Most of us have heard the name Richard the Lionheart but very few know the real story behind Richard I of England. We take a closer look at the life and times of this legendary King.
If you visit the Houses of Parliament, sitting proudly outside of them you will find a statue of Richard I of England, sitting majestically upon his trusty steed, signifying him as one of England’s bravest kings.
When we think of famous and brave kings, Richard the Lionheart will surely always spring to mind, and why wouldn’t he?
One of England’s most prominent medieval rulers, he was a fierce ruler, a battle-hardened soldier, and a great crusader who won countless battles. This solidified his place in history as one of the bravest kings to ever preside over the British Isles.
But just how much that is reported about him is accurate, and how much has been romanticized?
No Interest In Being King
For some former rulers, the anticipation of one day becoming king and ruling the land is too much, and the quest for power can bring out the ugliness from within.
Richard, however, didn’t really have much interest in being king, and in actual fact, despite being on the throne for 10 years, he only spent a few months in England, and it is believed that he might even not have spoken the language, despite being born there.
Born at the Beaumont Palace in September 1157, he was the son of Henry II of England and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.
His mother actually plotted against his father and convinced Richard and his brothers to campaign against their own father in France.
Henry was actually defeated in battle and consequently surrendered to Richard, who became king on the 5th of July, 1189.
Richard the Lionheart is most undeniably best known for the crusades.
After becoming king and taken the Crusader’s Vow, he set out to join the third crusade, whereby the objective was to free the Holy Land from the leader of the Turks, a man named Saladin.
After setting sail to Cyprus, he defeated Isaac Komnenos and married Berengaria of Navarre.
He continued on the Crusades, taking the city of Acre on the 8th of June, 1191.
Despite his successes in battle, the primary objective, which was to take back control of Jerusalem, had so far failed.
After three years and coming to a peace deal with Saladin, he set sail for home, only to become shipwrecked and be captured by Leopold V, the Duke of Austria.
A huge ransom was demanded for his safe release, and as a result, to raise the money, a quarter of each man’s income was taken for an entire year.
The ransom was paid and in March, 1194, he finally returned to England.
He was clearly destined to fight, because he soon set off to France to wage war once again.
During one battle, Richard the Lionheart was shot in the arm by an archer. The wound turned gangrenous, and Richard soon began to die.
On his deathbed, he ordered the archer that had shot him to face him. The archer, who is set to have been was named Peter Basil, earned the king’s respect, and rather than being executed, the king gave the boy 100 shillings and set him free.
He died shortly afterwards from the wound, aged just 41, meaning that his brother John took the throne.
Oh, and although we’d like to end the story on a sort of high, despite the king’s orders, many sources claim that Peter Basil was flayed alive and then hanged, and no doubt liberated of his 100 shillings.