King Richard I, the Lionheart, had taken the Cross and journeyed to the Holy Land in 1190. He led his army of approx. 15,000 men to within 12 miles of Jerusalem, but did not re-take the holy city. After a truce with Salah-al-Din, Richard attempted to return home, but was faced with enemies on his path. He was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria outside Vienna around the 20th of December 1192, and by early spring 1193, had been turned over to Heinrich VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. The emperor demanded a huge ransom of 150,000 silver marks – more than twice the annual income of England!
Richard was kept imprisoned while his brother Prince John plotted with King Philip of France – the two of them offered the emperor monies to keep Richard in prison for another year! Despite their subterfuge, Richard finally was freed from his German prison in February 1194.
Prince John’s supporters in England capitulated on hearing this news, with the exception of the castles at Tickhill and Nottingham. However, when word spread that Richard had landed on English soil in early March, the castellans at Tickhill verified the story and then surrendered. Nottingham was a different story…
“The garrison, however, of the castle of Nottingham did not send any of their number to meet the king. The king, being consequently much exasperated, came to Nottingham . . .with such a vast multitude of men, and such a clanger of trumpets and clarions, that those who were in the castle, on hearing and seeing this were astonished, and were confounded and alarmed . . . but still they could not believe the king had come, and supposed that the whole of this was done by the chiefs of the army for the purpose of deceiving them. The king, however, took up his quarters near to the castle, so that the archers of the castle pierced the king’s men at his very feet.”–The Annals of Roger de Hoveden
For Richard’s incredible journey back from the Holy Land see my post on the English Historical Fiction Authors (EHFA) blog, Richard the Lionheart’s Ordeal, October – December 1192. A second contribution on EHFA details the siege of Nottingham.