Tracing The King of Crusaders In Austria
The story of Richard Lionheart meanders all the way from England to the Middle East and back.
Do you want to know what happened to the English King and medieval crusader when he was forced to cross Austrian territory? Here is his story in brief.
Richard Lionheart's Austrian Adventure
In December 1192, Richard was captured by Babenberg Count Leopold V, an ally of King Henry, in a little tavern in what is today part of Vienna's 3rd district, Erdberg (Erdbergstrasse 41/ Schwalbengasse 17) as he was returning from the Third Crusade. Even though he had disguised himself as a pilgrim, his king-like behaviour was soon spotted by followers of Leopold. However, it was not Leopold who pulled the strings behind this capture but the Roman-German Emperor Henry VI, and King Philipp August of France, for a series of political motives and incidents during the Crusades.
Supported by his subordinates and the Pope in Rome, Richard Lionheart counted Roman-German Emperor Henry VI and French King Philipp II among his most powerful enemies.
The handsome ransom also played a role: The Roman-German Emperor Henry VI pocketed some 12 tons of silver, along with a series of politically motivated deals, in exchange for Richard. In addition, it can be assumed that Count Leopold V received around 11 tons of silver for his service.
Once the treaty was signed, Emperor Henry's men transferred Richard to German Trifels Castle in Western Germany (Rhineland-Pfalz) where he continued his imprisonment. Richard himself rejected all clauses of the treaty until his enemy French King Philipp II offered to pay and fulfill the treaty in exchange for Richard. Finally, the ransom was made available by Richard's mother Eleonore of Aquitaine who sold all of Richard's goods and more to fund the huge sum.
Visit Richard Lionheart's Prison In Wachau Valley
Nowadays, the Lionheart legend is very much alive in Dürnstein, a tiny village on the Danube in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wachau Valley where Lionheart had been imprisoned for 14 months. I have visited the ruin of Dürnstein castle several times. If you take a brisk walk, you are up there in 15 and 20 minutes. There is a lot of rubble around but also a lot of historic atmosphere. Plus, you get an excellent view over Wachau Valley and the river Danube. (Photo: Duernstein on the Danube, with ruin on top, where King Lionheart was thought to have been held.)
Books And More About Richard Lionheart
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