Richard was born on 8th September 1157 at Beaumont Palace, Oxford, the third son of King Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. The couple’s first son, William had died in 1156 but their second son, Henry had survived. Richard was therefore second in line to the throne.
From a young age Richard was interested in the military and by the age of sixteen he had his own army which he used to put down rebellions in the French territory granted to him by his father. As time progressed Richard and his two brothers did not see eye to eye with their father over their future inheritance and constantly fought against him. During a rebellion in 1183 Richard’s eldest brother, Henry, died and Richard became heir to the throne.
Richard’s dispute with his father continued and in 1189 a new dispute broke out over his younger brother, John’s inheritance. Henry wanted to leave Aquitaine to his youngest son but Richard thought this was too much and that Ireland should be sufficient for a younger son. Richard joined forces with Philip II of France against Henry II. The fighting resulted in Henry II’s death.
Richard became King Richard I on 6th July 1189 and was crowned on 3rd September. Almost immediately he began planning a crusade to Jerusalem using treasury money to finance the venture. In the summer of 1190 Richard joined forces with Phillip II of France and embarked on the Third Crusade. They reached Sicily by September 1190 and from there sailed to Cyprus which they conquered in May 1191. While in Cyprus Richard married Berengaria of Navarre.
Richard and Phillip left Cyprus for Acre, arriving in early June. Richard’s reputation as a fierce military tactician and fighter had preceded him and the city surrendered to him on 11th July. Richard pressed on towards Jerusalem and defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf in September 1191 before taking control of Jaffa in November. However, he was unable to take Jerusalem and in 1192 made terms with Saladin.
Having heard news from England that his brother John, who had been left in charge of England, was plotting to take the throne from him, Richard decided to return home. However, the ship he was sailing on was shipwrecked and he was forced to continue the journey on foot. In December 1192 he was captured by Duke Leopold V of Austria who held him to ransom. John managed to raise the ransom of 150,000 marks and Richard returned to England in 1194.
After spending just one month in England Richard left for Normandy in March 1194 to protect his French lands from attack by Phillip II. He successfully defeated Phillip in 1198. Early in 1199 he went to Limoges to supress a riot. While walking around the castle at Chalus Richard was shot by a crossbow. Although the bolt was removed the wound was not clean and Richard died on April 6th 1199.