Richard Plantagenet (Richard the Lionheart) was a king of England. He was born on September 8, 1157, at Oxford. Richard was the third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had an older brother named Henry and two younger brothers named John and Geoffrey. When Richard was born, King Henry gave Richard the Duchy of Aquitaine which belonged to his mother Eleanor. So Richard's full name became Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Aquitaine.

Richard grew up in Normandy, which is in Northern France. It was there Richard began training for knighthood. At the age of sixteen "Richard was over six feet tall and was as strong and as broad shouldered as most men. He was handsome too, with blue eyes, a girl's complexion, and flaming red gold hair which fell nearly to his shoulder's." Richard was stubborn and blunt and had a terrible temper. Richard was good at swordsmanship, use of the lance and use of the battle ax. His battle ax was five feet long.

As a young adult Richard earned a reputation for being a fierce fighter. Richard became the Duke of Aquitaine from 1174 to 1183. Richard's older brother Henry died of dysentery. His brother Geoffrey was trampled by a horse.

Richard wanted to leave for the Crusades because he loved to fight. He was afraid his father King Henry would give the throne to John, his younger brother. So Richard went to war against his father. Richard won. King Henry surrendered on July 4, 1189 and died two days later. Richard was crowned king on Sunday, September 13, 1189." Richard was now ready to go on his Crusade.

To afford it he had to sell privileges, lordships, earldoms, sheriff doms, castles, and suchlike." Richard also raised taxes. Jews were taxed 25% of everything they owned and Christians 10% of their movable properties. Richard first went on Crusade in 1190. His brother John took over England for Richard while he was gone on his Crusade. It was at this time that the legends of Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham began. Richard's Crusade was to Jerusalem to capture the Holy Land from Saladin and the Muslims.

Richard joined up with Philip II of France. On the way to Jerusalem Richard and Philip captured and kept towns such as, Sicily, Cyprus, Acre, and Ar suf. Finally, Richard and his soldiers got near Jerusalem. Richard spent 2 1/2 years in the Holy Land but he never conquered it. Saladin was so impressed with Richard's fighting ability that once when Richard was thrown from his horse, Saladin sent a groom with two fine Arabian horses to give Richard. Richard was ill and was worried about what was happening at home.

He made a peace treaty with Saladin in which Richard lost Ascalon but gained Christians free access to Jerusalem. Both sides agreed to allow merchants and travelers to travel freely through their territories. Peace was guaranteed for three years. Although Richard wasn't really satisfied with the treaty, he realized it was the best he could do and signed it on September 2, 1192. Richard turned over command of his army to Henry of Champagne and was ready to leave for home. On October 9, 1192 he sailed from Acre.

Homeward bound from Acre Richard made good time. On the way home Richard was captured and imprisoned by Duke Leopold of Austria. Leopold turned Richard over to Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, who released him in February 1194 only after a huge ransom had been pledged. When he finally got back to England he had a second coronation. Richard was king for the last few years of his life. Richard was at war in France because the French threatened to take over his lands in Normandy and Aquitaine.

On April 6, 1199 Richard died from a wound in the neck from a crossbow bolt. Although Richard earned a great reputation as a fighter and Crusader, he was not a very good king. Richard neglected his kingdom and let his ministers rule in his place. Richard was constantly at war and allowed the French king, Philip II, with whom he had been on Crusade, to put England's land in France under Philip's rule.

This led to many years of war with the French. Richard's spending to finance his campaigns nearly bankrupted his country and led to heavy taxation and a dissatisfaction with the crown. His frequent absences from home led to a decline in the power of the king and an increase in the power of his ministers. So, although Richard was a great warrior, he was not such a great king..