French heart of England’s lion-hearted warrior king

The tombs of Richard, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II and Isabelle at Fontevraud.
The tombs of Richard, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II and Isabelle at Fontevraud

To understand the blood-soaked life of the Crusader monarch Richard, history lovers need to start with the story of his battlefield death in France and trace back from there, says The Connexion's Samantha David

The story of his death – and what happened to his body afterwards – says as much about Richard the Lionheart as his battle-strewn life.

It is easy to think of Richard as a purely English king. However, although he was born in England, he spent most of his life abroad – much of it in France – and it was France that he wanted to rule.

His mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was ferociously political, ambitiously determined to secure power and wealth for her numerous offspring, including Richard.

He was the third and favourite of her five sons with her second husband, Henry II of England – with whom she also had three daughters.

A 13th-century  chronicler’s image  of Richard LionHeart's coronation
A 13th-century chronicler’s image of Richard LionHeart's coronation

Richard was born in 1157, and grew up speaking French and Occitan.

It is not known whether he spoke more than a few words of English.

As the third son, he was not expected to ascend to the throne, and his mother took him on his first trip to Normandy when he was eight years old.

At that time kings across Europe were jostling for territories, power and money.

Richard’s father planned to divide his territory among his three eldest sons, so that they could each have a kingdom to rule. Henry would be king of England and rule Anjou, Maine and Normandy; Richard would inherit ...

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