Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Richard I (King of England) 1157-1199, History -- Sources, Crusades – Third (1189-1192)




Down the long corridors of history an echo reaches us, and, entering the collective imagination, conjures up images of chivalrous knights and a golden age akin to those surrounding that pillar of our mythic past, King Arthur. But if one travels back down the corridors to the source of this particular echo, one finds Richard the Lionheart, a historical figure with life and breath, not just a man of legend. From a time populated with mounted warriors and bejeweled monarchs, few names have survived the journey into the present with such force and conviction as that of Richard I of England (1189-1199). The Lionheart has aged gracefully, his memory perpetuated by the romance attached to his name. But the true flesh and blood of the original man has been obscured by the legend that has secured his passage.

The original aim of this thesis was to take the whole of King Richard's life and career into consideration when seeking to find an explanation for the incredible reach of his shadow across the ages. As the project evolved, it became clear that this was far too great a scope for the thesis. The need for such an examination may indeed remain, especially in light of the nature of many of the major primary sources and the often incautious manner in which they have been employed in modem scholarship about Richard. While this thesis does discuss several primary sources, they, and many other sources not used in the thesis, could realistically undergo much further scrutiny. Additionally, the author's growing but still limited knowledge of Latin has prevented her from accessing materials that would have to be addressed during the course of a larger project.

This thesis undertakes to demonstrate that Richard's heroic reputation was not the glorious product of his participation on the Third Crusade. Instead it was the result of a dynamic effort to shape and craft an image that would serve to bolster his precarious political position throughout his career and allow him to compete with his rival, the king of France. At the same time, the theme of Richard the Lionheart and the Third Crusade serves as a potent example of the need for caution when approaching the primary sources, and a reminder of the historian's complex role in interpreting and presenting the past.


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