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“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: A Playful “Joust” Gets Out of Hand in Sicily February 2, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in crusades, history, medieval period, Richard the Lionheart, Sicily, the crusades, third crusade, Uncategorized.
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(This post is the twelfth of what will be approximately seventy posts following 820th anniversary highlights of what history now calls the “third crusade.” My novel, The Swords of Faith, tells the story of this legendary clash between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.)


It was an incident reminiscent of the squabbles of children that served to increase tensions between English and French wintering in Sicily, waiting to join a bigger squabble across the sea. 820 years ago today, Richard the Lionheart and some of his knights, along with Philip II and some of his knights, went out riding. They encountered a local with some canes. They took this as an opportunity to set up a playful cane-fight. Richard and Philip’s knight, William des Barres, faced each other as opponents. But in the course of what was supposed to be some impromptu fun, Richard’s cane broke, and he was unable to unseat William from his horse. Richard flew into a rage and ordered that he never see William again. (We can almost imagine this scenario—a little playful horseplay gets out of hand. We want to sit them down and ask: “Boys, who started it?” We would no doubt then endure indignant tales and finger-pointing from each of them about how the other was to blame for the escalation.) Philip did keep William away from Richard until nearly two months later, when they were reconciled on the eve of Philip’s departure from Sicily.

This almost humorous incident hinted at the underlying tensions and rivalries between the English and the French, and between Richard and Philip. One escalating tension involved Richard’s promise to marry Philip’s sister Alice, a promise he appeared less and less likely to keep. That issue would be resolved before Philip’s departure from Sicily. The rivalry between France and England, an England with vast holdings in France, part of the Angevan Empire Richard the Lionheart had inherited—that rivalry would continue throughout the Third Crusade and significantly influence its outcome.

Previous 820th Anniversary Posts:

July 4th – The 820th Anniversary of the Launch of the “Third Crusade”

October 4th – Richard the Lionheart Sacks Messina

November 3rd – Queen Sibylla Dies

November 11th – Richard the Lionheart Signs a Treaty with King Tancred of Sicily

November 15th – Queen Isabella’s Marriage to Humphrey of Toron is Annulled

November 19th – Archbishop of Canterbury Dies

November 24th – Conrad of Montferrat Marries Queen Isabella

December 25th – Richard the Lionheart Feasts at Christmas

December 31st – Shipwreck at Acre; Muslim Defenders Lose Resupply

January 5th – A Wall Comes Down, Presenting an Opportunity

January 20th – Frederick of Swabia Dies; Leopold of Austria Becomes Top-Ranked German Royalty at Acre

To review a comprehensive catalog of historical fiction set during the medieval time period, go to http://www.medieval-novels.com:80/.


1. Albarrs Barrs - October 24, 2012

My surname ‘Barrs’ is a final (American and English) derivative of des Barres (French). The surname originated in Old Normandy (settled by Danish Viking farmers) as de Barre. In France it became des Barres. In Great Britain it was Barres until English became the official language and then for some time was spelled in a variety of ways, such as Barres, Barrs, Bares, Baress, etc. My lineage came to Great Britain from Old Normandy sometime during of following the Conquest of 1066. They emigrated to America in 1749 from Warwickshire, England. Today the surnames Barrs is generally considered as being English; Barre is considered Normandy and Barres is considered to be French.

In France there was Knights Templar Grand Maste Everard des Barrs and Knight William Barres who saved the life of King Phillip during a battle. There was a woodcut made of that event which I have a copy someone in England e-mailed me.

Thanks for your writings on the Crusades. Both Everard and William went on a crusade, as did my wife’s ancestor from Flanders. The FOSTER family traces its root back to Flanders France (750 AD) and a connection to William the Conqueror. The FOSTER surname evolved over time from the Baldwin, Forrester, Forest and de Flanders surnames and Christian names in France. Matilda or “Maud” de Flanders an ancestral Aunt of Phoebe Foster married William the Conqueror in 1053 AD. Phoebe Foster-Jones traces her ancestral tree back to William the Conqueror. He was a brother-in-law of one of Phoebe Foster’s ancestors who were nobility in Flanders France… Several of Phoebe Foster’s ancestors were knighted and accompanied William the Conqueror to Briton and fought in the Battle of Hasting and other battles in Briton…but that’s another family story. Mathilda of Flanders (De Flanders) was an ancestral Aunt of Phoebe Foster. Mathilda, also known as “Maud” was born in 1032 in Flanders, France and died on November 2, 1083 at Caen, Normandy. She was interred at the Holy Trinity Abbey, Caen, Normandy.

“Maud” was married in 1053 AD, at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in d’Eu, Normandy to William “the Conqueror”, 7th Duke of Normandy and later King William I of England. William married Maud de Flanders in 1053 at the Cathedral of Notre Dame d’Eu, Normandy to Matilda of Flanders. Mathilda of Flanders (“Maud”) was descendant from the Kings of France, including Charlemagne, King of Franks.

Al Barrs

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