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King Richard I

King Richard I (1157-1199)

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King Richard I, the 'Lionhearted', of Britan
Chapter 7

The Normandy Battles

On reaching England in 1194 Richard found that Philip now held much of Normandy. Richard dedicated himself to re-conquering Normandy, so the next five years were spent in periodic warfare with King Philip II of France attempting to regain the territory that he had lost in France.

In Chalus, Aquitaine, a peasant ploughing his fields came upon a treasure. This treasure consisted of some gold statues and coins. The feudal lord claimed the treasure from his vassal; Richard in turn claimed the treasure from the lord, who refused. This prompted Richard to siege the village and castle of Chalus in the Limousin.

During the siege, in 1199, Richard was riding close to the castle without the protection of full armour. He spotted an archer with bow in hand on the wall aiming a shot at him. It is said Richard paused to applaud the Bowman. He was struck in the shoulder with the arrow and refused treatment for his wound and infection set in.

Near his death, Richard finally reconciled his position with his late father, as evidenced by Sir Richard Baker in ĎA Chronicle of the Kings of Englandí. It is said that he summoned the bowman who had delivered the fatal wound to his bedside, and was so impressed with the man's refusal to be cowed that he pardoned him.

Richard was buried next to his parents at Fontevraud Abbey near Chinon and Saumur, France. He was 42.

Although he had neglected his wife, Berengaria of Navarre, and had to be commanded by priests to be faithful to her, she was distraught at the news of his death.

His marriage to had produced no children (possibly, it has been theorized, due to his homosexuality), so his brother John succeeded Richard as king of England.

However, his French territories initially rejected John as a successor, preferring his nephew Arthur of Brittany, the son of their late brother Geoffrey, whose claim was technically better than John's.
He was revered by his most worthy rival, Saladin, respected by the Emperor Henry, but hated by many who had been his friends, especially King Philip.

As well as being an educated man, able to compose poetry in several languages, Richard was also a magnificent physical specimen. His height is estimated at six feet four inches tall and he gloried in military activity. From an early age he appeared to have significant political and military abilities, became noted for his chivalry and courage, and soon was able to control the unruly nobles of his territory. He was considered a hero in his day and has often been portrayed as one in works of literature. In fact he did little for England and became known as an ambitious man.

The tales of Robin Hood are traditionally set during the reign of Richard I. However, the only certainty about Robin Hood is that he lived some time during the 12th and/or 13th centuries. It was not until much later that a connection came to be made between the two men. The typical usage of the link is that the major political goal of Robin's war is to restore Richard to the throne after Prince John usurped it.

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