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Richard I Coeur de Lion
1189-99 AD

Richard I, the Lion-hearted, spent much of his youth in his mother's court at Poitiers. Richard cared much more for the continental possessions of his mother than for England - he also cared much more for his mother than for his father. Family considerations influenced much of his life: he fought along side of his brothers Prince Henry and Geoffrey in their rebellion of 1173-4; he fought for his father against his brothers when they supported an 1183 revolt in Aquitane; and he joined Philip II of France against his father in 1188, defeating Henry in 1189.

Richard spent but six months of his ten-year reign in England. He acted upon a promise to his father to join the Third Crusade and departed for the Holy Land in 1190 (accompanied by his partner-rival Philip II of France). In 1191, he conquered Cyprus en route to Jerusalem and performed admirably against Saladin, nearly taking the holy city twice. Philip II, in the meantime, returned to France and schemed with Richard's brother John. The Crusade failed in its primary objective of liberating the Holy Land from Moslem Turks, but did have a positive result - easier access to the region for Christian pilgrims through a truce with Saladin. Richard received word of John's treachery and decided to return home; he was captured by Leopold V of Austria and imprisoned by Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. The administrative machinery of Henry II insured the continuance of royal authority, as Richard was unable to return to his realm until 1194. Upon his return, he crushed a coup attempt by John and regained lands lost to Philip II during the German captivity. Richard's war with Philip continued sporadically until the French were finally defeated near Gisors in 1198.

Richard died April 6, 1199, from a wound received in a skirmish at the castle of Chalus in the Limousin. Near his death, Richard finally reconciled his position with his late father, as evidenced by Sir Richard Baker in A Chronicle of the Kings of England: "The remorse for his undutifulness towards his father, was living in him till he died; for at his death he remembered it with bewailing, and desired to be buried as near him as might be, perhaps as thinking they should meet the sooner, that he might ask him forgiveness in another world." Richard's prowess and courage in battle earned him the nickname Coeur De Lion ("heart of the lion"), but the training of his mother's court is revealed in a verse Richard composed during his german captivity:

No one will tell me the cause of my sorrow
Why they have made me a prisoner here.
Wherefore with dolour I now make my moan;
Friends had I many but help have I none.
Shameful it is that they leave me to ransom,
To languish here two winters long.


Richard is buried in the cathedral in Rouen, the capital of Normandy.
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