To most contemporaries, Richard I was a hero. Since then his reputation has suffered badly, until even Winston Churchill describes him as the worst of our Richards – which given the other two is going some. So we look at how history has treated the guy, his early years, and what he was like. And we look at how to behave in medieval company
Richard the Lion Heart in History
Ok, the trick is to match the quote with the commentator:
- ‘all allowances being made for him he was a bad ruler’
- ‘Richard was not a good king. He cared only for his soldiers’.
- ‘a bad son, a bad husband and a bad king’
- ‘Queen of kingdoms while Richard lives…your king is the star under whose radiance you shine.’
- ‘the worst of all the Richards we ever had…an ill son an ill father an ill brother and a worse king’
- ‘Whenever he returned to England he always set out again immediately for the Mediterranean and was therefore known as Richard Gare du Lyon’
- 'If heroism be confined to brutal and ferocious valour, Richard will stand high among the heroes of the age’
- Above all he possesses three fine qualities: first, exceptional courage and energy, second great generosity and courtliness and thirdly firmness of purpose both in thought and word.
- Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
- William Stubbs (1825-1901)
- Stephen Runciman (1903-2000)
- Gerald de Barri (Gerald of Wales) (1146-1223)
- Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
- 1066 and all That (1930-)
- Ladybird Histories (um…1960s?)
- Geoffrey Vinsauf (c.1200)
The prize for the winner will be a free boxed set of the History of England and supper with me dressed as the historical figure of your choice (not really).
Richard's Music and Poetry
Richard was steeped in the troubadour culture of South West France; and he is (I think) one of only two monarchs of which we have songs. There are two songs surviving attributed to Richard – sadly I can only find one of them, which is below. Anyone who can send me the other would be very nice.
No prisoner ever tells his story objectively; rather, it is cloaked in sorrow. To comfort himself, however, he may write a song: I have many friends, but their gifts are few. Dishonor will be theirs if I remain in prison these two winters; my ransom unpaid. My men and my barons, from England, Normandy, Poitou, and Gascony, know that I would never forsake even the least of my friends. I do no say this as a reproach. Still… I remain a prisoner.
You can also see them performed – here are two links…
And then here's a little something about Bertran de Bourn, a famous troubadour. It's a bit horrible.
Daniel of Beccles
Daniel wrote his courtesy book at the beginning of the 13th Century with some superb practical advice – some jolly sensible ('Do not hunt for fleas on your arms or bosom in front of the patron or in front of the servants in the hall') and some frankly poorly thought through (Don't attack your enemy while he's on the toilet). If you want to know more, here's a link to a good website.