Richard I Plantagenet reigned on the English throne for ten years, from 1189 to 1199. Of course, there were many English kings who ruled even less, but nevertheless, usually a decade is considered too insignificant a period of time for a statesman, a ruler to achieve something grandiose. Nevertheless, Richard, nicknamed the Lionheart, managed to win the truly immortal glory of the knight king, and his shortcomings only set off his prowess. However, Richard died relatively young, and the circumstances of his death became one of the mysteries of the Middle Ages.
As you know, Richard the Lionheart had a difficult relationship with the French king Philip II. They were already difficult because of the difficult dynastic and vassal situation in the relationship between the two kings (Richard was also the Duke of Aquitaine, and this territory was a vassal to France). And they were also worsened by the unsuccessful experience of the joint Third Crusade. As a result, Philip II began to actively agitate Richard's younger brother, John, to overthrow him from the English throne, and Lionheart, after returning from the Holy Land, began a war against France. As a result, the victory remained with Richard, and in January 1199 peace was concluded on favorable terms for him.
How Richard the Lionheart Died
But Richard did not have time to return to England: a situation arose on the territory of France that required the presence of him and his army. His vassal, the Viscount of Limoges Aimar, according to some reports, discovered a rich treasure of gold on his lands (presumably, an ancient Roman pagan altar with offerings). According to the laws of that time, a certain part should also be received by Richard as a lord. However, the Viscount did not want to share the precious find, so Richard and his army had to lay siege to the castle of their vassal, Chalus-Chabrol.
It was here that an unexpected death overtook Richard. According to medieval chronicles, on March 26, 1199, the assault had not yet begun, and the king and his entourage circled the surroundings of the castle, choosing the most convenient place from where to go for the attack. They were not afraid of the arrows of the besieged, since they were at a decent distance. However, among the defenders of the castle there was also a crossbowman and a crossbow bolt released by him at random wounded Richard (according to various sources, in the arm, shoulder or neck). The king was taken to the camp and the bolt was removed, but from the consequences of his injury, Lionheart died on April 6.
Poison or blood poisoning
Almost all sources telling about the circumstances of the death of the famous king-knight focus on the fact that Richard's injury itself was not fatal, but its consequences were fatal. In the Middle Ages, a version became widespread that the crossbow bolt, fired at the king, was smeared with poison - by that time, European knights had fought in the Middle East with the Saracens for about a century, from whom they adopted this military trick.
But in 2012, a group of French scientists received permission to study the remains of Richard the Lionheart in order to pinpoint the cause of his death. Rather, not all the remains of the king were subjected to a comprehensive analysis, but a piece of his heart stored in the Rouen Cathedral. Since, according to the will of the king, parts of his body were buried in different places: brain and entrails, heart, body. As a result, thanks to chemical analyzes, which required only one percent of the stored samples of the king's heart, it was determined that no poison got into Richard's wound. The knight king died of an infection resulting from blood poisoning. In fact, it was blood poisoning that was the main cause of the death of wounded soldiers in the Middle Ages, when both the level of medical knowledge and the level of ideas about hygiene in Europe were not high enough.
Frying pan is to blame for everything
And if the question of the immediate cause of the death of the Lionheart seems to have been clarified, then the problem of the personality of his killer and the fate of this person remains in a fog. The following is more or less reliable: the Chaliu-Chabrol castle was poorly adapted to the conduct of hostilities, so at the time of the start of the siege there were only two knights in it (the rest of the garrison were ordinary soldiers). The British knew the two knights well by sight, since they led the defense directly on the fortress walls. The besiegers noted one of them especially, so the attackers could clearly see the homemade armor of this knight and the shield that was made from a frying pan.
According to legend, King Richard, seeing the frying pan in the hands of the knight, laughed and partially removed (or weakened) his armor, believing that there was no threat to life, and the siege of the fortress would become an ordinary entertainment for the soldiers. However, it was the "frying pan" knight who fired the fatal shot from the crossbow for Richard, so that the entire English camp knew who exactly wounded the king. The castle was captured even before the death of Lionheart, who allegedly ordered the knight who had wounded him to be brought to him. Learning that the knight shot him because the king had once killed his relatives, Richard ordered not to punish him, but to let him go and even give a monetary reward for accurate shooting. But, according to most sources, after the death of the king, the knight was not released, but was executed painfully by death - he was skinned alive and then hanged. However, there are still many questions: various variants of the name of this knight are called - Pierre Basil, Bertrand de Gudrun, John Sebroz. But the fact is that the knights Pierre Basile and Bertrand de Gudrun are mentioned years and even decades after the death of Richard: the first appeared in the documents on the transfer of property to the heirs, the second participated in the Albigensian Wars. So who exactly became the murderer of one of the most famous kings of the Middle Ages and what was the fate of this man is still unclear.