Richard I (September 8, 1157 – April 6, 1199) was King of England from 1189 until his death.
Nicknamed “Coeur de Lion” or “Richard the Lionheart”, because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. He was the third son of King Henry II by Eleanor of Aquitaine. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period.
By the age of sixteen, Richard commanded his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father, King Henry II. Richard was a central Christian commander during the Third Crusade, leading the campaign after the departure of Philip II of France and scoring considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin.
Richard’s reputation over the years has “fluctuated wildly”, according to historian John Gillingham. Richard’s image was that of a king who was also a knight, and that was apparently the first such instance of this combination.
He was known as a valiant and competent military leader and individual fighter: courageous and generous. That reputation has come down through the ages and defines the popular image of Richard. He left an indelible imprint on the imagination extending to the present, in large part because of his military exploits. This is reflected in a final verdict of Richard I: “he was a bad son, a bad husband, and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier.” (“History of the Crusades” Vol. III) Meanwhile, Muslim writers during the Crusades period and after wrote of him: “Never have we had to face a bolder or more subtle opponent.”