#OTD 26 March 1199 – Richard the Lionheart wounded at Chalus

Richard I of England had been at war with the French since his return from the Crusades and his captivity in Germany. While a truce had been signed with King Philip of France, Richard marched south to lay siege to the Viscount of Limoges’ castle at Chalus-Chabrol and to others at nearby Nontron and Montagut. This area of Aquitaine had been an ongoing source of rebellion against Richard as Duke of Aquitaine and Viscount Aimar of Limoges was a supporter of Philip’s. That fact appears to have been overshadowed by stories that Richard only went to Chalus to claim a treasure of Roman coins that had been unearthed nearby. (No treasure ever surfaced.)

Several days into the siege, Richard ventured from his command tent without his armor to inspect progress on the undermining of the castle walls. Chroniclers claim that a defender on the battlements who was using a frying pan as a shield took a shot at the king. Richard supposedly applauded the man, but did not move quickly enough – he was struck by a crossbow bolt to the shoulder.

Roger de Hoveden writes

“…the king of England and [Mercadier] were reconnoitering the castle on all sides, and examining in which spot it would be most advisable to make the assault, a certain arbalister, Bertram de Gurdun by name, aimed an arrow from the castle, and struck the king on the arm, inflicting an incurable wound. The king, on being wounded, mounted his horse and rode to his quarters, and issued orders to . . . make assaults on the castle without intermission, until it should be taken; which was accordingly done. After its capture, the king ordered all the people to be hanged, him alone excepted who had wounded him, whom, as we may reasonably suppose, he would have condemned to a most shocking death if he had recovered. After this, the king gave himself into the hands of a physician . . . who, after attempting to extract the iron head, extracted the wood only, while the iron remained in the flesh; but after this butcher had carelessly mangled the king’s arm in every part, he at last extracted the arrow.”

(FYI… I’ve seen both 25 March and 26 March as the date in biographies of Richard.)

Image Credits

Richard the Lionheart – by Merry-Joseph Blondel – [1] The original uploader was Kelson at French Wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79279

Chalus-Chabrol – by Fonquebure – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5716785


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