On this day in 1192, King Richard I was captured in the Austrian town of Vienna whilst on his way home from crusade by King Leopold V of Austria.
Following his departure from the Holy land in the October, Richard the Lionheart was travelling in a disguise when he was captured and imprisoned. The English king was held hostage until February 1194, a ransom was eventually paid to release the king, part of which was used to build the Austrian town Wiener Neusdadt.
King Richard I was crowned this day at Westminster Abbey in 1189.
The Bodleian Library in Oxford holds an account of the coronation that gives the names of those who were in attendance and a description of the event. In the account, the chronicler records Richard as the Duke of Normandy and writes how he lead the procession with
Richard took the oath and then anointed himself, taking the crown from the alter on which it sat. According to the chronicler, the crown was so heavy that two earls helped support it above the kings head. Interestingly, during the ceremony a bat flew around Richard's head and a strange pealing of bells could be heard an
writes the chronicler. It is easy with hind sight to say that the recorder of the coronation was correct in his assumption, as it turned out he was. Richard I was a selfish and cruel king and a favourite of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. He only spent six months of his ten year reign in England claiming it was
"cold and always raining"
He bankrupted the treasury to fund his hobby........crusading. He famously said
"I would sell London itself if only I could find a rich enough buyer."
Richard's brother, later King John, was left to pick up the pieces. Could you run a country effectively with an empty treasury? John, was not perfect by any means, he was seen as the evil villain, a view which continues to this day.
Richard however still remains an iconic figure. A hero king? A good king?
I think not!
King Richard I was a rebellious young man who had frequently challenged his fathers authority and had continuously been a thorn in his side. At the age of sixteen, Richard joined both his brothers, Henry and Geoffrey, in a revolt against their father whom they sought to dethrone.
At an early age he showed significant political and military ability, becoming noted for his chivalry and courage, along with his physical presence, he was said to be very attractive; with hair that was between red and blond, light blue eyes and a pale complexion, these facts secured his popularity with the masses. He was also a vicious and cruel man. When crowned King of England, he barred all Jews and women from the coronation ceremony, some Jewish leaders nevertheless arrived to present gifts for the new king. On his orders Richard's courtiers stripped and flogged the Jews, then flung them out. When a rumour spread that Richard had ordered all Jews to be killed, the people of London began a massacre. Many Jews were beaten to death, robbed and burned alive, many Jewish homes were burned down, and several Jews were forcibly baptised, some sought sanctuary in the Tower of London others managed to escape.
Baldwin of Exeter the Archbishop of Canterbury reacted by replying
"If the King is not God's man, he had better be the devil's”
Richard soon realised that his actions could destabilise his realm, on the eve of his departure on crusade, Richard ordered the execution of those responsible for the murders and persecutions. Those who were hanged were not his henchmen, but rioters who had accidentally burned down Christian homes, and to make sure that people took him serious in his actions he issued a royal writ demanding that the Jews be left alone. Not surprisingly this was not taken seriously, the following March there was further violence, including a massacre at York. Richard swore an oath to renounce his past wickedness in order to show himself worthy to take the cross. He started to raise and equip a new crusader army. He spent most of his father's treasury, raised taxes and sold official positions and lands to those interested in them. Even those already appointed were forced to pay huge sums to retain their posts including the Bishop of Ely who bid £3,000. William Longchamp coughed up an equal amount to remain as Chancellor.
Instead of leaving his younger brother John in control of England in his absence he appointed as regents Hugh, Bishop of Durham and William de Mandeville who soon died and was replaced by William Longchamp. It comes a no surprise then, that John was not satisfied by this decision and attempted to overthrow Longchamp, John was more popular than Longchamp in London, and in October 1191 the city opened the gates to him while Longchamp was confined in the tower. John promised the city the right to govern itself in return for recognition as Richard's heir presumptive. Some were in support of John as Richard only spent six months of his reign in England and emptied the kingdom's coffers to pay for his crusade. According to William Stubbs in The Constitutional History of England
“ He was a bad king: his great exploits, his military skill, his splendour and extravagance, his poetical tastes, his
adventurous spirit, do not serve to cloak his entire want of sympathy, or even consideration, for his people. He was no Englishman, but it does not follow that he gave to Normandy, Anjou, or Aquitaine the love or care that he denied to his
kingdom. His ambition was that of a mere warrior: he would fight for anything whatever, but he would sell everything
that was worth fighting for.The glory that he sought was that of victory rather than conquest. ”
Richard said of England it is "cold and always raining," and when it came to raising funds for his Crusade, he was said to declare,"I would have sold London if I could find a buyer." But what we should remember is that to the king, his nobles and royal household, England was just a part of the vast estate they governed, Richard felt more French than English and therefore put the people of this land second. The Plantagenet kings before the 14th century had no need to learn the English, a language of a people they really new nothing about.
Although England was a major part of his territories Richard faced no major internal or external threats during his reign, it was his French territories where he felt that he was needed. He left England in the hands of various officials, including, at times his mother. This meant that Richard was far more concerned with his more extensive French lands and he either did not know or care that the people of England were being subjected to the greed of feudal barons, contemptuous sheriffs and as history puts it the ’wicked and cowardly John’.
John was no hero he was untrusting and he too was selfish but he took it upon himself to take control of a country that might have easily fallen into the hands of unscrupulous barons. Of course, that's another story.
Richard I's life is viewed by his exploits whist on crusade where a great piece of medieval PR by Richard de Templo, makes the king sound like some sort of superman.
"King Richard pursued the Turks with singular ferocity, fell upon them and scattered them across the ground. No one
escaped when his sword made contact with them; wherever he went his brandished sword cleared a wide path on all sides. Continuing his advance with untiring sword strokes, he cut down that unspeakable race as if he were reaping the harvest
with a sickle, so that the corpses of Turks he had killed covered the ground everywhere for the space of half a mile."
But just as Aeschylus wrote in 458 BC "By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die." Richard I died when he was struck down when suppressing a revolt in Limousin in France in 1199.
In the March he had arrived at Chalus Chabrol Castle, it was while Richard was walking the castle's perimeter that he was struck by a crossbow bolt in the left shoulder just below his neck, fired by an archer named Pierre Basile. An attempt was made to remove the bolt but "extracted the wood only, while the iron remained in the flesh... but after this butcher had carelessly mangled the King's arm in every part, he at last extracted the arrow."
Richard's wound soon became gangrenous and he died on the 6th of April 1199.
One can picture the scene, a golden light shining through the castle window, the king in the arms of his mother, his blooded three lion tabard placed over a chair, he heroically gestures towards the door as his pardoned enemy walks away clutching a bag of gold. The last breath of a king drowned in the wailing of his mother.
The story, that from his death bed Richard pardoned the man who fired the bolt looks like a public relations stunt to me,
what better way to reinforce the idea that Richard was the magnificent king his subjects always thought he was. My problem with this story is, how did anyone know exactly who fired that fatal crossbow bolt from out of the many armed men at ground level, the truth is of course, they probably did not. How Pierre Basile arrived at the kings beside goes unrecorded, but it is said that he was paid handsomely and sent on his way, only the very next day the poor man was flayed alive.
Richard may well have ordered the death of this unfortunate archer, a young man in the wrong place at the wrong time, if he did then it was an act of vengeance, after all Richard had made grand gestures before only to go back on them later, however I believe we should look to Richard's mother, the fiery strong willed Eleanor, his most ardent supporter, as the person who ordered this man death.
As was the norm Richard's heart was taken to Rouen and the rest of his body to Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou and while his mortal remains turned to dust his reputation as a handsome and mighty crusading king is as solid today as it was then.
On the 27th May 1199, John the youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, was crowned King of England.
John can often be found at the top of the leader board when there is a vote for England's worst king, and this always
irritates me. John was disadvantaged from the start: Squabbling parents, youngest son, a spoilt and show off older brother, grumpy barons and a bankrupt country. Richard I, England's blue eyed boy, was a hard act to follow and I quote from W L Warren who, like me, has some sympathy for John.
In regard to Richard he writes:
"If Richard had lived another five years, there would have been one notable difference in the course of the campaign. The
king himself would have been on the heights above Les Andelys and even when all else had gone, Richard would have been
urging the citizens of Rouen to arms, parrying the first assault with blows of his great sword..."
This then is how history views Richard, Warren then goes on to write:
"By comparison with Richard, then, John has been seen as a weedy little tick"
England's problems, created by Richard, were blamed on John and when he had difficulty dealing with them he is
labeled a bad king.
Henry II was born the eldest of three sons to Empress Matilda and Geoffrey, Count of Anjou.
Henry II, as king of England, owes his place on the throne to the early death of William Adelin, his uncle and King Henry I’s only son and heir, who had perished when a ship in which he was travelling sank in the English Channel. What followed is known as the Anarchy, an era of broken promises and a major fallout between cousins
King Henry II was no clotheshorse, he cared little for appearance and he did love kingship, or at least everything that came with it. He was often rude and had a quick temper, quite a match for the wonderfully feisty Eleanor of Aquitaine who he married in the May of 1152. His children with Eleanor, among others, were Henry, Richard, Geoffrey and John.
Henry II was often unfaithful to Eleanor, their relationship was unsettled and stormy and this eventually lead to Eleanor being placed under arrest after she encouraged her children to rebel against their father. During the years of their marriage Eleanor gave her love to Richard, whilst Henry’s affections were with John, even though John was his father's favourite he was given nothing in regards to lands and estates.
Henry's family are a prime example of a dysfunctional one and this lead to problems on many different levels, especially in regard to their children. To many people John was cruel, greedy and ultimately a failure as king, the exact copy of his brother Richard, yet Richard is seen as a hero and John a villain...but that's another story!
Both sons disagreed with their father's policies and had fallen out with him over them. Richard rebelled and took up arms against his father, John conspired sometimes with and sometimes against his elder brothers.
Henry was not oblivious of this, he made a curious statement regarding a painting in a chamber of Winchester Castle, depicting an eagle being attacked by three of its chicks, while a fourth crouched chick waits for its chance to strike. When asked the meaning of this picture, King Henry said:
"The four young ones of the eagle are my four sons who will not cease persecuting me even unto death.
And the youngest, whom I now embrace with such tender affection, will someday afflict me more grievously and perilously than all the others."
Henry's involvement in the death of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, is what Henry is most famous for, yet there was so much more to this king than that.
The word Stannary means 'belonging to tin mines' and is taken from the Latin word Stanum.
The areas in Cornwall, where tin was extracted, were known as Stannaries and the law that affected them were known as Stannary Law. These Cornish Stanneries form part of the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate which was created by Edward III in 1337 when he granted his son, Edward, the Black Prince Duke of Cornwall.
Tin mining in Cornwall is ancient, and employed men in remote and outlying areas away from the main towns, and therefore they had their own rules and regulations. The early Earls and Dukes of this distant county reaped great rewards from mining and since early times the mines and the men working them have been protected by the crown. This institution had its its head wardens who were governed by the Lord Warden of the Stannaries.
The writ appointing the Lord Warden covered the
"just and ancient customs and liberties of miners, smelters and merchants of tin."
The first to hold this title was William de Wrotham who was given this title on the 20th November 1197 during the reign of King Richard I. In 1198, juries of miners at Launceston, stood before Wrotham to swear by the law and practice of the tin mines.
Over the years, Royal Charters issued by Edward I in 1305, Edward IV in 1466, and Henry VII in 1508 have changed and
added to the laws within the Stannaries. King John, often seen as a selfish and greedy king, was not slow to see the attraction of the Cornish tin industry. In 1201 he issued the first charter to the Stannaries. By 1214, production of tin had risen to six hundred tons, the result of this saw many men, who once worked on the land, move to mining. One of the clauses of Magna Carta was that no lord shoud lose the service of his men whether he dug tin or not. Henry III confired his fathers charter, and
the Stannaries soon had their own taxation, no acknowledged lord and were 'a law unto themselves.' By the end of the 13th century the Stannaries were under the control of Richard, the second son of King John and his son Edmund as the Earls of Cornwall.
In 1225, Richard, at just sixteen, was granted the County of Cornwall and all its tin works, and following that the Earldom of Cornwall. Later Edward I granted privileges to tinners to be tried by their own courts and benefit from the exemption of taxation.
The above image records one John Gurney’s appointment as Vicewarden of the Stannaries for Devon and explains the differences between the courts in Cornwall and Devon.
Frederick I of Germany was Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death in 1190.
Known as Barbarossa because he had long red beard and a fiery temper. It is said of Barbarossa that he was shrewd and calculating, but it has also been said that he was an attractive and kind man and much loved by his people. He visited many parts of his kingdom to establish peace in the weeks following his coronation in an attempt to make Germany a united nation.
A number of nobles began to quarrel among themselves, threatening to undermine his hard work, instead of coming down hard on these men as other rulers might with exile or death, he punished them, forcing them to carry dogs on their shoulders from one country to another. This worked, for Frederick finally succeeded in keeping the nobles in the different provinces of Germany at peace with one another, and persuaded them to work together for the good of the whole empire.
In 1188, Fredrick embarked on the Third Crusade, joining forces with the French king Philip Augustus and our English king Richard I, bringing fifteen thousand men to the cause, but by 1190 he was dead.
Historians believe that whilst crossing the Seleph River near Antioch, Fredrick Barbarossa suffered a heart attack and drowned after falling from his horse.
When an attempt to preserve his body in a barrel of vinegar failed, his flesh was interred in the Church of St Peter in Antioch, his bones in the cathedral of Tyre, and his heart and inner organs in Tarsus.
His sudden death during this crusade devastated political and religious morale for the crusaders.
Featuring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. 1938
The Victorians would have loved this film, it a romantic romp and probably owes much to the stories of Sir Walter Scott and the illustrations of Howard Pyle rather than Robin Hood's 'true' tale.
"Its injustice I hate, not the Normans" Robin says
Which is just as well, as Flynn's Robin doesn't take much of a stand against John, and the Crusades only get a passing mention and as usual 'good' King Richard swans in an out of the film just as he swanned in and out of the country in real life!
None the less, its a decent, rousing swashbuckling film, and really not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The story of Robin Hood, a local hero, who took on the might of the realm, has its roots in late 15th century to early 16th century English ballads.
Walter Bower, a Scottish abbot of Inchcolm Abbey wrote in 1440
"Then arose the famous murderer, Robert Hood, as well as Little John, together with their accomplices from among the disinherited, whom the foolish populace are so inordinately fond of celebrating both in tragedies and comedies, and about whom they are delighted to hear the jesters and minstrels sing above all other ballads."
This film is proof that Bower was not wrong.
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a bit of a fairy tale, Errol Flynn, with sword in one hand and his eye of the beautiful Maid Marion, jumps from the highest branches of trees, managing to land with both feet firmly on the ground and both hands on his hips, all this without his plucky little grin ever leaving his face.
What a hero!
The Mohun Family of Dunster
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.
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