King Richard the lion hearted



RICHARD THE FIRST of that name, and second sonne of Henrie the Second, began his reign over England the sixth daie of Julie, in the yeare of our Lord 1189. He received the crowne with all due and accustomed sollemnitie at the hands of Baldwin, the archbishop of Canterburie, the third daie of September.

Upon this daie of King Richard's coronation, the Jewes that dwelt in London and in other parts of the realme, being there assembled, had but sorie hap, as it chanced. For they, meaning to honour the same coronation with their presence, and to present to the king some honourable gift whereby they might declare themselves glad for his advancement, and procure his friendship towards them, for the confirming of their privileges and liberties; he of a zealous mind to Christes religion, abhorring their nation (and doubting some sorcerie by them to be practised), commanded that they should not come within the church when he should receive the crowne, nor within the palace whilest he was at dinner.

But at dinner-time, among other that pressed in at the palace gate, divers of the Jewes were about to thrust in, till one of them was striken by a Christian, who alledging the king's commandement, kept them backe from comming within the palace. Which some of the unrulie people perceiving, and supposing it had beene done by the king's commandement, tooke lightlie occasion thereof, and falling upon the Jewes with staves, bats and stones, beat them and chased them home to their houses and lodgings. Then did they set fire on the houses, and the Jewes within were either smoldred and burnt to death, or else at their comming forth most cruellie received upon the points of speares, billes and swords of their adversaries that watched for them verie diligentlie.

This great riot well deserved sore and grievous punishment, but yet it passed over without correction, because of the hatred generallie conceived against the obstinate frowardnesse of the Jewes. Finallie, after the tumult was ceased, the king commanded that no man should hurt or harm any of the Jewes, and so they were restored to peace after they had susteined infinit damage.

No great while after this his coronation, the king sought to prepare himself to journey to the holie land, and to this end he had great need of money. Therefore he made such sale of things appertaining to him, as well in right of the crowne as otherwise, that it seemed to divers that he made his reckoning never to return again, in so much that some of his councillors told him plainlie that he did not well in making things awaie so freelie; unto whom he answered 'that in time of need it was no evill policie for a man to help himself with his owne,' and further, 'that if London at that time of need would be bought, he would surelie sell it, if he might meet with a convenient merchant that were able to give him monie enough for it.'

Then all things being readie, King Richard set forth and, after great hindrance by tempests, and at the hands of the men of Cyprus, who warred against him and were overcome, he came to the citie of Acres, which then was besieged by the Christian armie. Such was the valiancie of King Richard shown in manfull constraining of the citie that his praise was greatly bruted both amongst the Christians and also the Saracens.

At last, on the twelfth daie of Julie, in the yeare of grace 1192, the citie of Acres was surrendered into the Christian men's hands. These things being concluded, the French King Philip, upon envie and malice conceived against King Richard (although he pretended sickness for excuse), departed homewards. Now touching this departure, divers occasions are remembered by writers of the emulation and secret spite which he should bear towards King Richard.

But, howsoever, it came to passe, partlie through envie (as hath beene thought) conceived at the great deeds of King Richard, whose mightie power and valiantnesse he could not well abide, and partlie for other respects him moving, he took the sea with three gallies of the Genevois and returned into Italie, and so home into France, having promised first unto King Richard in the holie land, and after to pope Celestine at Rome, that he would not attempt any hurtfull enterprise against the English dominions till KIng Richard should be returned out of the holie land. But this promise was not kept, for he sought to procure Earle John, King Richard's brother, to rebell against him, though he then sought it in vaine.

Yet were matters nowise peacefull within the realme of England, and because of this, and likewise because the froward humours of the French so greatlie hindered him in warring against the Saracens, King Richard determined fullie to depart homewards, and at last there was a peace concluded with Saladin. But on his journie homewards the king had but sorie hap, for he made shipwracke on the coast of Istria and then fell into captivitie; and this was the manner that it came to passe.

[OF KING RICHARD'S CAPTIVITIE]

KING RICHARD, doubting to fall into the hands of those who might bear him ill will, made the best shift he could to passe through quietlie, yet were many of his servants made captive, and he himself came with but three men to Vienna. There causing his servants to provide meat for him more sumptuous and fine than was thought requisite for so meane a person as he counterfeited then, he was straightway remarked, and some gave knowledge to the duke of Austrich named Leopold, who loved him not for some matter that had passed in the holie land. Moreover, his page, going about the towne to change gold and buy vittels, bewraied him, having by chance the king's gloves under his girdle: whereupon, being examined, for fear of tortures he confessed the truth.

The duke sent men to apprehend him, but he, being warie that he was descried, got him to his weapon; but they alledging the duke's commandement, he boldly answered 'that sith he must be taken, he being a king, would yeeld himselfe to none of the companie but to the duke alone.' The duke hearing of this, speedilie came unto him, whom he meeting, delivered up his sword, and committed him unto his custodie.

Then was he brought before the princes and lords of the empire, in whose presence the emperour charged him with diverse unlawfull doings. King Richard, notwithstanding the vaine and frivolous objections laid to his charge, made his answers always so pithilie and directlie to all that could be laid against him, and excused himself in everie point so thoroughlie, that the emperour much marvelled at his high wisdom and prudence, and not onelie greatlie commended him for the same, but from thenceforth used him more courteously. Yet did King Richard perceive that no excuses would serve, but that he must paie to his covetous host some great summe of monie for his hard entertainment. Therefore he sent the bishop of Salisburie into England to provide for the paiment of his ransome.

Finallie the king, after he had beene prisoner one yeare, six weeks and three daies, was set at libertie on Candlemass daie, and then with long and hastie journies, not keeping the high waies, he hasted forth towards England. It is reported that if he had lingered by the way, he had beene eftsoones apprehended. For the emperour being incensed against him by ambassadors that came from the French king, immediatlie after he was set forward, began to repent himselfe in that he had suffered him so soon to depart from him, and hereupon sent men after him with all speed to bring him backe if they could by any means overtake him, meaning as then to have kept him in perpetual prison. But these his knavish tricks being in the good providence of God defeated, King Richard at length in good safetie landed at Sandwich, and the morrow after came to Canterburie, where he was received with procession. From thence he came unto London, where he was received with great joy and gladnesse of the people, giving heartie thanks to almightie God for his safe return and deliverance.

THE same yeare that King Richard was taken by the duke of Austrich, one night in the month of Januarie, about the first watch of the night, the north-west side of the element appeared of such a ruddie colour as though it had burnt, without any clouds or other darknesse to cover it, so that the stars showed through that rednesse and might be verie well discerned. Divers bright strakes appeared to flash upwards now and then, dividing the rednesse, through the which the stars seemed to be of a bright sanguine colour.

In Februarie next issuing, one night after midnight the like wonder was seene, and shortly after news came that the king was taken in Almaigne. And the same daie and selfe houre that the king arrived at Sandwich, whilst the sunne shone verie bright and cleare, there appeared a most brightsome and unaccustomed clearnesse, not farre distant from the sunne, as it were to the length and breadth of a man's personage, having a red shining brightnesse like to the rainbow, which strange sight when manie beheld, there were that prognosticated the king alreadie to be arrived.





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