Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: Richard the Lionheart

This Moonday’s Heroic Hunk is Richard the Lionheart who was born in 1157, the third son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. When Eleanor deserted her husband after he flaunted his affair with Rosamund Clifford, Richard accompanied her to Aquitaine where chivalry ruled. 

A trained warrior, Richard stood over 6’ 4” and was powerfully built. He had the red hair and fiery temper of the Angevins. Richard, like most of his family, never learned to speak English. 

Richard rebelled against his father with his brothers Henry and Geoffrey in 1173 but supported his father in the next rebellion. Richard sided with his step-brother Philip II against his father in 1188-1189. 

His father died that year and when Richard was crowned in Westminster a bat zig-zagged around his head. Some believed it was an evil omen; others saw it as confirmation that the Angevins were the devil’s spawn. Richard often quoted the Angevin family legend “From the Devil we sprang and to the Devil we shall go.” 

After the Kurdish sultan Saladin seized Jerusalem, Richard took the crusader’s cross and left for the Holy Land to free the Holy Land. On his way to the fight Saladin, Eleanor delivered Berengaria of Navarre to Cyprus where she and Richard were married. They saw little of each other and, since Richard had done penance for sodomy but acknowledged a bastard son, the warrior king was believed to be bisexual. Not surprisingly, they had no children. 

Massacre of the Saracens


Richard fought a vigorous but unsuccessful campaign against Saladin. To his dishonor, he slaughtered 2,700 captive Muslim soldiers rather than free them despite the payment of ransom. When Richard realized it was impossible to recapture the Holy Land and that his brother John and King Philip of France were attacking his territories, Richard negotiated a truce with Saladin to allow Christians to visit Jerusalem. 

On his trip returning to England, Richard was captured and imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. Eleanor collected and paid his ransom of 65,000 pounds of silver by additional taxes and almost bankrupting England. When Richard was released, King Philip sent a message to John- “Look to yourself; the devil is loose.” 

Richard quickly put down his brother John’s rebellion and recaptured much of Normandy from King Philip of France. Richard spent only six months of his ten year reign in England. 

In April, 1199 while conducting a siege of the castle of one his nobles who had possession of a Roman treasure, Richard was shot in the shoulder by a castle archer. Richard’s wound became infected and developed gangrene. Before he died in his mother’s arms, he forgave the bowman who shot him and awarded him 100 shillings. His sister didn’t feel the same way and had the archer flayed alive and torn apart by wild horses. Richard was buried at his father’s feet in Fontvraud Abbey in Anjou. 

Berengaria never remarried and eventually retired to an abbey. Richard was succeeded by his brother, John Lackland who will be week after next’s Anti-Hero. Next week, check out my summary of Angela (Executive Director of Carina Publishing) James’ recent presentation in Birmingham to the Southern Magic Chapter of RWA. RitaVF

5 Responses

  1. The saga of Richard the Lionheart is compelling indeed. What you have here whets the historical appetite for more in-depth exploration.

    Yet spending only 6 mos. out of ten years in England as her king, makes you wonder if it was out of a sense of duty to strenghten his country that he accepted the throne–or solely a life-long warrior grasping the opportunity to wage war campaigns. No matter which, he restored quite a bit to England.

    Still say you should do video or audio introductions for history classes. It would guarantee attendance! You have a way that makes a person realize each of these historical figures was a real, breathing person, not just dull words printed on paper.

    Beautiful, Rita.

    • Thanks so much for your gracious comments. I don’t believe some of my content would be acceptable for most history classes. To stay within my 500 word limit, though, I must simplify the complex which I HATE to do as a lover of history.
      As for Richard’s absence from England, he was brought up in what is now the south of France. He claimed that England was “cold and always raining.” He was not, however, above beggaring the English treasury for his ransom and the crusade. He was reputed to have said “I would sell London itself if only I could find a rich enough buyer.” RitaVF

  2. Did not know about the sodomy charge. Since I learned something new today, can I go home?

    Another great post, my friend.

    • Thank you, sfcatty. RIchard had to do public penance twice for the sin of sodomy. Once was before he took up the Crusader’s cross. RitaVF

  3. Love reading your post, so full of history and keeps a reader interested in learning the way you piece things together. Love Mondays..

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