Richard I, surnamed COeur de Lion (the lion-hearted), second king of England of the line of Plantagenet, born in Oxford, Sept. 13, 1157, died near Limoges, France, April 6, 1199. He was the second son of Henry II. and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and great-grandson in the female line of Henry I. He became celebrated for his proficiency in arms and his fondness for music and poetry. He engaged with his brothers Henry and Geoffrey in a revolt against Henry II. before he had completed his 16th year, and fled to France, where he was knighted by Louis VII. Claiming Aquitaine and Poitou, he was compelled to give way before his father, to whom he surrendered, and by whom he was forgiven. He was then known as the count of Poitou, but claimed to be duke of Aquitaine, and having distinguished himself in the war against the rebels there, the duchy was ceded to him by his father. The last rebellion in Aquitaine was aided by Richard's brother Henry, whose death brought it to an end, and made Richard heir apparent. The king then desired that Richard should give up Aquitaine to his brother John, which he refused to do, and by their father's orders John and Geoffrey ravaged his territories, which Richard punished by invading Brittany, of which Geoffrey was ruler.
Richard subsequently surrendered Aquitaine to his mother, but it was shortly after restored to him, and by his father's orders he entered upon a successful war with the count of Toulouse. After a violent but brief rupture with his father, caused by his intimacy with Philip Augustus, Richard took the cross in the third crusade; but in spite of his vow he had to renew the war with the count of Toulouse. He also took part in the next contest between Henry and Philip; but a report prevailing that his father intended to exclude him from the succession, and confer the crown upon Prince John, Richard did homage to Philip for his English territories in France. In the war that followed, Philip and Richard were victorious, and dictated terms to Henry, who soon after died of mortification, July 6, 1189, cursing his sons. Richard was present at his burial, and was greatly affected. He was crowned at Westminster, Sept. 3. The people having risen against the Jews on the occasion of his coronation, he protected them. In the summer of 1190 the French and English armies destined for the crusade, under their respective kings, met on the plains of Vezelay, on the borders of Burgundy, 100,000 strong, and in September arrived in Sicily, where they passed the autumn and winter.
This led to much trouble, Richard becoming involved in quarrels with the king of Sicily and his subjects, in which the French favored the latter. While they were at Messina a treaty was made which set Richard free from his betrothal to Philip's sister Alice, and enabled him to arrange for his marriage with Beren-garia, daughter of Sancho, king of Navarre, who arrived in Sicily in company with his mother. Leaving Messina in April, 1191, his fleet encountered rough weather; some of his ships were wrecked on the coast of Cyprus, and their crews were inhospitably treated by the ruler of that island, Isaac Comnenus, who endeavored to get possession of the persons of Berengaria and of Richard's sister Joan, dowager queen of Sicily. Richard conquered the island in a fortnight, and made Isaac a perpetual prisoner. While at Cyprus he married Berengaria. On June 4 he sailed for Acre, capturing a Saracenic ship on his way. He found the French king at Acre, and that rivalry which defeated the object of the crusaders soon broke out, Philip favoring the faction of Conrad of Montferrat, while Richard supported Guy of Lusignan. Philip wished to assault Acre immediately, to which Richard objected, as all his troops had not arrived, and he was himself suffering from the pestilence that was raging in the Christian host.
Philip made the attack, and was beaten. During his illness Richard is said to have received many courtesies from their enemy, Sultan Saladin. He slowly recovered, and the siege was prosecuted, every attempt of Saladin to relieve the place failing. Acre was surrendered on July 12, and soon afterward Philip sailed for France. On Aug. 20 Richard caused his Saracen prisoners to be butchered, because the terms of the surrender of Acre had not been fulfilled; and the next day he began his march toward Jerusalem, suffering much from the active operations of the light troops of Saladin. He completely defeated the Saracens at Arsuf Sept. 7, and took Jaffa; and after much opposition from his associates, he proceeded with a portion of the crusading force to Ascalon, which he reached in January, 1192, and where he was joined by most of the French troops. He rebuilt the walls, and hoped to invest Jerusalem; but the renewed dissensions of the Christians marred his plans. The, news from England, too, required that he should return home. Still he adhered to the purpose of the crusade, and made arrangements to proceed to Jerusalem, but Saladin had so fortified that city that it was considered impregnable.
Richard returned to Acre in July, and was about to embark for England, when he heard that Jaffa was in danger of falling into the hands of the Saracens. Hastening to its relief, at the head of a small force, he defeated Saladin, and afterward defended the place against an attack by the Mohammedans. A truce soon followed, and Richard left Acre in October. He was shipwrecked at the head of the Adriatic, and while seeking to continue his journey by land became the prisoner of Leopold, duke of Austria, whom he had insulted and struck in Palestine. Surrendered by Leopold to the emperor Henry VI., he was held in confinement at various places, but was finally released for a ransom, notwithstanding the efforts of his brother John and the French king for his detention, and reached England March 13, 1194. The greater part of the latter years of his reign was passed in France, where he carried on almost constant warfare with Philip Augustus, in which he won brilliant successes, that do not seem to have produced any permanent effect. In 1199 he laid siege to the castle of Chalus, to compel the viscount of Limoges to surrender a treasure that had been found in one of his fields, which Richard claimed as sovereign lord of the soil.
Here he received a wound from which, as it was unskilfully treated, he died. He left no legitimate children, and his wife Berengaria, who survived him many years, never visited England. Besides his reputation for soldierly valor and strength, he was renowned in his own day for wit, eloquence, and song, ranking as one of the best troubadours. Some of his poems in Romance have been preserved.