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King Richard I

King Richard I (1157-1199)

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King Richard I, the 'Lionhearted', of Britan
Chapter 6

Capture and Ransom

Aware that Philip might exploit his absence, Richard turned for home. On his way home from the Holy Land in March of 1192, Richard was shipwrecked, captured, and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria whom Richard had angered by actions during the crusade.

Eager for a piece of the action the Emperor of Germany offered Leopold 75,000 marks for Richard taking him into custody in Germany. He was consequently handed over to Emperor Henry VI.

Although the circumstances of his captivity were not severe, he was frustrated by his inability to travel freely. The imprisonment gave rise to the legend of Blondel.

Rumours were rife throughout England regarding the missing King. Two Abbots were soon dispatched to journey for him through the network of the church. Even Eleanor, Richard's mother wrote to the Pope for assistance in the matter.

Richard was found and a ransom of 150,000 marks (100,000) set by Henry for his return to England. This amounted to three tons in silver. A large portion of the ransom demanded by Henry was raised through heavy taxation on the people of England.

The English administrative machinery of Henry II insured the continuance of royal authority until Richard was freed in February of 1194 and returned to his realm.

Richard returned to England receiving a hero's welcome and had a second coronation to demonstrate that he still had control of the country.

During his absence, his brother John had come close to seizing the throne. Richard forgave him, saying he was manipulated by cunning people and vowed to punish them and not his brother. Richard even named John as his heir in preference to Arthur of Brittany, the son of his elder brother, Geoffrey.

Unfortunately for the King he returned to a land in financial troubles. The cost of the Crusade and his large ransom had tapped out the finances of the land. This monetary trouble was to plague him for his remaining five-year reign. He created a new great seal as a means to raise funds and made void all documents signed with the old.

He then set off for Normandy and never returned to England.

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