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Knights Templar: Richard the Lionheart

King Richard I

King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart

St.Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux had preached in France and Germany, calling for a third crusade upon the request of his Pope.

Wiliam the Archbishop of Tyre, spoke to the English and French, describing to those who would listen, the miserable conditions that existed in Palestine.  He would go on to paint in vivid colours, the horrors which were being committed in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

The result being, English and French Monarchs, would lay aside their animosities and fight under the same flag.

King Richard avenged himself on Isaac Comnenus, ruler of Cyprus for insulting his bride to be: Berengaria Princess of Navarre. English troops stormed the town of Limassol, and in 1190 upon their arrival at Acre, sold it to the Templars.

Richard I married Berengaria, daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre on the 12thMay 1191 at Limassol in Cyprus.

In the second year of the third crusade and the siege of Acre.  Philip August and Richard Coeur de Lion led their royal fleets into the Bay of Acre.

With the arrival of King Richard I of England, the Templars let it be known, they had lost their Grand Master and Brother; Robert de Sable, he who had led part of the English fleet.

Proud and valiant knights were eager to pick up their sword, in the name of their God, and fight under the Knights Templar flag. Secular knights took their position, fighting side by side with military friars, and wore the red cross, emblazoned on their breasts.

The Templars performed acts of valour as their reputation and fame spread, undertaking acts of bravery for their God.  Saints would recount their battles as triumphs over Christ’s enemies.  Knights, Dukes and Princes are known to have cast off their worldly shackles, renounce vanities of life and lust, and join the crusade and follow Christ.

On the 12thJuly 1191 some six weeks after the British fleet arrived, the English and French Kings, Christian chieftains and Turks assembled at the Knights Templar Grand Masters tent for the signing of the treaty, marking the surrender of Acre.

King Richard I, the fiery monarch of England tore down the Duke of Austria’s banner and thrust it into the muddy ditch.  It was left up to the Templar’s to interpose between Germans and Britons, to preserve peace within the Christian army.

King Richard I captured Palestine and defeated Saladin at Arsuuf.

Richard Coeur de Lion and his troops marched from Acre to Ascalon.  Templars led the Christian army with the Hospitalliers bringing up the rear. Saladin forces opposed their progress, on the great plains around Jaffa and Ramleh.  It is said, as far as the eye could see, nothing could be seen but a forest of spears, in the hands of wild Bedouins.  They made rapid movement and assaults upon Christian warriors, but victory was to be the crusaders and Templar Knights led into battle by King Richard I of England.

The Templar’s whilst foraging local areas became surrounded by a force of four-thousand Moslem’s on horse-back. The Earl of Leicester went to their assistance on the orders of Coeur de Lion, but were quickly overpowered and in danger of being cut down, when King Richard I hurried to the scene.

It was nothing short of valour, when the lion-hearted King retook the city of Gaza, the ancient fortress of the order, repaired its fortifications, as the Knights Templar were garrisoned here.

Saladin’s forces retreated to Jerusalem as Crusaders and Templars bore down upon it.

When the Christian forces entered winter quarters, the Templars set themselves at “Gaza” and King Richard at Ascalon.  An arrangement was made between Templars, King Richard and Guy de Lusignan; “here stood a King without a Kingdom.

When winter rains all but subsided, Christian forces consisting of Templars and Hospitalliers advised Coeur de Lion, not to march on Jerusalem.  The English monarchs declared they be guided upon advice from Templars and Hospitalliers, they who knew the country well.

The mighty force headed for the Holy City of Jerusalem, and when they be one day’s journey from their target.  A council would be created consisting of five knights, Hospitalliers, Eastern Christians and Western Crusaders.  It was here, it was decided to abandon their expedition.

Templars attacked the great Egyptian convoy and captured 4070 camels, 500 horses, gold, silver and provisions and then retreated to Acre.

Saladin was hot on their tail as they retraced their steps to the safety of Acre, and opted to lay siege against Jaffa.  The Templars marched by land, with Coeur de Lion travelling by sea.  The town was relieved as the campaign was concluded by the 1192 treaty; Christians were granted access to Jerusalem as pilgrims.

With the treaty concluded, King Richard I left for England on the 25thOctober accompanied by four trusted Templar Knights and attendants.

On route back to England, bad weather forced them to take shelter in Austria.  King Leopold V of Austria, with whom he had fiercely argued with in the Holy Land, took the English King prisoner.  He saw his chance for revenge and handed him over to the Holy Roman Emperor; Henry VI of Germany.

Questions were asked, where is King Richard I, and it wasn’t long before England received the news, he was being held at Trifels Castle in Germany.  The ransom for his release was 100,000 marks, equal to three tons of silver.

On the 20thMarch 1194, King Richard I of England landed at Sandwich, and on the 23rdMarch rode through the streets of London, on route to St.Paul’s Cathedral, lined by many of his subjects who had given generously to free their King.

On the 26thMarch 1199, King Richard I died in battle at Chalus in France, from a crossbow arrow, and was buried at Fontevrault Abbey in France.

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