Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight

By Jean Flori; Jean Birrell | Go to book overview

6
Cyprus and Acre

THE CYPRIOT INTERLUDE

The imposing fleet of the King of England left Messina on 10 April 1191 and should have reached Acre by the middle of May. It took a month longer thanks to a sudden storm which had huge political consequences: the conquest of the island of Cyprus by Richard’s crusaders and the creation of a Latin kingdom of Cyprus which lasted for a century. This relatively easy victory won Richard fame and riches; it was lavishly praised, as a result, by the chroniclers, who liked to extol the courage of the King of England during this conquest.1 But it led to a further deterioration in relations between the kings of England and France, when Richard gave the throne of Cyprus to Guy of Lusignan, the disputed king of Jerusalem, supported by Richard against his rival, Conrad of Montferrat, the preferred candidate of Philip Augustus.

There was seemingly nothing to suggest such an outcome when, on 10 April, the King of England’s ships, over 200 in all,2 peacefully set sail, in perfect order, for Crete, their first port of call on the voyage to the Holy Land. So as to prevent his ships getting separated during the hours of darkness, Richard’s flagship carried a lighted torch by way of a lantern at the masthead, for the rest of the fleet to follow. Ambroise, presumably not a seaman, marvelled at this idea of the King’s; his ship, he said, ‘led the proud fleet, as the mother hen leads her chicks to food’.3 But things went badly wrong two days later when, on Good Friday, 12 April, a storm scattered the ships. Most of them reached the appointed rendezvous in Crete, but twenty-five were missing, including two of particular importance, one containing Richard’s treasure chest and one carrying Berengaria and Joan, who were accompanying Richard on crusade. On 18 April, Richard sent his other ships to look for them, while he himself went on to Rhodes to organise operations. He remained there for ten days before learning, on 1 May, that the ship carrying Berengaria and Joan had been found and was anchored off Limassol, on the south coast of Cyprus. The other vessels had been shipwrecked and run aground on the coast. Many of 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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