Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight

By Jean Flori; Jean Birrell | Go to book overview

16
Prowess in Outremer

In Outremer, even more than in Cyprus, Richard was to be confronted by an enemy cavalry whose fighting techniques had thoroughly disoriented Western knights during the First Crusade. They had become accustomed to using the massive head-on charge followed by the melee, that is, fighting at close quarters, in hand-to-hand combat. The Turks, in contrast, were more lightly armed and trusted to speed; they avoided close combat but made good use of ambushes, surprise attacks, simulated flight and, above all, fighting at a distance, using projectiles such as javelins and arrows. These last had been disdained by the Western knights since they had adopted the couched lance, before the end of the eleventh century. The Turkish horsemen used bows even when in flight, twisting round to let fly deadly arrows at the enemy. All the chroniclers of the First Crusade emphasise the strangeness of their tactics and the difficulties they caused the Christians.1

Almost a century later, the crusaders of Richard had similar experiences, as observed by Ambroise:

When the Turk is followed he cannot be reached. Then he is like an annoy-
ing venomous fly; when chased he flees; turn back and he follows. So did the
cruel race harass the king; he rode and they fled; he turned back and they fol-
lowed. At one point they suffered; at another they had the upper hand.2

It was in Palestine that Richard performed most of the exploits ascribed to him by those who wrote his history. They are in general agreement that they took place on a few main occasions, which they all emphasise, but to differing degrees, revealing their intentions.


THE CAPTURE OF THE EGYPTIAN SHIP

The first of these exploits, described by all the chroniclers, made a deep impression on the crusaders and greatly enhanced the fame and popularity of the King of England. Richard’s fleet, sailing towards Acre, encountered a large Egyptian vessel which was bringing assistance to the city’s

-315-

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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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