King RichardMy report is on Richard I, byname Richard the Lion-Hearted. He was born September 8, 1157 in Oxford, England. He died on April 6, 1199 in Chalus, England. His knightly manner and his prowess in the Third Crusade(1189-92) made him a popular king in his own time, as well as the hero of countless romantic legends. He has been viewed less kindly by more recent historians and scholars.
Richard was the third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and he was given the duchy of Aquitaine, his mother’s inheritance, at the age of 11 and was enthroned as duke at Poitiers in 1172. Richard possessed precocious political and military ability, he won fame for his knightly prowess, and quickly learned how to control the turbulent aristocracy of Poitou and Gascony. Like all Henry II’s legitimate sons, Richard had no filial piety, foresight, or sense of responsibility. He joined his brothers in the greatrebellion(1173-74)against his father, who invaded Aquistaine twice before Richard submitted and received pardon. Thereafter, Richard was occupied with suppressing baronial revolts in his own duchy. His harshness infuriated the Gascons, who revolted in 1183 and called in the help of the “Young King” Henry and his brother, Geoffrey of Brittany, in an effort to drive Richard from his duchy altogether. Alarmed at the threatened disintegration of his empire, Henry II brought the feudal host of his continental lands to Richard’s aid, but the younger Henry died suddenly(June 11, 1183)and the uprising collapsed. Richard was now heir to England, and to Normandy and Anjou, and his father wished him to yield Aquitaine to his youngest brother, John. But Richard,a true southerner, would not surrender the duchy in which he had grown up.
Richard received Normandy on July 20, and the English throne on September 30. Richard, unlike Philip, had only one ambition, to lead the crusade prompted by Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187. He had no conception of planning for the future of the English monarchy, and put up everything for sale to buy arms for the crusade. Yet he had not become king to preside over the dismemberment of the Angevin Empire. He brokewith Philip and didn’t neglect Angevin defenses on the Continent. Open war was averted only because Philip also took the cross. Richard dipped deep into his father’s treasure and sold sherif…
…of Hubert Walter, justifier and archbishop of Canterbury. It was Richard’simpetuosity that brought him to his death at the early age of forty-two. The Vicomte of Limoges refused to hand over a hoard of gold unearthed by a local peasant. Richard laid siege to his castle of Chalus and in an unlucky moment was wounded. He died in 1199. He was buried in the abbey church of Fontevrault, where Henry II and Queen Eleanor are also buried, and his effigy is still preserved there.
Richard was a thoroughgoing Angevin, irresponsible and hot-tempered, possessed of tremendous energy, and capable of great cruelty. He was more accomplished than most of his family, a soldier of consummate ability, a skillful politician, and capable of inspiring loyal service. He was a lyrical poet of considerable power and the hero of troubadours. He was both an honored and despised man.
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Richard the Lion Heart; K. Norgate; 1969
Itinerary of King Richard the First; L.Landon; 1935
Loss of Normandy 1189-1204; 2nd Edition; 1961
Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings; A. Kelly; 1950
Encyclopedia Britannica Online; www.eb.com; 1999