Richard the Lionheart Leaves England for the Crusades
The 12th of October 1189 AD
Richard the Lionheart became king in July 1189, was crowned two months later, and left for the Holy Land (via his possessions in France and various other points on the way) in October of the same year. In total he spent some six weeks of his 10-year reign in England, spoke very few words of the language, and disliked the country and its weather. Naturally he has become one of our most revered monarchs.
The new king had already taken the cross in 1187, when he became Count of Poitou, and the third crusade became a mania with him. Lands, titles, offices and honours were sold to raise funds for the venture. He emptied his father's war chest. He famously said he would have sold London had he been able to find a buyer! With the participation in the crusade of Philip II of France agreed (the Christian warriors had no trust for one another and neither would have left his lands at the mercy of the other) Richard was able to set out for the Holy Land and glory.
The army Richard amassed in such a short time was considerable, some 8,000 to 9,000 men, and he also arranged the fleet to carry them and the weapons for them to fight, displaying enormous zeal and energy that might have benefitted his kingdom had he shown any interest in it beyond raising money.
By his continued energy in the Crusade itself Richard nearly attained his goals. Remembered by the English for his strength and bravery, he was also a cynical and merciless leader, putting 2,700 prisoners to death at Acre to avoid his army being hampered by them.
When it became obvious Jerusalem would not be taken, Richard made peace with Saladin and set sail for home. Shipwrecked near Venice he was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria and sold to Henry VI, Emperor of Germany, the ransom of 150,000 marks to free him impoverishing his kingdom once more.
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