Son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England, this much celebrated warrior king spoke French, not English and spent more time in south west France than he did in England. Richard is, however, regarded as one of the greatest of English kings due partly to his exploits during the Third Crusade and his famous bravery.
A cultured man with a love for poetry and music, he inherited many his mother’s talents and like her was physically attractive, fair haired, well over six feet in height and of athletic build. Was he gay? Many historians believe so, but the evidence that he slept in the same bed as Phillippe Auguste of France is not at all conclusive as this was common practice between allies at the time.
Richard had a varied career leading his first army into battle aged 16 in support of his father. Later he had much military success in the Holy Land and in France – many of his campaigns were spent fighting in the Dordogne and surrounding territory defending his possessions. It was on one of these campaigns at Chalus that he met his end – a crossbow bolt pierced his shoulder and after several days and botched medical procedures the wound turned gangrenous. He died in his mother Eleanor’s arms on 6th April 1199.