We need not follow Richard in the Crusade which occupied the beginning of his reign, and which left England for four years without a ruler, - in his quarrels in Sicily, his conquest of Cyprus, his victory at Jaffa, his fruitless march upon Jerusalem, the truce he concluded with Saladin, his shipwreck as he returned, or his two imprisonments in Germany. Freed at last from his captivity, he returned to face new perils. During his absence, the kingdom had been entrusted to William of Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, head of Church and State, as at once Justiciar and Papal Legate. Longchamp was loyal to the King but his exactions and scorn of Englishmen roused a fierce hatred among the baronage, and this hatred found a head in John, traitor to his brother as to his father. John's intrigues with the baronage and the French king ended at last in open revolt, which was, however, checked by the ability of the new Primate, Hubert Walter; and Richard's landing in 1194 was followed by his brothers complete submission. But if Hubert Walter had secured order in England, oversea Richard found himself face to face with dangers which he was too clear-sighted to undervalue.
Destitute of his father's administrative genius, less ingenious in his political conceptions than John, Richard was far from being a mere soldier. A love of adventure, a pride in sheer physical strength, here and there a romantic generosity, jostled roughly with the craft, the unscrupulousness, the violence of his race; but he was at heart a statesman, cool and patient in the execution of his plans as he was bold in their conception. "The devil is loose; take care of yourself," Philip had written to John at the news of the king's release. In the French king's case a restless ambition was spurred to action by insults which he had borne during the Crusade, and he had availed himself of Richard's imprisonment to invade Normandy, while the lords of Aquitaine rose in revolt under the troubadour Bertrand de Born. Jealousy of the rule of strangers, weariness of the turbulence of the mercenary soldiers of the Angevins or of the greed and oppression of their financial administration, combined with an impatience of their firm government and vigorous justice to alienate the nobles of their provinces on the Continent. Loyalty among the people there was none; even Anjou, the home of their race, drifted towards Philip as steadily as Poitou. But in warlike ability Richard was more than Philip's peer.
[Authorities. - In addition to those mentioned in the last Section, the Chronicle of Richard of Devizes, and the " Itinerarium Regis Ricardi," edited by Dr. Stubbs, are useful for Richard's reign. Rigord's "Gesta Philippi," and the " Philippis Willelmi Britonis," the chief authorities on the French side, are given in Duchesne, "Hist. Franc. Scriptores," vol. v].
He held him in check on the Norman frontier and surprised his treasure at Fréteval, while he reduced to submission the rebels of Aquitaine. England, drained by the tax for Richard's ransom, groaned under its burdens as Hubert Walter raised vast sums to support the army of mercenaries which Richard led against his foes Crushing taxation had wrung from England wealth which again filled the royal treasury, and during a short truce Richard's bribes detached Flanders from the French alliance, and united the Counts of Chartres, Champagne, and Boulogne with the Bretons in a revolt against Philip. He won a valuable aid by the election of his nephew Otto to the German throne, and his envoy, William Longchamp, knitted an alliance which would bring the German lances to bear on the King of Paris. But the security of Normandy was requisite to the success of these wider plans, and Richard saw that its defence could no longer rest on the loyalty of the Norman people. His father might trace his descent through Matilda from the line of Hrolf, but the Angevin ruler was in fact a stranger to the Norman. It was impossible for a Norman to recognize his Duke with any real sympathy in the Angevin prince whom he saw moving along the border at the head of Brabançon mercenaries, in whose camp the old names of the Norman baronage were missing, and Merchadè, a Provencal ruffian, held supreme command.
The purely military site which Richard selected for the new fortress with which he guarded the border showed his realization of the fact that Normandy could now only be held by force of arms. As a monument of warlike skill his "Saucy Castle," Chateau-Gaillard, stands first among the fortresses of the middle ages. Richard fixed its site where the Seine bends suddenly at Gaillon in a great semicircle to the north, and where the valley of Les Andelys breaks the line of the chalk cliffs along its banks. Blue masses of woodland crown the distant hills; within the river curve lies a dull reach of flat meadow, round which the Seine, broken with green islets, and dappled with the grey and blue of the sky, flashes like a silver bow on its way to Rouen. The castle formed a part of an entrenched camp which Richard designed to cover his Norman capital. Approach by the river was blocked by a stockade and a bridge of boats, by a fort on the islet in mid stream, and by the fortified town which the King built in the valley of the Gambon, then an impassable marsh. In the angle between this valley and the Seine, on a spur of the chalk hills which only a narrow neck of land connects with the general plateau, rose at the height of 300 feet above the river the crowning fortress of the whole.
Its outworks and the walls which connected it with the town and stockade have for the most part gone, but time and the hand of man have done little to destroy the fortifications themselves - the fosse, hewn deep into the solid rock, with casemates hollowed out along its sides, the fluted walls of the citade', the huge donjon looking down on the brown roofs and huddled gables of Les Andelys. Even now in its ruin we can understand the triumphant outburst of its royal builder as he saw it rising against the sky: "How pretty a child is mine, this child of but one year old! "