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“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Richard the Lionheart Settles the Alice Marriage Controversy—Sort Of March 3, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in crusades, history, medieval period, Philip II of France, Richard the Lionheart, Tancred of Sicily, the crusades, third crusade, Uncategorized.
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 (This post is the fourteenth 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.)

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820 years ago today, Richard the Lionheart and Philip II of France started a five-day meeting at Catania, Sicily to address various issues that had arisen between the two kings. Philip II had been planting doubts in King Tancred of Sicily’s mind about the alliance between Tancred and Richard forged late the previous year. But Richard convinced Tancred that these doubts were Philip-fiction, and Philip found himself confronted with a duplicitous letter he had written to Tancred about Richard. Philip then went on the offensive, insisting the letter was a forgery, concocted by Richard as a pretense to cast aside his twenty-year betrothal to Philip’s sister Alice. Richard’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was traveling toward them, now in Brindisi, Italy. Rumors circulated that she had a bride for Richard—not Alice. (The rumors were true. Berengeria of Navarre was on her way to marry the English king.)  Richard confronted Philip with rumors of his own—Alice had been deflowered by Richard’s father, Henry II, while at the English court. Richard assured Philip witnesses could be produced who would state that Alice and Henry had produced a child together. Tempers flared. Count Philip of Flanders intervened as an intermediary, but he leaned toward Richard’s point of view. How could Richard, King of England, marry a woman so impure? Philip realized Richard was never going to marry Alice. But how could he tolerate this insult: his sister, cast aside this way, for a Basque princess? The answer was money—ten thousand marks. This payment acknowledged the insult by Richard’s family against Philip’s family (King Henry II’s bad behavior), and was a gesture to make Philip’s sister whole. All other matters of controversy between them were also resolved in a new treaty, and Philip declared publicly that he and Richard were allies and friends again. So, that settled their problems?  Not really. On March 30th, less than a month later, events would show just how not-settled this rivalry remained!

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

February 2nd – A Playful “Joust” Gets Out of Hand in Sicily

February 13th – Saladin’s Forces Relieve the Garrison at Acre

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

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