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Richard the Lionheart

Jean Flori

Richard I, the Lionheart, remains forever (and perhaps wrongly) the mythical king of England who preferred to wage war than to rule over his empire. The familiar epithet conveys all the principal features of his indomitable character: courage, valour, prowess, the pursuit of glory, the thirst for fame, generosity in war and peace, a sense of honour combined with a sort of haughty dignity made up of both arrogance and pride. In this book Jean Flori examines both Richard's role as prince and king in history and also analyses the different and sometimes controversial elements which, for the chroniclers of his day, helped to make Richard a true model of chivalry. Among the questions addressed are: What influences formed his character and determined his behaviour, real or assumed? Why did the image of Richard as a king who was also a knight so quickly and so soon supplant all others, creating a quasi-definitive point of reference? Why did Richard deliberately, it would appear, choose to present himself in this chivalric guise and disseminate this image of himself by what we would today call a 'media campaign', using all the methods then at his disposal, limited perhaps but by no means ineffective? Last but not least, what is the historical and ideological significance of the choice and, even more, success of this image, which has been adopted by history and disseminated by legend, an image based on historical accounts and documents in which history and legend are sometimes inextricably interwoven?

Jean Flori's Richard Coeur de Lion was written to mark the eighth centenary of the death of the "knightly king". The book is a tour de force that provides the reader with a reappraisal of Richard's life as well as a study of the myth and reality of Richard's image as the personification of medieval chivalry.

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Part 1. Prince, King and Crusader
Chapter 1. The Early Years
Chapter 2. Richard the Younger Son, Count of Poitou (1174-83)
Chapter 3. Richard the Eldest Son, Duke of Aquitaine (1184-89)
Chapter 4. King Richard
Chapter 5. Richard in Sicily (1190-1)
Chapter 6. Cyprus and Acre
Chapter 7. Richard against Saladin (1191-2)
Chapter 8. The Lion in a Cage (1192-4)
Chapter 9. Richard against Philip Augustus (1194-8)
Chapter 10. The Lion's Death
Part 2. A Mirror of Chivalry
Chapter 11. Images of Richard and Chivalry
Chapter 12. Chivalry Imagined before Richard
Chapter 13. Richard and the Three Orders
Chapter 14. Chivalric Prowess
Chapter 15. The Prowess of the King of England
Chapter 16. Prowess in Outremer
Chapter 17. Royal Largesse
Chapter 18. Chivalric Conduct
Chapter 19. Richard and Women
Chapter 20. Richard and his Legend

About the Author

Jean Flori, internationally recognised historian of the Middle Ages, is director of research at CNRS (Centre d’études supérieures de civilization médiévale de Poitiers). He is the author of more than fifteen books on the crusades and chivalry, among them the critically acclaimed Richard the Lionheart.


Offers a synthesis of scholarship as well as fresh assessment of Richard I’s life with particular attention to the ethos of high-medieval chivalry. Jean Flori is one of Europe’s most highly regarded historians, one of the world’s leading medievalists, a recognized scholar of the crusades and probably 'the' expert on the concept of chivalry.
- Jochen Burgtorf, California State University, Fullerton
In recent decades there have been a number of more or less popular books on Richard I by French authors, but this is the first by a major scholar, and as such is warmly to be welcomed... His great familiarity with the sources means that in Part Two we have a valuable introduction and guide to recent French literature on the elusive subjects of knighthood and chivalry.
- John Gillingham, English Historical Review