81 Facts About Richard I


Richard I was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199.

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Richard I ruled as Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, and Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes, and was overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period.

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Richard I was the third of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and seemed unlikely to become king, but all his brothers except the youngest, John, predeceased their father.

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Richard I was an important Christian commander during the Third Crusade, leading the campaign after the departure of Philip II of France and achieving considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, although he finalised a peace treaty and ended the campaign without retaking Jerusalem.

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Richard I was born in England, where he spent his childhood; before becoming king he lived most of his adult life in the Duchy of Aquitaine, in the southwest of France.

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Richard I remains one of the few kings of England remembered more commonly by his epithet than his regnal number, and is an enduring iconic figure both in England and in France.

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Richard I was a younger brother of Henry the Young King and Matilda, Duchess of Saxony.

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Richard I was an elder brother of Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany; Queen Eleanor of Castile; Queen Joan of Sicily; and John, Count of Mortain, who succeeded him as king.

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Richard I was the younger maternal half-brother of Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, and Alix, Countess of Blois.

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Richard I's father was Angevin-Norman and great-grandson of William the Conqueror.

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Richard I was said to be very attractive; his hair was between red and blond, and he was light-eyed with a pale complexion.

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From an early age, Richard I showed significant political and military ability, becoming noted for his chivalry and courage as he fought to control the rebellious nobles of his own territory.

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Early in the 1160s there had been suggestions Richard I should marry Alys, Countess of the Vexin, fourth daughter of Louis VII; because of the rivalry between the kings of England and France, Louis obstructed the marriage.

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At the ceremony where Richard I's betrothal was confirmed, he paid homage to the King of France for Aquitaine, thus securing ties of vassalage between the two.

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Richard I went to Poitou and raised the barons who were loyal to himself and his mother in rebellion against his father.

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Eleanor was captured, so Richard I was left to lead his campaign against Henry II's supporters in Aquitaine on his own.

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Richard I took refuge in Chateau de Taillebourg for the rest of the war.

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Several days later, Richard I's brothers joined him in seeking reconciliation with their father.

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The terms the three brothers accepted were less generous than those they had been offered earlier in the conflict : Richard I was given control of two castles in Poitou and half the income of Aquitaine; Henry the Young King was given two castles in Normandy; and Geoffrey was permitted half of Brittany.

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On this campaign, Richard I acquired the name "the Lion" or "the Lionheart" due to his noble, brave and fierce leadership.

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Richard I was discouraged from renouncing Alys because she was the sister of King Philip II of France, a close ally.

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Richard I first destroyed and looted the farms and lands surrounding the fortress, leaving its defenders no reinforcements or lines of retreat.

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The garrison sallied out of the castle and attacked Richard I; he was able to subdue the army and then followed the defenders inside the open gates, where he easily took over the castle in two days.

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Richard I's opponents turned to Philip II of France for support, and the fighting spread through the Limousin and Perigord.

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Richard I's barons joined in the fray and turned against their duke.

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Richard I sent her to Aquitaine and demanded that Richard give up his lands to his mother, who would rule over those lands.

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Two days later Henry II died in Chinon, and Richard I succeeded him as King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Count of Anjou.

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Roger of Howden, in his, claimed that the jealous and bigoted citizens started the rioting, and that Richard I punished the perpetrators, allowing a forcibly converted Jew to return to his native religion.

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Richard I distributed a royal writ demanding that the Jews be left alone.

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Richard I had already taken the cross as Count of Poitou in 1187.

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Richard I swore an oath to renounce his past wickedness in order to show himself worthy to take the cross.

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Richard I was apparently outbid by a certain Reginald the Italian, but that bid was refused.

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Richard I reconfirmed his father's appointment of William Fitz Ralph to the important post of seneschal of Normandy.

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When Richard I was raising funds for his crusade, he was said to declare, "I would have sold London if I could find a buyer".

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Richard I ordered Isaac to release the prisoners and treasure.

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All declared their support for Richard I provided that he support Guy against his rival, Conrad of Montferrat.

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Richard I named Richard I de Camville and Robert of Thornham as governors.

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Richard I later sold the island to the master of Knights Templar, Robert de Sable, and it was acquired, in 1192, by Guy of Lusignan and became a stable feudal kingdom.

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Richard I's exploit was well publicised and contributed to his reputation, and he derived significant financial gains from the conquest of the island.

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Richard I first grew close to her at a tournament held in her native Navarre.

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When Richard I married Berengaria he was still officially betrothed to Alys, and he pushed for the match in order to obtain the Kingdom of Navarre as a fief, as Aquitaine had been for his father.

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Richard I took his new wife on crusade with him briefly, though they returned separately.

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Richard I gave his support to his Poitevin vassal Guy of Lusignan, who had brought troops to help him in Cyprus.

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Richard I allied with Humphrey IV of Toron, Isabella's first husband, from whom she had been forcibly divorced in 1190.

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Richard I quarrelled with Leopold of Austria over the deposition of Isaac Komnenos and his position within the crusade.

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Richard I's men tore the flag down and threw it in the moat of Acre.

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Richard I had kept 2,700 Muslim prisoners as hostages against Saladin fulfilling all the terms of the surrender of the lands around Acre.

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Richard I feared his forces being bottled up in Acre as he believed his campaign could not advance with the prisoners in train.

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Richard I maintained his army's defensive formation until the Hospitallers broke ranks to charge the right wing of Saladin's forces.

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Richard I then ordered a general counterattack, which won the battle.

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Richard I attempted to negotiate with Saladin, but this was unsuccessful.

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An election forced Richard I to accept Conrad of Montferrat as King of Jerusalem, and he sold Cyprus to his defeated protege, Guy.

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Richard I stated that he would accompany any attack on Jerusalem but only as a simple soldier; he refused to lead the army.

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Richard I knew that both Philip and his own brother John were starting to plot against him, and the morale of Saladin's army had been badly eroded by repeated defeats.

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Richard I made one last attempt to strengthen his bargaining position by attempting to invade Egypt – Saladin's chief supply-base – but failed.

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Richard I realised that his return could be postponed no longer, since both Philip and John were taking advantage of his absence.

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On his way to the territory of his brother-in-law Henry the Lion, Richard I was captured shortly before Christmas 1192 near Vienna by Leopold of Austria, who accused Richard I of arranging the murder of his cousin Conrad of Montferrat.

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Richard I's mishap was known to England, but the regents were for some weeks uncertain of his whereabouts.

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Richard I wrote the song, in French and Occitan versions, to express his feelings of abandonment by his people and his sister.

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Richard I famously refused to show deference to the Emperor and declared to him, "I am born of a rank which recognises no superior but God".

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Richard I forgave John when they met again and named him as his heir in place of their nephew, Arthur.

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When Philip besieged Aumale in Normandy, Richard I grew tired of waiting and seized the manor, although the act was opposed by the Catholic Church.

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Richard I organised an alliance against Philip, including Baldwin IX of Flanders, Renaud, Count of Boulogne, and his father-in-law, King Sancho VI of Navarre, who raided Philip's lands from the south.

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At the Battle of Gisors in 1198, Richard I took —"God and my Right"—as his motto, echoing his earlier boast to Emperor Henry that his rank acknowledged no superior but God.

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Richard I besieged the tiny, virtually unarmed castle of Chalus-Chabrol.

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Richard I asked to have the crossbowman brought before him; called alternatively Pierre Basile, John Sabroz, Dudo, and Bertrand de Gourdon by chroniclers, the man turned out to be a boy.

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Richard I expected to be executed, but as a final act of mercy Richard forgave him, saying "Live on, and by my bounty behold the light of day", before he ordered the boy to be freed and sent away with 100 shillings.

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Richard I's heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy, his entrails in Chalus, and the rest of his body at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.

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Richard I produced no legitimate heirs and acknowledged only one illegitimate son, Philip of Cognac.

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The lack of any direct heirs from Richard I was the first step in the dissolution of the Angevin Empire.

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Richard I was known as a valiant, competent military leader and individual fighter who was courageous and generous.

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Richard I was criticised by clergy chroniclers for having taxed the clergy both for the Crusade and for his ransom, whereas the church and the clergy were usually exempt from taxes.

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Richard I was a patron and a protector of the trouveres and troubadours of his entourage; he was a poet himself.

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Richard I was interested in writing and music, and two poems are attributed to him.

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Flori again argued in favour of Richard I's homosexuality, based on Richard I's two public confessions and penitences which, according to Flori, "must have" referred to the sin of sodomy.

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Richard I left an indelible imprint in large part because of his military exploits, and his popular image tended to be dominated by the positive qualities of chivalry and military competence.

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Victorian England was divided on Richard I: many admired him as a crusader and man of God, erecting an heroic statue to him outside the Houses of Parliament.

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Richard I 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.

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Richard I was no Englishman, but it does not follow that he gave to Normandy, Anjou, or Aquitaine the love or care that he denied to his kingdom.

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Richard I's ambition was that of a mere warrior: he would fight for anything whatever, but he would sell everything that was worth fighting for.

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In World War I, when British troops commanded by General Edmund Allenby captured Jerusalem, the British press printed cartoons of Richard I looking down from the heavens with the caption reading, "At last my dream has come true".

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