Richard I of England

King of England (reigned 1189–99)

Richard I of England (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was the King of England from 1189 to 1199. He was also Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, and Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes, and was overlord of Brittany at various times. He is sometimes called Richard the Lionheart or Richard coeur de lion which means the same thing in French. Richard was the son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. As the third son, he was not expected to inherit the throne, and he was a replacement child.[1] At the age of 11, he became Duke of Aquitaine.

Richard I "the Lionheart"
King of England
King of England
Reign6 July 1189 – 6 April 1199
Coronation3 September 1189
PredecessorHenry II "Curtmantle"
SuccessorJohn "Lackland"
RegentQueen Eleanor; William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely (Third Crusade)
Born(1157-09-08)8 September 1157
Beaumont Palace, Oxford
Died6 April 1199(1199-04-06) (aged 41)
Châlus, Limousin
SpouseBerengaria of Navarre
HouseHouse of Plantagenet
FatherHenry II "Curtmantle"
MotherEleanor of Aquitaine
ReligionCatholic Christian

Later, Richard was one of the leaders of the Third Crusade against Saladin. During his journey, he conquered Sicily and Cyprus. He fought in the Siege of Acre and the Battle of Arsuf. In the end, the crusade did not succeed: Richard was never able to win back Jerusalem from the Muslims. He decided to return home to England.

On his way back from the crusade, Richard was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria. The English people had to pay a huge ransom to set him free. He was considered a brave and noble king, but he spent only six months of his eleven-year reign in England. He died after being shot with a crossbow while besieging a castle in Limousin.

King Richard’s remains were buried in different places.[2] His body was buried at Fontevraud Abbey near Saumur in France,[2] with his father and mother. His internal organs were buried at Châlus, (at The Château de Châlus-Chabrol), near Limoges in central France.[2] His heart was buried in the Notre Dame Cathedral at Rouen.[2]

King Richard’s heart was found in 1838 and was examined by scientists in 2012.[2] They did tests for poisons, because one medieval story claimed Richard had died from a poisoned arrow. They found no evidence to support this idea. Richard probably died from gangrene or septicaemia from the arrow wound.[2]

Richard was succeeded by his younger brother, John.

Richard I of England



Because of his military exploits his popular image is still dominated by the positive qualities of chivalry and military competence. Contemporaries considered Richard as both a king and a knight famed for personal martial prowess, this was apparently the first instance of such a combination. He was known as a valiant, competent military leader and individual fighter who was courageous and generous. Victorian England admired King Richard I as a crusader and a man of God, erecting a heroic statue of him outside the Westminster Palace.

King Richard I of England was seen as a pious hero by his subjects. He is an enduring iconic figure both in England and in France.


King Richard I of England in the world culture


In 1851 German poet Heinrich Heine wrote the "König Richard" poem which was dedicated to King Richard I of England and was later translated into several languages.


König Richard

Wohl durch der Wälder einödige Pracht
Jagt ungestüm ein Reiter;
Er bläst ins Horn, er singt und lacht
Gar seelenvergnügt und heiter.
Sein Harnisch ist von starkem Erz,
Noch stärker ist sein Gemüte,
Das ist Herr Richard Löwenherz,
Der christlichen Ritterschaft Blüte.
»Willkommen in England!« rufen ihm zu
Die Bäume mit grünen Zungen -
»Wir freuen uns, o König, daß du
Östreichischer Haft entsprungen.« 
Dem König ist wohl in der freien Luft,
Er fühlt sich wie neugeboren,
Er denkt an Östreichs Festungsduft -
Und gibt seinem Pferde die Sporen.[3]

King Richard

Through lonesome, desolate splendor of woods
A rider gallops unabated.
He blows the horn, he sings and he laughs
With joy, carefree and contented.

His armor is thick and his posture is strong,
Much stronger is his dedication.
King Richard is he, Richard Cœur de Lion,
The Lord's army blooms in elation.

“Welcome to England!” they say out loud -
The green leafy trees by the waters -
“We are pleased and happy, O King, that you have
Sprung free from that Austrian fortress!”

The King breathes free air, in his heart he is glad,
He feels born anew and enlivened.
That damp dungeon smell makes no longer him sad,
He, spurring his horse, is triumphant.

(Translated by Sergei Osankin)


  1. Adam Taylor (8 September 2014). "'A spare to the heir': The weirdness of being a royal sibling". The Washington Pose. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Morelle, Rebecca (28 February 2013). "Richard the Lionheart's mummified heart analysed". Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  3. Heinrich Heine's Sämmtliche Werke. Bibliothek-Ausgabe (The Complete Poetic Works of Heinrich Heine. Library Edition), Hamburg: Hoffman und Campe, 1885, p. 45.