Richard The Lionheart
Richard the Lionheart was born on 8 September 1157 to King Henry II and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.
At age of 16, Richard had taken command of his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father.
Henry’s eldest surviving son, Richard, was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1190.
He took the title of Richard I but is better known as “Cœur de Lion” (the lion-hearted), on account of his bravery.
He had wonderful strength. People talked about his brave deeds all over the land.
Following his accession, he spent very little time, perhaps as little as six months, in England.
Most of his days as king he spent on Crusade, in captivity, or actively defending his lands in France.
Rather than regarding his kingdom as a responsibility requiring his presence as ruler, he has been perceived as preferring to use it merely as a source of revenue to support his armies.
Nevertheless, his subject saw him as a pious hero.
Richard the Lionheart Crusades
Richard did not stay long in England after his coronation. In 1191 he went with Philip of France on a Crusade.
The French and English Crusaders together numbered more than one hundred thousand men.
They sailed to the Holy Land and joined an army of Christian soldiers encamped before the city of Acre.
The besiegers had despaired of taking the city but when reinforced they gained fresh courage.
Coeur de Lion now performed deeds of valor which gave him fame throughout Europe.
He terrorize Saracens during crusade.
In every attack on Acre he led the Christians. He planted his banner in triumph on its walls after the capture of the city.
Every night when the Crusaders encamped, the heralds blew their trumpets, and cried three times, “Save the Holy Sepulchre!”.
And the Crusaders knelt and said, “Amen!”
Fight with Saladin
The great leader of the Saracens was Saladin.
People consider Saladin as the model of heroism.
The two leaders, one the champion of the Christians and the other the champion of the Muslim, vied with each other in knightly deeds.
Just before one battle Richard rode down the Saracen line and boldly called for any one to step forth and fight him alone.
No one responded to the challenge, for the most valiant of the Saracens did not dare to meet the lion-hearted king.
After the capture of Acre Richard took Ascalon.
Soon, he made a truce with Saladin.
Christians acquired the right for three years to visit the Holy City without paying for the privilege.
Richard the Lionheart Captured
Richard now set out on his voyage home.
His ship got wrecked on the Adriatic Sea near Trieste.
To get to England he went overland through the lands of Leopold, duke of Austria, one of his bitterest enemies.
So he disguised himself as a poor pilgrim returning from the Holy Land.
But people recognized him as he wore a costly ring.
Duke Leopold took him prisoner at Vienna.
His people in England anxiously awaited his return. However after a long time, they got depressed after he did not appear for long time.
There is a legend that a faithful squire named Blondel went in search of him, as a wandering minstrel traveled for months over central Europe, vainly seeking for news of his master.
From the window Richard told him to let the English people and the people of Europe know where Duke Leopold confined him, and the minstrel immediately went upon his mission.
Soon Europe was astounded to learn that brave Richard of England, the great champion of Christendom, was imprisoned.
England offered to ransom Richard; that the Pope interceded for him; and that finally it was agreed that he should be given up on the payment of a very large sum of money.
The English people quickly paid the ransom and freed Richard.
Return to England
The king of France had little love for Richard, and Richard’s own brother John had less.
Both felt sorry that Coeur de Lion was at liberty.
John had taken charge of the kingdom during his brother’s absence, and hoped that Richard might pass the rest of his days in the prison castle of Leopold.
As soon as Richard got his freedom, the French king sent word to John, “The devil is loose again.”
And a very disappointed man was John when all England rang with rejoicing at Richard’s return.
Richard the Lionheart Death
In March 1199, Richard went to Limousin to suppress revolt of Viscount Aimar V of Limoges.
On 26 March 1199, crossbow hit Richard in the shoulder, and the wound turned gangrenous.
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.
Richard’s heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy, and the rest of his body at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.