Richard the Lionheart

NPG D48116; King Richard I ('the Lionheart') - Portrait - National Portrait  Gallery
Richard I

Born: 8th September 1157, Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England

Son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Married: Berengaria of Navarre, 1191, Chapel of St. George at Limassol, Cyprus

Reign: 1189-1199

Died: 6th April 1199, Châlus, Duchy of Aquitaine

King Richard I, better known as Richard the Lionheart owing to his military prowess and success in battle has been well remembered in English as the warrior king that fought in the crusades. Yet his reputation proved him to be a very poor king, who spent little time in his kingdom.

At birth, Richard would never have expected to one day succeed his father as King of England owing to his three elder brothers. His brother Henry, “the young king” rebelled against his father’s policies and refusal to grant him more power in 1173 which Richard joined. This revolt led to changes in the succession, as the “young king” died in 1183 and so King Henry made Richard his heir but he would not become a “young king” like his brother.

Henry died in France in July 1189 and Richard became King of England. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey in September but immediately made plans for his crusades in the Holy Lands. To fund his planned wars he raised taxes which was understandably unpopular with his subjects. Richard showed his disregard for England when he famously stated that he would sell London if only he could find someone rich enough to buy it. By the summer of 1190 he had raised enough to support his war and left England for the continent where he met King Philip Augustus of France. They had agreed to split all proceeds of the Crusade, however they fell out over Sicily and Richard’s rejection of Philip’s sister after a long betrothal.

Richard married Berengaria of Navarre in Cyprus in 1191 who had been selected as a suitable bride by his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Berengaria was crowned Queen of England and Cyprus after Richard’s gaining of the Island. Their marriage was not a happy one, as it was evident that Richard was much more interested in battle than his wife. They had no children.

His success in battle meant he won the land of Acre and Jaffa, though no luck in Jerusalem. He returned to England in 1194 however he was captured by the Duke of Austria. The ransom money required cost every man’s income for a whole year in England. Once safely restored, Richard had another coronation at Winchester Cathedral. His time in England was brief, only 10 months in the whole of his 10 year reign. He returned to France to try and recapture lost land, which is where he met his end. An arrow in the back which went gangrenous. He died in France at the age of 41.

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