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Richard I

Richard I (1157–99), king of England (1189–99). Richard has attracted legends as bees are proverbially attracted to the honey-pot. The process began in his own lifetime. Already, by 1199, the epithet Cœur de Lion/Lionheart was being applied, and within another 50 years certain episodes in his life had taken on a legendary significance. The myth-making has continued ever since with inevitable distortions and misunderstandings of the historical Richard.

In the popular imagination today, Richard is a national English hero, the valorous warrior and glorious crusader who struggled against all the odds to come within an ace of recapturing Jerusalem from the equally legendary Saladin on the Third Crusade. On returning from crusade, he was shipwrecked and captured by Duke Leopold of Austria, who shamelessly sold him on to Emperor Henry VI. This allowed John, Richard's evil brother, to scheme with Philip II of France. But Richard so impressed his imperial captor by his courtesy, dignity, bearing, and self-possession that he was soon released—to turn the tables on his enemies at home. The massive bronze statue of Richard in Westminster Palace Yard captures superbly the Ricardian qualities admired for centuries. A powerfully muscular Richard, imposing and magnificent, sits on horseback, in full armour and wearing a crown, his sword triumphantly raised aloft.

Yet English Richard was not, nor even Anglo-Norman. Although born in Oxford, he briefly visited England just twice before his accession in 1189. As king, he spent a mere six months in England. He was born of French parents, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and only from Edith (Matilda), his great-grandmother, wife of King Henry I, did he derive any ‘English’ blood. Richard spoke no English; his vernacular tongue was the French of Poitou, in which he composed troubadour poetry. He willed his body for burial in Fontevraud abbey (Poitou), his heart for interment in Rouen cathedral (Normandy). He was French through and through.

Despite this, most modern historians have judged him from an Anglocentric viewpoint. He might have been a warrior second to none, they argue, but he was an utterly irresponsible king of England, who plundered English wealth in pursuit of his own glory in France and the Holy Land, and who recklessly endangered the security and stability of his island realm. In lighter vein, but just as telling, are the words of Sellar and Yeatman: ‘he went roaring about the Desert making ferocious attacks on the Saladins and the Paladins, and was thus a very romantic king. Whenever he returned to England he always set out again immediately for the Mediterranean and was therefore known as Richard Gare de Lyon.’

Since 1948 another legend has grown up. This was when J. H. Harvey, in his book The Plantagenets, sought to prove that Richard was homosexual. His claims have come to be widely accepted, and it is as a homosexual that Richard appears in many modern novels, films, and plays, and even in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Gillingham has effectively demolished Harvey's claims, but this one has taken deep root.

Modern scholarship is at last beginning to reveal another Richard, more balanced and credible. This has only become possible by considering him as not first and foremost an English king, but rather the lord of the French-based Angevin empire which he inherited as a whole in 1189; by allowing for the international pull of the crusade and the duty to participate therein, an imperative acknowledged by contemporary western princes; and by examining carefully Richard's political and diplomatic skills. His military reputation remains intact. Indeed, it has been enhanced. The inspired battlefield commander of tradition, and brilliant tactician—as evidenced, for example, by the march from Acre to Jaffa and the battle of Arsuf (1191)—is increasingly seen as a master of planning and logistics. His crusade, involving the raising, fitting out, and dispatch of a fleet from northern waters to the east Mediterranean, is a superb example of administrative efficiency. His campaigns in France on his return, to undo the damage wrought by his treacherous brother John in concert with Philip II, reveal not just military competence of the highest order, but also a very sure sense of strategy backed up by effective diplomacy. For Richard set about constructing an international coalition against Philip, designed to enable him to concentrate on the struggle in the crucial heartland of the Angevin empire.

It has also become apparent that had Richard not been shipwrecked and captured, he would have returned home to find the governmental structure of the Angevin empire intact as he had established it before departure for the crusade in 1190. Far from setting out on crusade without a care for the security of his various dominions, England included, Richard did what he could in the short time available to him. In brief, he was one of the ablest men to have sat on the throne of England.

S. D. Lloyd

Bibliography

Gillingham, J. B. , Richard the Lionheart (2nd edn. 1989);
—— Richard Coeur de Lion: Kingship, Chivalry and War in the Twelfth Century (1994).

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"Richard I." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Richard I

Richard I

Richard I (1157-1199), called the Lion-hearted, reigned as king of England from 1189 to 1199. He is famous for his exploits on the Third Crusade.

Born on Sept. 8, 1157, Richard I was the third son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. From an early age he was regarded as his mother's heir and from 1168 lived with her in her duchy, chiefly at Poitiers. He was enthroned as duke in 1172; in the next year he and his brothers allied with the king of France against their father in a wide-ranging conspiracy. They were defeated, but Henry left Richard in Aquitaine, where he made his reputation as a soldier suppressing local risings. The death of his elder brother (1183) made Richard heir to the throne. He resisted by force his father's proposed transfer of Aquitaine to his brother John, being determined to keep for himself all his father's French lands. In November 1188 he did homage for them to Philip II of France and campaigned with him against Henry II. Henry was defeated and had to grant all their demands before his death (July 6, 1189).

Richard succeeded his father without difficulty; he was installed as Duke of Normandy (July 20) and crowned king of England on September 3. His principal object was now to raise money for a crusade; everything was for sale, including offices and privileges, and Richard even released the king of Scots from vassalage for 10,000 marks.

Leaving England to a council of regency, Richard set out in 1190, traveling through Sicily. There he recognized Tancred as king, offending Emperor Henry VI, who was claiming the throne in the right of his wife. On his way east Richard seized Cyprus from its Greek ruler and there married Berengaria of Navarre. Richard twice defeated Saladin, at Arsuf (Sept. 7, 1191) and Jaffa (July 1192), and twice got within 12 miles of Jerusalem, but his military skill was offset by his quarrels with the other leaders. The crusade failed to reestablish the Latin kingdom, and Richard, deeply disappointed, left Palestine (September 1192) after concluding a truce that gave the Christians a narrow coastal strip and access as pilgrims to the holy places. On his way home he was captured and handed over to the Emperor, who demanded £100,000 as ransom and kept him a prisoner till February 1194, when a large part of the money was handed over.

The last years of Richard's life were spent in France, meeting the attacks of the King. Philip made no headway against Richard's superior generalship, but Richard's early death (April 6, 1199) in a minor foray opened the way for the conquest of Normandy and Anjou a few years later.

Further Reading

The standard biography of Richard I is Kate Norgate, Richard the Lion Heart (1924). A popular account is by Philip Henderson, Richard Coeur de Lion (1959). Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. 2 (1952), describes Richard's crusade. A contemporary account is translated by Merton Jerome Hubert, The Crusade of Richard Lion Heart, by Ambroise (1941). A short account of Richard's activities in France by F.M. Powicke is in The Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 6 (1929); and Austin L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta (1955), describes the government of England. □

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Richard I

Richard I, Richard Cœur de Lion (kör də lyôN´), or Richard Lion-Heart, 1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although enthroned as duke of Aquitaine in 1172, he was, like his brothers Henry and Geoffrey, discontented with his lack of authority and joined their revolt (1173–74) against their father. Later he fought (1183) against the same brothers when they intervened in support of a rebellion against Richard in Aquitaine. In 1189 he again warred with his father and defeated him, before Henry II's death brought him to the throne.

Soon after his coronation, Richard set out (1190) on the Third Crusade (see Crusades). En route he captured Messina and Cyprus and married (1191) Berengaria of Navarre. With Philip II of France, he stormed Acre. Philip then returned to France, where he began plotting against Richard with the latter's brother John. Richard remained but had to abandon his attempt to seize the strongly fortified city of Jerusalem.

After concluding a treaty with Saladin that allowed Christians access to the holy places of Jerusalem, he too started home. However, he was captured (Dec., 1192) by Leopold V of Austria, with whom Richard had quarreled on crusade, and was imprisoned in the castle of Dürnstein, where the troubadour Blondel de Nesle is supposed (by legend) to have found him. Leopold delivered Richard to Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, who released him (1194) only after Richard paid an enormous ransom, raised by his English subjects, and surrendered his kingdom, receiving it back as a fief of the empire. Richard returned (1194) briefly to England to complete the suppression of the revolt raised against him by his brother John and to raise funds. Thereafter he fought Philip in France, in the process building the famous Château Gaillard. He was killed in a minor engagement.

Richard spent only six months of his reign in England, which he was concerned with chiefly as a source of revenue, but his ministers, William of Longchamp and Hubert Walter, were able to rule the kingdom effectively by the excellent administrative system set up by Henry II and extended by them. Richard's military prowess and reputation for chivalry have made him a central figure in English romance. He appears in Sir Walter Scott's novels Ivanhoe and The Talisman.

See biographies by P. Henderson (1958), K. Norgate (1924, repr. 1969), and J. Brundage (1974); A. L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087–1216 (2d ed. 1955); J. T. Appleby, England without Richard, 1189–1199 (1965); C. Gibb, Richard the Lionheart and the Crusades (1985); J. Reston, Jr., Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade (2001).

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"Richard I." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Richard I." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/richard-i

Richard I

Richard I (1157–99) King of England (1189–99), known as Richard the Lion-Heart, or Coeur de Lion. He was involved in rebellions against his father, Henry II, before succeeding him. A leader of the Third Crusade (1189–92), he won several victories but failed to retake Jerusalem. He was a prisoner (1192–94) of Emperor Henry VI. Meanwhile, his brother, John, conspired against him in England, while in France Philip II invaded Richard's territories. The revolt in England was contained, and from 1194 until his death, Richard endeavoured to restore the Angevin Empire in France.

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