“God in Heaven, who is responsible for this?” — King Richard

King Richard I "the Lionheart" of England (September 8, 1157-April 6, 1199) was the King of England and the monarch who led his men during the Third Crusade. In the game, Dante and Francesco accompanied the king on the Crusades into the Holy Land.


Childhood and Early Life[]

King Richard was the fourth child, and second-surviving son, of King Henry II Plantagenet of England and his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Due to Eleanor's then-unheard-of ownership, in her own right, of the majority of southern France as Duchess of Aquitaine and Poitiers, and Henry himself being the Duke of Normandy and Anjou in the north of France before becoming King of England, the marriage of Richard's parents extended their rule from the Scottish borders to nearly all of France, save the Île-de-France (containing the City of Paris), and a few other areas in control of the French King. With his birth, Eleanor passed on the duchy of Aquitaine to Richard, who was widely known to have been her favorite son. He was said to have been very good-looking, with red-gold hair and light eyes, as well as an interest in politics, military and chivalry. However, as he had an elder brother, Henry the Young King, Richard was never expected to inherit the throne.

After the age of 8, Richard paid his first visit to mainland France, to his father's duchy of Normandy, and by age 12 was sent with Eleanor to take up his role as the Duke of Aquitaine. Richard was also engaged to Alys, the daughter of the King of France. As Eleanor was popular among her own people, the duchy of Aquitaine gladly accepted Richard. By 16, he had proven his own skill in battle against rebels of his father.

Struggle for Power[]

However, not even a year after Richard had been in France, his brother Henry grew frustrated with the limitations of his power. Henry II was fearful of giving any of his sons power and titles of their own, as he believed this might weaken the kingdom he had built, especially if each of his sons were defeated or killed, resulting in the loss of their lands. As such, Henry curtailed their power, and by then Henry the Young King had had enough. Supported by Eleanor, Henry, Richard and their younger brother Geoffrey fled to the French King for support and began an open war against their father. Initially, this rebellion collapsed, due to Henry II capturing Eleanor when she tried to join her sons. Without their mother and with the defeat of the French King who had supported them, Richard and his brothers surrendered. Henry II forgave them without any penalties.

Richard was then sent by his father to crush rebellions in his own territories, particularly Gascony. It was at this time that Richard acquired the nickname "Coeur de Lion," The Lionheart, for his nobility and battle prowess. He was successful in laying siege to Taillebourg and quashing a succession crisis in Angouleme, though he developed a reputation for demonstrations of great cruelty in his tactics.

However, it wasn't long before Richard grew dissatisfied with his father once again, especially with rumors that Henry II was having an illicit affair with Richard's betrothed, Alys. Furthermore, the English King refused to release Eleanor, who he kept locked up for the rest of his life. Things came to a head in 1183, when Henry II demanded that Richard acknowledge his elder brother as his superior. Richard refused, and Henry II sent Henry the Young King and Geoffrey to attack their brother. Despite the odds, Richard successfully defended himself. His brother Henry the Young King was killed as a result, automatically making Richard the new heir to Henry II's throne. Nevertheless, the English King refused to confirm Richard as heir unless he gave up the duchy of Aquitaine to his youngest brother, John.

This led to conflict all over again, but as Henry II was later struck by illness, John would side with Richard against their father. It was said that as John was Henry's favorite son, his betrayal broke the king's heart, and King Henry II finally died in 1189, his army defeated by the forces of Richard and his ally, King Phillip II of France.

King of England[]

With Henry II's death, Richard was proclaimed the new King of England. One of Richard's first acts upon his ascension was to have his mother Eleanor released from prison, appointing her as "mistress" of England, with the power to do whatever she wanted in the kingdom. She would continue to act as his ally and close advisor.

At his coronation, due to a breach of etiquette over Jewish guests at the ceremony, a rumor was spread that the new king intended to kill all Jewish citizens. Spurred on by this, the people of London engaged in horrific acts of anti-Jewish violence, murdering people and burning down homes. Publicly, Richard acted quickly and ordered those responsible for the violence to be punished, passing an edict to leave Jews in peace (though this was not strictly enforced).

After this, Richard took part in the Third Crusade alongside King Phillip, raising enormous sums to consolidate and equip an army for the purpose. Upon arrival in Sicily on the way to the Holy Land, Richard saved his sister, Queen Joanna, who had been held prisoner since the death of her husband by a usurper of the throne. Despite tensions between the usurper, Richard and Phillip, after the sacking of Messina the three came to an agreement.

At this time, Richard formally ended his engagement to Alys. He would go on to wed Berengaria, Princess of Navarre, in 1191, after rescuing her and Joanna from capture at the hands of the ruler of Cyprus. The royal couple were later separated, and despite being Queen of England by marriage, Berengaria would not see her kingdom until after her husband's death.

The Third Crusade[]

Soon after his marriage, Richard finally arrived in the Holy Land, taking up arms against his greatest rival, Saladin. In spite of being enemies, Richard had an immense amount of respect for Saladin. When Richard became ill during the Crusades, Saladin had fruit and gifts sent to comfort the English king. Even though they fought several battles against each other, the two men never met face-to-face, a fact that they regretted to their dying days. In spite of this mutual respect, Richard orchestrated the Massacre at Acre, during which approximately 3,000 Muslim prisoners were executed. In retaliation, Saladin slaughtered all Christian prisoners in his control.

Richard attempted to negotiate a dispute between one of his vassals and a nobleman over rulership of Jerusalem, and as a result of several ego-clashes between the leaders, Richard was left on his own in the Holy Land with no military allies against Saladin's forces. An attempt was made on Saladin's stronghold in Egypt, but this ended in failure. Although Saladin was considered the winner of this Crusade, Richard and Saladin both recognized the difficulties of their positions and negotiated a three-year truce, which allowed Christian pilgrims access to Jerusalem. Richard then set off back to his kingdom, aware that his former ally, King Phillip, was now colluding with his younger brother, Prince John, in an effort to take his power.

Return to England and Final Days[]

On his trip home, Richard was captured first by his former ally, Duke Leopold of Austria, and then by Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. Henry VI held Richard for ransom, and his mother Eleanor immediately began raising the funds needed to bring Richard home. Despite being excommunicated by the Pope, Henry VI refused to release Richard until the money was brought to him. Prince John and King Phillip attempted to give Henry VI money to keep Richard prisoner, but the Emperor refused, and on February 4, 1194, Richard was finally freed and sent back to England once the ransom money was in the Emperor's hands. Upon his return of England, Richard forgave John and named him the official heir to the throne.

However, Richard did not extend the same forgiveness towards Phillip, and declared war on the French King. Despite several military victories against Phillip, while in France Richard was wounded by a crossbow bolt in March 1199, presumably by a young boy who wanted revenge on Richard for the death of his family. This wound became infected, and Richard died in April of the same year. He was succeeded by his younger brother, John, as per their agreement. Having had no children, Richard's widow Berengaria retired to an abbey at Le Mans. Richard's heart was buried in Rouen, while his body was buried in Fontevrault Abbey in Anjou, alongside his father, mother, and his sister Joanna. Today, there is almost no trace of their remains.

Dante's Inferno[]

King Richard has a small but instrumental role in the game, particularly in regards to Dante's past. After the Siege of Acre, Richard captured the city and kept 3,000 Muslim prisoners (both military and civilian) hostage as a way to negotiate with Saladin for a fragment of the True Cross, thinking that Saladin had possession of this holy artifact. As the negotiations went on, an enraged Dante slaughtered all of them in his fanatic-driven bloodlust by the time that King Richard returned. Horrified, Richard demanded to know who was responsible for the killings. In an attempt to protect Dante, Francesco stepped forward as the perpetrator, giving his future brother-in-law a chance to escape. Furious, the King sentenced Beatrice's brother to be executed by hanging. He then ordered his men to prepare to march tonight by the time when Saladin learns about the atrocity, he will bring forth the "Forces of Hell."


  • He was voiced by H. Richard Greene in the animated film.
  • King Richard I of England was a member of the House of Plantagenet, a family whose noble heritage originated in France. This bloodline continued until the 1700s when the last of the offshoot families, the Houses of Tudor and Stuart, died out.
  • Richard was considered one of the greatest military tacticians and at the time of the Crusades, he was matched only by his adversary Saladin. Unlike most leaders of the time (including Saladin), Richard led from the front.
  • Despite being crowned King of England and Duke of Normandy, among other titles, many historians believed that King Richard never learned how to speak a word of English, having been the child of two high-ranking French nobles and spending the majority of his time governing his rebellious duchies in mainland France.
  • In history, King Richard himself was the one who ordered the deaths of all 3,000 hostages in retaliation, when the negotiations crumbled. The game shifted the blame for the Massacre at Acre from King Richard to Dante, despite the fact that such savagery was not out of character for the real-life Richard, who was notorious for his acts of extreme cruelty against any who opposed him.
  • Interestingly, the troubadour and former ally of King Richard's elder brother, Betran de Born, is also present in the original book, having been sentenced to Hell for allegedly inspiring Richard's brother, and Richard himself, into rebelling against their own father. de Born would also eventually turn against Richard, but the two later reconciled.
  • King Richard also features in the legends of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. In some depictions, Robin of Loxley/Robin Hood was a former Crusader who fought with Richard on the Third Crusade, and aids the king against his brother Prince John upon his return.