A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 1 – Henry III (Part A. – The Major Minority)

As it will have been recalled in the previous volume during the 18th to the 19th October 1216 King John had died of peaches, cider, not washing his hands, Barons and taxation. But before and after that some pretty important events took place. (Dying of peaches, cider and not washing your hands would not have been pretty at all)

War with the Barons and French Nobility

John got into a war with many Barons who were angered by his tyrannical decisions to make them liable to tax. The Barons tried to gain the moral ascendancy by trying to claim this was The First Barons’ War; a casual view of English history will prove this was simply the First revolt to be given a title. To help them in their cause rather than hire lawyers and accountants they took the singular step of asking Louis, the son of King Philip (The Two and very astute) to be King of England. He and the Barons pretended that because he was grandson-in-law of Henry (The Two and very colourful) of England this was important.

Because John was generally useless at war Louis and the Barons initially did quite well seizing most of Kent (but not Dover) and also finding London. Here, he, Louis, was acclaimed but not crowned, because John still had the said crown. When John died William Marshal Earl of Pembroke having loyally and nobly served kings since Henry (The Two) rescued both by loyal and noble means John’s son Henry (who was but nine years old).  Even though it was done on the wrong day and in the wrong place Good William had Henry crowned King of England with help of a papal widget, which saved vital time spent trying to find a bishop. As the crown, obviously wouldn’t fit on a nine year old, they used a necklace. So impressed by this act were some of the barons that they recognised Henry (now a Three) even though they’d never met him, so were advised to look out for the little kid wearing a necklace.

As the papacy had been involved in the crowning (see: widget), it was only correct and proper that Louis was excommunicated, which meant priests, bishops etc could ignore or be rude to him without fear of retribution.  These, then became desperate times for Louis. Some Barons were in a sulk because Louis had naturally started to bring in other Frenchmen and not listening to the said Barons (sulking), so they naturally changed sides and his father (that’s Philip) was making fun of him for not subduing a constable who defended Dover. Thus, Louis sent one of his barons somewhere to find the supporters of Henry (The 3 x I) and bring them to battle. Marshal being a noble knight was only to courteous to oblige. This took place at Lincoln in May 1217, but was so poorly organised that neither side could agree on the date, and in the ensuing chaos one important commanding noble on Louis’ side was killed by a not quite as important noble on William Marshal’s side (being nine and not able to wear the crown; the king wasn’t allowed to take part). As was the convention of the day once an important commanding noble was killed, his side gave up and after an obligatory massacre or pardoning of the common soldiers the whole thing was over. By now Louis was in even more desperate circumstances and on learning that a vital supply of sandwiches had been captured by the forces of William (The Marshal) gave up and went back to France, just in time for his father to die, so that Louis could become The VIII, be horrid to the people of the South of France; and subsequently die in 1226 through not washing his hands.

At this juncture many of the nobility and subsequently their knights, lords, common folk etc realised they had nearly been taken over by France and as a resulted decided they should now all be English. This was greeted with much joy and acclimation. The Scots, Welsh and Irish also approved as it gave the Celtic nations someone to blame other than themselves for their mistakes, short-comings and especially in-fighting as one side could now be blamed as traitors, hirlings, rogues, etc.

The Years Of Henry’s Minority (without The French)

With the French, out of the way it became essential that royal authority should be resorted. Marshal (and a council) faced several problems.

Barons (naturally)

Some Barons who saying they had been loyal now felt they could do as they pleased, whereas those Barons who had not been loyal and were still alive, thought they could also do as they pleased because the loyal Barons were doing that, so who was going to stop Barons in general doing as they pleased? Anyway, they all would go scuttling off for their copies of Magna Carta if anyone complained too much.

Law and Order     

The judges were complaining about The Bench and after consulting with The Exchequer enough money was found to make a new one, this was of course The King’s Bench but judges could sit on it for him.

Forests and Rights

Under William (The Conquer of course) and subsequent kings any common people found in forests without the king’s permission would have bits of their bodies removed. Because of the rise of the Common People and the uncertainty of the Crown (which still wasn’t fitting Henry’s head), in 1217 a special Forest Law was enacted which allowed free men to pick up wood, grass, bits of soil, dig holes and make ponds in forests although anyone hunting anything could be fined or imprisoned, unless they could prove they were a king (or a noble with a charter to do such things). Even more controversially Common People could even say what was a forest or not and whether the law applied there or not; as a result, there was much rejoicing by lawyers who once more saw no end of gainful employment.  Some nobles who fell into suspiciously obscure holes or ponds wanted that part rescinded, but the judges who were now seated comfortably on the Bench thought otherwise.

The Welsh


There had always been problems with the Welsh. They did not invade quite so much as the Scots so it was always a surprise and when they did it was only to seize Chester or Shrewsbury or make some careless Marcher lord look ridiculous. Then there was the geography, although only a very small country the Welsh had contrived to huddle up in the north or the south; the latter entering into alliances with English kings whenever it suited them and former being more inclined to seize Chester etc whenever it suited them. This was very confusing for an English king as he never knew who was who and anyway, unlike Scotland which was conveniently in the north, Wales is side on so you never knew where they’d come incursioning or seizing from.

Llewelyn -Impressive

Providentially for those looking after the kingdom for young Henry (and his necklace) at this stage had arisen one Llewelyn ap Iorwerth of the powerful family which ruled the northern kingdom of Gwenydd. For a while he was on good terms with John (The Bad King) and married Joan who was naturally John’s daughter. With this sorted out Llewelyn then proceeded to conquer all the bits of Wales which didn’t see things his way, even in the South. This entitled him to added on ‘The Great’ to his name or to be correct in welsh Fawr. He fell out with John but because of Barons and Frenchmen, John couldn’t do much about it. During post-John, Marshal and some less treacherous fellow nobles entered into an alliance and treaty with Llewelyn. This allowed Llewelyn to keep whatever bits of England he had, do as he fancied in Wales and fight any English nobles on his border (the latter clause was mischievously put in by the council as pay-back for the Barons not obeying the council).

This left Llewelyn looking more impressive than Henry III who was still too young and stuck with a necklace. Sadly for Llewelyn who was watching eastwards (England)  this would all end when some English (cleverly if you were English; treacherously if you were Welsh) invaded across the Irish Sea (from the West) with a lot of Irish Mercenaries.


Annoyed that the English kept calling him Alexander and a ‘II’ at that and not correctly ,Alaxandair mac Uilliam; he son of William (The Lion- as opposed to the Lionheart) claimed he wanted some thiefes back who were in England and marched all the way to Dover to tell Louis (The French) he would make a better king that John. When things didn’t work out he marched back and finding out some of his scots clans were naturally, revolting embarked on the far easier task of fighting and massacring them, so England didn’t have much of a problem with him.


Henry II and waves of Anglo, Cambro and High-bernian Normans had rushed into Ireland and  the Irish had been obliged to accept the King of England as their Lord. Because the Kings of England as well as Anglo, Cambro and Hi-bernian Normans couldn’t agree on anything they all slaughtered or deposed each other, until there were only Irish Lords and a few Cambro-Normans (who knew the rules) left. As the Normans on the mainland were busy converting to being English, the Irish Lord were able to take over, but instead claiming to be High Kings they hired themselves and their retinues to any English who were fighting each other, the Scots, Welsh or the French. This would prove to be a bit of a mistake.

The Usual Business

After William Marshal died in 1219 of age and being loyally noble (or nobly loyal- the medical records are not complete), the rest of the council settled down to accusing each other of treason, etc. Fortunately, in 1220 when it was found the crown would fit on Henry’s head The Pope arranged for him to him to have a proper coronation. The Pope then said it was just and right for Henry to be The III and it was a sin not to pay taxes to him AND give him castles.

The End of the Minority  

By 1223 and being a typical surly teenage, Henry took back the bits of England which Llewellyn had and then went around besieging English Barons who had been excommunicated by the Pope on the grounds of not paying their taxes and insisting on keeping their castles. In this he was aided by a loyal noble, Hubert who was famed for modestly accepting the job of being ‘just a clerk’.

With papal backing Henry was also allowed to massacre those who wouldn’t obey him as they were obviously heretics. Some evaded this by hiding in forests and pretending to be common, a few didn’t have to try very hard.

By the time Henry (III) was 16, truly fitted into a crown, he had begun to develop a reputation as being pious on the grounds of killing excommunicants, enabling everyone to be relieved he would not take after his father. Thus, he began to reign in his own shed.

In the next chapter, we shall look at the Reign of Henry III as an adult and what everyone thought about it.

A True History of The Isles (the ones off the west coast of France, that is) Volume 2 (or Vol. II)


A True History of The Isles (the ones off the west coast of France, that is) Volume 2 (or Vol. II)


Whereas the 2016 vote by the citizenry of the UK to leave the European Union was a pretty spectacular bit of business, it almost pales (sic) into the mediocre when compared with the potential Hoo-Ahh released by the results of the 2017 General Election. Thus, we now have a political party sort of in power, embarking upon a series of complicated negotiations invoking the old political spirit Arthur Mandate is better than none, while not so much in the wings, but idling Stage Left biding his time is the ever constant character on the political scene Mr Hugh Bris.

It was a year ago in the aftermath of the aforementioned referendum that I embarked on my epic intent to write up a true history of these Isles 51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_(shameless plug) in order that we may all gain a better understanding as to how we managed to get in such a singular circumstance. I was quite surprised by the positive reaction, and encouraged by the indication that in the next five years the kindle sales might go into double figures have strode forth upon Vol 2 (or Vol II if you prefer)

So let us, away-


Introduction & Preface

Whereas it is quite in order that most histories should consider who was who and why; this author considered it quite unnecessary to dwell too much on the business, but to simply supply the reader with the bare facts and let them reach their own conclusions. This premise is possibly the most valid of any as people being people tend to keep changing their minds (or other people’s minds) as to who did what, why, when and just how important whoever it was’ part in it was anyway. Then there are those who wouldn’t know reality if it was wrapped in brick and dropped on their heads but they shouldn’t be reading this or the previous volume in any case. For this is a true and unbiased account of the history of these isles, which strips away all of the romance, preferential treatment, and has no truck with notions of which innocent nations or semi-nations have been hard-done by other nations for apart from aboriginal peoples in remote parts of the world basically; there an’t no such creature.

In the previous volume lay the foundations of how these isles came to be populated, by what types of folk, what they did, or didn’t do; what they should have done, and who had their names recorded and why. Thus, the reader will, by now, have a fairly reasonable idea of the states of the various peoples and nations at the time of the death of King John (currently The Only).

This volume will chart the progress from the aftermath of the death of King John (The Bad by popular consensus) up until the death of Henry the VII who having disposed of Richard The III (maybe not as bad as some folk would have) invented Tudors.

During this era (19th October 1216 to 21st April 1509), many important innovations and inventions took place, many of which have lasted until modern days. Some will be considered in depth, others for the sake of brevity barely mentioned, while some will be mostly ignored by the author who considers them detrimental to the academic flow of the book, and, thus, following the fine tradition of adding an element of controversy to an historical work.

Overall this is the era when English kings decided that the whole demeanour of the isles would be a lot neater if they finally convinced the royalty of Scotland, Ireland and Wales that the King (or if necessary Queen) of England should be the most important king (or worst-case scenario, queen) of the lot. This would enable the King (or if there was no alternative… Queen) of England to concentrate on the very important task of having wars with France otherwise France might become so important as to boss everyone else on the mainland of Europe, which was of course quite unacceptable; this was balanced by the view that the French had the same opinion about English.

In general, these twin policies would be the yardstick by which English kings (and when weedy princes died, queens) were judged by the nobility of England. Irish, Scots and Welsh royalty would counter this by dying heroically, being betrayed (heroically), rebelling and hiding (heroically) or proving they were legally English and should rule anyway.

This era also saw (if the king or queen was careless) the rise of parliaments, councils and the continued insistence of The Church that it was just as important as a king (or whether the church authorities liked it or not – queen). This gave rise an increase in literacy so that nobles could check if there was something sneaky The Church or the king (or-sigh- queen) was up too, or even better if there was something they, the noble(s) could take advantage of.

It was during this era that there was more attention having to be given to The Common People, some of whom had also started to read and so ask awkward questions of The Church; this did so amuse the nobility and royalty until The Common People tried the same thing with them. Matters were to become so turbulent that The Common People started to be bothersome about having rights and despite the best or worse efforts of the ruling classes actually obtained some. The first being during the upsetting times of the Plantagenets (or Angevin if you feel that way) whose colourfulness filtered down to the extent that by the end of the 12th Century the barons found they had lost all their serfs and were stuck with a lot of common people instead.

This era, is therefore possibly one of the most interesting as it is source of much of Shakespeare’s work, gave Cromwell a bit of a surprise when he found a copy of the Magna Carta and gave rise to the Celtic tradition of turning their mistakes into romantic legends and laments.

In conclusion, whereas these volumes are reasonably authoritative works on the history of these Isles the reader is strongly advised to read 1066 and All That by Sellar and Yeatman this being the definitive work on the subject up to the end of the 19th Century.

Thus over the course of the next few weeks the essays will commence and naturally continue.

The first one being a consideration of the state of the Isles during the period after King John (The boo-hiss king) died and it looked as if England might be confirmed as being another bit of France.

A Guide To The Results of an Election

Marketing Day- A True History of The Isles is a Book!!

A True History of the Isles Part 25 -The Era of The King John (Bad or a Bad Press?)



A True History of the Isles Part 25 -The Era of The King John (Bad or a Bad Press?)

A Sum of Wyrds on Motivations, Inspirations, and Justifications (and probably a bunch of other ‘tions’)

 So this time (sometime in early 2016) I said to myself: ‘OK, you are going to approach this project in a serious, mature and planned approach. You will consider plot, you will reduce the number of words in a sentence, you will make sure the paragraph makes sense, you will watch out for those spelling mistookes that are beyond the capacities of Word Spullchuck. You will learn just what is meant by syntax and do something about it and above all you will read the wise words of the WP bloggers who have books published and sold them.’

To which I replied ‘By crimminy you are write! I will attend accordingly, honour the art, respect the words of other bloggers, and learn. I will place aside money for Editors and professional Covers. I will figure out how best to use Social Media and build up a potential reader base. And have more than one re-write and by sometime in 2017 the First Volume of The Patchwork Warriors will be launched as a sober and sensible venture!’


I meant it folks, I truly did. As Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie are my witnesses! The was going to be the start of a series of Serious (with an underlying sardonic humour) Fantasy Novels (Albeit with a lite touch). The target was to reach a THREE figure sales number on Volume One. This was to be a reversal of the previous venture which was Three Volumes with a total combined sales of One.      



Thus, so it; the work began. Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while will be familiar with announcements, sort of progress reports and extracts all from The Patchwork Warriors. Ah there was in truth, much effort and there were several starts ditched, lots of promising chapters & extracts consigned to Copy & Paste- In A Holding File for Possible Future Use (Useful tip there folks when editing always keep the bits- you never know)

But then, gentle reader, across the great ocean of The Writers’ Muse   came the siren songs of The Anarchical (“chaotic, without order or rule,” from Greek anarkhos “without head or chief”). For they did ride along on Brexit Winds and thus did tempt and so draw me to start upon A True History of The Isles (CurrentlyforsalesonAmazonKindle-termsandconditionsapply). 51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_

Actually this project by my standards was a roaring success, not only was it well received in blog posts so that folk knew about it, but I managed to get it into on book format and upload as a Kindle- now there it looked odd as the chapters did break up but ran into each other. But, BUT to date FOUR! Yes FOUR copies have been sold, and only that but a 5***** review from one Nancy3333!…..Yea team WBH!!!!(well sort of, because it was still sloppy with typos and a few long obtuse sentences).solilqy

Despite this I then forged ahead and by Jan 2017 (or was it Feb?) I had completed the first draft of TPW, and not pausing for breath or even breadth ploughed on with the re-write. In this case not only referring to notes made to ensure continuity but also writing up a diary of the passage of time passing within the narrative (and having to cheat a lot to make all events match up, but you can do that in a Fantasy novel). Yes this would be the big break through By Jove!

Yeah, about that…

The budget for Editing and Cover…without going into ‘family business’ in detail; it’s gone, and quite frankly I would do it all again and again and again without a second thought, just ‘Because’. Hey, Life eh?2nd Dec 15 Blog

But was that a stumbling block? Heavens T’Betsy no! The most important feature of the whole business was to put the story together and to get this out in some sort of form. Its fate would be left to the whims of fortune and circumstance, as usual, and of course now belong to the ages (in so far as the memories of the computers are to be trusted). Thus onwards and ever forwards to completion!!

One facet of this sort of mindset does lead me to a type of free-form which for better or for worse does save me having to worry too much about structure. Some folk will quite rightly make an argument against this approach, and I would not attempt to take issue with them, only to say this is the fate I have chosen for my work. Nor would I urge anyone to make a distinct choice for this option, only to say: ‘It is there’. Working with Fantasy does give me a certain leeway in this, particularly in a world where the conventional laws of physics as we know them are prone to elaborations which none of the characters if they are honest truly grasp. This may seem again like cheating to some, but when you have your time fixed on a multi-volume work there will be other opportunities to sort this out later down the line.


The question:

But why in the Name of Tolkien do you progress upon such an anarchical path with little hope of success, recognition or return?William Shakespeare

Is a perfectly valid one; if asked by a person who leads Word Press blogs as opposed to the insufferable professional who insists that all authors should idly crawl upon hands and knees on the path of being selected by the correct editors or agents and do as they are told.

The answer if my case is. Because I have created something which is mine; this world has been crafted by my hands; these characters have had live breathed into them, this plot has been fashioned by imagination. This is all my work. This is enough. I need no more.

The last three sentences are the only part which I actually commend as basic advice.

But if you are looking to make a certain level of income or career out of your writing, please dear reader find some other worthier blog

In the meantime, sometime in the possibly late summer will appear ‘The Patchwork Warriors’ as Volume I of ‘The…….. (errr I’ve not worked that bit out yet) or maybe ‘…………….’ as Volume I of ‘The Patchwork Warriors’- I’ll get back to you on that!b85885aa0fd01f0cbebaa2798639b472

Meanwhile keep writing folks….make me proud!

Marketing Day.2 ‘Man! Can you believe this cat?’ *

Sometimes you just can beat a bit of Latin to sum up a situation; in this case

Alea Icata Est (I bet you know it, there again if  I’m wrong not don’t worry, it’s easy to google).


The trouble with my mind is it is prone to febrile-fit. On Saturday night, last I decided all was well with The History of the Isles project and I would place it upon Kindle, and the whole thing went smoothly (sort of; I learnt about TN104s from the IRS and a funny bank number I didn’t realise was there- it’s for overseas stuff) and was thus quite wired when the whole thing was finished.

Then I found I could access the proposed layout and noticed some of the chapters were running together, but in my appallingly frivolous mind-set judged this to be either all part of what Kindle does, or ‘gosh, well I’m done with it now’ and went ahead with what I laughingly call marketing.Marketing Day- A True History of The Isles is a Book!!

Ah, and cameth Sunday and reflections.’ Just what the heck (or other words) do you think you’re up to, man?? You’ve asked folk to shell out cash…..Never Mind How Much!….We are talking principles here!!..On a shabby bit of work. Get your brain out of whatever part of the anatomy it’s slithered into and do something about it!!’……For once I was quite acquiescent, and agreed to do so but not frantic because according to Amazon the book wouldn’t be out until Tuesday. So today was scheduled.

There now follows that rare episode when this blog produces a useful bit of technical stuff.

If you are intending to publish via Kindle and are using Word, and wish for chapters not to run together, then at the end of every chapter, click on INSERT and then PAGE BREAK….errrr…that’s it.

Thus this afternoon I followed this advice and all seemed to go ok and I guessed that another 72hrs would go by before the book saw the light of Amazon; thus Thursday, sometime. The problem this time being previously I could find a draft of the Kindle Book, but access, seemed to have vanished. But everything was cool, yeh?

So this evening tide I just checked the status and Oh My Sainted Aunt, the book was ‘Live’…..Live? I scrambled over to Kindle, and there it was…I read the extract, and there were the chapters…..all running together. (and as the characters in my fantasy project say when exasperated or alarmed)…..Oh frib!!

Now whether or not this will be amended through the wonders of modern cyber-things I cannot say; lucky for me the project is humorous.

Ah, this is me folks when in ‘publishing mode’. This is where the ‘Heroically Bad’ bit comes in. This is probably why my projects should only be carried out under strict supervision. This is where all folk who are new to writing and are regular readers of my blogs are advised to start making notes under the heading ‘What Not To Do’

This is where I say….’Goodnight all’


Tomorrow we shall consider more of ‘What Not To Do’



For those of you not familiar with 1950s/1960s idioms, approximate equivalents in use today:

“WTF!!?” (naturally)

“Oh honestly!! (more All-Age socially acceptable)

“Ah…Those Who Cannot Learn From The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It,” (for best affect said in a sombre tone with a sad shake of the head)

“Quite frankly, he deserves a clip around the ear ‘ole!” (traditional brit-speak, but the practice is now illegal)

“Get your act together!!”

“Dude!” (which seems to cover all situations)

Marketing Day- A True History of The Isles is a Book!!

It is here, as intimated in previous posts!don_martin-running_like_mad

That which began as a simple means of releasing frustrations and downright annoyance at the nascent and ridiculous nationalism released by the Brexit Fur-ren-dumb. Which then evolved into a series of posts has now taken book form and within the next 60 hours (or so) will be available through Amazon’s Kindle for the economic sum of 0.80p or 0.99 cents or 0.93 of a euro, and so forth. (ratesofexchangemayvarypleasecheckyourconverter).Victorian writing

(At this point I was going to insert a YouTube of Handel’s The Halleluiah Chorus, but since I might get into copyright problems because this post can be classed as Marketing…..errr…I didn’t…so instead here’s a picture of Handel  Handel_GF 

and you can hum the tune)


Oh yes, of course silly me!!muttley_laughing_by_sektor8bit-d7fv6sh

The True History of The Isles Volume 1 Prehistory to 1216 Ce-ish.

My authorship name is R J Llewellyn, but searching by that method is not advised; at least not in the UK because normally you get referred to either very academic books or erotica, neither of which I remotely associated with (You know how quirky the Amazon search engine can be).funny-victorian-era-photos-silly-vintage-photography-9-575132ee985f9__700

As with all writers of histories I hope to cause controversies, be labelled as a ……….. (whatever), be vilified in prestigious history journals and Joy of Joys be criticised on social mediaDaffy duck for as the old show-biz agent’s saying goes ‘No Publicity Is Bad Publicity’

To mark this event, there will be a series of posts this week covering such topics as:

Doesn’t Kindle Do Funny Things To The Layout of Your Book, and Why I Left It As It Was.(serious reason)

How Not To Market A Book (The Heroically Bad Writer explains they are who they are)

How To Get The Best Out Of This Book

Some Thoughts on Writing Histories.

Some Thoughts on Writing.

Future Volumes

I will also confirm that Amazon’s computers have not gone all Skynet 20160109_153650 and have actually placed it as available. Tuesday 14th March 2017 19:00 GMT (I think)

In conclusion….Thanks my fellow WP community members; you have made it possible that another book has been produced…….As for the ramifications of that event  I will shoulder the blame.


A True History of These Isles-Introduction and Part 1

Well bless my boots, I’m almost taking my writing seriously!!

Jumping Jolly Jubes!! ( If you are in the US you can translate to jelly beans, if you are in the UK,-insert whatever brand name you care. For the majority of the world….err…choose whatever you care to )

Oh bother…where was I Me

Ah yes…..Jumping Jolly Jubes!!

Yesterday I completed the first draft of the first volume of my authoritative history of the Isles of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Mann and Channel Isles. This is the second project which has hit target!!happy-face-clipart-12



So I have my Patchwork Novel and My History both subject to an almost serious process of review and revision.About to Rant


Thank you one and all on WP Social Graces for showing me the way

Where they both sort of began….

The Patchwork Warriors # 1

A True History of These Isles-Introduction and Part 1

A True History of The Isles Part 27-Eleanor of Aquitaine-Yes Mam! No Mam! At Once Mam!

Although in the basic record Eleanor is down as Wife of Henry II and just a queen of England, she created such an impression during her tenure and after he died that she simply deserves an entire recording all of her own. Also as she was clever, bold, capable, and forward looking woman this upset all the old fools of commentators who expected woman to do nothing except have children, so we shall put the record right on that matter too.

The Early Years

Eleanor was born in probably 1122 or thereabouts. We don’t have exact details because the old idiots doing the recording of births didn’t think it important to know much about Just A Woman. Her father was Duke of Aquitaine, William X, which doesn’t mean he was mysterious or had special powers, simply that he was the tenth of a long-line of Williams who duked about in Aquitaine. He must have been a forward looking fellow because he insisted that Eleanor be educated up to male standard (apart from the hacking, stabbing, slashing warfare bit, which was probably a heresy in those days).

As you will have noted in previous chapters Aquitaine along with other parts of France was quite independent from The King of. That fact that Aquitaine took up a large portion of the South and was about one-third the size of France meant it could be as independent as it liked. Thus when William died of pilgrimages and without recognisable sons Eleanor inherited Aquitaine, which meant she was married off to Louis Who Was To Be King of France, whether she wanted to or not. She probably didn’t.

The Queen of France Years

On the 25th July 1137 Louis and Eleanor were married and styled Duke & Duchess of Aquitaine; it was then that Louis found out he couldn’t actually get his regal hands on Aquitaine, it would only go to his son, when said son and born and lived to become king of France. He was miffed. Meanwhile, bright, alert, vivacious, easy going Eleanor, typical of Aquitaine was grandly not fitting in with the stodgy old northern French court. And then she started having daughters not sons. Louis was not happy. And worse Eleanor was proving to be intelligent, articulate and talented, which was not part of the deal. Louis was by now in such a temper that he not only argued with popes but massacred more people than was normally acceptable in a war with a local duke. So he went off on a crusade, hoping the change of air would do him good. As he was not a very good military leader he nearly got massacred himself; his supporters tried to blame it on Elanor who had been dragged along; the charge didn’t stick. They then visited Eleanor’s uncle Raymond, who Louis didn’t like (you know what visits to in-laws are like) and since other crusaders were being massacred they went home without Louis letting Eleanor visit some of the places she wanted to see. Shortly afterwards they divorced, on the grounds of suddenly discovering they were related, had this been the true case then nearly all royal marriages would have been annulled.

The Queen of England Years (Part One- The Sort of Happy Time)

Once the news got out that Aquitaine was up for grabs there was an undignified scramble for to marry Whoever She Was of Aquitaine; as was the custom of the time it was quite in order for a noble to kidnap the lady and claim her as his wife (after he’d found a compliant bishop). Eleanor having been a queen had got a taste for it, so having a fair idea of the state of things in Europe got in touch with Henry Duke of Normandy who was signed up to be king of England once the then King Stephen had succumbed to a serve case of Matlidas. A True History of the Isles Part 21- 1135-1154 Who Is Who and Who is in Charge of England Anyhow? ivorced in 1152, married again in 1152 and Queen of England in 1154 illustrates Eleanor was ahead of the game. And this time started having sons at an early rate.

As both Henry and Eleanor were passionate (eight children), intelligent, strong-willed folk there were lots of arguments, who won the moral high ground it is not recorded but as Henry was II and king, it must be assumed he got the last word (though maybe not the last laugh). This was Henry’s fault, Eleanor did not see why he could not ‘keep it at home’ instead of having affairs and mistresses, who presumably in the majority were not independently minded. Many commentator and nobles thought her a poor sport. Many commentators and nobles never felt inclined to discuss it with Eleanor face to face.

The Era of Henry’s Bright Idea

In 1168 Henry packed Eleanor off to Poitiers, her home town as she’d probably been starting to give her opinions on how to run England, Anjou, Maine, Brittany, Normandy etc. Henry hoped a spell in her Aquitaine would calm her down since it was easy-going and full of drippy folk who went around pretending they loved each other and writing poetry or ballads of varying qualities on the subject. Many sour old commentators and inventive authors of historical fiction claimed for differing reasons Eleanor invented all the goings on and their styles. This jars with the fact that in 1173 she was in the thick of the revolt against her husband. It is more likely the lady was spending the years out of Henry’s sight and hatching plots.

Eleanor The You Can’t Keep A Tough Woman Down Era

Although Eleanor was not riding about leading armies Henry had little doubt about who was doing the major plotting and after he’d showing his sons that The Old Man still ‘had it’ he chivalrously locked up Eleanor in various castles in England from 1174; though he did allow her out at Christmas. At this time Henry developed a great passion for one Rosamund Clifford and made much of her, hoping it might provoke Eleanor into asking for a divorce. It didn’t. In 1176 Rosamund died; suddenly. After this episode at Christmas time on hearing Eleanor was out again many nobles excused themselves back to their own castles, or brought in extra retinue, or walked about in armour.

Eleanor- The Glory Years Era

In 1183 Henry The Younger due to be king died. He begged his father to let Mum out, and under the rules of chivalry you had to be memorable when dying or to someone dying Henry (Dad) did so, but kept Eleanor very close, which was a mixed blessing as she kept getting involved in government and making clever decisions.

In 1189 after Richard and John (Henry’s favourite) rebelled against him Henry promptly died. As it was well-known Richard was her favourite son, Eleanor was really released. When he left England in 1190 to fight..Anyone…anywhere, for a few months Eleanor ruled in his name, and sometimes signed things in her own name; nobody argued. When a proper body of Nobles was set up to run the country, she gave them lots of advice and mostly kept John under control, again nobody argued. John thought his luck was in upon hearing Richard was captured by Austrians, but Eleanor foiled that by going about raising the ransom, again nobody argued.

Eleanor Tidies Up Europe Era  

In 1199 John finally got to be king, and maybe thinking that England deserved him, Eleanor stepped up her campaign of marrying members of her immediate family to other folk to ensure that least in the western bit of Europe everyone who could rule was related to someone else who could rule. She did not let little things like being captured by gauche young nobles slow her down, she gave them a footling bit of land or some minor niece in marriage. Except for her besieging grandson Arthur who was already married and had land, she let his Uncle John sort him out, just to remind people No One argues!!. So quitting while she was ahead she became a nun and took vows…of what has not been recorded. She died in 1204, and everyone wondered just what would happen next. Well in England they had John.

Eleanor The Legacy

After she died all the alliances fell apart, because presumably people felt safe to argue. She was buried next to Henry II, just to remind his supporters who had been queen. Although as noted lots of sour old contemporary commentators made ill remarks about her (out of ear shot or after she was dead), within a couple of centuries playwrights, composers and novelist were falling over themselves to at least give her a walk-on part.

This tradition still continues to this day.

And nobody got their hands on The Aquitaine!!

A True History of the Isles Part 23 The Start of the Avegins. The Isles Become Full of Memorable Folk (Hence the Long Chapter). It’s Not All About You Henry!!

A True History of The Isles Part 24 The Era of Good King Richard The Lionheart ( &The Epithet)

A True History of the Isles Part 25 -The Era of The King John (Bad or a Bad Press?)

A True History of The Isles Part 26- The Suspiciously Romantic Legends of Robin Hood (Or How to Shore Up A King’s Reputation).

England- A Problem with Legends

As it will have been recalled in Part 7 True History of The Isles – Part 7 – Legends and Heroes  England has had this trouble with a dearth of truly memorable folk heroes. Whereas Irelands had annals full of them, Wales had everything carefully complied in the Mabinoigion and the Scots were creating an impressive catalogue of laments, the English were still getting sorted out from being Anglo-Saxons, Normans and Anglo-Normans and because as such a culture of heroes had just not gelled.  And you can only rely on saints for just so long, anyhow they are rather saintly and thus not much material for good old ale-house questionable ballads.

Possible Contenders 

Some had suggested Beowulf only to be told rather forcefully that he was at least Swedish or Norwegian, if not a Viking and that was that, even if some kings liked to have the poetry read out at court, they’d not been on the business end of a Viking raid had they? Hereward The Wake showed promise but as shown in Part 18 A True History of The Isles Part 18- The Rule of William The Conqueror (and also The I) William (the Norman who Conquered) on finding out the lad was possibly legendary had made it known Hereward had fled to Europe and gone into hiding, which made Hereward look like a bit of slacker. And having to rely on Tales of Arthur was pretty humiliating, since everyone knew he was either a Briton or Arthr-Briton which made him Welsh. Thus the search was on.

A Number of Robins

Somewhere around the 12th and 13th centuries because there were more records being kept (as there were more monks and more courts,) some potentially interesting men called Robin arose. They lived hard lives, some up trees others in hedges; they seemed to go in for robbing which possibly gave rise to the name and also killing. A few had a tendency to castrate naughty members of the clergy, naturally this put them at odds with the Church, though maybe some priests wouldn’t have minded if they had restricted this part of their activities to Bishops. Eventually good taste and sensibilities weeded out those Robins who killed the not-so-Merry Men, murdered page boys, and never even heard of Maid Marian, then placed him with a loyalty to Good King Richard and a religious streak. This also saved the problem of trying to make acceptable either Fulk fitzWarin or Eustace The Monk who although contemporaneous who Robin led such rebellious and questionable lives, after all how can you tell respectable tales of a member of the clergy who was a pirate or a man called Fulk?

Robin The Socially Acceptable Hood

In order that the lower orders of nobility could also enjoy the tales it was asserted that Robin was actually a lord who was very loyal to GOOD King Richard and so had his lands stolen away by evil followers of BAD King John. Being a good sort rather than raise a retinue of rough and unseemly soldiers and ravage (the usual response). He fled, from wherever he was dispossessed and hid in an area so thick with trees it was known as Sheerwood located in the Nottingham area. He soon encountered a very tall man who was obviously called Little John, as was the social norm of the times they fought each other over the right to balance on a log across a stream and hurled each other in the water so many times they became great friends. With his entry into Nottingham society assured Robin made good company with Alan-a-Tale an itinerant folk singer who would produce several album’s worth of ballads about Robin; a lad who was so proud of his father that he was only known as Much-The-Miller’s-Son and Will Scarlet who obviously being an early socialist convinced Robin of the need of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. He also encountered one Tuck a member of the clergy with a mysterious past, it was likely he was a hedge-priest as friars hadn’t been invented. These were very unpopular with the nobility and the church as they tended to leap out from behind foliage and organise impromptu Masses and preach about the rights of the poor. Thus with theological backing, a socialist doctrine and men who knew their way about the forest Robin set about re-distribution of the wealth winning archery contests by splitting marrows and telling everyone how GOOD King Richard was.

Although the work of apprehending, imprisoning, trying and executing Robin (and as many Merry Men as possible) was down to the local authorities, in this case the Sheriff of Nottingham; this seemed beyond their capacity; probably due to Spending Cuts imposed by the Chancellor. Thus typically this job was put out to private tender and as one Guy of Gisborne put forward the cheapest bid he was hired. Accounts are sketchy, in some cases he is colourfully killed by Robin, in others he gives up on the task and tries to woo-

Maid Marian; who despite being titled A Maid and a lady of gentle birth was wont to go wandering into Sherwood Forest all by herself. Eventually she met Robin who was naturally noble to her and they naturally fell in love, in some versions Robin finds out her name is actually Matilda and he has her change it to Marian straight away as that would simply not do See Part 21.A True History of the Isles Part 21- 1135-1154 Who Is Who and Who is in Charge of England Anyhow?

Robin became so famous that Richard The GOOD King stopped off slaughtering folk and made his way back to England (being captured on the way) just so that he could meet Robin in disguise and have Robin kneel before him in Homage (or Sherwood). What Richard wouldn’t do for publicity.

The latter was Robin’s downfall, for on finding out Richard was sneaking about the country, John (then Just A Prince) decided to take a hand himself, knowing that Robin was registered with local prioress for medical treatment, who had a (ahem) romantic attachment to Sir Roger of Doncaster. John made himself known to Sir Roger who took the hint. The naughty prioresses poisoned Robin, Roger stabbed Robin and Robin died, shooting one last arrow, missing Sir Roger and Little John who turned up too late. Marian became a nun, the Merry men stopped being Merry and John eventually became king. Thus Robin’s heroic status was made certain having correctly died of betrayal, treachery and leaving a tragically unhappy ending.


As there were so many ballads, gestes (dunno, your geste is as good as mine) folk-tales and mid-summer plays about Robin, Shakespeare didn’t bother. That was left to writers of the 19th and subsequent centuries. He also made it impossible for any other English folk- heroes to get a look-in. But that’s Show-Biz.

In the next and last chapter of this volume we shall end off the era with the most formidable, the most astute, the most (for misogynistic male writers) unavoidable Eleanor of Aquitaine!!

A True History of the Isles Part 23 The Start of the Avegins. The Isles Become Full of Memorable Folk (Hence the Long Chapter). It’s Not All About You Henry!!

A True History of the Isles Part 25 -The Era of The King John (Bad or a Bad Press?)

As it will be recalled from the previous chapter most of England approved of King Richard (The I, Good, Lionheart etc) because he fought in Crusades, as well in Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Aquitaine etc, but mostly because he stayed out of England. His younger brother John spent a great deal of his life in England and thus was not as popular as he tried to govern the place, which made the barons grumpy and as they took it out on the lower orders that made those folk grumpy too. Thus John’s reputation has suffered being in the shadow of Richard’s (The First, The Loud, The Large and The Warful). In this chapter we shall exam the record in more detail.

John was born on 24th December 1166, which as many people know truly halves the number proper celebrations you can have with Christmas and Birthday all crammed together. This may be cause for wishing to cram in excesses in later years. When his older brothers went in for the Great Revolt of 1173 (with an option for 1174) he was only seven and not really in a position to do much. Thus, he became his father’s favourite. His father had him travel with him through the Great Revolt…just in case.

John being the youngest was to have career in the Church, but since he knew his brothers were having more fun rebelling and squabbling in Anjou, Brittany, Normandy, Maine, Aquitaine etc he managed to wrangle some time at the court of his oldest brother Henry (The Young- snot) where there was intrigue, plots of wars and probably roistering which appealed to the young lad. Since his father, Henry II spent a lot of time arguing with the Church (see Beckett, Thomas (a)) the Old Man gave upon on the religious track and in 1185 sent John to be in charge of Ireland. The Chiefs of The Clans etc came to complain that the place was filling up with Anglo-Normans, Cambro-Normans and Norman-Normans while the Hibro-Normans were becoming so Irish they were inventing their own phrases such as ‘Ah Sure B’Dad!’  ‘Would ye be after looking at that then?’  and ‘Musha musha’ which no one understood and what was he going to do about it? Being the sort of teenager which doesn’t brood, John tried to make light of the whole thing by making jests about the Chiefs’ beards and giving them a friendly tug- this was quite the wrong thing to do and the Chiefs told him so.. So, he went into a sulk and didn’t rule anything there.

The Time of Richard

Richard more intent on looking for wars told John he could be king if necessary, then forgot and instead named some kid called Arthur who was four and came from Brittany (or possibly Anjou, Normandy, Maine, Aquitaine etc). Ricahrd then went off to war and left a bishop and a lord to run England; the lord promptly died and another bishop took his place. As the two bishops naturally disliked each other things went badly. Thus John said he was King anyway since Richard had said so. He fought one of the bishops and locked him up in The Tower of London probably in 1191. When John found out that Richard had run out of Crusades and was being held captive by some Austrians John announced that nothing could be done apart from accepting him as King John, he then horrified the Barons (wealthy) by trying to invent Income Tax. Richard was eventually freed, thanks to Mum, Eleanor (Of Aquitaine- not Anjou, Brittany, Normandy, Maine etc), and John was obliged to say sorry but he meant well. Richard although disappointed that he’d not been able to go to war with his brother forgave him and sent him off to Anjou, Brittany, Normandy, Maine

John The King, For Real

In 1199 Richard memorably died. As there were several sorts of law in operation John chose the one which proved that he and not Arthur should be king, as Arthur was nowhere near England at the time this worked. John was still left with the problem of     


Arthur son of Geoffrey (brother of John, that is) born 29th March 1187 was very French and Richard didn’t really think he was old enough to be king. The French king and many in Anjou, Brittany, Normandy etc thought he should be. But Anjou changed its mind, so did the King of France, so Arthur in 1200 fled to his kindly uncle John. In 1203 he fled back to his kindly old King of France Philip who arranged a marriage with one of his daughters. Arthur was so pleased he took part in an invasion of Aquitaine and besieged his grandmother Eleanor.   This was a bad move as John was in the vicinity at the time, and defeated the kid’s army taking Arthur prisoner. He died. At this stage Literary and Legend take over sheering a few years off the boy’s age, giving him sweet blonde curly hair, a sweet little page boy suit and pleading so sweetly for his life that only BAD Uncle John will do the deed. In actually fact the kid was playing Grown-Ups Games and lost. Thence having set up Arthur’s Arth-Sister Eleanor The Fair Maid of Brittany as a full-time and paid hostage John got back to England to do some serious ruling.

The Rain of King John.

War with France (Philip the II cheats)

Although 1199 etc started off pretty well (for John that is) by 1204 etc, the King of France Philip The II had decided that to be a really proper king of France he was going to have to seize Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Aquitaine, Brittany etc,. Philip  didn’t play fair because he had all The French and some Flemings on his side and John couldn’t convince those in Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Aquitaine etc to be English so despite John’s best efforts Philip won most of Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Brittany etc.. BUT NOT Aquitaine. Now as  the English Barons had lands in Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Brittany etc they were not impressed.

Law and Economy

What also irritated the Barons was that John took an interest in the administration of the country and insisted the Civil Service follow him about the land, thus interfering with the Barons’ schemes. He also enforced two very (for The Barons that is) annoying laws known as The Novel Dissenter  and The Dead Ancestor  which allowed even the common people to take back lands the Barons had seized. He also instituted an Economy which involved Income Tax and Exercising Duty (Also known as Scuttlage) which meant the Barons had to pay even more. John was also quite talented in arts and crafts as it is recorded he sold charters of his own making and made up laws which no one really understood, in this he was very popular with Lawyers.

Private Life (Favourites)

Whereas just annoying Barons by legal means might have let John rule quite cheerfully for many years, his personal habits left him open to political attacks. The Barons pretended they were horrified that he kept mistresses, and scandalised that he carried on with married women. John tried to be grim and vindictive back at them, which might have worked had he not had ‘favourites’. In the latter middle-bit of the Middle Ages Favourites had returned. These had to be male, have the king besotted with them, strut around court, and be the source of rumours of ‘unnatural’ behaviour with the king. What Favourites never seemed to work out that there was only One of them, One of The King but Lots of Barons, who had retinues (ie lots of heavily armoured and armed men); such odds were never favourable to The Favourites. John also married twice, but that didn’t seem to help at all.

Scotland Ireland and Wales

As usual no one in Scotland or England could make up their minds who ruled the border country and whether Scotland was independent or not. John and William started off as friends even though John wanted the lands back that William had paid for. John tried legal means  but William said Scot’s law applied and as no one knew what that was they settled on being chums. Then William allied himself with Philip of France had had cunningly told William he could keep the lands under French law. John then invaded Scotland, made William pay AGAIN for the lands he held, but then had to invade Scotland again to help William against rebellious subjects and rivals. At this point John gave up and left Scotland to itself.

John had still not forgiven The Irish for not laughing at his beard joke, and was content for the Irish, The Anglo-Normans, Cambro-Normands and Hibrid-Normans squabble amongst themselves.

John took a great interest in Wales which was bad news for the Welsh nobility who had been about their own internal squabbles and raiding across borders when English kings weren’t looking. John married off a spare daughter the Llewllyn the Great who couldn’t have been that happy with the match as he rebelled in 1211. As Llewellyn was his son-in-law and not a claimant to the English throne John only moderately invaded.

Church and Disputes  

Hoping to win back some support from the Barons John embarked on a traditional policy of arguing with The Church over who should be a bishop or not. However being used to ruling in detail John seized Church lands to prove his point. The Bishops complained to the Pope, the mis-leadingly named Innocent III who in his intention to show the secular rulers of Europe who was who excommunicated John and all of England. This greatly upset people who took their religion seriously particularly as they hadn’t had a say in the business of the bishops anyway. The Barons of course pretended to be very horrified and some suggested they could rebel against John pretending it was a crusade. John cleverly got out of the issue by going to war with France which suited Innocent (yeh, right) The III and so the excommunication was lifted.

John, Barons and Declines  

John might have got away with persecuting Barons, arresting some and making others flee, if he had done it in the right order and parcelled out some of the spoils to other Barons rather than to his favourites and investing the rest in his jewellery collection. Thus in 1214 when he was losing to Philip again, those Barons who owed back tax decided to get out of it by claiming owing tax was unjust and against their baronial rights and proved it by gathering large armies. John was thus obliged to concede everything to Philip and go back home. Hoping that as his English army had been beaten by French armies his new army of French mercenaries might tip the balance. When he got back he found that the Barons armies were so large and numerous that his mercenary army could only protect him from being arrested for the crime and probably heresies of Taxing Rich people.

Playing for time he thus signed a very long piece of paper which the Baron brought to a very damp place called Runny Mead. As a document called The Long Piece of Paper Reducing Taxation on the Rich and Re-instating Their Privileges didn’t sound very impressive to either side it was decided Magna Carta sounded much better and the Barons went about convincing everyone liberties had been won.

John and the Barons celebrated organising a rebellion by going to war; the celebrations last between 1215-1217. During this time William of Scotland had died of rebels and Alexander II (the subsequent) opened his reign by a traditional invasion of England. Several barons deciding John was bad enough but a Scots king was insufferable changed sides and John invaded Edinburgh as he thought the change of Ayre might do him good.  The remining rebel Barons hoping for a much better tax regime invited a young prince Louis of France to be the English King, as a result the rebellion collapsed but took between 1216 and 1217 to wind down.

John by now having read the small print of the Magna Carta realised he might become liable to tax so gathered up all his jewels, crowns etc took them to East Anglia and pretended to lose them in the unforgettable Wash. He then intended to come back and dig them up once he’d sorted out this Magna Carta problem. However suffering dysentery and not washing his hands John tried a bizarre cure of peaches, plumbs and ale, which naturally didn’t work, and he died of complications and tax worries, but just to keep his opponent guessing did so on both he 18th and 19th of October 1216.


As John died but not that many of the Barons had died, as a group they were able to say that everything was his fault and he was a Bad King. As no one felt inclined to argued with baron with a large heavily armed retinue and The Church wanted its lands back the reputation stuck. Meanwhile Louis Prince of France went back to France since he’d seen quite enough of England to put him off for life.

John’s Legacy was also spoiled by someone of the lower nobility who nevertheless displayed socialist tendencies and tried to carry out a policy of fayre distribution of wealth in the Nottingham area. This will be looked at in the next chapter.

A True History of The Isles Part 24 The Era of Good King Richard The Lionheart ( &The Epithet)

A True History of the Isles Part 23 The Start of the Avegins. The Isles Become Full of Memorable Folk (Hence the Long Chapter). It’s Not All About You Henry!!

A True History of The Isles Part 24 The Era of Good King Richard The Lionheart ( &The Epithet)

Although being one of the august bodies of Kings of England who could claim to be ‘The I’ Richard behaved in such an immensely colourful active manner that historians of the florid school of writing entitled him ‘The Lionheart’. As he spent a lot of time out of England and not involved in the day-to-day administration the barons of the time came to call him ‘Good King Richard’ (and so did everyone else if they knew what was ‘Good’ for them). This opinion might well have extended in Ireland and Wales for much the same reasons. Thus not only was he a king but also a legend, however as we are dealing with the serious side of history we must all sincerity put aside such romantic notions and deal with hard facts and reasonable interpretations. In doing this the reader should be warned that Richard was involved in several massacres, and although one was quite justified one should never overdo the business.

The Early Years

Born 8th Sep 1157; he grew to 6 foot 5inches; from an early age he liked to fight and this was indulged by his father who allowed Richard to invade or supress Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy, etc. Of course at the age of 16 he rebelled against his father; from 1173-74, but the Old Man was even more naturally ahead of the lad and Richard was obliged to seek forgiveness after Henry II locked up his wife and Richard’s mum Eleanor. As neither counselling or therapy been invented he worked off his issues by returning to putting down revolts, invading, or interfering in Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy, etc. In 1181–1182 Richard faced a revolt over the succession to the county of Angouleme, which was not an unusual event; he was excessively cruel, considering the general social and military morals of the time, he must have been pretty bad. He then spent a few years fighting with his brothers Henry (The Young Thing) and Geoffrey (The Overlooked) over Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc until they both died; the former of campaigning and not washing his hands; the latter of falling off his horse at a tournament; as he was known as treacherous and a smooth operator the cause is open to debate.

With all this experience in rebellions, wars, cruelty and more wars and elder brothers dying Richard was quite suited to be next, king which he ensured by rebelling once more against his father Henry II, who was getting a bit passed it. Thus when Henry II died of rebellions, campaigning and not washing hands the majority of barons thought Richard should be allowed to be king.

Richard The King

Richard was crowned king on 3rd September 1189 which was a nice early birthday present. One of the first things he did was justifiably massacre a load of London folk who in an outbreak of Terminal Stupidity  massacred Jews in celebration of his coronation. Thus he made a public demonstrationt that he was stern but just ruler.(This was a bit of damage limitation since it was Richard banning the Jewish community from being present at the coronation which had started the trouble). In private he cultivated his hobbies of being cruel or ruthless and of course having ‘appetites’. The barons were rather very pleased with their choice.

Richard meanwhile was very much taken up with the idea of going to the Middle East and winning back Jerusalem from the Muslims. Their leader was currently Saladin who being a gifted and ruthless military leader was looked on with grudging respect by the Christians; until they found their wives, daughters or sisters kept wandering off into the deserts in the hope of being romantically captured by him. Richard was dismissive of all this and saw things as War, The Whole War and nothing but The War and promptly began to prepare.

Richard’s Preparations

One of his means of raising cash amused those barons who had not been given court job; in that he made those holding such posts either pay to keep them, or re-apply and pay a large application fee.  He then turned his attention to a fellow spirit, William I of Scotland (The Lion) He also roared to William The I of Scotland that if he paid Richard a large sum he could be a really important unsubservient king of Scotland, be independent and keep bits of Northumbria. William roared back in agreement. In was only later that William realised he had just paid a large amount of money for something he was already doing, but by then Richard was on Crusade so William couldn’t do anything about it without being excommunicated which didn’t suit his plans. It says much about the general opinion of London at the time, that Richard complained he would have sold it if he could have found a buyer. (There are some places where this opinion still holds sway)

Relatives and Marriage

Richard was probably far too occupied to think about marrying and settling down and getting heirs to the throne, but his mother Eleanor wanted the best for her lad, so she arranged for him to marry Berengaria of Navarre. As Berengaria had no links with Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc, Eleanor hoped the marriage might work.

From Richard’s military outlook there was nothing so stimulating to a courtship as a good campaign, and so Berengaria was dragged with him to Sicily which was on the route to The Middle East and where his sister Joan had become the widow of a ruler and was naturally now imprisoned. Richard rescued her and massacred some locals as warning. As sea-craft was not what it became and Richard more used to land, the fleet met a storm and he managed to lose both his sister and Berengaria, who were washed up on the shores of Cyprus where they were both captured. (At this stage Joan could have been forgiven for taking up a career as a nun, but she persevered just like her mum & dad and  went on to marry someone in Toulouse and carry on a war when he couldn’t). Richard turned up did some more massacring and rescued them both. Some romantic historians have used this to prove how chivalrous and even chivalric Richard was; it is likely, however, from Richard’s view point ‘that any excuse will do’

Berengaria and Richard were married 12th May 1191,and as a honeymoon treat he took her on the Crusade; this might explain why some historians claim the marriage was never consummated. Berengaria is famous for being the only Queen of England who probably never set foot in England; since she was from Mediterranean climes and her husband spent a lot of time in the middle east or Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy, etc  one can hardly blame her.

The Crusades

This started off as a very clever plan of an otherwise very urbane pope to get a lot of fractious and over-energetic knights, nobles etc out of Europe and do their fighting somewhere else. The alleged idea was to get Jerusalem back from the Muslims; naturally the knights, nobles etc could never focus for too long, no matter how many attempts there were at crusading and ended up fighting each other just like in the whatever-old country. Richard was involved in the third try.

Richard to his credit wanted to get on with the business, but this was complicated by various kings, emperors, dukes and counts all claiming they should be in charge or be king of Jerusalem when it was re-captured. Also several families descended from the First and Second Crusades were learning to get on with their Muslim opposites and thought the new lot were a danger to the set-up. Richard managed to overcome some of these complications, win some notable victories and massacre Muslims, which he claimed was a necessary act of war and thus pious. (As Terminal Stupidity was becoming a prevalent affliction in all strata of society in those days, he got away with it). Although he never took complete charge of the Crusade as this was decided by election by the nobles, dukes, kings, emperors etc of the most convenient. (Some commentators either by error, malice or mischief mis-wrote the word ‘election’ with an ‘r’- resulting in all sorts of speculation)

Despite all of the above Saladin, who was not above the odd massacre himself grew to respect Richard; they got on so well that Richard even suggested that Joan should marry Saladin’s brother in part-exchange for Jerusalem and Joan being the good sport she was didn’t see any problems. However, the Church got all stuffy and pedantic and started waving edicts of excommunications at Richard. When he received the news that his brother John was planning with Philip King of France (who Richard had thought was his BFF) for John to seize the Throne of England he was obliged to give up the whole crusading business and get back to England.

Richard The Commodity 

Being short of an army Richard was obliged to sneak about the Mediterranean lands disguised as a knight or a template. Only familiar with the Middle East and Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc he lost his way and ended up in a bit of Austria where he was recognised, captured and held hostage for a large sum by the  Holy Roman Emperor who was a Henry and only being the VI had something to prove. Although John brought in the best of his Treasury staff to prove the ransom was beyond the means of England, so what could one do, Eleanor was not having her favourite son held by the imperials. When the barons stopped laughing they thought it best to have the man back as he spoke their language and anyway John kept talking about inventing a universal income tax. Thus was Richard saved. Anyway Henry VI was glad to shot of him, since Richard had started to make memorable statements such as “I am born of rank which recognises no superior but God” which Henry couldn’t top.

Richard The Later Years

On being freed in some 1194-ish Richard found that Philip had been very kingly in Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc and was making the outrageous claim they should be all part of France After some brief business in England threatening John, Richard settled back into the less complicated business of fighting in Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc. Just to make sure he wasn’t going to bothered by distractions he told John he understood about the rebellion and John could be king after, he Richard had died, and not some obscure nephew Arthur who had somehow got involved without being colourful much less energetic. Somewhere along the way he forgot he had married Berengaria, and had to be reminded by a pope. This domestic fracture sorted out Richard whiled away the years of 1194-1199 campaigning in Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc. On the 25th March 1199 while ambling about the trench works of a besieged castle he was struck in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt. In those days the only medical help was some very fishy practices by sturgeons or a lot of enthusiastically doleful priests who would ask the patient if they willing to meet with God. Being Richard on learning the castle had been captured had the crossbow wielder brought to him. Much to his surprise the assailant was a but a lad who said he’d shot at Richard because Richard had been responsible for the death of his father and brothers. Although dying, Richard was rather fascinated by the idea of being annoyed at someone simply for killing your nuisance of a father or brothers. In consequence, he memorably pardoned the lad and gave him a 100 shillings (whether the lad got out of the camp with his life or the 100 shillings is not verifiable). As this was the most exceptionally chivalrous act possible Richard died while he was ahead; on the 6th April 1199 and to ensure his greatness bits of him were buried all over Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc

Richard The Heritage

Some sour-pusses in the Church of the day and some historians these days have suggested he was not all that interested in women and heirs and had ‘other appetites’. Some more pragmatic historians have suggested nobles of those days weren’t all that fussy, so what’s the big deal? The Victorian and Edwardian historians and novelists of course did not go near such stuff and just concentrated on the romantically, noble, chivalrous side, which parents could safely read to their children.

Thus is Richard the subject for statues, novels, plays, films etc. No one asks the opinion of the folk of Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine, Normandy etc; much less The Middle East.

And yet as in the case of his father Shakespeare did not write a play about him.

In the next Chapter we shall consider his brother the controversial John. (In advance I would ask American readers not to snigger all the way through; this is a serious work)

Part 22 of The True History of The Isles- Normans and their approach to assimilation (known back then as Conquering

A True History of the Isles Part 23 The Start of the Avegins. The Isles Become Full of Memorable Folk (Hence the Long Chapter). It’s Not All About You Henry!!