbishop of York; William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury; Morgan, bishop of Durham and 2 others

Occupation: King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Maine and Anjou (1189 – 1199), 1189, Roi d'Angleterre, крал на Англия, King of the English, Kung av England från 1189, King of England and Crusader, King, King of England 1189-, Ang
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About Richard "the Lionheart", king of England

The Tomb of Richard the Lionheart

RICHARD 1 REAL FACES _________________________________________

Find-a-Grave Memorial #1952


from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy (as Richard IV), Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period. He was the third of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was known as Richard Cœur de Lion or Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. The Muslims called him Melek-Ric (King Richard) or Malek al-Inkitar (King of England). He was also known in Occitan as Oc e No (Yes and No), because of his ability to change his mind.

By the age of 16, Richard the Lionheart had taken command of his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father. Richard was a central Christian commander during the Third Crusade, leading the campaign after the departure of Philip II of France and scoring considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, although he did not reconquer Jerusalem from Saladin.

Richard spoke langue d'oïl, a French dialect, and Occitan, a Romance language spoken in southern France and nearby regions. Born in England, where he spent his childhood, he lived for most of his adult life before becoming king in his Duchy of Aquitaine in the southwest of France. Following his accession he spent very little time, perhaps as little as six months, in England, preferring to use his kingdom as a source of revenue to support his armies. Nevertheless, he was seen as a pious hero by his subjects, he remains one of the few kings of England remembered by his epithet, rather than regnal number, and is an enduring iconic figure both in England and in France.


  • 1 Early life and accession in Aquitaine
  • 1.1 Childhood
  • 1.2 Revolt against Henry II
  • 1.3 Under Henry II's reign
  • 2 King and Crusader
  • 2.1 Coronation and anti-Jewish violence
  • 2.2 Crusade plans
  • 2.3 Occupation of Sicily
  • 2.4 Conquest of Cyprus
  • 2.5 Marriage
  • 2.6 In the Holy Land
  • 2.7 Captivity and return
  • 2.8 Later years and death
  • 3 Legacy
  • 3.1 Medieval folklore
  • 3.2 Sexuality
  • 3.3 Modern fiction

Early life and accession in Aquitaine


Richard was born on 8 September 1157, probably at Beaumont Palace, in Oxford, England, son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was a younger brother of Count William IX of Poitiers, Henry the Young King and Duchess Matilda of Saxony. As the third legitimate son of King Henry II, he was not expected to ascend the throne. He was also an elder brother of Duke Geoffrey II of Brittany; Queen Eleanor of Castile; Queen Joan of Sicily; and Count John of Mortain, who succeeded him as king. Richard was the younger maternal half-brother of Countess Marie of Champagne and Countess Alix of Blois. The oldest son of Henry II and Eleanor, William, died in 1156, before Richard's birth. Richard is often depicted as having been the favourite son of his mother. His father was Norman-Angevin and great-grandson of William the Conqueror. Contemporary historian Ralph of Diceto traced his family's lineage through Matilda of Scotland to the Anglo-Saxon kings of England and Alfred the Great, and from there linked them to Noah and Woden. According to Angevin legend, there was even infernal blood in the family.

While his father visited his lands from Scotland to France, Richard probably spent his childhood in England. His first recorded visit to the European continent was in May 1165, when his mother took him to Normandy. He was wet-nursed by a woman called Hodierna and when he became king he gave her a generous pension.

Little is known about Richard's education. Although he was born in Oxford and raised in England up to his eighth year, it is not known to what extent he used or understood English; he was an educated man who composed poetry and wrote in Limousin (lenga d'òc) and also in French.

While a number of authors have speculated that Richard did not know the English language, the evidence available to historians does not provide a definitive case for this assumption. There are no contemporary accounts that state that Richard was ignorant of the language. Indeed, during his captivity English prejudice against foreigners was used in a calculated way by his brother John to help destroy the authority of Richard's chancellor, William Longchamp, who was a Norman. One of the specific charges laid against Longchamp, by John's supporter Hugh, Bishop of Coventry, was that he could not speak English. This indicates that by the late 12th century a knowledge of English was expected of those in positions of authority in England.

Richard was said to be very attractive; his hair was between red and blond, and he was light-eyed with a pale complexion. He was apparently of above average height: according to Clifford Brewer he was 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) As with his supposed lack of English, the question of his stature is one made from a lack of evidence as his remains have been lost since at least the French Revolution, and his exact height is unknown. John, his youngest brother (by the same father and mother), was known to be only 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m). The Itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta regis Ricardi, a Latin prose narrative of the Third Crusade, states that: "He was tall, of elegant build; the colour of his hair was between red and gold; his limbs were supple and straight. He had long arms suited to wielding a sword. His long legs matched the rest of his body."

From an early age he showed significant political and military ability, becoming noted for his chivalry and courage as he fought to control the rebellious nobles of his own territory. His elder brother Henry the Young King was crowned king of England during his father's lifetime.

Marriage alliances were common among medieval royalty: they led to political alliances and peace treaties, and allowed families to stake claims of succession on each other's lands. In March 1159 it was arranged that Richard would marry one of the daughters of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona; however, these arrangements failed, and the marriage never took place. Henry the Young King was married to Marguerite, daughter of Louis VII of France, on 2 November 1160.

Despite this alliance between the Plantagenets and the Capetians, the dynasty on the French throne, the two houses were sometimes in conflict. In 1168, the intercession of Pope Alexander III was necessary to secure a truce between them. Henry II had conquered Brittany and taken control of Gisors and the Vexin, which had been part of Marguerite's dowry. Early in the 1160s there had been suggestions Richard should marry Alys, Countess of the Vexin (Alice), fourth daughter of Louis VII; because of the rivalry between the kings of England and France, Louis obstructed the marriage.
A peace treaty was secured in January 1169 and Richard's betrothal to Alais was confirmed. Henry II planned to divide his and Queen Eleanor's territories among their three eldest surviving sons: Henry would become King of England and have control of Anjou, Maine, and Normandy; Richard would inherit Aquitaine from his mother and become Count of Poitiers; and Geoffrey would become Duke of Brittany through marriage alliance with Constance, heiress apparent to the region as the daughter, and only child, of Conan IV, Duke of Brittany. At the ceremony where Richard's betrothal was confirmed, he paid homage to the King of France for Aquitaine, thus securing ties of vassalage between the two.

After Henry II fell seriously ill in 1170, he put in place his plan to divide his kingdom, although he would retain overall authority over his sons and their territories. In 1171 Richard left for Aquitaine with his mother, and Henry II gave him the duchy of Aquitaine at the request of Eleanor.

Richard and his mother embarked on a tour of Aquitaine in 1171 in an attempt to pacify the locals. Together they laid the foundation stone of St Augustine's Monastery in Limoges. In June 1172 Richard was formally recognised as the Duke of Aquitaine when he was granted the lance and banner emblems of his office; the ceremony took place in Poitiers and was repeated in Limoges, where he wore the ring of St Valerie, who was the personification of Aquitaine.

Revolt against Henry II

According to Ralph of Coggeshall, Henry the Young King instigated rebellion against Henry II; he wanted to reign independently over at least part of the territory his father had promised him, and to break away from his dependence on Henry II, who controlled the purse strings. Jean Flori, a historian who specialises in the medieval period, believes that Eleanor manipulated her sons to revolt against their father.

Henry the Young King abandoned his father and left for the French court, seeking the protection of Louis VII; his younger brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, soon followed him, while the five-year old John remained in England. Louis gave his support to the three sons and even knighted Richard, tying them together through vassalage. Jordan Fantosme, a contemporary poet, described the rebellion as a "war without love".

The three brothers made an oath at the French court that they would not make terms with Henry II without the consent of Louis VII and the French barons. With the support of Louis, Henry the Young King attracted many barons to his cause through promises of land and money; one such baron was Philip, Count of Flanders, who was promised £1,000 and several castles. The brothers also had supporters ready to rise up in England. Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, joined forces with Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk, Hugh de Kevelioc, 5th Earl of Chester, and William I of Scotland for a rebellion in Suffolk.

The alliance with Louis was initially successful, and by July 1173 the rebels were besieging Aumale, Neuf-Marché, and Verneuil, and Hugh de Kevelioc had captured Dol in Brittany. Richard went to Poitou and raised the barons who were loyal to himself and his mother in rebellion against his father. Eleanor was captured, so Richard was left to lead his campaign against Henry II's supporters in Aquitaine on his own. He marched to take La Rochelle but was rejected by the inhabitants; he withdrew to the city of Saintes, which he established as a base of operations.

In the meantime Henry II had raised a very expensive army of over 20,000 mercenaries with which to face the rebellion. He marched on Verneuil, and Louis retreated from his forces. The army proceeded to recapture Dol and subdued Brittany. At this point Henry II made an offer of peace to his sons; on the advice of Louis the offer was refused. Henry II's forces took Saintes by surprise and captured much of its garrison, although Richard was able to escape with a small group of soldiers. He took refuge in Château de Taillebourg for the rest of the war.

Henry the Young King and the Count of Flanders planned to land in England to assist the rebellion led by the Earl of Leicester. Anticipating this, Henry II returned to England with 500 soldiers and his prisoners (including Eleanor and his sons' wives and fiancées), but on his arrival found out that the rebellion had already collapsed. William I of Scotland and Hugh de Bigod were captured on 13 and 25 July respectively. Henry II returned to France and raised the siege of Rouen, where Louis VII had been joined by Henry the Young King after abandoning his plan to invade England. Louis was defeated and a peace treaty was signed in September 1174, the Treaty of Montlouis.

When Henry II and Louis VII made a truce on 8 September 1174, its terms specifically excluded Richard. Abandoned by Louis and wary of facing his father's army in battle, Richard went to Henry II's court at Poitiers on 23 September and begged for forgiveness, weeping and falling at the feet of Henry, who gave Richard the kiss of peace. Several days later, Richard's brothers joined him in seeking reconciliation with their father.

The terms the three brothers accepted were less generous than those they had been offered earlier in the conflict (when Richard was offered four castles in Aquitaine and half of the income from the duchy): Richard was given control of two castles in Poitou and half the income of Aquitaine; Henry the Young King was given two castles in Normandy; and Geoffrey was permitted half of Brittany. Eleanor remained Henry II's prisoner until his death, partly as insurance for Richard's good behaviour.

Under Henry II's reign

After the conclusion of the war, the process of pacifying the provinces that had rebelled against Henry II began. The King travelled to Anjou for this purpose, and Geoffrey dealt with Brittany. In January 1175 Richard was dispatched to Aquitaine to punish the barons who had fought for him. The historian John Gillingham notes that the chronicle of Roger of Howden is the main source for Richard's activities in this period.

According to the chronicle, most of the castles belonging to rebels were to be returned to the state they were in 15 days before the outbreak of war, while others were to be razed. Given that by this time it was common for castles to be built in stone, and that many barons had expanded or refortified their castles, this was not an easy task. Roger of Howden records the two-month siege of Castillon-sur-Agen; while the castle was "notoriously strong", Richard's siege engines battered the defenders into submission. On this campaign Richard acquired the name "Richard the Lionheart".

Henry seemed unwilling to entrust any of his sons with resources that could be used against him. It was suspected that Henry had appropriated Princess Alys, Richard's betrothed, the daughter of Louis VII of France by his second wife, as his mistress. This made a marriage between Richard and Alys technically impossible in the eyes of the Church, but Henry prevaricated: he regarded Alys's dowry, Vexin in the Île-de-France, as valuable. Richard was discouraged from renouncing Alys because she was the sister of King Philip II of France, a close ally.

After his failure to overthrow his father, Richard concentrated on putting down internal revolts by the nobles of Aquitaine, especially in the territory of Gascony. The increasing cruelty of his rule led to a major revolt there in 1179. Hoping to dethrone Richard, the rebels sought the help of his brothers Henry and Geoffrey. The turning point came in the Charente Valley in the spring of 1179. The well-defended fortress of Taillebourg seemed impregnable. The castle was surrounded by a cliff on three sides and a town on the fourth side with a three-layer wall. Richard first destroyed and looted the farms and lands surrounding the fortress, leaving its defenders no reinforcements or lines of retreat. The garrison sallied out of the castle and attacked Richard; he was able to subdue the army and then followed the defenders inside the open gates, where he easily took over the castle in two days. Richard's victory at Taillebourg deterred many barons from thinking of rebelling and forced them to declare their loyalty to him. It also won Richard a reputation as a skilled military commander.

In 1181–1182 Richard faced a revolt over the succession to the county of Angoulême. His opponents turned to Philip II of France for support, and the fighting spread through the Limousin and Périgord. Richard was accused of numerous cruelties against his subjects, including rape. However, with support from his father and from the Young King, Richard succeeded in bringing the Viscount Aimar V of Limoges and Count Elie of Périgord to terms.

After Richard had subdued his rebellious barons he again challenged his father for the throne. From 1180 to 1183 the tension between Henry and Richard grew, as King Henry commanded Richard to pay homage to Henry the Young King, but Richard refused. Finally, in 1183 Henry the Young King and Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany, invaded Aquitaine in an attempt to subdue Richard. Richard's barons joined in the fray and turned against their duke. However, Richard and his army succeeded in holding back the invading armies, and they executed any prisoners. The conflict paused briefly in June 1183 when the Young King died. With the death of Henry the Young King, Richard became the eldest surviving son and therefore heir to the English crown. King Henry demanded that Richard give up Aquitaine (which he planned to give to his youngest son John as his inheritance). Richard refused, and conflict continued between them. Henry II soon gave John permission to invade Aquitaine.

To strengthen his position, in 1187, Richard allied himself with 22-year-old Philip II, the son of Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII by Adele of Champagne. Roger of Howden wrote:

The King of England was struck with great astonishment, and wondered what [this alliance] could mean, and, taking precautions for the future, frequently sent messengers into France for the purpose of recalling his son Richard; who, pretending that he was peaceably inclined and ready to come to his father, made his way to Chinon, and, in spite of the person who had the custody thereof, carried off the greater part of his father's treasures, and fortified his castles in Poitou with the same, refusing to go to his father.

Overall, Howden is chiefly concerned with the politics of the relationship between Richard and King Philip. Gillingham has addressed theories suggesting that this political relationship was also sexually intimate, which he posits probably stemmed from an official record announcing that, as a symbol of unity between the two countries, the kings of England and France had slept overnight in the same bed. Gillingham has characterized this as "an accepted political act, nothing sexual about it;... a bit like a modern-day photo opportunity."

In exchange for Philip's help against his father, Richard promised to concede to him his rights to both Normandy and Anjou. Richard paid homage to Philip in November 1187. With news arriving of the Battle of Hattin, he took the cross at Tours in the company of other French nobles.

In 1188 Henry II planned to concede Aquitaine to his youngest son John. The following year, Richard attempted to take the throne of England for himself by joining Philip's expedition against his father. On 4 July 1189, the forces of Richard and Philip defeated Henry's army at Ballans. Henry, with John's consent, agreed to name Richard his heir apparent. Two days later Henry II died in Chinon, and Richard succeeded him as King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Count of Anjou. Roger of Howden claimed that Henry's corpse bled from the nose in Richard's presence, which was taken as a sign that Richard had caused his death.

King and Crusader

Coronation and anti-Jewish violence

Richard I was officially invested as Duke of Normandy on 20 July 1189 and was crowned king in Westminster Abbey on 3 September 1189. Richard barred all Jews and women from the investiture, but some Jewish leaders arrived to present gifts for the new king. According to Ralph of Diceto, Richard's courtiers stripped and flogged the Jews, then flung them out of court.

When a rumour spread that Richard had ordered all Jews to be killed, the people of London began a massacre. Many Jews were beaten to death, robbed, and burned alive. Many Jewish homes were burned down, and several Jews were forcibly baptised. Some sought sanctuary in the Tower of London, and others managed to escape. Among those killed was Jacob of Orléans, a respected Jewish scholar. Roger of Howden, in his Gesta Regis Ricardi, claimed that the rioting was started by the jealous and bigoted citizens, and that Richard punished the perpetrators, allowing a forcibly converted Jew to return to his native religion. Baldwin of Forde, Archbishop of Canterbury, reacted by remarking, "If the King is not God's man, he had better be the devil's".

Realising that the assaults could destabilise his realm on the eve of his departure on crusade, Richard ordered the execution of those responsible for the most egregious murders and persecutions, including rioters who had accidentally burned down Christian homes. He distributed a royal writ demanding that the Jews be left alone. The edict was loosely enforced, however, and the following March there was further violence including a massacre at York.

Crusade plans

Richard had already taken the cross as Count of Poitou in 1187. His father and Philip II had done so at Gisors on 21 January 1188 after receiving news of the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin. After Richard became king, he and Philip agreed to go on the Third Crusade, since each feared that during his absence the other might usurp his territories.

Richard swore an oath to renounce his past wickedness in order to show himself worthy to take the cross. He started to raise and equip a new crusader army. He spent most of his father's treasury (filled with money raised by the Saladin tithe), raised taxes, and even agreed to free King William I of Scotland from his oath of subservience to Richard in exchange for 10,000 marks. To raise still more revenue he sold the right to hold official positions, lands, and other privileges to those interested in them. Those already appointed were forced to pay huge sums to retain their posts. William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely and the King's Chancellor, made a show of bidding £3,000 to remain as Chancellor. He was apparently outbid by a certain Reginald the Italian, but that bid was refused.

Richard made some final arrangements on the continent. He reconfirmed his father's appointment of William Fitz Ralph to the important post of seneschal of Normandy. In Anjou, Stephen of Tours was replaced as seneschal and temporarily imprisoned for fiscal mismanagement. Payn de Rochefort, an Angevin knight, was elevated to the post of seneschal of Anjou. In Poitou the ex-provost of Benon, Peter Bertin, was made seneschal, and finally in Gascony the household official Helie de La Celle was picked for the seneschalship there. After repositioning the part of his army he left behind to guard his French possessions, Richard finally set out on the crusade in summer 1190. (His delay was criticised by troubadours such as Bertran de Born.) He appointed as regents Hugh de Puiset, Bishop of Durham, and William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex—who soon died and was replaced by Richard's chancellor William Longchamp. Richard's brother John was not satisfied by this decision and started scheming against William. When Richard was raising funds for his crusade, he was said to declare, "I would have sold London if I could find a buyer."

Occupation of Sicily

In September 1190 Richard and Philip arrived in Sicily. After the death of King William II of Sicily his cousin Tancred had seized power and had been crowned early in 1190 as King Tancred I of Sicily, although the legal heir was William's aunt Constance, wife of the new Emperor Henry VI. Tancred had imprisoned William's widow, Queen Joan, who was Richard's sister, and did not give her the money she had inherited in William's will. When Richard arrived he demanded that his sister be released and given her inheritance; she was freed on 28 September, but without the inheritance. The presence of foreign troops also caused unrest: in October, the people of Messina revolted, demanding that the foreigners leave. Richard attacked Messina, capturing it on 4 October 1190. After looting and burning the city Richard established his base there, but this created tension between Richard and Philip Augustus. He remained there until Tancred finally agreed to sign a treaty on 4 March 1191. The treaty was signed by Richard, Philip and Tancred. Its main terms were:

  • Joan was to receive 20,000 ounces of gold as compensation for her inheritance, which Tancred kept.
  • Richard officially proclaimed his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, son of Geoffrey, as his heir, and Tancred promised to marry one of his daughters to Arthur when he came of age, giving a further twenty thousand ounces of gold that would be returned by Richard if Arthur did not marry Tancred's daughter.

The two kings stayed on in Sicily for a while, but this resulted in increasing tensions between them and their men, with Philip Augustus plotting with Tancred against Richard. The two kings finally met to clear the air and reached an agreement, including the end of Richard's betrothal to Philip's sister Alys (who had supposedly been the mistress of Richard's father Henry II).

Conquest of Cyprus

In April 1191 Richard left Messina for Acre, but a storm dispersed his large fleet. After some searching, it was discovered that the boat carrying his sister and his fiancée Berengaria was anchored on the south coast of Cyprus together with the wrecks of several other ships, including the treasure ship. Survivors of the wrecks had been taken prisoner by the island's ruler, Isaac Komnenos.

On 1 May 1191 Richard's fleet arrived in the port of Lemesos (Limassol) on Cyprus. He ordered Isaac to release the prisoners and treasure. Isaac refused, so Richard landed his troops and took Limassol. Various princes of the Holy Land arrived in Limassol at the same time, in particular Guy of Lusignan. All declared their support for Richard provided that he support Guy against his rival, Conrad of Montferrat.

The local magnates abandoned Isaac, who considered making peace with Richard, joining him on the crusade, and offering his daughter in marriage to the person named by Richard. Isaac changed his mind, however, and tried to escape. Richard's troops, led by Guy de Lusignan, conquered the whole island by 1 June. Isaac surrendered and was confined with silver chains because Richard had promised that he would not place him in irons. Richard named Richard de Camville and Robert of Thornham as governors. He later sold the island to the Knights Templar, and it was subsequently acquired, in 1192, by Guy of Lusignan and became a stable feudal kingdom.

The rapid conquest of the island by Richard is more important than it may seem. The island occupies a key strategic position on the maritime lanes to the Holy Land, whose occupation by the Christians could not continue without support from the sea. Cyprus remained a Christian stronghold until the battle of Lepanto (1571). Richard's exploit was well publicised and contributed to his reputation, and he also derived significant financial gains from the conquest of the island.

Richard left Cyprus for Acre on 5 June with his allies.


Before leaving Cyprus while on crusade, Richard married Berengaria of Navarre, first-born daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre. Richard first grew close to her at a tournament held in her native Navarre. The wedding was held in Limassol on 12 May 1191 at the Chapel of St. George and was attended by Richard's sister Joan, whom he had brought from Sicily. The marriage was celebrated with great pomp and splendour, many feasts and entertainments, and public parades and celebrations followed commemorating the event. Among the other grand ceremonies was a double coronation. Richard caused himself to be crowned King of Cyprus, and Berengaria Queen of England and of Cyprus, too. When Richard married Berengaria he was still officially betrothed to Alys, and he pushed for the match in order to obtain the Kingdom of Navarre as a fief, as Aquitaine had been for his father. Further, Eleanor championed the match, as Navarre bordered Aquitaine, thereby securing the southern border of her ancestral lands. Richard took his new wife on crusade with him briefly, though they returned separately. Berengaria had almost as much difficulty in making the journey home as her husband did, and she did not see England until after his death. After his release from German captivity Richard showed some regret for his earlier conduct, but he was not reunited with his wife. The marriage remained childless.

In the Holy Land

King Richard landed at Acre on 8 June 1191. He gave his support to his Poitevin vassal Guy of Lusignan, who had brought troops to help him in Cyprus. Guy was the widower of his father's cousin Sibylla of Jerusalem and was trying to retain the kingship of Jerusalem, despite his wife's death during the Siege of Acre the previous year. Guy's claim was challenged by Conrad of Montferrat, second husband of Sibylla's half-sister, Isabella: Conrad, whose defence of Tyre had saved the kingdom in 1187, was supported by Philip of France, son of his first cousin Louis VII of France, and by another cousin, Duke Leopold V of Austria. Richard also allied with Humphrey IV of Toron, Isabella's first husband, from whom she had been forcibly divorced in 1190. Humphrey was loyal to Guy and spoke Arabic fluently, so Richard used him as a translator and negotiator.

Richard and his forces aided in the capture of Acre, despite the king's serious illness. At one point, while sick from scurvy, Richard is said to have picked off guards on the walls with a crossbow, while being carried on a stretcher. Eventually Conrad of Montferrat concluded the surrender negotiations with Saladin's forces inside Acre and raised the banners of the kings in the city. Richard quarrelled with Leopold V of Austria over the deposition of Isaac Komnenos (related to Leopold's Byzantine mother) and his position within the crusade. Leopold's banner had been raised alongside the English and French standards. This was interpreted as arrogance by both Richard and Philip, as Leopold was a vassal of the Holy Roman Emperor (although he was the highest-ranking surviving leader of the imperial forces). Richard's men tore the flag down and threw it in the moat of Acre. Leopold left the crusade immediately. Philip also left soon afterwards, in poor health and after further disputes with Richard over the status of Cyprus (Philip demanded half the island) and the kingship of Jerusalem. Richard, suddenly, found himself without allies.

Richard had kept 2,700 Muslim prisoners as hostages against Saladin fulfilling all the terms of the surrender of the lands around Acre. Philip, before leaving, had entrusted his prisoners to Conrad, but Richard forced him to hand them over to him. Richard feared his forces being bottled up in Acre as he believed his campaign could not advance with the prisoners in train. He therefore ordered all the prisoners executed. He then moved south, defeating Saladin's forces at the Battle of Arsuf 30 miles (50 km) north of Jaffa on 7 September 1191. Saladin attempted to harass Richard's army into breaking its formation in order to defeat it in detail. Richard maintained his army's defensive formation, however, until the Hospitallers broke ranks to charge the right wing of Saladin's forces. Richard then ordered a general counterattack, which won the battle. Arsuf was an important victory. The Muslim army was not destroyed, despite the considerable casualties it suffered, but it did rout; this was considered shameful by the Muslims and boosted the morale of the Crusaders. In November of 1191, following the fall of Jaffa, the Crusader army advanced inland towards Jerusalem. The army then marched to Beit Nuba, only 12 miles from Jerusalem. Muslim morale in Jerusalem was so low that the arrival of the Crusaders would probably have caused the city to fall quickly. However, the weather was appallingly bad, cold with heavy rain and hailstorms; this, combined with the fear that the Crusader army, if it besieged Jerusalem, might be trapped by a relieving force, led to the decision to retreat back to the coast. Richard attempted to negotiate with Saladin, but this was unsuccessful. In the first half of 1192 he and his troops refortified at Ascalon.

An election forced Richard to accept Conrad of Montferrat as King of Jerusalem, and he sold Cyprus to his defeated protégé, Guy. Only days later, on 28 April 1192, Conrad was stabbed to death by Hashshashin (Assassins) before he could be crowned. Eight days later Richard's own nephew Henry II of Champagne was married to the widowed Isabella, although she was carrying Conrad's child. The murder has never been conclusively solved, and Richard's contemporaries widely suspected his involvement.

The Crusader army made another advance on Jerusalem, and in June 1192 it came within sight of the city before being forced to retreat once again, this time because of dissension amongst its leaders. In particular, Richard and the majority of the army council wanted to force Saladin to relinquish Jerusalem by attacking the basis of his power through an invasion of Egypt. The leader of the French contingent, the Duke of Burgundy, however, was adamant that a direct attack on Jerusalem should be made. This split the Crusader army into two factions, and neither was strong enough to achieve its objective. Richard stated that he would accompany any attack on Jerusalem but only as a simple soldier; he refused to lead the army. Without a united command the army had little choice but to retreat back to the coast.

There commenced a period of minor skirmishes with Saladin's forces, punctuated by another defeat in the field for the Ayyubid army at the Battle of Jaffa, while Richard and Saladin negotiated a settlement to the conflict. Both sides realised that their respective positions were growing untenable. Richard knew that both Philip and his own brother John were starting to plot against him, and the morale of Saladin's army had been badly eroded by repeated defeats. However, Saladin insisted on the razing of Ascalon's fortifications, which Richard's men had rebuilt, and a few other points. Richard made one last attempt to strengthen his bargaining position by attempting to invade Egypt—Saladin's chief supply-base—but failed. In the end, time ran out for Richard. He realised that his return could be postponed no longer since both Philip and John were taking advantage of his absence. He and Saladin finally came to a settlement on 2 September 1192. The terms provided for the destruction of Ascalon's fortifications, allowed Christian pilgrims and merchants access to Jerusalem, and initiated a three-year truce.

Captivity and return

Bad weather forced Richard's ship to put in at Corfu, in the lands of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos, who objected to Richard's annexation of Cyprus, formerly Byzantine territory. Disguised as a Knight Templar, Richard sailed from Corfu with four attendants, but his ship was wrecked near Aquileia, forcing Richard and his party into a dangerous land route through central Europe.

On his way to the territory of his brother-in-law Henry of Saxony, Richard was captured shortly before Christmas 1192 near Vienna by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, who accused Richard of arranging the murder of his cousin Conrad of Montferrat. Moreover Richard had personally offended Leopold by casting down his standard from the walls of Acre.

Duke Leopold kept him prisoner at Dürnstein Castle under the care of Leopold's ministerialis Hadmar of Kuenring. His mishap was soon known to England, but the regents were for some weeks uncertain of his whereabouts. While in prison, Richard wrote Ja nus hons pris or Ja nuls om pres ("No man who is imprisoned"), which is addressed to his half-sister Marie de Champagne. He wrote the song, in French and Occitan versions, to express his feelings of abandonment by his people and his sister. The detention of a crusader was contrary to public law, and on these grounds Pope Celestine III excommunicated Duke Leopold.

On 28 March 1193 Richard was brought to Speyer and handed over to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, who imprisoned him in Trifels Castle. Henry VI was aggrieved by the support the Plantagenets had given to the family of Henry the Lion and by Richard's recognition of Tancred in Sicily. Henry VI needed money to raise an army and assert his rights over southern Italy and continued to hold Richard for ransom. In response Pope Celestine III excommunicated Henry VI, as he had Duke Leopold, for the continued wrongful imprisonment of Richard. Richard famously refused to show deference to the emperor and declared to him, "I am born of a rank which recognises no superior but God". Despite his complaints, the conditions of his captivity were not severe.

The emperor demanded that 150,000 marks (65,000 pounds of silver) be delivered to him before he would release the king, the same amount raised by the Saladin tithe only a few years earlier, and 2–3 times the annual income for the English Crown under Richard. Eleanor of Aquitaine worked to raise the ransom. Both clergy and laymen were taxed for a quarter of the value of their property, the gold and silver treasures of the churches were confiscated, and money was raised from the scutage and the carucage taxes. At the same time, John, Richard's brother, and King Philip of France offered 80,000 marks for the Emperor to hold Richard prisoner until Michaelmas 1194. The emperor turned down the offer. The money to rescue the King was transferred to Germany by the emperor's ambassadors, but "at the king's peril" (had it been lost along the way, Richard would have been held responsible), and finally, on 4 February 1194 Richard was released. Philip sent a message to John: "Look to yourself; the devil is loose".

Later years and death

In Richard's absence, his brother John revolted with the aid of Philip; amongst Philip's conquests in the period of Richard's imprisonment was Normandy. Richard forgave John when they met again and named him as his heir in place of Arthur.

Richard began his reconquest of Normandy. The fall of Château de Gisors to the French in 1196 opened a gap in the Norman defences. The search began for a fresh site for a new castle to defend the duchy of Normandy and act as a base from which Richard could launch his campaign to take back the Vexin from French control. A naturally defensible position was identified perched high above the River Seine, an important transport route, in the manor of Andeli. Under the terms of the Peace of Louviers (December 1195) between Richard and Philip II, neither king was allowed to fortify the site; despite this, Richard intended to build the vast Château Gaillard. Richard tried to obtain the manor through negotiation. Walter de Coutances, Archbishop of Rouen, was reluctant to sell the manor as it was one of the diocese's most profitable, and other lands belonging to the diocese had recently been damaged by war. When Philip besieged Aumale in Normandy, Richard grew tired of waiting and seized the manor, although the act was opposed by the Church. Walter de Coutances issued an interdict against the duchy of Normandy prohibiting church services from being performed in the region. Roger of Howden detailed "the unburied bodies of the dead lying in the streets and square of the cities of Normandy". Construction began with the interdict hanging over Normandy, but it was later repealed in April 1197 by Pope Celestine III, after Richard made gifts of land to Walter de Coutances and the diocese of Rouen, including two manors and the prosperous port of Dieppe.

Royal expenditure on castles declined from the levels spent under Henry II, attributed to a concentration of resources on Richard's war with the king of France. However, the work at Château Gaillard was some of the most expensive of its time and cost an estimated £15,000 to £20,000 between 1196 and 1198. This was more than double Richard's spending on castles in England, an estimated £7,000. Unprecedented in its speed of construction, the castle was mostly complete in just two years, when most construction on such a scale would have taken the best part of a decade. According to William of Newburgh, in May 1198 Richard and the labourers working on the castle were drenched in a "rain of blood". While some of his advisers thought the rain was an evil omen, Richard was undeterred.

As no master-mason is mentioned in the otherwise detailed records of the castle's construction, military historian Allen Brown has suggested that Richard himself was the overall architect; this is supported by the interest Richard showed in the work through his frequent presence. In his final years, the castle became Richard's favourite residence, and writs and charters were written at Château Gaillard bearing "apud Bellum Castrum de Rupe" (at the Fair Castle of the Rock). Château Gaillard was ahead of its time, featuring innovations that would be adopted in castle architecture nearly a century later. Richard later boasted that he could hold the castle "were the walls made of butter". Allen Brown described Château Gaillard as "one of the finest castles in Europe", and military historian Sir Charles Oman wrote that:

Château Gaillard ... was considered the masterpiece of its time. The reputation of its builder, Coeur de Lion, as a great military engineer might stand firm on this single structure. He was no mere copyist of the models he had seen in the East, but introduced many original details of his own invention into the stronghold.

Determined to resist Philip's designs on contested Angevin lands such as the Vexin and Berry, Richard poured all his military expertise and vast resources into war on the French King. He constructed an alliance against Philip, including Baldwin IX of Flanders, Renaud, Count of Boulogne, and his father-in-law King Sancho VI of Navarre, who raided Philip's lands from the south. Most importantly, he managed to secure the Welf inheritance in Saxony for his nephew, Henry the Lion's son Otto of Poitou, who was elected Otto IV of Germany in 1198.

Partly as a result of these and other intrigues, Richard won several victories over Philip. At Fréteval in 1194, just after Richard's return to France from captivity and money-raising in England, Philip fled, leaving his entire archive of financial audits and documents to be captured by Richard. At the battle of Gisors (sometimes called Courcelles) in 1198, Richard took "Dieu et mon Droit"—"God and my Right"—as his motto (still used by the British monarchy today), echoing his earlier boast to the Emperor Henry that his rank acknowledged no superior but God.

In March 1199, Richard was in the Limousin suppressing a revolt by Viscount Aimar V of Limoges. Although it was Lent, he "devastated the Viscount's land with fire and sword". He besieged the puny, virtually unarmed castle of Châlus-Chabrol. Some chroniclers claimed that this was because a local peasant had uncovered a treasure trove of Roman gold, which Richard claimed from Aimar in his position as feudal overlord.

In the early evening of 25 March 1199, Richard was walking around the castle perimeter without his chainmail, investigating the progress of sappers on the castle walls. Missiles were occasionally shot from the castle walls, but these were given little attention. One defender in particular amused the king greatly—a man standing on the walls, crossbow in one hand, the other clutching a frying pan he had been using all day as a shield to beat off missiles. He deliberately aimed at the king, which the king applauded; however, another crossbowman then struck the king in the left shoulder near the neck. He tried to pull this out in the privacy of his tent but failed; a surgeon, called a "butcher" by Howden, removed it, "carelessly mangling" the King's arm in the process. The wound swiftly became gangrenous. Accordingly, Richard asked to have the crossbowman brought before him; called alternatively Pierre (or Peter) Basile, John Sabroz, Dudo, and Bertrand de Gourdon (from the town of Gourdon) by chroniclers, the man turned out (according to some sources, but not all) to be a boy. This boy claimed that Richard had killed the boy's father and two brothers, and that he had killed Richard in revenge. The boy expected to be executed; Richard, as a last act of mercy, forgave him, saying, "Live on, and by my bounty behold the light of day," before ordering that the boy be freed and sent away with 100 shillings. Richard then set his affairs in order, bequeathing all his territory to his brother John and his jewels to his nephew Otto.

Richard died on 6 April 1199 in the arms of his mother; it was later said that "As the day was closing, he ended his earthly day." Because of the nature of Richard's death, he was later referred to as "the Lion (that) by the Ant was slain". According to one chronicler, Richard's last act of chivalry proved fruitless when the infamous mercenary captain Mercadier had the crossbowman flayed alive and hanged as soon as Richard died.

Richard's heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy, his entrails in Châlus (where he died), and the rest of his body at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou. In 2012, scientists analysed the remains of Richard's heart and found that it had been embalmed with various substances, including frankincense, a symbolically important substance because it had been present both at the birth and embalming of the Christ.

A 13th-century Bishop of Rochester wrote that Richard spent 33 years in purgatory as expiation for his sins, eventually ascending to Heaven in March 1232.


Richard's reputation over the years has "fluctuated wildly", according to historian John Gillingham. Richard's contemporaneous image was that of a king who was also a knight, and that was apparently the first such instance of this combination. He was known as a valiant and competent military leader and individual fighter, courageous and generous. That reputation has come down through the ages and defines the popular image of Richard. He left an indelible imprint on the imagination extending to the present, in large part because of his military exploits. This is reflected in Steven Runciman's final verdict of Richard I: "he was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier." ("History of the Crusades" Vol. III) Meanwhile, Muslim writers during the Crusades period and after wrote of him: "Never have we had to face a bolder or more subtle opponent."

Richard, however, also received negative portrayals. During his life, he was criticised by chroniclers for having taxed the clergy both for the Crusade and for his ransom, whereas the church and the clergy were usually exempt from taxes. Victorian England was divided on Richard: many admired him as a crusader and man of God, erecting an heroic statue to him outside the Houses of Parliament. The late-Victorian scholar William Stubbs, on the other hand, thought him "a bad son, a bad husband, a selfish ruler, and a vicious man". During his ten years' reign, he was in England for no more than six months, and was totally absent for the last five years. Stubbs argued that:

He was a bad king: his great exploits, his military skill, his splendour and extravagance, his poetical tastes, his adventurous spirit, do not serve to cloak his entire want of sympathy, or even consideration, for his people. He was no Englishman, but it does not follow that he gave to Normandy, Anjou, or Aquitaine the love or care that he denied to his kingdom. His ambition was that of a mere warrior: he would fight for anything whatever, but he would sell everything that was worth fighting for. The glory that he sought was that of victory rather than conquest.

Richard produced no legitimate heirs and acknowledged only one illegitimate son, Philip of Cognac. As a result, he was succeeded by his brother John as King of England. However, his French territories initially rejected John as a successor, preferring his nephew Arthur of Brittany, the son of their late brother Geoffrey, whose claim was by modern standards better than John's. Significantly, the lack of any direct heirs from Richard was the first step in the dissolution of the Angevin Empire. While Kings of England continued to press claims to properties on the continent, they would never again command the territories Richard I inherited.

In World War I, when British troops commanded by General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem, the British press printed cartoons of Richard the Lionheart looking down from the heavens with the caption reading, "At last my dream has come true.". General Allenby protested against his campaign being presented as a latter day Crusade, however, stating "The importance of Jerusalem lay in its strategic importance, there was no religious impulse in this campaign."

Medieval folklore

Around the middle of the 13th century, various legends developed that, after Richard's capture, his minstrel Blondel travelled Europe from castle to castle, loudly singing a song known only to the two of them (they had composed it together). Eventually, he came to the place where Richard was being held, and Richard heard the song and answered with the appropriate refrain, thus revealing where the king was incarcerated. The story was the basis of André Ernest Modeste Grétry's opera Richard Coeur-de-Lion and seems to be the inspiration for the opening to Richard Thorpe's film version of Ivanhoe. It seems unconnected to the real Jean 'Blondel' de Nesle, an aristocratic trouvère. It also does not correspond to the historical reality, since the king's jailers did not hide the fact; on the contrary, they publicised it.

At some time around the 16th century, tales of Robin Hood started to mention him as a contemporary and supporter of King Richard the Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry, during the misrule of Richard's evil brother John, while Richard was away at the Third Crusade.


Since the 1950s Richard's sexuality has become an issue of wider interest and controversy. Victorian and Edwardian historians had rarely addressed this question, but in 1948 historian John Harvey challenged what he perceived as "the conspiracy of silence" surrounding Richard's homosexuality. This argument drew primarily on available chronicler accounts of Richard's behaviour, chronicler records of Richard's two public confessions and penitences, and Richard's childless marriage. Roger of Howden relates a hermit who warned, "Be thou mindful of the destruction of Sodom, and abstain from what is unlawful", and Richard thus "receiving absolution, took back his wife, whom for a long time he had not known, and putting away all illicit intercourse, he remained constant to his wife and the two become one flesh."This material is complicated by accounts of Richard having had at least one illegitimate child (Philip of Cognac), and by allegations that Richard had sexual relations with local women during his campaigns.

Leading historians remain divided on the question of Richard's sexuality. Harvey's argument has gained support but has been disputed by other historians, most notably John Gillingham. Drawing on other chronicler accounts, he argues that Richard was probably heterosexual. Historian Jean Flori claims that contemporary historians generally accept that Richard was predominantly homosexual. Flori also analysed contemporaneous accounts; he refuted Gillingham's arguments and concluded that Richard's two public confessions and penitences (in 1191 and 1195) must have referred to the "sin of sodomy". Flori cites contemporaneous accounts of Richard taking women by force and concludes that Richard probably had sexual relations with both men and women at different stages. Flori and Gillingham nevertheless agree that contemporaneous accounts do not support the suggestion that Richard had a sexual relationship with King Philip II, as suggested by some modern authors.

Modern fiction

Richard appears as a major or minor character in many works of fiction, both written and audio-visual. As noted above, Richard appears in connection with Robin Hood in Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe. He is one of the main characters in Scott's The Talisman, set during the Third Crusade. He appears in many other fictional accounts of the Third Crusade and its sequel, for example Graham Shelby's The Kings of Vain Intent and The Devil is Loose. Richard is a major character in Norah Lofts' novel The Lute Player, in Martha Rofheart's Lionheart!: A Novel of Richard I, King of England, in Cecelia Holland's The King's Witch, Gore Vidal's A Search For the King and in Sharon Kay Penman's The Devil's Brood and Lionheart. He also appears in three of Angus Donald's Outlaw Chronicles series of novels based on the legend of Robin Hood. The opera Riccardo Primo by George Frideric Handel is based on Richard's invasion of Cyprus. Richard is a major character in James Goldman's The Lion in Winter, which references the alleged homosexual affair between Richard and Philip II of France. The Lord Darcy stories by science fiction writer Randall Garrett depict an alternate history in which Richard survived Chaluz and went on to defeat and dethrone the Capetians, make himself and his successors Kings of France as well as of England, and establish a Plantagenet Empire enduring into the 20th century.


Richard's Death

On the evening of March 26, Richard was shot in the arm by a crossbow bolt while observing the progress of the siege. Although the bolt was removed and the wound was treated, infection set in, and Richard fell ill. He kept to his tent and limited visitors to keep the news from getting out, but he knew what was happening. Richard the Lionheart died on April 6, 1199.

Richard was buried according to his instructions. Crowned and clothed in royal regalia, his body was entombed at Fontevraud, at the feet of his father; his heart was buried at Rouen, with his brother Henry; and his brain and entrails went to an abbey at Charroux, on the border of Poitous and Limousin. Even before he was laid to rest, rumors and legends sprang up that would follow Richard the Lionheart into history.

Courtesay of

About Richard I 'Cœur de Lion', Roi d'Angleterre (Français)

Richard Ier d'Angleterre2 dit Cœur de Lion (8 septembre 1157F 1, palais de Beaumont, Oxford – 6 avril 1199, château de Châlus Chabrol) fut roi d'Angleterre, duc de Normandie, duc d'Aquitaine, comte de Poitiers, comte du Maine et comte d'Anjou de 1189 à sa mort en 1199. Il est aussi un mécène des troubadours et l'auteur de poèmes.

Fils d’Henri II d'Angleterre et d’Aliénor d'Aquitaine, Richard est élevé dans le duché d'Aquitaine à la cour de sa mère, ce qui lui vaut dans sa jeunesse le surnom de Poitevin. Il devient comte de Poitiers, à l'âge de onze ans et duc d’Aquitaine lors de son couronnement à Limoges. Après la mort subite de son frère aîné le roi Henri le Jeune en 1183, il devient héritier de la couronne d’Angleterre, mais aussi de l’Anjou, de la Normandie et du Maine3.

Pendant son règne, qui dure dix ans, il ne séjourne que quelques mois dans le royaume d’Angleterre et n'apprend jamais l'anglais4. Il utilise toutes ses ressources pour partir à la troisième croisade, puis pour défendre ses territoires français contre le roi de France, Philippe Auguste, auquel il s’était pourtant auparavant allié contre son propre père. Ces territoires, pour lesquels il a prêté allégeance au roi Philippe, constituent la plus grande partie de son héritage Plantagenêt.

Les Anglais l’appellent Richard Ier, les Français Richard Cœur de Lion, dans les régions occitanes, il est surnommé Oc e NoF 2,5, et les Sarrasins, Melek-Ric ou Malek al-Inkitar (roi d'Angleterre)6.

En son temps, il est considéré comme un héros, et souvent décrit comme tel dans la littérature. Il est aussi un poète et un écrivain célèbre à son époque, notamment pour ses compositions en langue d'oc, sa langue maternelle


Famille et enfance

Richard naît probablement au palais de Beaumont en AngleterreG 1. Troisième fils d’Henri II d’Angleterre (l’aîné, appelé Guillaume, né en 1153, est mort à l’âge de trois ans) et d'Aliénor d'Aquitaine, Richard n’est pas destiné à succéder à son père. Il est cependant le fils préféré de sa mère (qui avait eu deux filles de son premier époux, le roi Louis VII de France) et, lorsque ses parents se séparent, il devient son héritier à la couronne d’Aquitaine en 1168, puis au titre de comte de Poitiers.

En 1169, il est fiancé à Adèle de France (fille du roi de France Louis VII le jeune) Son père Henry II la fit venir en Angleterre, pour prendre possession des terres constituant sa dot (comté d'Aumale et comté d'Eu), mais, dès qu'elle fut nubile, il aurait abusé d'elle, en aurait fait sa maîtresse et retarda le mariage. Par le traité de paix signé le 30 septembre 1174 à Montlouis entre Tours et Amboise, le roi Henri II renouvela à Louis VII, la promesse du mariage entre Alix et son fils Richard, mais il ne s'y tint pas, et en 1177, le pape Alexandre III intervint pour le sommer, sous peine d'excommunication, de procéder au mariage convenu. Le Berry devait être sa dot. Il renouvela sa promesse en décembre 1183 et à la carême 1186, mais ne tint toujours pas ses promesses. Entre temps Alix aurait donné la vie à un fils[r%C3%A9f. nécessaire].

Après la mort du roi Henri II Plantagenêt, le 6 juillet 1189, son fils et successeur, Richard Cœur de Lion fit venir Alix à Rouen en février 1190, mais en 1191, il avertit le roi de France Philippe-Auguste qu'il ne saurait prendre sa sœur comme femme à cause du déshonneur dont il l'accusait.

Révolte contre son père Henri II

Comme les autres enfants légitimes d’Henri II Plantagenêt, Richard montre peu de respect pour son père et manque de clairvoyance à long terme ainsi que du sens des responsabilités.

En 1170, son frère Henri « le Jeune » est couronné roi d’Angleterre, avant la mort de son père. Il est ainsi dénommé pour le différencier de son père, puisqu’il ne règne pas encore. En 1173, Richard rejoint ses frères Geoffroy II de Bretagne époux de Constance de Bretagne et Henri le Jeune dans leur révolte contre leur père. Déjà dotés de fiefs par leur père, ils espèrent le remplacer effectivement au pouvoir, poussés en cela par leur mère. Henri II envahit l’Aquitaine deux fois, et à dix-sept ans, Richard est le dernier de ses fils à lui tenir tête.[r%C3%A9f. nécessaire] Finalement, il refuse un combat face-à-face, et lui demande son pardon. En 1174, Richard renouvelle ses vœux de soumission à son pèreF 2.

Après son échec, Richard s’occupe à mater les nobles mécontents d’Aquitaine, spécialement en Gascogne. Richard fonde Marmande en 1182 s’y installe et construit de nombreux châteaux forts dans les environs (Soumensac). Il se fait une affreuse réputation de cruauté, avec de nombreuses accusations de viols et de meurtres. Les rebelles espèrent détrôner Richard et appellent ses frères à l’aide. Henri II a peur que cette guerre entre ses trois fils ne conduise à la destruction de son royaume, et il lance son armée à son aide. Le 11 juin 1183, Henri le Jeune meurt, et son père Henri II est toujours sur son trône.

Richard a une raison majeure de s’opposer à son père. Ce dernier a pris comme maîtresse la princesse Alix, fille du roi Louis VII, alors qu’elle lui était promise. Cela rend aux yeux de l’Église le mariage avec Richard techniquement impossible. Mais Henri, voulant éviter un incident diplomatique, ne confesse pas son erreur de conduite. Quant à Richard, il ne renonce au mariage qu’en 1191.

La troisième croisade

Très absent de son royaume d’Angleterre, Richard préfère se consacrer à ses possessions françaises et à la croisade en Terre sainte. Il a grandi sur le continent et n’a même jamais appris l'anglais8. Peu après son accession au trône (1189), il décide de se joindre à la troisième croisade, inspirée par la perte de Jérusalem, prise par Saladin. Mais, craignant que le roi de France, Philippe Auguste, n’usurpe ses territoires en son absence, il le persuade de se joindre à lui[r%C3%A9f. nécessaire]. Les deux rois prennent la croix le même jour.

Richard est accusé de faire peu pour l’Angleterre, se contentant d’épuiser les ressources du royaume en empruntant à des juifs pour financer ses expéditions en Terre sainte. Il relève également les taxes, et dépense la majeure partie du trésor de son père. Il rassemble et emprunte autant d’argent qu’il le peut, libérant par exemple le roi d’Écosse de son hommage en échange de dix mille marcs, et vendant nombre de charges officielles et autres droits sur des terres.

En 1190, Richard part finalement pour la troisième croisade avec son ami le seigneur de Sablé et futur Grand-Maitre templier, Robert de Sablé (qui passa dix-neuf ans à sa cour)9. Ils partent avec Philippe Auguste depuis le port de Marseille, laissant Hugues, évêque de Durham et Guillaume de Mandeville comme régents. Guillaume de Mandeville meurt rapidement et est remplacé par Guillaume Longchamp. Mécontent de cette décision, le frère de Richard, Jean, se met à manigancer contre Guillaume.

Par ailleurs, c’est grâce aux réformes importantes de son père en matière de législation et de justice qu’il lui est possible de quitter l’Angleterre pendant toute cette période.

Pendant l'été 1190, Richard décide de débarquer près de Naples tandis que Philippe Auguste gagne directement Messine le 16 septembre10. De la région de Naples, il gagne Messine par voie de terre en passant par Amalfi, Salerne et Mileto, où il est agressé par des paysans. Selon Roger de Hoveden, Richard s'était écarté de sa suite et avait molesté un paysan11. Aussitôt, tous les habitants du village l'attaquèrent et il ne dut sa survie qu'à la rapidité de sa fuite.

Passage de la croisade par la Sicile

En septembre 1190, Richard et Philippe sont en Sicile. En 1189, le roi Guillaume II de Sicile est mort. Son héritière, sa tante Constance, future reine Constance Ire de Sicile, est mariée à l’empereur Henri VI. Mais immédiatement après la mort de Guillaume, son cousin Tancrède de Lecce se rebelle, prend le contrôle de l’île, et début 1190, est couronné roi de Sicile. Il est préféré par le peuple, et par le pape, mais il est en conflit avec les nobles de l’île. L’arrivée de Richard accentue les difficultés. Tancrède a emprisonné la veuve de Guillaume, la reine Jeanne, la sœur de Richard, et ne lui donne pas l’argent qu'elle a hérité selon la volonté du défunt. Richard réclame la libération de sa sœur, et que lui soit remis son héritage. Pendant ce temps, la présence de deux armées étrangères cause des troubles parmi la population, exaspérée notamment par le comportement des soldats envers les femmes10. En octobre, la population de Messine se révolte, demandant que les étrangers quittent l’île. Une rixe éclate le 3 octobre entre des soldats et des habitants de la ville, « ramas de Grecs et de ribauds, gens issus de sarrasins » qui conspuaient les pèlerins tout en les traitant de « chiens puants »10. Richard attaque Messine et la prend le 4 octobre 1190. Après l’avoir pillée et brûlée, Richard y établit son camp. Il y reste jusqu’en mars 1191, quand Tancrède accepte finalement de signer un traité. Celui-ci est signé, toujours en mars, par Richard, Philippe et Tancrède. En voici les termes :

   Jeanne doit être libérée, recevoir sa part d’héritage ainsi que la dot que son père avait donnée à feu Guillaume,
   Richard et Philippe reconnaissent Tancrède comme légalement roi de Sicile et souhaitent conserver la paix entre leurs royaumes,
   Richard proclame officiellement son neveu Arthur de Bretagne, le fils de Geoffroy et de Constance de Bretagne, comme son héritier, et Tancrède promet de marier dans le futur une de ses filles à Arthur, quand il sera majeur (Arthur a alors quatre ans).

Ayant signé le traité, Richard et Philippe reprennent la mer. Le traité ébranle les relations entre l’Angleterre et le Saint-Empire romain germanique, et cause la révolte de Jean sans Terre, qui espère être proclamé héritier à la place de son neveu. Bien que sa révolte échoue, Jean continue dès lors de comploter contre son frère.

Durant avril, Richard s'arrête sur l’île byzantine de Rhodes pour éviter une tempête. Il la quitte en mai, mais une nouvelle tempête amène sa flotte à Chypre.

Passage de Richard par Chypre

Richard essuie une tempête et trois de ses navires s'échouent sur la côte chypriote. L'attitude hostile du prince Isaac Doukas Comnène qui régnait sur Chypre après s'être détaché de l'empire byzantin en 1184, provoque, le 6 mai 1191, le débarquement de la flotte de Richard dans le port de Lemesos (maintenant Limassol). Il tente de s'entendre avec le Grec pour le ravitaillement d'Acre, mais devant la perfidie de ce dernier (Isaac était en fait de mèche avec Saladin), Richard entreprend la conquête de l'île. Les quelques catholiques romains de l’île se joignent à Richard, ainsi que les nobles de l’île, en révolte contre les sept années subies sous le joug tyrannique d’Isaac.

Après avoir été défait à Kolossi (à l'ouest de Limassol), Isaac réorganise sa défense sur la route menant à la capitale Nicosie (à Trémithoussia). C'est là que fut livrée la bataille décisive (21 mai 1191). Isaac est vaincu et fait prisonnier par Richard. Richard devient le nouveau maître de Chypre. Il pille l’île, et massacre ceux qui tentent de lui résister. Pendant ce temps, la promise de Richard, Bérangère de Navarre, première-née du roi Sanche VI de Navarre, l’a enfin rejoint sur sa route vers la Terre sainte. Leur mariage est célébré à Limassol, le 12 mai 1191. La sœur de Richard, Jeanne, l’a suivi de Sicile, et assiste à la cérémonie.

Le mariage ne produit pas d’héritier, et les opinions divergent sur l’entente entre les époux. La malheureuse Bérangère a autant de mal que son mari pour son voyage de retour, et ne revoit l’Angleterre qu’après la mort de Richard.

Cette conquête allait avoir un impact très important sur l'Orient latin. D'un côté, l'île, pleine de ressources, allait constituer un centre de ravitaillement assuré pour l'Orient latin (et notamment pour Acre encore assiégée) et une escale sûre pour les armadas italiennes (maîtresses de la mer) et les autres croisades. D'un autre côté, elle allait participer au déclin de l'Orient latin en attirant les colons et barons syriens (entre les terres pleines de richesse de l'île et celles de la Palestine sans cesse exposées au danger, le choix fut évident pour nombre de chevaliers) d'autant plus que le clan des Lusignan (futurs maîtres de Chypre) n'hésita pas à multiplier les offres de terres et autres baronnies.

La croisade en Terre sainte

Avant de partir pour Acre et pour seulement 25 000 marcs d'argent, Richard vend l'île de Chypre à son ami Robert de Sablé, le grand-maître de l'ordre du Temple. Les Templiers y installeront pendant quelques années leur première base en Orient avant de la vendre à Guy de Lusignan12. Richard, avec presque toute son armée, quitte Chypre pour la Terre sainte au début de juin. En son absence, Chypre doit être gouvernée par Richard Kamvill (plus tard donnée à Guy de Lusignan qui en deviendra le roi héréditaire).

Richard arrive à Acre en juin 1191 avec son ami le grand-maître de l'ordre du Temple Robert de Sablé, deux mois après Philippe Auguste. La ville, assiégée depuis deux ans par les Francs (eux-mêmes encerclés par l'armée de Saladin), commence à être à bout. L'arrivée du roi Richard et de ses troupes, à la fois fabuleux combattant et tacticien, amène la chute d'Acre en juillet 1191. C'est lors de cette prise qu'il va s'illustrer sombrement en massacrant 3 000 prisonniers musulmans, Saladin tardant à lui remettre la vraie croix, 2 500 prisonniers chrétiens ainsi qu'une rançon convenue (20 août 1191, après le départ de Philippe Auguste). Après cet acte de barbarie qui va renforcer le jihad et rendre entre autres les futures négociations très difficiles (notamment pour la restitution de Jérusalem), Richard part conquérir le littoral avec Robert de Sablé et ses Templiers, mais il reste le seul chef de toute l'armée franco-anglaise (le roi de France est parti avec sa propre maison, laissant toutes ses troupes sous la houlette du duc de Bourgogne). Richard a aussi tout fait pour imposer comme roi de Jérusalem Guy de Lusignan (celui-ci étant originaire du Poitou, et donc son vassal) au détriment de l'énergique Conrad de Montferrat (sauveur de Tyr en pleine débâcle franque). Ce dernier était soutenu ardemment par tous les barons syriens.

Lors de leur conquête du littoral sud, Richard et ses troupes ainsi que les Templiers mené par Robert de Sablé furent harcelés sans cesse par les troupes de Saladin. Les croisés ne tombèrent pas dans le piège de la poursuite et restèrent solides. Cependant, Saladin, ayant reçu ses renforts turcomans, engagea le combat aux environs d'Arsuf dans une position stratégique très favorable (les croisés étant encerclés, adossés à la mer). Mais Richard ne perdit pas son calme et tenta une habile manœuvre d'encerclement pour écraser totalement l'armée adverse. Un hospitalier et un chevalier anglais chargèrent pour la gloire, entraînant avec eux quelques autres chevaliers. Richard dut alors charger avec toute la cavalerie pour éviter une désorganisation possiblement fatale, et après de durs combats, la victoire fut pour Richard. Celle-ci ne fut pas complète cependant et ne conduisit qu'à disperser et repousser l'armée ennemie, Richard n'ayant pu réaliser le mouvement tournant qui lui aurait permis de vraiment remporter la bataille. Saladin détruisit alors les places fortes (Jaffa notamment) avant l'arrivée des croisés. Le littoral conquis et certaines places fortes reconstruites (Jaffa, Ascalon…), Richard partit vers Jérusalem en plein hiver, mais il renonça finalement au siège sous l'insistance notamment des barons syriens (la période était mauvaise et ces derniers savaient qu'ils ne pourraient tenir Jérusalem une fois tous les croisés repartis). Il revint par la suite à deux reprises. Mais avec son armée affaiblie, tandis que celle de Saladin était toujours plus grande et plus forte, il renonça alors qu'il pensait toujours aveuglément que la ville était à sa portée de main. Richard reçut de graves nouvelles d'Angleterre et ne pensait qu'à rejoindre son royaume.

Il finit par embarquer le 9 octobre 1192, après avoir bâclé la paix avec Saladin (celui-ci, conscient des difficultés de Richard, tergiversait intelligemment) et mit à la tête d'Acre son neveu, le comte Henri II de Champagne (Conrad de Montferrat avait été assassiné par la secte des Assassins, et Guy de Lusignan dit « Sa Simplesse », devenu trop embarrassant pour les croisés, fut nommé à la tête du Royaume de Chypre).

Capture et retour de Richard dans ses terres continentales

Suite aux manœuvres de Philippe, le duc Léopold V de Babenberg capture Richard sur son chemin de retour, près de Vienne, à l’automne 1192. Richard l’a en effet publiquement insulté durant la croisade. Emprisonné à Dürnstein, il est ensuite livré à l’empereur Henri VI qui réclame une rançon de cent cinquante mille marcs d’argent, équivalant à deux années de recettes pour le royaume d’Angleterre, pour sa libération13. Bien que les conditions de sa captivité ne soient pas strictes, il est frustré par l’impossibilité de voyager librement. De cet emprisonnement est tirée la légende de Blondel.

L’empereur le libère en février 1194 contre un premier versement de cent mille marcs d’argent que sa mère, Aliénor d'Aquitaine, réussit à rassembler péniblement. L’empereur lui extorque également un serment d’allégeance de la couronne d’Angleterre à l’Empire avec le devoir de payer un tribut de 5000 livres sterling par an. Le 20 mars 1194 Il débarque au port de Sandwich et retrouve l'Angleterre14.

Durant son absence, son frère Jean est proche de conquérir le trône. Mais Richard lui pardonne, et en fait même son héritier, après qu’en grandissant Arthur lui déplaise et dont il marie de force la mère au comte de Chester, l'un de ses rares soutiens en Angleterre. Une fois de plus il se repent de ses péchés, à l’occasion d’un second couronnement, puis repart en Normandie combattre Philippe, qui poursuit la stratégie capétienne d’affaiblir l’empire Plantagenêt. Après son départ en mai 1194, il ne retourne pas en Angleterre.

En janvier 1196 Richard assiège Gaillon dont Lambert Cadoc est le châtelain. Lambert Cadoc repère Richard du haut de la tour, et le blesse avec un trait d’arbalète. Le trait l'atteint au genou et tue son cheval15. Ironiquement, c'est Richard lui-même qui a recruté Lambert Cadoc, avec d'autres mercenaires, dans le Pays de Galles. Il les fait venir sur le continent dans le but de combattre le roi de France Philippe Auguste. Mais une partie des Gallois, dont Lambert Cadoc, poussés par leur haine des Normands et des Saxons ont fait défection et rejoint l'autre camp16.

Durant plusieurs années de guerre, il parvient à redresser la situation et à défendre efficacement la Normandie. Il fait construire à cet effet une série de châteaux dont le célèbre Château-Gaillard près des Andelys, sur la rive droite de la Seine, mais aussi la forteresse d’Arques-la-Bataille, ainsi que les châteaux de Radepont dans la vallée de l’Andelle ; Montfort-sur-Risle dans la vallée de la Risle ; Orival sur la Roche Fouet surplombant la Seine en amont de Rouen au-dessus d’Elbeuf et fait améliorer le château de Moulineaux surplombant la Seine en aval de Rouen. Cependant, le pape lui impose une trêve qui profite à Philippe Auguste.

Mort de Richard à Châlus

Le 26 mars 1199, Richard assiège le château de Châlus Chabrol17,18 possession du vicomte Adémar V de Limoges, dit Boson. Il est atteint par un carreau d'arbalète tiré par un chevalier de petite noblesse limousine, Pierre Basile. La flèche est retirée mais la gangrène gagne le corps du roi. Richard meurt le 6 avril 1199, onze jours après sa blessure. Son corps est enterré près de celui de son père en l’abbaye de Fontevraud (située non loin de Saumur), son cœur repose dans la cathédrale de Rouen, capitale de la Normandie et ses entrailles en l'église (actuellement ruinée) du château de Châlus Chabrol. Philippe de Cognac, fils illégitime supposé de Richard Cœur de Lion, le venge en assassinant Adémar19.

Jean succède à Richard sur le trône d’Angleterre. Cependant les territoires continentaux le rejettent, au début, lui préférant leur neveu Arthur de Bretagne, fils de leur frère Geoffroy, dont les droits sont techniquement meilleurs que les siens.

Caractère et réputation

Richard est très respecté par son plus grand rival militaire, Saladin, ainsi que par l’empereur Henri, mais il est également haï par nombre de ses anciens amis, en particulier le roi Philippe Auguste.

Il se soucie peu de sa propre sécurité : la blessure reçue lors du siège de Châlus, et qui a raison de lui, n’aurait pas eu lieu s’il avait été correctement protégé par une armure ; par la suite, son infection aurait pu être évitée. Un incident très similaire s’était déjà produit dix ans auparavant, lorsque, combattant contre son père, il avait rencontré, désarmé, Guillaume le Maréchal, et avait dû le supplier pour avoir la vie sauve.

Richard et les arts

Richard est un mécène et protecteur des troubadours et trouvères de son entourage20,21. Il est lui-même intéressé par l'écriture et la musique, et on lui attribue deux poèmes qui nous sont parvenus. Le premier est un sirventès, Dalfin je us voill desrenier, le second est une complainte, Ja nus hons pris21,G 2.

Robin Hood

La légende de Robin des Bois (Robin Hood), d'abord située sous le règne d'Édouard II (vers 1322), se déplace pour se rattacher au règne de Richard Ier. Cependant, il n'y a pas de certitude historique sur Robin, qui peut avoir vécu au XIIe siècle, XIIIe ou XIVe siècle. C'est bien plus tard qu’on établit un lien entre les deux hommes, uniquement en affirmant que le but poursuivi par Robin est de restaurer Richard sur le trône alors que le prince Jean l’a usurpé.


L’amitié entre Philippe Auguste et Richard, qui se connaissaient depuis l'enfance, a parfois été assimilée à une relation homosexuelle, notamment par l'historien britannique John Harvey, en 1948B 1. Pour l'historien britannique John Gillingham, biographe de Richard Cœur de Lion, cette idée d'un roi homosexuel, apparue au XXe siècle, s'appuie sur des interprétations anachroniques des éléments qui nous sont connus20. Pour lui, la sexualité exacte de Richard ne peut être connue avec certitude20. Toutefois, pour l'historien William E. Burgwinkle, le fait qu'il n'y ait pas de preuves formelles de son homosexualité ne signifie pas pour autant qu'il faille conclure qu'il était forcément hétérosexuelB 2.

Certains chroniqueurs du XIIe siècle, comme notamment Benoît de Peterborough, parlent d'« amour » entre les deux jeunes hommes qu'étaient alors Richard et Philippe Auguste, et soulignent qu'ils partageaient le même litB 3. Ce lien très fort unissant les deux hommes est définitivement brisé peu après et se transforme en haineB 3.

Quoi qu'il en soit, ses contemporains supposaient qu'il était hétérosexuel20. L'historien Jean Flori n'adhère pas à la thèse d'un roi homosexuelF 2. Pour lui, conclure à une relation homosexuelle relève d'une interprétation trop « moderne » du terme « amour » et il ajoute que partager le même lit « n'avait pas alors la connotation sensuelle qu'on peut y déceler aujourd'huiF 3. » Toutefois, sur la base des récits des pénitences de roi Richard en 1191 et 1195 pour des péchés de sodomie et de bougrerie, Jean Flori conclut à la probabilité d'une bisexualitéF 4. Pour l'historien William E. Burgwinkle, il n'y a rien dans les chroniques contemporaines pour affirmer qu'en dehors de la forte affection qu'il avait à l'égard de Philippe Auguste, Richard ait été épris de quiconque, homme ou femmeB 4.

À 34 ans, sous la pression de sa mère, Richard épouse Bérangère de Navarre. Ils se voient très rarement, et ce mariage est avant tout un mariage de convenanceB 5. D'après le chroniqueur contemporain Roger de Hoveden, après l'avertissement d'un ermite, et étant tombé subitement malade, Richard fait pénitence pour s'être éloigné de sa femme, et se réconcilie charnellement avec elleB 6. Il ne montre toutefois aucune volonté visible de concevoir un héritierB 6.

Le chroniqueur contemporain Benoît de Peterborough accuse aussi Richard de viols sur des femmes du peupleB 4. Pour Burgwinkle, un viol n'est pas l'indication d'un désir sexuel pour les femmes, mais un désir de contrôle, et dans le cas de Richard, certainement un contrôle politiqueB 4. Sa conclusion est qu'affirmer que Richard Cœur de Lion était hétérosexuel est illusoireB 7.

Richard a, avec une maîtresse inconnue, un fils illégitime, Philippe de Cognac20. Il épouse Amélie de Cognac († 1199), fille d'Itier, seigneur de Cognac, Villebois et Jarnac. Philippe de Cognac venge son père en assassinant en 1199 Adémar V de Limoges.

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Richard "the Lionheart", king of England's Timeline

Abingdon Abbey, Berkshire, England, Or Ewshott,Hampshire, England
September 8, 1157
Beaumont Palace, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
- 1199
Age 14
Duke of Acquitaine

Richard was formally recognised as the Duke of Aquitaine when he was granted the lance and banner emblems of his office; the ceremony took place in Poitiers and was repeated in Limoges where he wore the ring of St Valerie, who was the personification of Aquitaine.

May 1179
Age 21
Taillebourg, Gascony, France