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Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight [Hardcover]

Jean Flori
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 30, 2007 0275993973 978-0275993979

Richard I, the Lionheart, remains forever (and perhaps wrongly) the mythical king of England who preferred to wage war than to rule over his empire. The familiar epithet conveys all the principal features of his indomitable character: courage, valor, prowess, the pursuit of glory, the thirst for fame, generosity in war and peace, a sense of honor combined with a sort of haughty dignity made up of both arrogance and pride. In this book, Jean Flori examines both Richard's role as prince and king in history, and also analyses the different and sometimes controversial elements which, for the chroniclers of his day, helped to make Richard a true model of chivalry.

Among the questions addressed are: What influences formed his character and determined his behavior, real or assumed? Why did the image of Richard as a king who was also a knight so quickly and so soon supplant all others, creating a quasi-definitive point of reference? Why did Richard deliberately, it would appear, choose to present himself in this chivalric guise and disseminate this image of himself by what we would today call a media campaign, using all the methods then at his disposal, limited perhaps but by no means ineffective? Last but not least, what is the historical and ideological significance of the choice and, even more, success of this image, which has been adopted by history and disseminated by legend, an image based on historical accounts and documents in which history and legend are sometimes inextricably interwoven? The first part of the book takes a straightforward chronological approach to Richard's life, from his birth in 1157, through conflict with his father, Henry II, and his brothers, to his coronation and his years of crusading and fighting the French; culminating in his death in battle in 1199. The second part analyses Richard's image in relation to medieval chivalry.

Frequently Bought Together

Richard the Lionheart: King and Knight + Chronicles of the Crusades (Penguin Classics) + The Crusades: A Reader (Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures)
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Editorial Reviews


"Flori offers more than just a fascinating portrait of Richard the Lionheart. Through the personality and actions of this tempestuous 12th-century character, Flori delves into the origins and meaning of the medieval code of conduct commonly known as chivalry. King Richard was the product of a profoundly violent culture that led to the dominance of the knight on horseback. Flori emphasizes that, at the heart of his being, Richard I exemplified a conflict that permeated all of 12th-century Christendom: unabated violence vs. Christian ethics. From this conflict evolved the chivalric code that became institutionalized largely through the efforts of Richard as Roi-Chevalier (King-Warrior). The rituals of knighthood mandated a code of conduct that put limitations on the murderous behavior of the ruling elite of Europe and brought order to an increasingly chaotic sociopolitical environment. Flori's critical familiarity with the chroniclers of Richard the Lionheart's era lends an authenticity to this work that even the distinguished medievalist John Gillingham cannot match in his impressive Richard I . Birrell has done a superb job of translating Flori's Richard Coeur de Lion , which makes this distinguished work an essential selection for all medieval history collections."


Library Journal

"A French historian of the crusades and knightly society, Flori explains that Richard (1157-99) was never expected to become king, so he worked on developing his martial skills. When succession did seek him out, he became England's first and exemplar Royal Knight. In the first part, she recounts his life, and in the second explores how that life changed ideas about both chivalry and kingship."


Reference & Research Book News

"Flori has undertaken an ambitious task, examining one of the most famous medieval kings from multiple perspectives. He analyzes Richard the Lionheart's life as it really was, presenting readers with a straightforward biography, but also examining that life as the king himself evidently wanted it portrayed and as it has been mythologized ever since. Part 1 is the biography, dealing with Richard's growing conflicts with his father, Henry II, his relationship with his mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his relations with his brothers. It examines his roles as feudal prince and warrior, king of England, crusader, and captive and his war against Philip Augustus on mainland France, which eventually led to his death. Part 2 explores the king as mirror of chivalry, analyzing the enduring images of Richard Lionheart--the nature of his death and how that conflicted to some extent with the chivalric image he had created for himself, the possible origins of the name Lionheart and how much of the knightly image Richard manufactured, and just how well he lived up to that image. Buttressed with copious notes and an extensive bibliography, Flori's analysis offers fresh perspectives on a famous and much-studied subject. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."



"The romantic figure Richard the Lionheart is one of England's most recognizable monarchs. A courageous, daring, chivalric defender of the Christian church, the Richard of popular imagination emerges as the quintessential medieval knight. But is this characterization historically accurate? That is the subject of this groundbreaking book by prolific historian Jean Flori. […] This is an ambitious and meticulously documented work, and Flori makes deft use of a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including poetry, prose, romance literature, eyewitness accounts, letters, speeches, as well as an impressive array of contemporary chronicles written in English, French, and Arabic. …[T]he work is a welcome addition to the historiography not only of Richard the Lionheart, but also of the nature and development of medieval chivalry, knighthood, and kingship."


The Historian

Book Description

Examines both Richard's role as prince and king in history, and also analyses the different and sometimes controversial elements which, for the chroniclers of his day, helped to make Richard a true model of chivalry

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (March 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275993973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275993979
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,648,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pro's and Con's of Richard I September 13, 2011
By Adam W.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Flori has put together an amazing compilation of primary source work as well as using the research of contemporaries to further or contend with his findings. Richard I is a figure that is near and dear to my heart because he is such an enigma to history. He was both King and Knight; therefore, depending on which side of the fense you place yourself: his is vilified or esteemed by his deeds. Jean Flori, gives us insights that perhaps Gillingham either didn't have or did not acknowledge about the elevated King of England.

This is the first time I have read research dealing indepth with topics such as: chivalry and prowess as they pertain to a king, homosexuality (more appropriately, bisexuality in this case) in the 12th century, primary sources from the Arab point of view in the crusades, Richard's upbringing as a warrior rather than a king. The list can go on and on. My point is that this book is not merely the "life and times" of a monarch, but rather, an evaluation of actions and deeds of a warrior/king as they were percieved by Richard's peers. Much of what we know about the Lionheart is propoganda of his own making. This not to say that his prowess was not legitmate, but perhaps exaggerated in SOME cases and these are things that Flori points out. 12th century historians imbelished true events much like modern news presents its agenda.

This is easily one of best works on Richard the Lionheart I have ever read. The evidence presented shed new light (for me) on who this man really was, even if I didn't like everything I read at times. For every exaggeration or false hood we are presented about the King of England, there are 3 more examples of his valor, generosity, prowess, and intelligence awaiting the reader on the next page.
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