Little Bits of History

Richard the Lionheart

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 25, 2014
Richard the Lionheart

Richard the Lionheart

March 25, 1199: Richard I of England is shot. Also known as Richard the Lionheart, he was King of England from 1189 until his death. He was born on September 8, 1157 to King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was of the House of Plantagenet. He was the third of five sons and by the age of 16 had taken control of his own army and put down rebellions against his father taking place in Poitou. He was the central Christian commander of the Third Crusade. He was able to bring victories against Saladin but was unable to reconquer Jerusalem, leaving it in the hands of the Muslims.

He spoke two different dialects of French and spent most of his time in the Duchy of Aquitaine. Although born in England as the third son he was not expected to ascend to the throne. His oldest brother, William, died even before Richard was born. Henry the Young King was next in line and was actually given the position of King without being given any lands to rule over. He waged a war against his father and his younger brother and lost, dying in 1183. This left Richard as next in line for the English throne. King Henry II wasn’t willing to give any of his sons the lands or resources which could be used to overthrow the father. This was wise and eventually Richard and a younger brother, John, did rise up against their father. Henry named Richard as his successor and died two days later in Chinon after becoming ill.

Richard’s conquests in the Crusade included marrying Berengaria of Navarre. He was still betrothed to Alys back home, but this match gave ties to the King of Navarre, her father. There was much celebrating, but no children were forthcoming. While being victorious in some battles in the Holy Land, Richard was unable to actually win the war. While trying to sail back to England, his ship encountered bad weather and wrecked near Aquileia. He was forced to attempt a return over land, a much more treacherous proposition since he was in hostile territory. He was captured near Vienna by Leopold V, Duke of Austria. Richard was held prisoner at Durnstein Castle. He was handed over to the Holy Roman Emperor and a ransom was demanded. His mother helped secure the funds and he was returned home.

The family, not close knit by any standards, were not all pleased at his return. However, there was some reconciliation. Richard went on another conquest at Normandy and began to search for a new spot to build his castle/fortress. On this day, he was walking around his recently built castle perimeter and not wearing chainmail. A defender of the castle pointed a crossbow at the King but did not fire. Rather, an arrow struck the royal personage near his shoulder/neck region. Although a doctor came to his aid, the wound festered and became gangrenous. The shooter was seeking revenge against the killing of his family. Richard forgave the boy, but after the King’s death on April 6, the crossbowman was found and flayed alive and hanged by one of Richard’s mercenary captains.

I am born in a rank which recognizes no superior but God. – Richard I to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor

He was a bad king: his great exploits, his military skill, his splendour and extravagance, his poetical tastes, his adventurous spirit, do not serve to cloak his entire want of sympathy, or even consideration, for his people. – William Stubbs

Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel. – Benjamin Disraeli

Being born into the Royal Family is like being born into a mental asylum. Marrying into it is not something to be taken lightly. – John Lydon

Also on this day: On Your Marks – In 1668, the first horse race was run in the American colonies.
Titan Discovered – In 1655, Christiaan Huygens discovered one of Saturn’s moons.
First Passenger Train – In 1908, the Oystermouth Railway began service.
Jobs – In 1894, Coxey’s Army began their march on Washington, D.C.

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