Richard I (b.1157 r.1189-1199)
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Richard I (b.1157 r.1189-1199)

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In the centre of Old Palace Yard stands this equestrian statue of Richard Coeur-de-Lion by Marochetti. This is one of the very few works of art commissioned by the Fine Arts Commission from a non-British artist. The clay model for the statue was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and afterwards in New Palace Yard. It was originally intended for Westminster Hall, however Charles Barry is said to have considered it inappropriate for that place. In 1860, when the statue had been cast it was placed in Old Palace Yard instead.

Richard I was rather a knight-errant than a King. His history is more that of a Crusade than of a reign.
Sir James Mackintosh.

Additional Information on
Richard I (b.1157 r.1189-1199)

Richard was the second son of Henry II. He was handsome, brave, tall and strong, and because of his bravery in battle he became known as the Coeur-de-Lion, meaning Lion Heart. His first action as king was to free his mother Eleanor and send her to England to rule until he arrived. After being crowned in September 1189, Richard left England in December as a co-leader of the third crusade. He stayed in England only long enough to raise money for the crusades - he sold everything he could including castles and towns.

I would sell London if I could find someone rich enough to buy it

In fact, as a king of England he was a disaster, he spent only 6 months in England during the 10 years of his reign. England was mainly a source of money for Richard's military exploits, and the English had to raise 35 tons of treasure as the ransom to buy him out of captivity. However, Richard was hero-worshipped for his fighting ability because crusaders were thought of as heroic, noble and close to God - in fact, Richard behaved with great savagery whilst fighting the Muslims.

Three unlucky omens shadowed his reign:
1. His father's corpse bled at the nose when he neared it. It was said that a corpse bled only in the presence of its murderer.
2. A bat flew around him in daylight at his coronation.
3. His sacred crusader's staff broke when he leaned upon it.

Richard may have been brave, but he is said to have risked his life in battle once too often. In 1199, during an attack on a small French castle he foolishly rode out into the open without armour and was hit by a bolt from a crossbow, dying of a gangrene wound.


Richard I was rather a knight-errant than a King. His history is more that of a Crusade than of a reign.
- Sir James Mackintosh, History of England. Advanced Category Search

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