Internet Shakespeare Editions


The possessions in France: Richard Lionheart

The brown areas show the vast extent of English territories in France in the reign of Henry II. It is worth remembering that the English monarchs of this time were still French speaking.

Henry was succeeded by his son, Richard Coeur de Lion:

Richard, that robbed the lion of his heart
And fought the holy wars in Palestine.
(King John 2.1.3-4)

Richard, crusader

Richard spent all but six months of his reign either in France or on the Third Crusade (1189-92). Unable to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, he concluded a treaty with Saladin that allowed Christian pilgrims to visit the holy city and protected other Christian territories in Syria.

Learning of his brother John's conspiracy with Philip Augustus to seize the throne, Richard headed back from the Near East only to be captured by Philip's ally, Emperor Henry VI, and later ransomed for 150,000 silver marks*. After visiting England briefly to raise money and an army, he campaigned successfully against Philip, regaining lost territories. He died of an infected arrow wound*.


  1. Richard in prison

    Richard was imprisoned in a castle in Germany, and the romantic legend tells that he was discovered there by a troubadour, Blondel de Nesle, singing under the window of his prison.

  2. The Lionheart

    According to Holinshed, Richard was "courteous to his soldiers, and toward his friends and strangers that resorted unto him very liberal; but to his enemies hard and not to be entreated, desirous of battle, an enemy to rest and quietness, very eloquent of speech and wise, but ready to enter into jeopardies, and that without fear or forecast in time of greatest perils."