Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Death of Richard

When it first became generally known that Richard was about to be released from the prison where he had lain in captivity about eighteen months, many people were terrified. The most frightened of all were John, the captive's brother, and Philip, King of France. The latter, finding he could not induce the German emperor to detain Richard any longer, sent this message to John: "Take care of yourself, for the devil is unchained."

Richard Coeur de Lion.


When Richard arrived in England, he was recrowned, to efface the stain of his captivity. He found that many things had gone wrong in his absence, and that as the officers he had appointed had not done their duty, there had been much crime. The castles were occupied by robber barons, and the forests swarmed with bands of thieves or outlaws, headed by such chiefs as the famous Robin Hood.

This bold outlaw is said to have lived in Sherwood Forest, and such wonderful stories have been told about him in old ballads, that it is very hard to know what in his adventures was real and what was made up. From these old tales we find that Robin Hood was good to the poor and robbed only the rich. The spoil which he got he hid away in the forest. Hence the woods were known as Robin Hood's barn; and when people want to say that they took a roundabout road to get anywhere, they still exclaim, "I went all around Robin Hood's barn."

Although Richard tried to suppress the disorders in his kingdom, he was much greater as a warrior than as a statesman; so he did not stay in England long, but crossed over to Normandy to make war against Philip.

When John heard that his brother was coming, he did not dare fight, so he went to meet Richard, and, falling at his feet, begged his pardon for having tried to steal his kingdom during his absence. Richard generously forgave his brother, but showed that he did not believe John's penitence sincere by remarking soon afterwards: "I wish I may forget my brother's injuries as soon as he will forget my pardon of them."

During the next four years Richard was busy making war against his French rival; but at the end of that time both kings made up their minds to cease fighting and to sign a truce. Then, hearing that one of his vassals had dug up a treasure on his lands, Richard sent to claim it; for the law decreed that buried treasures belonged to the crown. The Lord of Chalus, however, would not give up the gold, so Richard besieged him in his castle.

As Chalus was a strong fortress, like those we have already described, Richard could not take it, in spite of all his bravery, and at the end of two months he was so angry at being detained, that he vowed he would yet hang every man in it. Because of this vow, he refused to accept the count's terms of surrender a few days later, and ordered a new assault. But in this attack Richard was wounded by an arrow; and although the hurt seemed trifling at first, the doctors, in cutting out the arrow, made the wound so much worse that the king soon saw that he must die.

While he lay in his tent, awaiting the end, his men took the castle, and, by Richard's order, they killed all its defenders, except the man whose arrow had wounded him. This archer was brought before Richard, who asked, "What harm have I done to you, that you should thus have attempted my death?"

"You killed my father and brother with your own hand," answered the archer, "and intended to kill me. I am ready to suffer with joy any torments you can invent, since I have been so lucky as to kill one who has brought so many miseries upon mankind."

When Richard heard this he ordered that the man should be set free; but, as the king breathed his last a few minutes later, his infuriated men fell upon the archer and flayed him alive. The dead king's body was buried in Rouen, and on his tomb you can see a full-length stone effigy of this man, who could be in turn gallant, brave, and generous, and mean, selfish, and cruel.

Many stories have been written about Richard and his adventures, and there are writers who have made a hero of him. But a real hero would have thought more of the welfare of his people, and when called upon to fight would have acted just as bravely, but with less cruelty.