Coronation Day

The 6th of July is the anniversary of two coronations of English Kings, Richard I and Richard III.

Richard I was crowned in 1189 in Westminster Abbey.  He is commonly known as ‘the Lionheart’ because of his bravery during the Crusades.

He was never intended to be King of England, he had two older brothers.  One of these died in infancy, the other was titular King of England, but never ruled as such.  He had been granted the Dukedom of Aquitane many years before, and had spent the majority of his time in the territory, now an area of France.  His mother was, of course, Eleanor of Aquitane, the only woman to be Queen of both France and England, to different Kings (married the french king, divorced him, married the english king).  She had inherited the Duchy of Aquitane from her father, when he died, and had passed it on to her favourite son, Richard, when he was old enough.

There is conjecture about Richard’s sexuality.  A rumoured relationship with the French King (not the one married to his mother at one time, his nephew) and the fact that he is not known to have had any women in his life leads to this.  He was married, to Berengaria of Navarre, but this marriage is said to have never been consummated.  For a King in those times to not try and beget an heir, was a very strange thing.  Admittedly, he probably did not expect to die so young and thought he had many years left in which to have his heirs, but he is not known to have had any mistresses either.

After becoming King of England he is known to have spent very little time in the country, maybe less than a year in total.  His mother Eleanor acted as his regent, for most of his reign.

He was killed in Rouen in 1199 by a yung boy who claimed it was in retaliation for his father’s death.  Richard forgave the boy and sent him on his way.  His heart was alledgedly buried in Rouen and his body removed to Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou, where his father was interred also (his mother would be interred there too, when she died).

He was followed to the throne by his brother John, he of the Magna Carta fame.

Richard III was crowned in 1483 in Westminster Abbey, beside his wife Anne, his Queen.  This story is far more familiar to most history fans.

He had come to the throne after the death of his brother.  His nephew had followed his father to the throne, but had since been declared illegitimate by the Parliament, who had offered the crown to Richard.

The last of the York brothers, who had fought in the Wars of the Roses, Richard appeared to be an unwilling King.  He was said to have been a good King and many of his laws set out in his Parliament were for the good of the English people, though many of his good works are overlooked by historians in favour of the ‘evil’ King Richard angle !

He only ruled for two years, before losing his life in battle at Bosworth.  The last King of England to die in battle, his successors would simply watch battles from the sidelines, rather than actually fight in them.

So perhaps the 6th July is an interesting day if your name was Richard……………


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