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Five places in France with a connection to Richard the Lionheart

Richard I is said to have spoken no English and barely spent time in the country he ruled

(Clockwise from left) Taillebourg, Charente-Maritime; Poitiers; Martel, Quercy; Châlus Chabrol castle ruins, Limousin; Rouen Pic: Em Don / SergiyN / Mikhail Varentsov / Sissoupitch / Sergii Figurnyi

Richard I, king of England, and duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Gascony is the quintessence of an English historical hero and yet he is much more strongly associated with France. 

He was born in Oxford in 1157 and crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1189 but after that it is estimated he spent no more than six months in the British Isles. 

His two native tongues were French and Occitan and there is no evidence that he spoke English. 

After a short eventful life which included fighting in the Holy Land in the third crusade and being imprisoned in Germany on his return, he died in battle in the Limousin where there is a tourist route of Richard the Lionheart to explore. 

Read more: French heart of England’s lion-hearted warrior king

Here are five key places associated with him, including his three tombs, in various parts of France. 

1. Poitiers

Richard and his brothers rebelled against their father, Henry II, demanding that he give his possessions to them. 

In defeat he went to his father’s court in Poitiers in 1174 where he fell at Henry’s feet, weeping and begging forgiveness. 

Henry gave Richard the kiss of peace but Richard continued to challenge his father. 

2. Château de Taillebourg, Charente-Maritime 

Richard won famous victories in the Holy Land and his siege at Château de Taillebourg in 1179 was no less impressive. 

The well-defended fortress on a rock outcrop was said to be impregnable, having cliffs on three sides. 

Richard laid waste to the farmlands around it to prevent reinforcements arriving under cover and in so doing he provoked the defenders into coming out to attack him. 

In two days of fighting, Richard had taken the castle. 

3. Martel, Quercy, Lot

Richard was only the second son of Henry II to survive childhood and was not expected to inherit. 

Then, in 1183, his 28-year-old elder brother was pillaging monasteries in the Limousin to pay for his mercenary troops when he contracted dysentery. 

He was taken to Martel, in the Lot, where he died. 

Richard became heir apparent but wouldn’t succeed his father for another six years. 

Read more: This small French town was refuge to English throne heir until death

4. Châlus Chabrol, Limousin

In 1199, Richard was hit in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt. 

The wound turned gangrenous and a few days later he died in front of the fireplace of the guardroom in Châlus Chabrol castle.

His entrails lie buried in the chapel; the rest of him is elsewhere (see number five). 

5. Rouen cathedral, Normandy

As Richard was duke of Normandy it was decided to create another tomb for him in Rouen cathedral, beside the choir, in which lies his heart embalmed with frankincense. 

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