The 6th April 1199 brought to an end the short but eventful reign of Richard the Lionheart when he died from an arrow wound he incurred during the siege of Chalus Castle in France.
I’m sure you’ve all probably heard the legends of King Richard I of England. He’s well known for his crusades in the Holy Land and being the King during the time of Robin Hood, but what about the rest of his reign.
Well ironically Richard spent very little of his reign in England. Most of it was spent either on crusade, in captivity in Austria or fighting to hold on to or regain his lands in France lost by his brother and Regent Price John.
Richard was born in Oxford on the 8th September 1157. He was the 4th child of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was never expected to be king as he had 2 older brothers but they both died before him. When he was just 12 he was created Count of Poitiers. He was crowned King on the 3 September 1189 after the death of his father and was King until his death on the 6 April 1199. During the same period Richard was Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes. It’s a good job he didn’t need to live in all these places to hold the post or he’d have to move about all the time.
Richard is usually portrayed as tall and well-built and being very strong. He more than likely had reddish hair like his father and brothers. Was he really tall is unknown. Some sources have him at over 6 foot 5, but his brother John was only around 5 foot 5 so who knows.
Richard was the beloved son of Eleanor and she usually sided with Richard over most things including against her husband. During Richard’s reign his mother had great influence over Prince John who acted as regent. In fact when Richard died from the infected arrow wound it was in his mother’s arms, not his wife’s.
Yes Richard was married in name. On the 12th May 1191 Richard married Berengaria of Navarre the daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. Berengaria was the choice of Richard’s mother for a bride. They married in the Chapel of St George, Limassol, Cyprus. His sister Joan was the widow of the King of Cyprus and he settled the issue of her inheritance from the new King while he was passing on the way to the crusades.
The marriage was not an affectionate one. It was most likely a marriage of convenience for Richard, but probably not for Berengaria who is rumoured to have loved Richard. She did stay with him in the Holy Land for some time but left for France and did not see him again until his release from captivity in 1194 after 2 years. After this she was reunited with Richard when he lived in France on and off from 1196 – 1199. She is the only Queen consort never to reside in England during her tenure. She did visit after Richard’s death. She died in Le Mans, France in 1230 where she was nun. The couple didn’t have any children as some believe the marriage wasn’t consummated although there is little evidence for this.
So what happened to Richard after his death? Richard is actually buried in 3 places. His entrails were removed and buried where he died in Chalus, France. His heart was embalmed and buried in Rouen Cathedral in France opposite the tomb of his elder brother Henry the Young King and his body was buried in Fontenvraud Abbey at the feet of his father. His mother was buried alongside her husband King Henry II and Richard’s sister in law Isabella of Angouleme was buried alongside him, thus some people think it is Berengaria. I recommend a visit to the abbey as it’s a really nice place.
But what of the man who shot the arrow that killed him? Well Richard immediately pardoned him and event gave him money. After Richard died his men killed the man in the most horrific way he was flayed alive and then hung.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!