1902 Encyclopedia > Richard I (Richard the Lionheart)

Richard I
(Richard the Lionheart)
King of England

(1157-99)




RICHARD I (1157-1199), king of England, called even before his death " the Lion" or " Cœur de Lion," was the third son of Henry II. and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was born, probably at Oxford, on September 8, 1157. When little more than eleven years old he was invested with the duchy of Aquitaine, and imbibed in southern France the spirit of the adventurer and the troubadour which characterized him through life. In 1173 he joined the league against Henry IL, but when the rebellion was suppressed in 1174 he was pardoned by his father. Shortly afterwards he was affianced to Alice, the daughter of Louis VII. The death of his brother Henry in 1184 made Richard heir to the throne. From this time he was the centre of the disturbances which troubled the last five years of Henry II.'s reign. The pretext for his quarrel with his father was the refusal of the latter to allow the barons to do fealty to Richard as heir, and Henry's wish to transfer Aquitaine to his younger son John. War was for some time averted by the preparations for the third crusade, and Richard himself took the cross (1187). Next year, however, a quarrel between Richard and his neighbour the count of Toulouse led to the final breach. Philip, king of France, took advantage of this quarrel to invade Berri, whence he was driven out again by Richard, who so far was acting in concert with his father. A truce was made between the two kings, and Philip used the opportunity to separate Henry from his son. In November 1188 Richard did homage to Philip for his French provinces, and the latter demanded that Henry should acknowledge him as heir. Henry hesitated, and Richard openly joined Philip. In the spring of 1189 the allies overran Maine and Touraine, and forced Henry, in a meeting at Colombieres, to submit to their demands. Two days later Henry died at Chinon (July 6, 1189), and Richard became king of England.

Richard's reign falls into two equal divisions—the one comprising his crusade and captivity, the other his wars against Philip in France. On his father's death he was at once acknowledged as duke of Normandy and count of Anjou. On September 3, 1189, he was crowned with great pomp at Westminster. This is the first English coronation of which we have a full account, and the formalities then adopted have been followed with little alteration ever since. Richard at once set to work to collect funds for the crusade. He sold ecclesiastical and temporal offices, released the king of Scotland from the vassalage to which Henry II. had subjected him; and, having by these means and by taxation collected a large sum of money, he crossed to Calais on December 12. Soon afterwards he met Philip at St Remy and made a treaty with him for a joint crusade. On June 27, 1190, the two armies assembled at Vezelai, whence they marched together as far as Lyons. There Philip took the route to Genoa, while Richard went by Marseilles. Visiting Naples on the way, he landed at Messina on September 23, where he found the French army and his own fleet awaiting him. The two kings remained in Sicily during the winter. William II., king of Sicily, husband of Richard's sister Joanna, had died shortly before, and Tancred, nephew of William, had seized the throne. During the negotiations for the recovery of Joanna and her dowry, disturbances broke out which ended in Richard's forcing his way into Messina at the head of his army. His real enemy was, however, not Tancred, but Philip. The natural jealousy of the two kings grew into mutual hatred during their stay in Sicily, and Tancred informed Richard of French intrigues. In March 1191 Richard made a treaty with Tancred, and recognized him as king of Sicily. At the same time he repudiated Alice, Philip's sister, and betrothed himself to Berengaria of Navarre. Philip was the first to leave Sicily. He arrived at Acre early in April. On April 10 Bichard set sail, and a month later reached Cyprus, where he married Berengaria (May 12). He then proceeded to conquer Cyprus, took Isaac Comnenus and his daughter prisoners, and set out again for the Holy Land, reaching Acre on June 8. Guy of Lusignan, who claimed the throne of Jerusalem, had besieged that fortress since 1189, but the Christian army was itself hemmed in by the forces of Saladin. Bichard's arrival encouraged the besiegers, and on July 11 Acre surrendered. The two kings now settled the dispute between Guy of Lusignan and Conrad of Montferrat about the throne of Jerusalem and on August 3 , Philip left the Holy Land. Saladin having failed to fulfil the terms on which Acre had surrendered, Bichard ordered the massacre in cold blood of some three thousand Mohammedan prisoners. Soon afterwards he set out for Jaffa, and on the way thither won the battle of Arsuf. Having rebuilt Jaffa, he started for Jerusalem. About Christmas 1191 he arrived at Beit-nuba, within sight of the Holy City, but, owing to the reluctance or desertion of his French allies, he found it impossible to besiege it, and therefore withdrew to the coast. In April 1192, at the instance of Ms followers, he recognized Conrad as king of Jerusalem, indemnifying Guy with the crown of Cyprus. The murder of Conrad immediately afterwards was laid, probably without sufficient ground, to the charge of Richard, who conferred the vacant throne on Henry, count of Champagne. Bad news from England now made him anxious to go home, but he resolved on one more attempt to save Jerusalem. He set out on June 4, arrived again within sight of the city, and again retired without venturing to attack. Jaffa, which had been taken by Saladin, was retaken on August 1. This was Bichard's last exploit in the East. On September 1 he made a three years' truce with Saladin, on the basis of the status quo; and on October 9 he sailed for home, leaving behind him a name long remembered by the Saracens, but, beyond the capture of Acre, having accomplished none of the objects with which he set out.

Fearing to go through France, Richard sailed up the Adriatic, and made his way on foot, as a pilgrim and almost alone, to Erdburg near Vienna. Here he was discovered (December 21, 1192) by Leopold, duke of Austria, of whom, while at Ascalon, he had made a bitter enemy. After being confined for some time at Dtirrenstein on the Danube, he was surrendered in March 1193 to the emperor Henry VI., who imprisoned him first at Trifels and afterwards at Worms. Legend was already rife about him, but the story of his discovery by Blondel only dates from the following century, and is of French origin. In order to liberate himself, Bichard resigned his crown to Henry VI. as overlord of Christendom, promised to pay a yearly tribute, and received back the crown as a vassal of the emperor. At Easter a diet was held at Spires, at which Bichard was charged with various misdoings,—the recognition of Tancred, the conquest of Cyprus, the murder of Conrad, even with the betrayal of the Holy Land to Saladin. He defended himself eloquently, and the charges were dropped. Shortly afterwards a treaty was made at Worms (July 29) for Richard's release on payment of a ransom of 150,000 marks, with other conditions. Great efforts were made in England to collect the money, two-thirds of which was paid over to Henry, hostages being given for the rest. Philip and John were able, however, by offers of money and other means, to induce the emperor to detain Richard till the following spring. At length he was liberated. On March 13, 1194, he set foot again in England. He found his dominions in great confusion owing to the intrigues of Philip and John. He rapidly made himself master of the castles which held out for John, and on April 17, 1194, he was crowned a second time. He then collected more money from the impoverished country for the rest of his ransom and for an expedition to France, and on May 12 left England again never to return. Philip retired before him; John submitted and was pardoned. For the remaining five years of his reign Richard kept up an intermittent struggle with Philip, a struggle marked by no great battles, and interrupted only by fruitless negotiations and truces which were never kept. Neither party was strong enough to inflict a severe blow upon the other. In the autumn of 1198 the war went decidedly against Philip, but in January 1199 a peace for five years was made, each side retaining what it held. Shortly afterwards Richard, while besieging the castle of Chaluz near Limoges, which was held against him by one of his vassals, was wounded by an arrow. Ho died on April 6, 1199, and was buried at Fontevraud. His brother John succeeded him.

In person Richard was tall, muscular, ruddy, with light brown hair. He was lavish, generous, and fearless; a skilful commander, but incapable of extensive combinations or far-reaching plans ; more religious than his father or brothers, but equally vicious; a bad husband and a bad son, with much of the ferocity that characterized his race; in tact, a typical representative of the faults as well as the virtues of the chivalry of his day. His reign was signalized by no great legal or administrative reform, and England owes him nothing but barren fame.

Chief Authorities—Hoveden, Chronica; Ralph de Diceto, Imagines Historiarum ; Gervase of Canterbury, Chronica, &c. ; Chronicles and Memorials of the Reign of Richard I. ; Gesta Regis Benrici II.) &c. (ascribed to Benedict of Peterborough); all the above have been edited, with most valuable prefaces, by Dr Stubbs for the Rolls Series ; also "William of jSTewburgh, Historia Rerum Anglicarum, edited for the Engl. Hist. Society by H. C. Hamilton, and for the Rolls Series by R. Howdett; Richard of Devizes, Chronicon, &c., edited for the Engl. Hist. Society by J. Stevenson ; Pauli, Geschichte von England, vol. iii.; Stubbs, Early Plantagenets; Lingard, History of England, vol. ii. (G. W. P.)







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