Tuesday 13 September 2016

Robin Hood & King Richard ~ the strangest alliance in history.

Do not miss this fight of the millennia…

Robin Hood and King Richard
Prince John and the Sherriff of Nottingham.

This is a tag-team fight like no other and not to be missed. Come, Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets and let the battle begin.

I thought researching Arthur, and his Knights was hard. But I will admit, hands down, that Robin Hood is far more elusive. Let's put what I was blogging about the last time into context.

The most likely contender for the real Robin Hood was an apparently wealthy fugitive who was running around in 1225.

Legend states that Robin was the enemy of the cruel and vile Sheriff of Nottingham and the spineless and arrogant, Prince John. But, Robin was a friend to the noble and kind King Richard. Sound familiar?

I think I need to explore these three men in more detail to try and get a handle on the time, and how they came to fit into the Robin Hood tale. I am going to start by having a look at King Richard's life. This will be the abbreviated version, otherwise it would take several posts, and I don't want to bore you with the detail.

The Life of King Richard the Lionheart

Richard Coeur de Lion, Carlo Marochetti's statue of Richard I outside the Palace of Westminster, London

Richard the Lionheart, son of Henry II, was born in Oxford and grew up in England. Richard never learnt the language of his birth and the kingdom that he would one-day rule. He could only speak French. By the age of 16 he not only had his own army, but he was also a formidable warrior.

 In 1173, Richard and his brothers (excluding John) revolted against their father. The rebellion failed, and Richard begged for his father's forgiveness. This wasn't your average teenage rebellion. Richard wasn't being told off for staying out late and partying with his friends. He and his brother’s had raised arms against their sovereign king. Richard was lucky he didn't lose his head. But Henry II was the forgiving kind, but unsurprisingly, he would never trust his son(s) again. Can you imagine what Sunday lunch at the palace must have been like? Talk about cutting the tension with a knife!

Richard is portrayed as this mighty hero. But in the next few years, those who lived under Richard’s jurisdiction would tell quite a different tale if they were still alive to tell it. Richard was ruthless and cruel. There were organised uprisings against him because of his brutality. But he returned fire with fire and stamped out the rebellion viciously. Sean Connery, he was not.

 Sean Connery played King Richard in the 1991 movie Robin Hood, Prince of Theives.

Richard revolted against his father again. In 1189 Richard and his allies defeated Henry's army at Ballans. Two days later Henry died, and Richard became king.

But living under Richard's rule wasn't the picnic the legends and Hollywood would have you believe. His reign didn't get off to the best of starts. He banned Jews and women from his investiture. Some thought this gave them free rein to attack the Jewish community and a rumour came about that Richard wanted the mass execution of all the Jews. The Jews were massacred. It was a blood bath.  Richard, it is said, was enraged. He wanted to go Crusading, but how could he with such unrest. He ordered the execution of those responsible and distributed a Royal Writ, which stated that the Jews were to be left alone. They were - dare we say it - his property. But things didn't get any better for the Jews, for the law was very loosely enforced, perhaps because the king had merely said the words for show.

Richard I being anointed during his coronation in Westminster Abbey, from a 13th-century chronicle

All Richard was interested in was making his name as a Crusader. He had been to the Holy Land’s once and he wanted to go back. He needed to raise money to go to war, and he would find that money, even if it meant bringing England to her knees. 

 King Richard I's Great Seal of 1189

It was rumoured that Richard once said…

"I would have sold London
if I could find a buyer."

That is how much he valued the land in which he ruled. England was little better than a personal bank for this ambitious king.

Richard had delayed long enough. The Holy Land's were calling, it was time to say goodbye to England and go to war.

In 1192 came the horrifying news that Richard had been captured. Along with this news came a ransom note from Henry VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. For Richards release, the Emperor demanded 150,000 marks ~ an absolute fortune. Richard had already emptied the treasury to go to war. But this was the king, the money would be found, even if they had to strip every church in the kingdom of its gold. They raised the taxes. If the poor starved then so be it. They would find the money. Ironically Richard's brother John, along with King Philip of France offered 80,000 marks to the Emperor to keep Richard imprisoned until Michaelmas 1194! What a family. What a King.
The Emperor refused John’s very kind offer. The money was found, and the ransom was paid. Richard was released.

King Philippe of France sent John this message...

"Look to yourself; the devil is loose."

Indeed, Richard’s people had ensured his release, and now he was bound to seek revenge against his brother and those who had stood against him. John must have been quaking in his boots. But, Richard forgave John and named John heir to the throne despite his nephew, Arthur, being next in line.

What is it with this family? They seem to do the complete opposite to what you think they will do. How the Plantagenet’s ( or the Angevin ~ I thought I would get that in before someone complained) stayed in power for so long really is a mystery to me!

Richard, not content to go home and be a king, decided that he would recapture Normandy ~ because there was the money to do that?! Just saying!

I don’t think Richard care two hoots about his people. He lived and breathed war. He was like an addict. He needed a fix. He couldn't live without it.

Richard was shot by an arrow in 1199 when he besieged the virtually unarmed castle of Châlus-Chabrol. So arrogant was he, that he didn't bother wearing any armour while he strode around the perimeter. The man whose arrows found it's mark was not a knight, but a mere boy seeking revenge for the death of his father and brothers. The boy was brought before Richard. But instead of ordering his execution Richard forgave him and sent him on his way with 100 shillings.

Unfortunately for Richard, his wound became gangrenous. Knowing he was to die, he sent for his mother and set about putting his affairs in order.

The Lionheart died on 6th April 1199.

The boy, who had caused the fatal wound, was flayed alive and then hung. So much for Richard's words of forgiveness.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

King Richard the Lionheart was not a champion of the people. He spent barely six months in England during his reign. Instead, he was intent on seeking war and glory and wealth. Richard's association with Robin Hood doesn't make any sense. Why would Richard champion an outlaw? Richard was brutal to those who rebelled against his crown. You cannot steal from the rich and give to the poor, and expect the King to be all right with this? Because, lets face it, Richard was the biggest thief of them all. Good people died to fund his foreign wars. He quite literally took the skin off England’s back. And when John came to inherit, he found the treasury empty. And also the dates are wrong. Our Robin Hood was making a name for himself in 1225. King Richard had been dead for over 20 years by then. Something is not right there...is it?

1 comment:

See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx