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Richard the Lionheart: His Life and Legend

by guest on August 27, 2013
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Richard the Lionheart was also known as the Richard the First, Duke of Normandy, this King of England was famous for his noble deeds as a knight and a leader. His bravery is what led people to call him “lionheart”, a testament to his bravery and prowess as a warrior.

Did Richard the Lionheart Really Exist?

Yes, he did. Born on September 8, 1157 as Richard I, Richard the Lionheart was the first son of King Henry III and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the ex-wife of King Louis VII of France. He was Eleanor’s favorite son and was raised primarily in France.

As a prince, this noble man was already creating his own legend. At the tender age of sixteen, he was commanding armies in France and defeating rebellions. He married Berengaria of Navarre, a union that was encouraged by his mother because of the country’s closeness to Aquitaine, and then left a month later to lead the Third Crusade in the Holy Lands.

Interesting Facts About Richard I’s Life

Many people have had a legend created about them because of a detail about them or a deed they had accomplished. Richard the Lionheart was no different. Here are some interesting facts about this noble King of England:

A Last Act of Mercy

In 1199, Richard the Lionheart was shot by a young man by the name of Pierre Basile, who had wanted to take revenge on him for the murder of Pierre’s father and brothers. The wound had festered and he died not long after. While on his death bed, he had called for Pierre and, impressed by his bravery, forgave Pierre and sent him off with an order to leave him alone. Unfortunately, according to one account, some of Richard’s soldiers ignored the king’s order and, after his passing, tortured Pierre to death.

An Absentee King

Despite Richard becoming the king, he had never been that interested in ruling the country. In fact, he spent a grand total of about six months in England during his entire reign at the throne.

The Legend of Robin Hood

Not long before Richard’s death, he was captured by a German prince. His troubadour, Blondel, went looking for him and upon finding him, set about getting a ransom for Richard’s release. Prince John was convinced to help gather the ransom, though he was less than enthusiastic about helping his brother return to England. This is where the legend of Robin Hood was born: King Richard is far away, and Prince John is taxing the people and collecting more money, so a noble hero steps up to save the people.

King Richard the Lionheart’s Death

Richard the Lionheart died on April 6, 1199, in Limousin. The wound caused by the bolt was treated so badly by the attending doctors that it festered and later killed him. He died in the arms of his then seventy-seven year old mother, with his younger sister Joan also by his side.

Though his legend as a warrior lives on, as a king, Richard the Lionheart was too absent to be of any real use for England. The lack of his presence caused many noble folks, including his own brother John, to take advantage and drive the social system into complete disorder.

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