Richard I

Richard_coeur_de_lion

Richard I,

1189-1199

Born:

8 September 1157, son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, at Beaumont Palace, Oxford

Crowned:

3 September 1189 at Westminster Abbey, London

Died:

6 April 1199 at Chalus Castle, France

Buried:

Fontevrault Abbey, France (body); Rouen Cathedral, France (heart)

Married:

12 May 1191 Berengaria of Navarre, at Limassol, Cyprus

Succeeded by:

John (younger brother)

ichard, with his father Henry II’s blessing, was invested as duke of his mother Eleanor’s lands in Aquitaine in 1172. Henry, however, would not truly relinquish control. Chafing at the bit, Richard joined with his brothers (and their mother) in rebelling against Henry in 1173-74. A decade later father and son clashed again. Hostilities were active when Henry died in 1189.

Richard, then in France, returned to England for his coronation. He immediately set about raising money for a crusade to retake the Holy Land from the Saracens. He sold every available English title, office and plot of land and headed east.

Dubbed the Lion Heart (or, in the language he himself spoke, Coeur de Lion), Richard was a brilliant military leader. In the Saracen leader Saladin, however, he found a foe of equal brilliance with far greater resources. Richard and his allies captured the city of Acre and marched on Jerusalem, but were forced to sign a truce leaving the city in Saladin’s hands.

Richard was a charismatic leader with tremendous personal courage, but he was also volatile and arrogant. When he was shipwrecked while sailing home in 1192, he was imprisoned in Austria by angry former ally, Leopold V. Leopold then turned Richard over to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, who demanded an enormous ransom for his release. Richard’s mother Eleanor worked tirelessly (and successfully) to raise the huge sum. His younger brother, John, schemed (unsuccessfully) to steal his throne.

Freed in 1194, Richard spent only two months in England before returning to France to recover lost territories. During the unnecessary siege of an insignificant castle in France, he was wounded by a crossbow bolt and died.

Richard had married Berengaria of Navarre but they spent little time together and had no children. Richard’s scheming brother, John, succeeded him.

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