Richard I of England Biography

(King of England)

Birthday: September 8, 1157 (Virgo)

Born In: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England

Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was the king of England from 1189 to 1199. He was reputed to be a great military leader and warrior. He was just 16 when he took command of his own army while joining his brothers in a rebellion against his father King Henry II of England. He not only possessed considerable political and military abilities but was also known for his highly attractive physical attributes which made him a popular king and the hero of numerous romantic legends. Born as the third legitimate son of King Henry II of England, the chances of him ascending the throne as his father’s successor were slim. One of his elder brothers had died as an infant. His other elder brother Henry the Young King was the heir apparent to the throne. However, the untimely death of Henry the Young King made Richard the king-in-waiting. Richard I became the King of England upon the death of his father and gained legendary status as an iconic warrior and military leader. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy (as Richard IV), Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, and Count of Anjou at various times during his reign as the King of England.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In September

Died At Age: 41


Spouse/Ex-: Berengaria of Navarre

father: Henry II of England

mother: Eleanor of Aquitaine

siblings: Alix of France, Count of Poitiers, Countess of Champagne, Duchess of Saxony, Duke of Brittany, Eleanor of England, Eleanor of England - Queen of Castile, Geoffrey, Geoffrey II, Geoffrey II - Duke of Brittany, Henry the Young King, Joan of England, Joan of England - Queen of Sicily, John, John - King of England, King of England, Marie of France, Marie of France - Countess of Champagne, Matilda of England, Matilda of England - Duchess of Saxony, Queen of Castile, Queen of Sicily, William IX, William IX - Count of Poitiers, William Longespée

children: Philip of Cognac

Born Country: England

Emperors & Kings Military Leaders

Died on: April 6, 1199

place of death: Châlus, Duchy of Aquitaine (now in Limousin, France)

Cause of Death: Accident

Childhood & Early Life

Richard I was born on 8 September 1157, in Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England, as the third legitimate son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had several siblings, including elder brother Henry the Young King who was the successor to their father’s throne. Another elder brother, William, had died in infancy.

He is believed to have spent his childhood in England. Not much is known about his early education. Richard grew up to become a well-educated young man with an interest in composing poetry.

He was given the Duchy of Aquitaine when he reached the age of 14 and was made the duke, at Poitiers, in 1172.

His elder brother Henry the Young King was crowned king of England during his father's lifetime. From 1170, Henry officially reigned alongside his father as the associate king of England. It was expected that the crown would pass on to him after their father’s death.

From a young age, Richard displayed tremendous valor and courage. It was evident that one day he would grow up to be a brave warrior. At the age of 16, he took command of his own army and joined his brothers in the great rebellion against their father in 1173.

The rebellion had been instigated by Henry the Young King against their father as he wanted to reign independently. However, the rebellion failed and Richard I went to his father to beg for pardon and was granted the kiss of peace. Richard was also given the control of two castles in Poitou and half the income of Aquitaine.

Henry the Young King fell ill in 1183 and died. This unexpected turn of events made Richard the heir to the throne.

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Accession & Reign

King Henry II died on 6 July 1189 and Richard succeeded him as King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Count of Anjou. It is believed that Richard’s constant conflicts with his father expedited the old man’s death.

After becoming the king, Richard set his eyes upon the ‘Third Crusade,’ prompted by Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187.

In order to fund the crusade, Richard sold the right to hold official positions, and those already appointed were forced to pay huge sums to retain their posts. He spent most of his father's treasury, raised taxes, and even sold lands to finance his ambition.

After making all necessary arrangements for the administration of his territories in his absence, Richard departed for the ‘Third Crusade.’ He was accompanied by Philip II, the son of Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII.

King Richard and Philip arrived in Sicily in September 1190. Richard’s sister Joan had been married to King William II of Sicily. After William’s death, she was captured and imprisoned by the new king, Tancred I of Sicily. Richard rescued his sister and signed a treaty with Tancred, which declared Richard’s nephew, Arthur of Brittany, to be his own heir.

He moved on to conquer Cyprus and left Cyprus for Acre in June 1191. On arriving at Cyprus, he allied with Guy of Lusignan and Humphrey IV of Toron. Richard and his allies were successful in capturing Acre in July 1191.

Now, he proceeded to lead his forces to Jerusalem. But the conquest of the city proved to be a huge challenge for him. On two attempts, he was able to lead his army within a few miles of the holy land, but conflicts and quarrels with his own allies prevented him from capturing Jerusalem from Saladin.

Unable to find success, he decided to return home. While sailing back home, a storm drove his ship ashore near Venice. There, he was imprisoned by Duke Leopold of Austria before being handed over to the German Emperor Henry VI.

Henry VI agreed to release him upon a payment of 150,000 marks. A major proportion of the ransom was paid and Richard was released in February 1194. He returned to England and was crowned for the second time in April 1194.

In 1199, it was reported that a local peasant had uncovered a treasure trove of Roman gold in the castle of Châlus-Chabrol in France. Richard decided to besiege the castle and this decision ultimately resulted in his death. He was wounded by a crossbow bolt fired by a young boy named ‘Pierre Basile.’ However, instead of executing the boy, Richard let his assailant go with 100 shillings.

Major Conquests

Richard I and Philip II embarked on the highly ambitious ‘Third Crusade’ in 1190. The crusade was largely successful as they were able to capture the important cities of Acre and Jaffa, though they were unable to conquer the holy city of Jerusalem.

Personal Life & Legacy

Richard married Berengaria of Navarre, the first-born daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre, on 12 May 1191. They did not have children.

Many scholars have debated on Richard’s sexuality. These debates have discussed whether he was predominantly heterosexual or homosexual.

He suffered a wound while besieging the castle of Châlus in France. The wound became gangrenous and he died on 6 April 1199. He was succeeded by his younger brother John.

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