Research snippets – Richard I demands his barons’ support in the war against France

In late 1197, King Richard I asked his chancellor to convene a council in Oxford. After his return in 1194 from Crusade and captivity by the Holy Roman Emperor, he had plunged his kingdom into war against Philip II of France. The French had taken advantage of Richard’s absence – despite a papal ban on such activities – and captured Angevin territory.

Richard had made gains against the French, but he needed additional support. At Oxford, his chancellor demanded more from his barons: a year’s service from 300 knights and 500 men-at-arms.

Bishop Hugh of Lincoln refused to comply, saying he should not have to supply men except to defend England. Many of the king’s contemporaries grumbled, but they came through for him.

The Lionheart is often condemned for bankrupting England with his wars. But how was he viewed by his contemporaries? According to his biographer Gillingham,

Richard’s contemporaries and the chroniclers “seem to have shared Abbot Samson’s values. Much as they disliked the level of Richard’s demands, they sympathized with the policies which made them necessary. To them it seemed right and proper that a king should strain every nerve to recover the lands of which he had been treacherously deprived.”

Gillingham, John. (1999). Richard I (The English Monarchs Series) New Haven & London: Yale University Press.


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