I leave it to the words of 12th. Century chronicler,
Archbishop William of Tyre
In the present work we seem to have fallen into manifold dangers and perplexities. For, as the series of events seemed to require, we have included in this study on which we are now engaged many details about the characters, lives and personal traits of kings, regardless of whether these facts were commendable or open to criticism. Possibly descendants of these monarchs while perusing this work, may find this treatment difficult to brook and be angry with the chronicler beyond his just deserts. They will regard him as either mendacious or jealous – both of which charges, as God lives, we have endeavored to avoid as we would a pestilence.”
– William, Archbishop of Tyre, prologue to the Historia
“I am born of a rank that knows no superior but God.”
Richard the Lionheart
In the illustrious city of Oxford
the grand old buildings of Beaumont Palace have long since disappeared. The only saving grace, a weather-weary plaque at the bottom of a graffiti spattered pillar partially obscured by the leaves of encroaching flora at the west end of Beaumont street.
Without adornment of surface or embellishment of content the drab grey plate exhibits none of the pomp and splendor that was the hallmark of Richard the Lionheart’s life.
The sign states;
NEAR TO THIS SITE
STOOD THE KING’S HOUSES
LATER KNOWN AS
KING RICHARD I
WAS BORN HERE IN 1157
AND KING JOHN IN 1167
Unbeknown to my companions, this site, commemorating the birthplace of Richard the Lionheart, was high on my agenda. When our whirlwind tour of Oxford ended at Beaumont street, I was filled with the excitement of anticipation.
Fortuitous? Serendipitous? Or perhaps – just perhaps –
God wills it!
In the early Autumn morning of September 8, 1157 at the Kings House, Oxford England, a prince is brought forth into this world that will leave more than just a mark on this world but an indelible impression for future generations. For even if the details of his life are obscure (as they were to me), for good or ill, you have surely heard his name. Richard the Lionheart.
His mother, the resilient Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine and Queen of England, and father, by hook or by crook, King Henry the Second, progenitors of a jagged royal bloodline culminating in the crowned heads of Europe, which persists to this day. Not being the child of a reigning monarch (as so few of us are), I can only imagine Richard weaned on ambrosia, adorned in finery, blessed by the Archbishop, tutored by the finest minds of his age, surrounded by elite nobility, protected by loyal knights and pampered by servants.
His mothers favourite son, he was not predestined to become the ferocious warrior of legend but spent puberty at the Court of Love amidst troubadours and minstrels, poets and laureates. He was groomed to be Duke of Aquitaine in the fashion of his illustrious ancestors, but all that came to a close when at the tender age of sixteen he was forced into a life of warfare by a domineering father.