15 November 2015

Lionhearted

Richard's tomb at Fontevraud
England's King Richard I is more often referred to as Richard the Lionheart. He died in France on April 6th 1199 - fatally infected by an arrow wound. Afterwards, his entrails were buried at Châlus (where he died), his heart went to Rouen Cathedral in Normandy and the rest of his body was buried at Fontevraud Abbey in the Anjou region.

Though King of England for ten years, Richard spent most of this time abroad living a complicated life of intrigue that involved military pacts and disagreements, land claims and land sales, affairs with both men and women, marriage, the building of castles, family schisms, religious observance and last but not least active participation in The Third Crusade.
Richard's heart tomb at
Rouen Cathedral
Now I admit that I am no historian, even though things historical fascinate me. To create this blogpost I have had to undertake some research - driven by curiosity about both Richard the Lionheart and his involvement in The Crusades. When my parents acquired our first television set in 1957 I soon became a fan of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Richard Greene and throughout that series in which  evil John presided over national affairs, I noted occasional references to his brother good King Richard who was away in "The Holy Land" fighting in "The Crusades". One of his biggest fans was the outlaw Robin Hood himself.

But what were they, these so-called "crusades"?

The first crusade (1096-99), promoted by Pope Urban II, occurred in response to the rise of Islam which in various guises was threatening to overwhelm the Byzantine Empire and hinder Christian access to The Holy Land. Its aim was to suppress this growing Muslim power - for economic  as well as religious reasons. Essentially, the first crusade failed so it was followed by further crusades that drew thousands of fighters and noblemen  from all over Europe - seeking their fortunes or religious merit, focussed on defeating the threat that Islam was posing. Of course they were all costly enterprises.

Richard's stone effigy at Châlus
Historians tell us that the final crusade happened in the middle of the fifteenth century so by my calculations, the crusades were in process for over three hundred and fifty years. Richard I was a significant figure in The Third Crusade of 1189-92 sometimes called The Kings' Crusade which sought to crush Saladin and reconquer The Holy Land.

The remains of various crusaders can still be found in Christian English churches and I imagine in other Western European churches too. But that is not all that remains of the battles they fought long ago against the champions of Islam. Echoes could be heard ricocheting about the streets of Paris on Friday evening as innocent civilians were massacred by cowards with kalashnikovs. And of course these horrors are not over - not by a long way - so perhaps we must all be lionhearted now.

16 comments:

  1. Yorkie do you know why Richard's body parts were buried in three different locations?

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    1. All I know is that he asked for this to happen. Regarding the famous English writer, Thomas Hardy, his heart is buried in Dorset but the rest ofhim was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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  2. Yes...we must all be lionhearted now...and remain so...and remain ever vigilant.

    My heart is very heavy at the moment; and I know I'm not alone in how I'm feeling.

    Religion has so much to answer for. Everyone is so bloody sure they're right!

    I wish the Crusades had wiped out Islam, the so-called "religion of peace" back then - way back then...wiped it out never to have been heard of again, except through the history books!

    Islam breeds on envy and hate. No one and no amount of words will convince me otherwise! Islam breeds on fear....fear of the individual...fear of thinking for one's self...fear of the right to be...fear of freedom. How bloody stupid and ignorant is that?!!

    My heart is heavy...it bleeds, but the heaviness doesn't lessen.

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    1. I share your view of Islam Lee. The West has been so damned accommodating. Tolerance can be a very overrated human trait. Sometimes you have to stand up and say, "Hell, no!"

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    2. Everyone is so damn scared of offending someone. They tippy-toe around like a mob of wusses!

      It is time to stand up and say "Hell, no!" in the loudest possible way! And too bad if we hurt their feelings!

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  3. You make a very important connection with the Paris terrorism attacks. There has also been imperialism that left many problems. No wonder things are boiling over.

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    1. Yes Red. The history of this is very long.

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  4. Standing up and saying "Hell no!" is not always popular...

    Being lion-hearted requires courage. Perhaps what we need a more unpopular lion-hearted people.

    I'm for tolerance and more attempts at understanding so I guess that makes me even more unpopular...

    As for eliminating religion, how would that happen and would that see the end of people with opinions? I don't think so. Control freaks and their opinions are here to stay.

    It's just the nature of things.

    Oh well, I've given the soup-pot a big stir today, now I'll walk down to the shops and join the consumer society for a short time.

    Ms Soup

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    1. You make a good point Ms Soup. Perhaps if religion was disappeared forever, human beings might find other belief systems to fight over. I don't know.

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  5. The technology changes but sadly the world is much the same.
    The Crusades had several motivations. I suspect pillage was the primary one but I have no evidence for this. Saladin should have left Jerusalem alone that got the Pope wound up.

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    1. Exactly, Adrian. Over the centuries, we have only become more efficient in killing each other, but the underlying hatred, intolerance, envy and aggression are still the same.

      Yes, a vast number of crusaders were not driven by noble motives. There were many criminals among them who had the choice of staying at home only to be punished for their crimes, or joining a crusade and by their "fight for the good Christian cause" gaining forgiveness.

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    2. I'm at one with Adrian and Meike. The history of the crusades doesn't bear favourable scrutiny. The list of Christian atrocities is endless I'm sad to say: the Spanish Inquisition being but one of the more horrific that springs too mind.

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  6. To quote William Faulkner, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

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    1. Very apt Steve. The roots of this problem are so deep.

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  7. Like you, Neil, my blog posts sometimes make me do some research, especially when it comes to specific historic dates which I don't always know by heart. It is just one of the many reasons why I like blogging - I learn from other people's blogs as well as from the research that goes into my own blog.

    The first picture is one that truly "speaks" to me.

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  8. This week, people in this country are calling for a new Christian Crusade. Really?? Will they kill the atheists first?

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