[size=18]Richard I, called Coeur de Lion or Lion-Hearted (1157-1199), king of England (1189-1199), third son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, born in Oxford. When he was an infant, Richard was betrothed to a daughter of the French king Louis VII, and in 1172 he was given the duchy of Aquitaine in France, his mother’s inheritance. His early years were spent in warring against his father to protect his own interests; he emerged a brilliant soldier. In 1189 he became king of England and shortly thereafter set out on the Third Crusade (see Crusades). He was accompanied by the young Philip II, king of France, son of Louis VII. The Crusade proved a failure almost from the start, mainly because of the lack of harmony between the two kings. In Sicily Richard quarreled with Philip and refused to marry Philip’s sister as planned. Instead he married Berengaria of Navarre on Cyprus, which he conquered in 1191. After capturing Acre (now ‘Akko) from the Saracens that same year, Richard executed 2700 Muslim prisoners of war. It was Richard’s personal valor in the Holy Land, however, rather than his ruthlessness, that made his name famous in legend. Conflict over policy in the Holy Land resulted in a break between the two, and Philip returned to France alone. Richard spent months in indecisive contests against Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria, before making a truce by which Jerusalem was left in Saladin’s hands. Captured en route to England by Leopold V, duke of Austria, Richard was handed over to Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. He was released in 1194 only after paying a heavy ransom. Richard returned to England and there made peace with his brother, John, later king of England, who in his absence had been conspiring with Philip to usurp the English throne. Leaving the government of England to the care of the able administrator Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, Richard went to France in 1194 to wage war against the French king. Campaigns in defense of his European lands continued for five years. Victor in most of the warfare in which he engaged, Richard was fatally wounded by an arrow during an insignificant skirmish in 1199.
As king, Richard had chosen able ministers, to whom he left most matters of administration. Under his rule, however, England suffered heavy taxation, levied to support his expeditions. Sometimes cruel, sometimes magnanimous, and always courageous, Richard was well versed in the knightly accomplishments of his age and was also a poet. He was to become the hero of many legendary tales[/size]