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“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Richard the Lionheart Leaves Sicily for “Outremer” April 10, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in Berengeria, crusades, history, medieval period, Outremer, Richard the Lionheart, Sicily, the crusades, third crusade.
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(This post is the sixteenth 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.)

*****

Winter in Sicily was finally over. It was time to complete the last part of the journey to join the western Christian fighting pilgrimage to take back Jerusalem for Christianity. 820 years ago today, Richard the Lionheart, along with his huge fleet of over two hundred ships, left Sicily for the eastern Mediterranean coast to join the siege at Acre. He was eleven days behind Philip II of France; he would land at Acre well beyond that eleven day gap, and the consequences of the delay would have lasting effects on the entire area. After the ships cleared the harbor, Richard’s warship vanguard took the lead ahead of the transport ships. On one of those transports, his future wife, Berengeria (whom he planned to marry in the “Holy Land”) and his sister Joan, traveled with their accompanying entourages. The ships communicated by sailing close enough for the men to shout at each other and pass messages and commands from ship to ship. It would not be long before this primitive method of ship-to-ship communication would prove to be dangerously inadequate. Richard hated traveling by sea. Nothing about this journey would give Richard any reason to change that point-of-view!

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

March 3rd – Richard the Lionheart Settles the Alice Marriage Controversy—Sort Of

March 30th – Philip II Leaves Sicily; Berengeria Arrives 

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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“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/.

“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Richard the Lionheart Feasts at Christmas December 25, 2010

Posted by rwf1954 in history, medieval period, Richard the Lionheart, Sicily, third crusade, Uncategorized.
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(This post is the eighth of an occasional series of 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.)

*****

As long as he was stuck in Sicily for the winter, Richard the Lionheart figured he might as well enjoy himself, especially at Christmas. After all, he certainly had the resources to put out a nice spread after his settlement with Tancred. (See the post Richard the Lionheart Signs a Treaty with King Tancred of Sicily). What a contrast this feast made with the horrible conditions for Christians fighting to take Acre—Richard would receive criticism for his slow progress and comfortable circumstances at Mediterranean locations while Christians starved besieging Saladin’s forces.

At Richard’s invitation, King Philip of France attended the feast along with a considerable entourage. They were joined by high-ranking Sicilian nobles. The feast took place at Mategriffun Castle, built despite local opposition. (“Mategriffun” meant “griffun killers;” “griffun” was the term used to describe local Sicilians.)

An abundance of food served on gold and silver plates ensured that no one would leave this Christmas hungry. At the end, to top it off, Richard gave generous gifts to his guests.

The joyous mood of the occasion was marred when drunken Pisans and Genoans attacked guards at Richard’s ships, perhaps planning to take some Christmas gifts of their own. Richard and his troops, possibly with help from Philip, repelled the attack but with casualties on both sides.

Just before this Christmas feast, Richard had undertaken a dramatic act of penitence at a local chapel. Bishops at the ceremony communicated God’s forgiveness for his sins, and the generous Christmas feast was the first step Richard took to show gratitude for God’s forbearance.

Richard would remain a “guest” in Sicily, keeping his promise to remain in Sicily throughout the winter. But his stay there would not pass without a few more dramatic episodes.

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

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

“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Richard the Lionheart Signs a Treaty with King Tancred of Sicily November 11, 2010

Posted by rwf1954 in history, medieval period, Richard the Lionheart, Sicily, Tancred of Sicily, the crusades, third crusade.
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(This post is the fourth of an occasional series of 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.)

*****

On their way to take Jerusalem for Christianity, Richard the Lionheart of England and Philip of France found themselves with little choice but to remain in Sicily for the winter, not wishing to risk the potentially treacherous winter weather of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Their stay in Sicily thrust them into local politics. Richard had settled some initial grievances with the natives (see my post “Richard the Lionheart sacks Messina,” October 4th) But there was still the issue of a long term treaty. King Tancred of Sicily toyed with the idea of alliances with both the French and English king. He found Philip reluctant to set a formal alliance for fear of inflaming German royalty, since Tancred had taken the throne from Germans who thought they had the rightful claim. Richard was the logical choice for a formal alliance—the Germans would be less likely to attack Tancred if he had such a powerful ally, and Richard was happy to collect 40,000 ounces of gold to resolve their differences, as well as denying Philip an alliance with Sicily. Richard apparently had less qualms about inflaming the Germans. A few years later, held for ransom by the emperor Henry VI in a German dungeon, he may have wished he’d let Philip have that alliance. But for now, matters were settled in Sicily, including an uneasy understanding between Richard and Philip, as they waited for spring to move ahead toward the eastern Mediterranean.

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

“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Richard the Lionheart Sacks Messina October 4, 2010

Posted by rwf1954 in history, medieval period, Richard the Lionheart, Sicily, the crusades, third crusade.
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4 comments

(This post is the second of an occasional series of 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.) 

*****

Richard the Lionheart was simply not going to take any more nonsense. He declared his assurances that his troops had come to Messina, Sicily in peace, on his way to perform the fighting pilgrimage to take Jerusalem back for Christianity. He maintained these assurances even after citizens of the city had nearly killed one of his men in a dispute over the price of a loaf of bread, triggering a riot. And this incident had followed other abuses heaped on his troops arriving at Messina before Richard. The abuses seemed to abate when Richard’s main forces arrived, but this was clearly a reaction to Richard’s obvious overwhelming power. In truth, the people of Messina had little respect for the arriving Christian warriors from “north of the Alps.”

Still, at the end of October 3rd, Richard figured he had quelled the friction. He was ready for another round of negotiations with Sicilian officials to set the terms for his stay in Sicily, on his way to the Holy Land/Middle East. After all, the late King William of Sicily had been married to Richard’s sister, and during his reign he had been very helpful to fighting pilgrims on their way to the eastern Mediterranean. The new king Tancred had not been clear about how much of this he would continue, and issues concerning Richard’s sister were also unresolved, but Richard had every intention of resolving those issues in the coming days through peaceful negotiations. Of course, Richard was no fool. He had anticipated possible trouble, and had secured positions nearby to support possible military operations. But negotiations were still his preferred method of settling issues with a fellow Christian sovereign.

On October 4th, the violence started up again and escalated to the point where the citizens closed off the city and fought Richard’s men with stones and crossbows. Richard was in negotiations, still trying to make peaceful arrangements for his stay in Sicily. Messengers came to Richard, advising him of the deteriorating situation. At first, Richard disregarded the messages, hoping to settle the conflicts with negotiations. But more and more alarming messages arrived, messages indicating his men were starting to take serious casualties.

That did it. Richard took charge of the attack on Messina, and with information gleaned from earlier observations, knew just what gate to attack, and stormed into the city. In a flicker of time, Messina came under the control of Richard’s troops, who looted the city, destroying property, and killing resisters. It was the general custom at this time in history that a city taken by storm could expect to be subjected to pillage and slaughter. Richard stopped the killing and destruction after city was completely taken, showing mercy to the inhabitants. But the lesson was clear—Richard was not going to take any more nonsense from the people of Messina. And also, in the ongoing negotiations, Richard’s bargaining position had now been transformed.

This action would foreshadow a similar, but more dramatic and far-reaching clash with an island nation about a half a year later. The incident also raised another issue that would recur throughout the fighting pilgrimage—tensions between Richard, and King Philip II and the French. At the launch of the joint operation from Vézelay, France in July 1190, Philip and Richard had agreed to split the proceeds of their operations. Richard’s banners went up over Messina, and he had certainly profited from the looting of the city. Phillip demanded his share. Richard believed he and his men had won this victory without Philip, and so Philip and the French were not entitled to a share. But Richard agreed, after contacts through mediators, that Philip’s banners could go up over the city with his.

Richard and Philip would remain in Sicily until the following spring, coexisting uneasily for a shared purpose, but with serious tensions rumbling through every aspect of their relationship. Another serious confrontation over whether Richard would marry Philip’s sister Alice would burst to the surface before their departure from Sicily. The friction between them would continue to permeate the entire venture without any true resolution.

Previous 820th Anniversary Posts:

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