Richard I. (Richard the Lionheart)

Richard I was one of the most famous English kings, who gained his nickname "Lionheart" in his participation in the Third Crusade, rather by an inglorious behavior of his army.


Origin and adolescence:

Richard was born on 8 September 1157 in Oxford as the third son of Henry II of England and the Eleonore of Aquitaine. There are no written records of his childhood, but it is believed that Richard enjoyed his military training, education and politics as was customary at the time. A first written mention of his name can be found from the year 1159, as already in childhood an engagement with the daughter of the Count of Barcelona Raimund Berengar IV. Was decided, which was annulled by the death of the Count shortly thereafter again.

Overall, Richard had 4 more brothers:

  1. Wilhelm (1153–1156)
  2. Heinrich (1155–1183)
    Was married to Margaret of France in 1160, was Duke of Normandy, Earl of Anjou and Maine. 1170 was the premature coronation of the king, as Henry should take the legacy of his father
  3. Gottfried (1158–1187)
    Duke of Brittany
  4. Johann (1167–1216)
    Count of Mortain

Richard received the titles Count of Maine and Duke of Aquitaine.

Early 1173 to celebrate the engagement between Johann and Adelheid (Alys), the daughter of Count Humbert III. According to his father's instructions, Henry should cede the castles of Chinon, Loudun and Mirebeau to John. However, Heinrich disapproved of this decision and began to rebel against his father. He was joined in March by Richard and Gottfried.

At the meeting in Limoges, Henry officially rose against his father and demanded the actual transfer of dominion over the Duchy of Normandy. In addition to his two brothers, he was joined by his father-in-law, King Louis VII of France, his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and Count Philip I of Flanders and King William I of Scotland.

As the situation expanded into an armed conflict and Henry II with his 20,000 -strong Brabant mercenary army suppressed the rebellion, Richard and his two brothers sat down to Paris to put themselves under the protection of Louis VII. After Heinrich and Gottfried died, Richard was the leader of the rebellion. With the help of his brother John and the new French King Philip II August 1189 he was able to beat his father's army and in the subsequent agreement of Azay-le-Rideau be titled sole heirs.

Henry II died only a short time later on July 6, 1189 in the castle Chinon.

In Westminster Richard was finally crowned king of England as Richard I.




Richard and the Third Crusade:

Unlike other rulers, however, Richard did not set about consolidating his power or advancing an expansionist policy. His main focus was first in the fulfillment of his crusade vow that he had filed together with the French king Philip II August.

So they struck together with their army from Marseille in 1190 in the direction of the Middle East. On September 16, 1190, they reached the Sicilian city of Messina. Before his onward journey, he demanded the release of his sister Johanna, who was held there since the death of her husband King William II on 17 November 1189 there. Within a few days, this demand was met, but there were always minor clashes between Richards and the Sicilian soldiers, even Richards appearance resembled more of a conqueror than a king. The situation escalated as some residents repeatedly led outages from the city, which drove the soldiers Richards in a veritable fierce fighting. Richard then went to the top of his army, let the city storm and then spend hours plundering the soldiers, murder and robbing drive through the streets before Richard put an end to the bustle. The inhabitants of Sicily, with their king Tankred of Sicily, subsequently abandoned attacks and paid Richard some respect. This went so far in part that Richard of the Sicilians got the nickname "the lion" or "lion heart".

Further along the way, Richard conquered Cyprus in the meantime and immediately sold the island to King Guido of Lusignan, who had fled Jerusalem. In Cyprus he also married, much to the horror of Philip II, Berengaria of Navarre. Thus he broke the relationship with Philipp's half-sister Alix, which should have a negative impact later in the course.

After the conquest of Acre, Richard did not miss an opportunity to show his power to his colleagues. Thus, the shares of Leopold V of Austria were ignored, even his standard was thrown into the moat. Also opposite Philip he demonstrated at every opportunity, which of the two would have the greater power.

After the conquest of Akkon and the dispute with Richard, Philip left early on the crusade and returned to France. There he met with Richard's brother Johann, who administered England in his absence and met with him a crucial agreement. Philip was to receive part of Richards' possessions in France, while Johann got the rest.

In the meantime, Richard had achieved several victories on the Mediterranean coast, his main objective being the liberation of Jerusalem, but was still far off. After the news of the pact between Philip and John reached him, he concluded a truce with the Muslim ruler Saladin and made in October 1192 on the way back to England.




Richard's captivity:

Richard's return from the crusade began on October 30, 1192. Due to the winter storms on the Mediterranean and the closure of the French ports by King Philip, Richard was forced to sail northward through the Adriatic Sea. By tradition, the ship is said to have been captured on the way by pirates. As Richards ship cook and the pirate captain knew, a trade could be concluded that the pirates Richard took and on November 15, 1192 on the Istrian peninsula at Aquileia disguised as merchants disembarked.

In Friesach Richard was recognized for the first time, whereupon the Austrian King Leopold V ordered his capture. Richard escaped and appeared the next time on December 6, 1192 in Bruck an der Mur, where his courtly behavior evoked Argwohnen. On December 21, 1192, he arrived in Erdberg, a suburb of Vienna, where he sent one of his companions to the city to buy groceries. There he fell because of his many coins from the East, whereupon the companion was pursued on the way back. In a small inn Richard and his companions could then be located and captured.

Richard was presented to the Austrian king and then brought to Dürnstein. On December 27, 1192 Leopold V. informed the Roman-German King Henry VI. about Richard's capture. He wanted to make as much profit from the capture as possible, and the ransom demands were accordingly high.

The ransom demands were later composed of the following points:

  1. Payment of about 23 tons or 100,000 marks silver
  2. Weapon aid for Heinrich VI. on a campaign to Sicily
  3. Release of Isaac Komnenos and his daughter in Cyprus, who had captured Richard during his conquest
  4. Marriage of Richard's niece Eleonore of Brittany with Frederick I of Austria, the son of Leopold V.
  5. Richard the Lionheart advocates for the Pope to ensure that Leopold V is not excommunicated and re-admitted to the Church

After the treaty was negotiated, Leopold Richard transferred on March 28, 1193 in the care of Henry VI. who fixed him in the castle of Trifels.

In Richard Trifels the ransom agreement was submitted to Richard, this rejected Richard but in all points, he could be sure of the intervention of the Pope. He also threatened Leopold and Heinrich with excommunication if they continue to detain a crusader under ecclesiastical protection. Leopold was then excommunicated, Heinrich was able to elude the sent by, but in order to legalize the capture, he tried to justify the reasons by a lawsuit.

Shortly thereafter, Philipp also intervened in the negotiations and promised at a delivery Richards to him to redeem all points of the ransom agreement. By the risk of extradition to Philip, Richard agreed to all points, except for the Waffenhilfe. As a substitute point, the payment was further negotiated 12 tons of silver, with the condition that 200 English nobles should be taken as a pledge until the sum was raised.

After the consent of the ransom, Johann tried to sabotage the payments in order to continue to manage in England. But Richard's mother Eleanor of Aquitaine managed to raise the sum by selling valuable goods.

At the Reichstag in Mainz on 2.-4. February 1194 Richard's imprisonment was declared over. After he was free again and still visited some German cities, Richard returned only a few weeks after his release to England.




The war against Philip II .:

After his return to England Richard reconciled again with his brother John and then focused on the vendetta against the French king Philip II.

It began in 1194, when Richard Siege arrived at Fréteval, 1195 at Issoudun and 1196 the capture of the city of Angoulême, whereupon Philip II in 1196 had to agree to the Treaty of Louviers, Richard gave back part of his former possessions in France.



Richard's Coat of Arms:

King of England until 1194


King of England since 1194


Duke of Aquitaine


Duke of Normandy and also Henry, ruler of Brunswick from 1189


Count of Poitou; this coat of arms was used by Richard on the Third Crusade




Richard's death:

In the following years Richard was mainly occupied with the revolt of the nobility in Aquitaine under the leadership of Adémar V. of Limoges. In a siege of the castle Châlus on March 25, 1199 Richard was hit by an arrow or crossbow bolt, which seriously injured him. On April 6, 1199 Richard died in the arms of his mother at the castle Châlus the injuries.

His body was buried in Fontevrault Abbey, his heart in the Cathedral of Rouen.

After his death, his brother Johann succeeded him.



Richard Löwenherz

Richard the Lionheart






You can find the right literature here:


Richard I

Richard I Paperback – January 11, 2002

Neither a feckless knight-errant nor a king who neglected his kingdom, Richard I was in reality a masterful and businesslike ruler. In this wholly rewritten version of a classic account of the reign of Richard The Lionheart, John Gillingham scrutinizes the reasons for the King’s fluctuating reputation over successive centuries and provides a convincing new interpretation of the significance of the reign. This edition includes a complete annotation and expanded bibliography.

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Richard I: The Crusader King

Richard I: The Crusader King (Penguin Monarchs) Hardcover – April 24, 2018

Richard I's reign is both controversial and seemingly contradictory. One of England's most famous medieval monarchs and a potent symbol of national identity, he barely spent six months on English soil during a 10-year reign and spoke French as his first language. Contemporaries dubbed him the "Lionheart," reflecting a carefully cultivated reputation for bravery, prowess and knightly virtue, but this supposed paragon of chivalry butchered close to 3,000 prisoners in cold blood on a single day. And, though revered as Christian Europe's greatest crusader, his grand campaign to the Holy Land failed to recover the city of Jerusalem from Islam. Seeking to reconcile this conflicting evidence, Thomas Asbridge's incisive reappraisal of Richard I's career questions whether the Lionheart really did neglect his kingdom, considers why he devoted himself to the cause of holy war and asks how the memory of his life came to be interwoven with myth. Richard emerges as a formidable warrior-king, possessed of martial genius and a cultured intellect, yet burdened by the legacy of his dysfunctional dynasty and obsessed with the pursuit of honor and renown.

Click here!






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