RICHARD THE LION-HEARTED AND THE CRUSADES
 THE next reign—that of Richard I.
(1189-1199)—was for England a quiet one. During
most of the ten years of his reign Richard was absent
from the land and his officers governed in his name.
But the good order which his father had established was
such, and the officers trained by him were so able,
that King Richard could safely leave England to itself
for years at a time.
Richard the Lion-Hearted
Richard cared little for his English dominion. Though
he was born there, his youth was spent in Aquitaine.
He spoke French and did not speak English. His customs
and ideas were those of southern France. In spite of
his ambition to rule, he was a warrior and a knight
rather than a wise King. As a knight he excelled. A
chronicler tells us that he was "tall, well built, and
with hair mid-way between red and yellow." He loved to
hunt, to sing, to make verses,
 and to conquer other knights in "tournaments," or
friendly battles. His strength and skill in these
combats were known and praised throughout France. But
he loved also to engage in real warfare, as he showed
more than once.
Richard's life and character were in keeping with the
ideals of his time, and his training must have been
similar to that followed by all noble youths who wished
to become knights.
At about seven years of age, a boy of high birth was
usually sent away from home to be trained in the castle
of some noble lord. There he spent some years in
attendance upon the lord and lady of the castle, and
was taught how to bear himself politely. When older,
he attended his lord, learning to ride, to hunt, and to
use the arms of nobility—the shield, the sword,
and the lance. When skilled in these things, he became
 "squire"; his duty thenceforth was to accompany his
lord to the tournament or to battle, to help him put on
his armor, to provide him with a fresh lance or a fresh
horse in the combat, and in case of need to give him
aid. After several years of such service, having
proved his skill and his courage, the young squire was
ready to become a "knight."
Often the ceremony of conferring "knighthood" was not
performed until the squire had "won his spurs" by some
heroic deed. The highest ambition of the young man was
to be knighted on the field of battle, as a reward for
bravery. When that was done the ceremony was simple.
Some famous knight would strike the kneeling youth upon
the shoulder and say, "I dub thee knight."
The ordinary ceremony was much more elaborate. The
first step in this was a bath, signifying purification.
Then the squire put on garments of red, white, and
black—red, for the blood he must shed in
defense of the church; white, for purity of
mind; black, in memory of death, which comes to
all. Then came "the vigil of arms" in the church,
where he watched and prayed all night, either standing
or kneeling before the altar, on which lay his sword.
At daybreak the priest came, the squire confessed his
sins, heard mass, and partook of the holy sacrament.
Then perhaps he listened, with the other candidates for
knighthood, to a sermon on the proud duties of a
knight. Later in the morning he appeared before his
lord, or some other well-known knight, and his spurs
were fastened on his feet and his sword was girt about
him. Then he knelt before his lord, and the latter
gave him the "accolade"; that is, he struck the squire
a blow upon the neck with his fist, or with the flat of
his sword, and said:
 "In the name of God, and Saint Michael, and Saint
George, I dub thee knight. Be brave and loyal."
After this, the new knight gave an exhibition of his
skill in riding and in the use of weapons, and the day
ended with feasting and merry-making. As a true
knight, he was expected to be loyal to his lord and to
the Church, to be just and pure in his life, and to be
kind to all in need of his help, especially to
defenceless women. The church sought to ennoble
warfare by giving religious aims and ceremonies to
knighthood. But often the practice of chivalry, or
knighthood, fell far below these ideals, and was marked
by a narrow caste spirit and a brutal indifference to
Richard I. did not have the gentler virtues of a
knight, because of the fierce, wild temper of his
family. But in courage he was so famed that men called
him Richard "the Lion-Hearted" (Cur de
Lion). His love of warfare, his fondness for
adventure, and his devotion to the Church were all
appealed to by a great movement which occurred in his
reign, known as the Third Crusade.
Shield of Richard I
The Crusades were a series of wars between the
Christian peoples of western Europe and the Mohammedan
peoples of Asia Minor and Syria. The name comes from
the Latin word crux (cross), because of
the "cross" of white or red cloth which the Christian
soldiers in these wars wore on their mantles. The
purpose of the Crusades was to recover Jerusalem and
Palestine from the Mohammedans. A century before
Richard's time these people, who then possessed the
lands where Christ had lived and died, began oppressing
the Christian pilgrims who came to visit Jerusalem. At
the same time, the Greek Emperor of Constantinople
appealed to the Christian knights of
 the West for aid against the Mohammedan Turks, who were
conquering his territories. The Pope took up the
cause, and at a great meeting held in France, in the
year 1095, he preached a sermon using the knights to
make war upon the Mohammedans, and recover the Holy
Land. His plea moved his hearers so greatly that they
cried out with one accord—
"It is the will of God!"
In this way began the movement toward Asia which we
call the First Crusade. The common people would not
wait to gather supplies or to form an army, but marched
at once—men, women and children—in vast
throngs under the lead of a monk called "Peter the
Hermit," and other rash leaders. They knew nothing of
the country to which they were going, and but little of
the road by which it should be reached. They made no
provision for fighting the Turks, or to sustain
themselves on the way, but trusted to the power of God
to overcome the "infidels." The result was that they
were destroyed on the way, by Turkish horsemen, or by
starvation, and failed to even reach Palestine.
Religious enthusiasm, and a desire for conquest and
worldly gain, led many thousand trained and equipped
knights to set out in their turn. They were under
cap-  able leaders, and their armies were well supplied. They
reached Asia, and they fought the Turks with such
success that they captured Jerusalem and a portion of
Palestine, where they set up a Christian kingdom in the
year 1099. Thus the object of the First Crusade was
partly accomplished, and the Holy Land was freed from
the rule of Mohammedans.
Forty-eight years later occurred the Second Crusade
(1147-1149), which was caused by the news that the
Turks had conquered part of the kingdom of Jerusalem.
Two Kings—Conrad III. of Germany and
Louis VII. of France—took part in this
Crusade, but very little was accomplished by it.
Two years before Richard became King of England, the
Turkish leader Saladin recaptured Jerusalem. This
again stirred up the religious zeal of Europe, and many
of the great nobles "took the cross"—that is,
vowed to engage in a new war against the Turks. Among
the first to do this was Richard the Lion-Hearted, and
his part in the Third Crusade is the chief interest
which we have in his reign.
As soon as Richard was crowned he began preparations
for the Crusade. He took the money which his father
had left, and in addition sold estates and offices. He
even sold the office of Archbishop of York, with the
estates belonging to it; and for a large sum of money
he released the King of Scotland from the "homage"
which Henry II. had compelled him to give.
By these means, Richard gathered a great fleet, with
which he set out for the Holy Land, in company with
Philip Augustus, the King of France. The two Kings
stopped at Messina, where they spend many months,
 quarrelling with each other, and with the
ruler of Sicily. When at last they re-embarked,
Richard again turned aside—this time to punish
the King of Cyprus for abusing shipwrecked pilgrims.
Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Christians were besieging
the city of Acre, and were sorely in need. When
Richard at last reached Acre, his fame as a warrior
revived the spirit of the Christians. He would ride
along before the walls of the city, and defy the
Mohammedans. He set up great machines to batter down
the walls, and in a short time Acre surrendered. Thus
was recovered one of the important cities which the
Mohammedans had conquered, but Jerusalem itself was yet
to be taken. Soon after this, King Philip returned to
France, leaving Richard to carry on the war without his
aid. But the quarrels among the leaders continued, and
they could not agree on anything. It is said that
Richard one day rode up a hill within sight of
Jerusalem, but held his shield before his face that he
might not look upon the sacred city which he could not
rescue. The army was obliged to retreat, and the Holy
City was left in the hands of the "infidels."
Armor of the Time of Richard I
 Richard was now obliged to return to England; so he
made a truce with Saladin for three years, during which
time Christians might freely visit Jerusalem. Richard
intended to return after the three years had passed,
but was never able to do so. When he departed from
Syria, he left behind him a great reputation for his
While he was returning to his kingdom, Richard was
compelled by storms to land in the territory of the
Duke of Austria. He was almost alone, and the Duke was
his personal enemy because of great injuries which
Richard had done to him on the Crusade. Richard
attempted to pass unknown through his enemy's country;
but he was discovered, arrested, and afterward
surrendered by the Duke to the German Emperor. The
Emperor was also unfriendly, because Richard was allied
with the Emperor's enemies in Germany; so he kept the
English King a prisoner.
For a time, the place of Richard's confinement was not
known to his own people. In after years, men told a
story of how his favorite "minstrel," Blondel, wandered
through Germany, singing beneath the walls of every
castle a song known only to the King and to Blondel
himself. At last he was rewarded by hearing the
answering verse in Richard's clear voice, and he knew
that he had found his master's prison.
The Emperor drove a hard bargain with his prisoner. If
he had listened to King Philip of France, and to
Richard's brother John, he would never have released
the King at all. As it was, he compelled Richard to
pay a great ransom, which the English people willingly
raised. After fourteen months of captivity, Richard
was released. He landed in England after more than
four years' absence.
 While Richard was absent his brother John had attempted
to usurp his crown, and had seized a number of castles.
Richard's officers and the people were loyal and the
castles had nearly all been recaptured before he
arrived. Those that John still held were easily
recovered, and the conspiracy ended.
After two months in England, Richard crossed to France
to make war on King Philip, who was attacking his
territories. The remainder of Richard's life was spent
in this petty warfare. The struggle centered about a
great castle which Richard built on the border of
Normandy, and which he called "Saucy Castle"
Richard I's "Saucy Castle"
"I would take that castle," cried Philip, "though its
walls were of iron!"
"I would hold it, though its walls were of butter," was
Richard's defiant answer.
Richard was now so much in need of money that, when he
heard that one of his vassals in southern France had
discovered a buried treasure of gold, he demanded it,
in accordance with his right as lord. The report was
that the treasure was "a great table of gold,
surrounded by golden knights," but really it was only a
set of golden chessmen. The vassal refused to
surrender the treasure, and Richard laid siege to his
As Richard was riding carelessly before the walls one
day, he was struck by an arrow shot from the castle by
a man who had long waited for that chance. Soon after
that, the castle was taken, and the solder who had shot
Richard was brought captive before him.
"What have I done to you," asked the dying King, "that
you should slay me?"
"You have slain my father and two of my brothers,"
 was the answer. "Torture me as you will, I shall die
gladly, since I have slain you."
On hearing this answer, Richard pardoned the man, and
with his last breath ordered that he should be set
In spite of his great courage, and his skill and energy
as a warrior, Richard I. accomplished very little.
He is to be remembered chiefly as being the only
English King who left his throne in order to go upon a
Crusade. For nearly a hundred years after Richard's
death, western knights and princes, and some Kings,
continued to go to the East, seeking honor, riches, and
salvation for their souls, in the Crusades. Then,
gradually, they awoke to the greater needs and
opportunities which lay close at hand, in their own
countries, and the crusading movement came to an end.