Young Folks' History of England HTML version

12. Richard I, Lion-Heart, A.D. 1189—1199
Richard was greatly grieved at his father's death, and when he came and
looked at the dead body, in Fontevraud Abbey Church, he cried out, "Alas! it
was I who killed him!" But it was too late now: he could not make up for what
he had done, and he had to think about the Crusade he had promised to
make. Richard was so brave and strong that he was called Lion-heart; he was
very noble and good in some ways, but his fierce, passionate temper did him
a great deal of harm. He, and King Philip of France, and several other great
princes, all met in the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, and thence
sailed for the Holy Land. The lady whom Richard was to marry came to meet
him in Sicily. Her name was Berengaria; but, as it was Lent, he did not marry
her then. She went on to the Holy Land in a ship with his sister Joan, and
tried to land in the island of Cypress; but the people were inhospitable, and
would not let them come. So Richard, in his great anger, conquered the isle,
and was married to Berengaria there.
The Mahommedans who held Palestine at that time were called Saracens, and
had a very brave prince at their head named Saladin, which means Splendor
of Religion. He was very good, just, upright, and truth-telling, and his
Saracens fought so well, that the Crusaders would hardly have won a bit of
ground if the Lion-heart had not been so brave. At last, they did take one city
on the coast named Acre; and one of the princes, Leopold, Duke of Austria,
set up his banner on the walls. Richard did not think it ought to be there: he
pulled it up and threw it down into the ditch, asking the duke how he durst
take the honors of a king. Leopold was sullen, and brooded over the insult,
and King Philip thought Richard so overbearing, that he could not bear to be
in the army with him any longer. In truth, though Philip had pretended to be
his friend, and had taken his part against his father, that was really only to
hurt King Henry; he hated Richard quite as much, or more, and only wanted
to get home first in order to do him as much harm as he could while he was
away. So Philip said it was too hot for him in the Holy Land, and made him ill.
He sailed back to France, while Richard remained, though the climate really
did hurt his health, and he often had fevers there. When he was ill, Saladin
used to send him grapes, and do all he could to show how highly he thought
of so brave a man. Once Saladin sent him a beautiful horse; Richard told the
Earl of Salisbury to try it, and no sooner was the earl mounted, than the
horse ran away with him to the Saracen army. Saladin was very much vexed,
and was afraid it would be taken for a trick to take the English king prisoner,
and he gave the earl a quieter horse to ride back with. Richard fought one
terrible battle at Joppa with the Saracens, and then he tried to go on to take
Jerusalem; but he wanted to leave a good strong castle behind him at
Ascalon, and set all his men to work to build it up. When they grumbled, he
worked with them, and asked the duke to do the same; but Leopold said
gruffly that he was not a carpenter or a mason. Richard was so provoked that
he struck him a blow, and the duke went home in a rage.