Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight

By Jean Flori; Jean Birrell | Go to book overview

4
King Richard

Richard’s first political act seems to have been to order his mother’s release,1 which Matthew Paris saw as yet another fulfilment of a prophecy of Merlin.2 The task was entrusted to Richard’s old enemy, William Marshal, who hastened to England only to find that Eleanor was already free. Once at liberty, she quickly emptied the prisons, so as to free all the political prisoners who had been enemies of her husband and imprisoned like her, and for the same reasons.3 Matthew Paris says that Richard gave Eleanor carte blanche to do as she wished, and adds:

The great men of the kingdom were also instructed to obey the wishes of the
queen in everything. As soon as this power had been granted, she released
from their captivity all the prisoners detained in England; she had learned
from experience how painful it is to human beings to bear the torments of
captivity.4

Next, Eleanor repossessed her dowry, which Richard increased with a number of gifts. Very quickly, in spite of her age (she was sixty-seven), she became extremely active and behaved as if she was Queen of England, or at least its regent, with the unanimous approval of the baronage,5 or at least of those who had remained faithful to her; but what was to be done about the others?

This was a real problem: how to treat barons who had stayed loyal to the Old King, and so were enemies of the new king and his mother? They had every reason to fear the wrath of the son. First to feel its effects was the seneschal of Anjou, Stephen de Marçai, a man described as ‘savage and domineering’, who was summarily instructed by Richard to surrender all his father’s treasure. Made a prisoner, he was led in chains to Winchester where he was forced to hand over 30,000 livres angevines and to promise 15,000 more in the hope of being restored to favour.6 But Richard seems to have avoided gratuitous acts of revenge in the case of the barons and servants who had remained sincerely faithful to Henry II; some were even rewarded for their loyalty.7 He treated with contempt and without pity, however, those who had betrayed the

-76-

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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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