lived from 1157-1199

According to legend, Richard the Lion-hearted was a gallant and famed Norman King of England. His most notable deed was that he went with his loyal compatriots to do battle in the Holy Land in the Third Crusade with the hope of capturing Jerusalem. He failed (of course), and during his return was captured and held for ransom by the Duke of Austria.

When he returned, his brother, Prince John, had ursurped his throne, and the historical novel Ivanhoe is some fiction about that business.

Later on, when warring against Phillip II of France, Richard was mortally wounded by an arrow.

Though he was supposed to be a really great tactician, he was ineffectual in his military campaigns overall. Furthermore, because he spent so much time outside of England fighting and getting kidnapped, he has been referred to as "The Absent King" (supposedly, he spent all of six months during his entire reign there).
Richard I, also known as Richard the Lion-Hearted (Coeur de Lion), succeded his father King Henry II of England, to the throne in 1189. Before this he had been a soldier, showing himself able to capture the supposedly impregnable fortress of Taillebourg from the French, and joining the Third Crusade. He was on this crusade when the news came of his father's death, but returned to England as soon as he could and was crowned in September. (Massacres of English Jews occurred at the same time as his coronation, because patriotic Jews showed up in London with gifts for the King even though they had been forbidden to attend. Angry Christians set fire to Jewish households in London and later in other locations.) As soon as Richard had raised some money to support his cause (only a few months) he went back to his Crusade.

At his mother's urging, Richard married Berengaria of Navarre in 1191 but probably never consummated the marriage; it is thought that he may have been homosexual because he did penance from the Church for an unnamed vice (and the Church certainly wouldn't have wanted to state that the King of England was gay). Berengaria did accompany Richard to the Holy Land, where the Crusade tried and failed to take Jerusalem from its Muslim inhabitants and eventually made a truce with Saladin, the leader of the Muslim forces. The Europeans then left for home; Richard, traveling on a different ship from his wife, was shipwrecked and then imprisoned for 15 months in Austria for having insulted its leader. Finally (after a ransom had been paid) he was able to return to England in March 1194, where he found that his younger brother John had depleted the treasury and plotted to overthrow him. Richard forgave him rather quickly and then went back to continental Europe to try and defend his Normandy property. During a siege in 1199, he was struck in the shoulder by an arrow which was not removed properly, and he died of gangrene on 6 April 1199.

Richard spent less time in England than any other king (his wife never set foot in the country she was queen of) and probably spoke almost no English, yet his name is one of the best-known in English history and he's regarded as a great king. Go figure.

Richard was renowned for his great personal strength, and he lived in an age when kings still suited up in armor and fought at the head of armies. There is a fairly credible account that he once cut an armored Saracen in half from one shoulder to the opposite hip. This was possible in the days of chain mail armor if you had a really big sword and swung it really hard.

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