Richard I

Richard, the 'Lionheart', was born on 8th September 1157 at Oxford, son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He joined the Third Crusade to the Holy Land but returned to England when he heard of his father's death in 1189.

Later in 1192 while travelling back from the Crusades through Austria (after his ship had been wrecked) he was captured and imprisoned by Duke Leopold, whom Richard had insulted while on Crusade. After a ransom was paid he returned to England to find his brother John plotting to usurp the throne.


He married Berengaria, daughter of the King of Navarre in Cyprus on 12th May 1191. They had no children.


Richard I's coronation took place in the Abbey on 3rd September 1189 and is the first for which a detailed account exists, describing the ritual and giving the names of those who attended (the account is at the Bodleian Library in Oxford). The chronicler records how the Duke of Normandy (as Richard was called before he was actually crowned) was led in procession with "triumphal chanting" from the Palace of Westminster to the Abbey followed by a crowd of nobles, clergy and people. After the oath and anointing Richard himself took the crown from the altar and handed it to the Archbishop of Canterbury who then crowned him while two earls held up the crown as it was so heavy. After the Mass the king put on a lighter crown and vestments for the banquet which followed in Westminster Hall. The chronicler also records "evil omens" at the service – a bat fluttered around the king's head during the ceremony and a mysterious peal of bells was heard.

Watch: Richard I and the bad omens


He was wounded by an arrow while laying siege to a town in France and died on 6th April 1199 and was buried at Fontevrault beside his father and his heart was buried separately in Rouen.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

English Monarchs


8th September 1157


6th April 1199


3rd September 1189

Portrait of Richard I wearing a crown, helmet, robes, and carrying a sword
Richard I the Lionheart, King of England by Merry-Joseph Blondel

[Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons