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101 MIN READ TIME

Richard the Lionheart

COLLABORATION JS / ARCANGEL IMAGES X2, ALAMY X1, GETTY X1

“The devil is loose.” It was February 1194 and Prince John of England had just heard the news he’d been dreading. For years he had taken advantage of his brother’s absence on Crusade, and subsequent imprisonment in Germany, by extending his own power over England, but now he had to face the music. King Richard was coming home.

Richard had been away for more than four years, having answered a greater calling to take up the fight in the Holy Land. After Jerusalem had fallen to Saladin in 1187, a Third Crusade was preached by Pope Gregory VIII to recover the Holy City. Even before he became king, Richard had promised to join it. In December 1189, he crossed from Dover to Calais. At a meeting with Philip of France, it was confirmed they would share the spoils of war equally and that their joint crusade would depart from the great pilgrimage centre of Vézelay on 1 April the following year.

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