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Birth: Richard I (1157)

Submitted by Ludwig von Rege... on September 8, 2015 - 11:40pm

Were the world all mine,
From the sea to the Rhine,
I'd give it all
If so be the King of England
lay in my arms.

Richard "the Lionheart" was the fourth child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, but he would rise through the ranks to become King of England, Duke of Normandy etc.  Though raised in England, he spent almost all of his adult life elsewhere: perhaps he didn't like the place, or perhaps other lands just provided more people to kill.  A military leader from the age of 16, Richard fought his father, the French, the Greeks, the Moslems, and then the French some more.  His campaign in the Holy Land, in particular, demonstrated his abilities as a leader of men.  His capture by Leopold of Austria on the way home demonstrated his ability to really annoy people.

Leopold handed Richard to the Emperor Heinrich VI, who demanded a king's ransom (fancy that!) for his release.  Whilst Richard's mother, Eleanor, worked to raise the money; his brother, John, and his rival, Philip Augustus offered Heinrich half a king's ransom to keep Richard in prison.  But Heinrich took Richard's money and let him go, precipitating Philip's famous message to John: "Look to yourself, the devil's loose."

While Heinrich used the money to fund his invasion of Sicily, Richard forgave John and went back to killing Frenchmen.  Richard's failure to produce an heir has lead to speculation that he might have been homosexual.  Whilst much of his separation from his wife was due to necessity, noted marriage counsellor Pope Celestine III still felt the need to tell Richard to spend more time with her.  He certainly seemed to like hanging out with solidiers.  In any case, when he died, he died in his mother's arms. 

In Runciman's estimation, "he was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier."  Despite being firmly rooted in history, today Richard is almost as much a figure of legend.  

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