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Richard the Lionheart Hardcover – December, 1978


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (December 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812908023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812908022
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

No monarch has generated more conflicting opinions, or demanded more effort from the historian attempting to disentangle myth from reality. John Gillingham contends that the popular views of Richard are false, that they are based upon legend and not upon evidence. Strip away the legend and look at the evidence, study Richard on his home ground in the turbulent Duchy of Aquitaine, and a new picture of Richard emerges. He is still the crusading knight and patron of troubadours, but he is also a capable ruler with a clear eye for political realities. Indeed, in the sheer breadth of his vision, in the ability not only to conceive great enterprises but also to carry them out, he (though no Englishman) was one of the ablest kings ever to sit upon the throne of England. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Though somewhat dated John Gillingham's treatment of the famous or infamous (depending on your viewpoint) revived image of one of the most famous and sometimes obscure English Kings, Richard I (r. 1189-1199). Gillingham's book engages from the start as it attempts to reconstruct the circumstances around the famous Warrior-King's death. The author realized that the circumstances surrounding Richard's death were and are to a good degree an intricate part of his detractor's criticism of the Lionheart being negligent with concern to his kingdom. Gillingham convinces his readers that Richard was on important business, putting down revolts in his continental possessions. Gillingham made more use of diverse sources than any historian before him. The author pointed out with effect that Richard's obligations reached well beyond England and that by 12th century standards, Richard was an ideal king. However, Gillingham does strain to justify Richard's occasional acts of cruelty such as the massacre at Acre. One also wonders about the extensive energy used to dispell the myth of Richard's homosexuality. Gillingham does expose the lack of evidence concerning this apparently 20th century interpretation. However, what does Richard I's sexual preferences have to do with his abilities or failures? Still, Gillingham does give us a clear and believable portrait, albeit somewhat idealized.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sam on May 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I found John Gillingham's book on Richard the Lionheart to be a well researched and an easy read. He takes the time to dig through sources and logically presents his thoughts to the reader. To many authors today seem to rely on Wikipedia for their "research" and judge Richard in the context of the world today.
The killings at Acre were brutal in today's world but not for that period of history. From what I have read and studied Saladin did not feel any particular resentment for what Richard had done. In fact after their many battles this is what he felt toward his enemy "Saladin in turn stated that there was not a more honorable Christian lord than Richard. After the treaty, Saladin and Richard sent each other many gifts as tokens of respect, but never met face to face"
The other reviewer stated that Gillingham spent alot of time dispelling Richard homesexuality I think he needed to spend the time on this subject. There is never a mention of Richard's homesexual lifestyle until 700 plus years after his death? Sadly I think too many authors today try to come up with new angles on well written people and throw homesexuality into their books to create a sensation and sales.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a highly readable and interesting biography of Richard the Lionheart, King of England and much of modern day France. The book has much to recommend but in this review I will focus on family relationships, international tensions, the grand strategy to regain Jerusalem, and the imprisonment of Richard in Germany followed by his return to his vast kingdoms to consolidate power.

Arranged marriages were a major diplomatic strategy in the 1100’s and Richard was related to half the nobility of Europe. It is the relationship with his father Henry II and his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine that sets the stage for his military and diplomatic successes. Richard knew when to charm and when to overpower. During this period of history, dominance of the local nobility and obtaining the wealth of subjects was a major method of empire building. Richard learns from his father Henry II the importance of keeping scores of local nobles under this thumb as a source of income. However this also means countless rebellions that require constant warfare to continue to suppress ever expanding territory and continually forcing the allegiance of those who have been subdued.

The first section of the biography relates many of these continued military encounters and the antagonisms between Henry II and Louis II of France. Interestingly, these antagonisms continue with Henry’s son Richard and Louis’ son Phillip. Alliances shift with the blink of an eye during this period.

The Third Crusade, of which Richard was the primary leader, is a perfect example that the resources needed to win are often overshadowed by the resources needed to sustain the win. This was certainly the case of Richard’s experience in Syria and the Holy Lands as he tries to regain Jerusalem from the Moslems.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robyn on July 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked this enough to buy it after I read it. It is not as good as Sharon Kay Penman's two volumes of Richard: Lionheart and A King's Ransom but well worth the read.
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