We would like to acknowledge all the fine authors in the Bibliography,
without whose diligent research this work would not be possible.
We have included a Glossary of Medieval terms located in
The Forum / Glossary.
In the cool of the evening of March 26th. 1199, forty-one year old Richard the Lionheart was before the walls of the besieged rebel castle of Chalus-Chabrol deep in the southern reaches of his empire, when a crossbow bolt flew from the fortress and lodged squarely in his shoulder. The shock was apparent yet he made barely a grunt lest his men realize the situation, become disheartened and desert their posts.
After a few days Richard feared the worst. The wound would not heal and the pain ever increasing. He ordered a small cavalry unit formed from his most loyal knights, despatching them on a covert mission to search out the Duchess and alert her of the situation. Richard entrusted his commander, William de Roches, with a letter and his ring as a token of good faith to be presented to the Duchess.
Richard lay dying. His body racked with pain as bacteria nibbled away at his tissue leaving behind the black scab of gangrene, the pungent odour of decaying flesh filling the tent. At this juncture he would have gladly fallen on his own sword but his faith decreed suicide a mortal sin punishable by eternal damnation - a fate worse than death.
A fanciful tale relates the reason for Richard's attack on Chalus in the first place was because a peasant, while tilling his master's field uncovered a rich treasure. Described as a cache of gold and silver coins or by other accounts a gold sculpture featuring a Roman Emperor seated around a table with his family. It was presumed to have been buried by a Roman noble retreating from Gaul centuries before in hope of returning to retrieve it.
Time was a-wasting. It had already been a week since the king's injury and there was no telling how long he would be able to last. The gravity of the situation began to sink in. If the king died without an heir to the throne all hell would break loose. Barons and magnates in England would vie for the crown. The continental realms would be thrown into anarchy. There would be chaos throughout the empire.