It’s another Sunday of British history, Weekend Warriors, as you continue to make the most of your weekend preparing to move to London. Last Sunday, we wrapped up the reign of Henry II and saw how his disloyal sons led to his demise.
This is when the English monarchy starts to become more familiar to those of us not well-versed in history…for inheriting the throne from Henry II is his son Richard I, who we best know as Richard the Lionheart. Richard had allied with his brothers in their rebellion against their father, and, as mentioned last week, is the one who ultimately defeats Henry II with the aid of France’s Philip II. This last rebellion was in response to nearly losing his claim to the throne to his youngest brother John, whom Henry favored. At any rate, now that Richard is King of England as of 1189, he embarks on the Third Crusade the following year to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. He is unsuccessful in this ultimate quest, but had fought well and succeeds in a truce with Saladin (the Kurdish leader and ruler Egypt) that permits Christian pilgrims passage in this region.
Unfortunately, as Richard journeys home, he is captured by Leopold V of Austria and given over to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, who holds him for a ransom. Richard is ultimately released in 1194 and returns home to more treachery, as little brother John and that darn Philip II have been scheming against him since he left for the Crusades. He squashes a rebellion by John and continues to fight Philip II, defeating the French in 1198, but receiving a fatal wound during an 1199 siege at the castle of Châlus in France’s Limousin region. It is for his bravery in battle, however, that Richard I has earned the nickname Coeur de Lion (“Heart of the Lion”) that he continues to carry through history.
Related London sightseeing: Richard the Lionheart statue outside the Houses of Parliament.