Family and youth
Richard was born on 8 September 1157, probably at in Oxford England. He was a
younger brother of Count William IX of Poitiers, Henry the Young King and Duchess
Matilda of Saxony. He was the younger maternal half-brother of Countess Marie of
Champagne and Countess Alix of Blois. As the third legitimate son of King Henry II of
England. While his father visited his lands from Scotland to France, Richard probably
spent his childhood in England. His first recorded visit to the continent was in May
1165, when his mother took him to Normandy.
Little is known about Richard's education. Although born in Oxford and raised in
England up to his eighth year, it is not known to what extent he used or understood
English; he was an educated man who composed poetry and wrote in Limousin and
also in French. A number of authors have speculated that Richard did not know the
English language; however the evidence available to historians does not provide a
definitive case for this assumption.
From an early age he showed significant political and military ability, becoming
noted for his chivalry and courage as he fought to control the rebellious nobles of his
Marriage alliances were common among medieval royalty: they led to political
alliances and peace treaties, and allowed families to stake claims of succession on
each other's lands. In March 1159 it was arranged that Richard would marry one of the
daughters of Ramon Bereguer IV. Count of Barcelona ; however, these arrangements
failed, and the marriage never took place. Early in the 1160s there had been
suggestions Richard should marry Alys (Alice), fourth daughter of Louis VII; because of
the rivalry between the kings of England and France, Louis obstructed the marriage. A
peace treaty was secured in January 1169 and Richard's betrothal to Alys was
In June 1172 Richard was formally recognized as the Duke of Aquitaine when he
was granted the lance and banner emblems of his office; the ceremony took place in
Poitiers and was repeated in Limoges.
Richard I´s Coronation
Richard I was officially invested as duke of Normandy on 20 July 1189 and was
crowned king in Westminster Abbey on 3 September 1189.When he was crowned,
Richard barred all Jews and women from the ceremony, but some Jewish leaders
arrived to present gifts for the new king.
When a rumour spread that Richard had ordered all Jews to be killed, the people of
London began a massacre. Many Jews were beaten to death, robbed, and burned
alive. Many Jewish homes were burned down, and several Jews were forcibly
baptised. Some sought sanctuary in the Tower of London, and others managed to
escape.. Roger of Hoveden, in his Gesta Regis Ricardi, claimed that the rioting was
started by the jealous and bigoted citizens, and that Richard punished the perpetrators,
allowing a forcibly converted Jew to return to his native religion. Baldwin of Forde,
Archbishop of Canterbury, reacted by remarking, "If the King is not God's man, he had
better be the devils".
Richard swore an oath to renounce his past wickedness in order to show himself
worthy to take the cross. He started to raise and equip a new crusader army. He spent
most of his father's treasury (filled with money raised by the Saladin tithe), raised taxes,
and even agreed to free King William I of Scotland from his oath of subservience to
Richard in exchange for 10,000 marks. To raise still more finances he sold official
positions, rights, and lands to those interested in them. Those already appointed were
forced to pay huge sums to retain their posts.
After repositioning the part of his army he left behind to guard his French
possessions, Richard finally set out on the crusade in summer 1190. (His delay was
criticised by troubadours such as Bertran de Born.) He appointed as Regents Hugh de
Puiset, Bishop of Durham, and William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex—who soon
died and was replaced by Richard's chancellor William Longchamp. Richard's brother
John was not satisfied by this decision and started scheming against William.
Richard claimed that England was "cold and always raining, and when he was raising
funds for his crusade, he was said to declare, "I would have sold London if I could find
a buyer." However, although England was a major part of his territories—particularly
important in that it gave him a royal title with which to approach other kings as an
equal—it faced no major internal or external threats during his reign, unlike his
continental territories, and so did not require his constant presence there. Like most of
the Plantagenet kings before the 14th century, he had little need to use the English
language. Leaving the country in the hands of various officials he designated (including
his mother, at times), Richard was far more concerned with his more extensive French
lands. After all his preparations he had an army of 4,000 men-at-arms, 4,000 foot-
soldiers and a fleet of 100 ships.
And His Legacy
Richard landed in Acre on 8 June 1191, quickly forcing the city to surrender to the
Crusaders. Later that year, Richard departed Acre with his army to move south, and
left William of Montferrat as Regent Lord of Acre, unaware that William was secretly a
member of the Templar conspiracy who intended to betray him.
Fortunately for the oblivious Richard, William was killed by the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-
La'Ahad soon after Richard had left Acre.
Under Richard, the Crusaders eventually reached Arsuf, where they engaged
Saladin's army. Here they were approached by Altaïr, the Assassin responsible for
killing not only William of Montferrat, but also the leaders of the Knights Hospitalier,
Garnier de Naplouse, and of the Knights Teutonic, Sibrand.
Unsure on who to believe, Richard left the decision in the hands of God, declaring
that Robert and his Templars were to fight Altaïr in a trial by combat. Altaïr proved the
victor, and so Richard accepted the Assassin's version of events.
Richard and Altaïr then discussed the philosophies of war and peace, with Richard
admitting that he was not yet ready for peace with Saladin. As Altaïr left, saying that he
needed to confront the faults of his Master, Richard reminded him that Al Mualim was
merely human, just as he was.
In the third Crusade 1191–92 he won victories at Cyprus, Acre, and Arsuf (against
Saladin), but failed to recover Jerusalem. While returning overland he was captured by
the Duke of Austria, who handed him over to the emperor Henry VI. He was held
prisoner until a large ransom was raised.
On his release he returned briefly to England, where his brother John had been ruling
in his stead. His later years were spent in warfare in France, where he was killed by a
crossbow bolt while besieging Châlus- Chabrol in 1199. He left no heir.
Richard, however, also received negative portrayals. During his life, he was criticised
by 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. Victorian England
was divided on Richard: many of them admired him as a crusader and man of God,
erecting an heroic statue to him outside the Houses of Parliament; Stubbs, on the other
hand, thought him "a bad son, a bad husband, a selfish ruler, and a vicious man".
During his ten years' reign, he was in England for no more than six months, and was
totally absent for the last five years.
Richard produced no legitimate heirs and acknowledged only one illegitimate son,
Philip of Cognac. As a result, he was succeeded by his brother John as King of
England. However, his French territories initially rejected John as a successor,
preferring his nephew Arthur of Brittany, the son of their late brother Geoffrey, whose
claim was by modern standards better than John's. Significantly, the lack of any direct
heirs from Richard was the first step in the dissolution of the Angevin Empire. While
Kings of England continued to press claims to properties on the continent, they would
never again command the territories Richard I inherited.