Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight

By Jean Flori; Jean Birrell | Go to book overview

1
The Early Years

FROM THE MARRIAGE OF ELEANOR AND HENRY II TO
RICHARD’S BIRTH (1152-7)

Louis VII responded angrily to Eleanor’s remarriage to Henry II, all the more so as it had taken place without his agreement as suzerain. The King of France prepared an attack on Normandy, which was to be supported by the counts of Boulogne, Champagne and Perche and also by Geoffrey of Anjou, Henry II’s younger brother, supplanted by Henry, spurned by Eleanor and recently knighted by Theobald of Blois.1 The plan was for Geoffrey to raise Anjou against his brother while the coalition invaded Normandy and Aquitaine. But Henry returned from the Cotentin, ravaged the Norman Vexin and restored order in Anjou, making such an impression on Louis VII that he abandoned his enterprise; he may in any case have been uneasy about the legitimacy of a military operation undertaken for what was only a relatively minor violation of a feudal law that was still in its infancy. Henry was able to embark without too much difficulty for England, where the death of Eustace of Blois had made his elderly father Stephen a temporary king and Henry the immediate heir.

As early as 1153, the birth of William, the new couple’s first child, seemed both to demonstrate heavenly favour and to assure their future. The King of France, in comparison, appeared bereft, lacking a male heir and deprived both of the valuable counsel of Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, who had died in 1151, and the fulminations of Bernard of Clairvaux, who died in 1153. Louis took note of the success of his rival; he had pacified Normandy and Anjou and, with the birth of his son, deprived the King of France’s two daughters by his marriage to Eleanor of all rights to Aquitaine. He resigned himself to accepting the peace offered by Henry in 1154 and returned Vernon and Neufmarché in the Norman Vexin. He then applied himself, more modestly but to better effect, to his role as defender of the peace and protector of churches, a role already adopted by his father, on Suger’s advice. By establishing himself as guarantor of order and justice in his kingdom, he gradually strengthened his

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Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Richard the Lionheart i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction Richard: a ‘Roi-Chevalier’? 1
  • Part I - Prince, King and Crusader 19
  • 1 - The Early Years 21
  • 2 - Richard the Younger Son, Count of Poitou (1174-83) 40
  • 3 - Richard the Eldest Son, Duke of Aquitaine (1184-9) 57
  • 4 - King Richard 76
  • 5 - Richard in Sicily (1190-1) 93
  • 6 - Cyprus and Acre 113
  • 7 - Richard versus Saladin (1191-2) 132
  • 8 - The Lion Caged (1192-4) 155
  • 9 - Richard versus Philip Augustus (1194-8) 175
  • 10 - The Death of the Lion (1199) 197
  • Part II - A King as Mirror of Chivalry 219
  • 11 - Richard's Image and Chivalry 221
  • 12 - Chivalry Imagined before Richard 244
  • 13 - Richard and the Three Orders 264
  • 14 - Chivalric Prowess 282
  • 15 - The King of England's Prowess 299
  • 16 - Prowess in Outremer 315
  • 17 - Royal Largesse 332
  • 18 - Chivalric Conduct 348
  • 19 - Richard and Women 370
  • 20 - Richard and His Legend 397
  • Bibliography 415
  • Index 445
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