King Richard the Lionhearted

Compiled by D. A. Sharpe


Richard is my 10th cousin, 23 times removed, being related through the Abney family line.  Richard led the third one of the Crusades and ruled in England from 1189, succeeding his father on the English throne, Henry II, at his 1189 death. Described another way, through the Sharpe line, Richard is the 13th great grand uncle of Sir Edward Southworth, the first husband of Alice Carpenter, my 7th great grandmother.  I am descended through Gov. William Bradford, Alice's second husband.


"He is known in history as Richard the Lion-Hearted, or Richard Coeurde Lion.  He was a son of Henry II, the first king of the Plantagenet dynasty, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  After Richard became king, he joined Philip II of France in a crusade to the Holy Land, which then was under the control of the Muslims.  Richard captured Acre (now called Akko) but soon realized that Jerusalem could not be recovered. His Christian faith was in the Roman Catholic Church.  His wife was Berengaria of Navarre (born between 1165 1170).  They married May 12, 1191.  She died December 23, 1230. 


"During the crusade, Richard aroused the hatred of Leopold V, Duke of Austria.  In 1192, while Richard was on his journey home, Leopold seized him.  Leopold kept Richard in a castle as a prisoner of the Holy Roman emperor, Henry VI. Richard was later taken to Henry, whore leased him in 1194 after a ransom was paid.


"Even though Richard was born in Oxford, England, he spent nearly all of his life in France.  In 1183, Richard's older brother died. However, their father, Henry II, refused to recognize Richard as heir to the throne of England.  Richard rebelled against his father several times.


"Richard finally defeated his father, Henry II, in 1189.  He was crowned King of England at Westminster Abby on September 3, 1189.


As a Plantagenet, Richard had inherited not only England, but also most of northern and western France.  While Richard was in prison, Philip I seized some of the Plantagenet lands in France.  Richard spent the rest of his reign fighting to get the lands back.  He left efficient ministers in charge of England while he concentrated on the war with Philip.  In 1199, Richard was killed during the siege of a castle, and his younger brother John became king. "


Source:  John Gillingham, Senior Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science, Univ. of London, World Book Encyclopedia 1998.


Richard spent but six months of his ten-year reign in England. He acted upon a promise to his father to join the Third Crusade and departed for the Holy Land in 1190 (accompanied by his partner-rival Philip II of France). In 1191, he conquered Cyprus en route to Jerusalem, and performed admirably against Saladin, nearly taking the holy city twice. Philip II, in the meantime, returned to France and schemed with Richard's brother John. The Crusade failed in its primary objective of liberating the Holy Land from Moslem Turks, but did have a positive result - easier access to the region for Christian pilgrims through a truce with Saladin. Richard received word of John's treachery and decided to return home; he was captured by Leopold V of Austria and imprisoned by Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. 


The administrative machinery of Henry II insured the continuance of royal authority, as Richard was unable to return to his realm until 1194. Upon his return, he crushed a coup attempt by John and regained lands lost to Philip II during the German captivity. Richard's war with Philip continued sporadically until the French were finally defeated near Gisors in 1198.


Richard died April 6, 1199, at the age of 41, from a wound received in a skirmish at the castle of Chalus in the Limousin ((now in Limousin, France). Near his death, Richard finally reconciled his position with his late father, as evidenced by Sir Richard Baker in A Chronicle of the Kings of England: "The remorse for his undutifulness towards his father, was living in him till he died; for at his death he remembered it with bewailing, and desired to be buried as near him as might be, perhaps as thinking they should meet the sooner, that he might ask him forgiveness in another world. "Richard's prowess and courage in battle earned him the nickname Coeur De Lion ("heart of the lion"), but the training of his mother's court is revealed in a verse Richard composed during his German captivity: "No one will tell me the cause of my sorrow.  Why they have made me a  prisoner here?  Wherefore with dolour I now make my moan; Friends had many, but help have I none. Shameful it is that they leave me to ransom, to languish here two winters long."






Compiled by


Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe

805 Derting Road East

Aurora, TX 76078-3712