Universum History The Trapped King - The Myth of Richard the Lionheart
Known to children and adults across the globe, Richard the Lionheart is one of history‘s great mythical figures. A legend in his own lifetime, he enjoyed a reputation he cleverly fuelled himself. His story is intertwined with that of King Arthur, whose sword Excalibur he wore. Even restrained, matter-of-fact chronicles tell of a heroic life that began 850 years ago and ended tragically when the king, in the prime of his life, wore the wrong clothes at the wrong time in
the wrong place.
Richard was a warrior, a regent and, sometimes, a violent killer. Physically imposing, over six feet tall, the king had flaming red hair and a beard to match - as well as a passion for poetry. He was a brave fighter, given to throwing himself into battle with little consideration for his own safety or the consequences of his actions. He was also a master strategist and politician who became one of the most influential rulers at a time when the European dynasties were engaged in a struggle for power.
In one of history‘s most spectacular kidnappings, Richard the Lionheart was taken hostage as the result of a plot devised by several European rulers to remove a powerful rival.
More than 800 years ago, Richard the Lionheart and his greatest adversary, the King of France, embarked on a crusade together. On their way to the Holy Land the two rulers fell out irreconcilably, and this quarrel would have far-reaching consequences during the return journey. The French king began to plot against Richard, and soon found a number of co-conspirators.
Suddenly, all homeward routes were blocked to Richard. He had angered so many rulers across Europe that even his status as a returning crusader offered no protection. He was kidnapped near Vienna and held captive for 15 months. Richard was eventually able to secure his release using his diplomatic skills: England would pay the incredible sum of 35 tons of silver, approximately three times the annual income of the English crown, as a ransom.
To this day, historians continue to debate the full extent and the correct interpretation of this widespread intrigue, but one thing is clear: the plot changed the balance of power in Europe significantly. Poets and chroniclers, including Muslim and French writers, glorified Richard the Lionheart‘s exploits during his lifetime.
But how did the kidnapping occur, and how did the myth of Richard the Lionheart become so firmly established, from the tale of the minstrel Blondel to the legend of Robin Hood? Richard the Lionheart reigned for just ten years, but he represented all the ideals of knighthood. Overthe centuries, his reputation grew to that of a mythical ruler.
But who was the person behind the legend of the king with the heart of a lion?
The docu-thriller „The Trapped King“ explores the many questions that surround Richard the Lionheart through interviews with renowned experts and paints an insightful picture of the legendary king using high-quality re-enactments.
A Co-Production of Interspot Film for ORF Universum History, ZDF and ARTE. In cooperation with ORF Enterspise.
Production Management: Lucia Metzbauer
Commissioning Editor ZDF/ARTE: Peter Allenbacher
Commissioning Editor ZDF: Michael Renz
Commissioning Editor ORF: Tom Matzek