Richard the Lionheart – King of England- preparing for crusade.

On the 3rd September 1189 King Richard was crowned in Westminster Abbey.  That autumn he began to gather the resources he required for his crusade and put into places measures that would keep his kingdom secure, he hoped, in his absence.  At home he needed to decide who would be the de facto regents in his absence, secure the Welsh Marches, keep the Scots quiet and his brother John and his half-brother Geoffrey and resolve the ongoing dispute between Church and State as to issues such as benefit of the clergy.  He also needed cash to buy ships, weapons, men and food.

 

With those ends in mind he levied taxes, sold off royal estates and castles.  He is supposed to have said that he would have sold London if he could have found someone to buy it.

He appointed four new bishops including his brother Geoffrey who was already Bishop of Lincoln but who had not been ordained.  Richard made him Archbishop of York and ensured that he was priested. Geoffrey had to be carried protesting to the ordination.  Henry II’s illegitimate son was the only one who’d remained loyal to Henry throughout his life and rumour speculated that he saw no reason why illegitimacy should prevent him from seizing the crown.  Whatever the truth Richard’s swift actions ensured that Geoffrey was no longer a contender for the throne.  Prince John was Lackland no longer.  Richard showered him with lands and titles as well as the rich heiress Isabella of Gloucester in an attempt to keep John content.  Just before he set off on crusade, Richard required both his brothers to swear a solemn oath that they would not set foot on English soil for the next three years.  As a further disincentive to John he also named his young nephew Arthur of Brittany as his heir.

Arthur was the son of Richard and John’s legitimate brother Geoffrey who had been made Count of Brittany by their father but who had died during one of the sons intermittent rebellions at the court King Philip of France during a jousting tournament.

Richard also ensured that there were strong regents in place.  He appointed Hugh, Bishop of Durham and following the death of the Earl of Essex his chancellor William Longchamp who was also the Bishop of Ely.  Richard had barely set sail for Sicily on the 4th July 1190 en route to Outremer and the Third Crusade when John, disgruntled by Richard’s choice of regents, started to plot against him.

One thing Richard did not do was to marry the Princess Alys to whom he’d been engaged since 1169.  This fact was one of many that caused the relationship between Richard and King Philip of France to deteriorate.  The atmosphere between the two kings soured even further upon Richard’s arrival in Sicily.

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Filed under The Plantagenets, Twelfth Century

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