Cultural depictions of Richard I of England

Richard I of England has been depicted many times in romantic fiction and popular culture.

Robin Hood

The Scots philosopher and chronicler John Mair was the first to associate Richard with the Robin Hood legends in his Historia majoris Britannae, tam Angliae quam Scotiae (1521). In the earliest Robin Hood ballads the only king mentioned is "Edward our comely king", most probably Edward II or Edward III. However, Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe popularised Mair's linking of the Hood legends to Richard's reign, and it was taken up by later novelists and by cinema. Typically Robin is depicted upholding justice in Richard's name against John and his officials during the king's imprisonment.

Other literature

Richard has appeared frequently in fiction, as a result of the 'chivalric revival' of the Romantic era. In 1822, he was the subject of Eleanor Anne Porden's epic poem, Cœur de Lion. After Ivanhoe, in which he is depicted as initially adopting the pseudonym of Le Noir Fainéant ("The Black Sluggard"), Sir Walter Scott portrayed Richard in The Talisman, a highly fictionalised treatment of the Third Crusade.

The young Richard is also a major character in James Goldman's play The Lion in Winter (1966), which depicts him as homosexual. He features in Graham Shelby's The Kings of Vain Intent and, more centrally, in The Devil is Loose, Norah Lofts' The Lute-Player, Margaret Campbell Barnes's The Passionate Brood, Jean Plaidy's The Heart of the Lion, Cecelia Holland's The King's Witch, and Sharon Kay Penman's The Devil's Brood and Lionheart. Swedish author Jan Guillou depicts Richard as a merciless Muslim killer in The Knight Templar (Crusades trilogy), while Rachel Bard's Queen Without a Country portrays him as Berengaria of Navarre's reluctant husband. Richard is referenced in Jennifer Roberson's novels Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood. In children's fiction, such as Ronald Welch's Knight Crusader, Richard is generally depicted as a hero.



Richard has been portrayed on film by:


Richard has been portrayed on television by:


Richard is played by Ed Stoppard in Mike Walker's BBC Radio 4 series Plantagenet (2010).

Video games

  • In the Robin Hood-inspired adventure game Conquests of the Longbow, Richard is featured as a prisoner of Leopold of Austria. As in the previously-mentioned legends, Robin Hood is working to raise 100,000 marks in ransom to release Richard.
  • The strategy game Medieval: Total War features two battles based on his encounters with his rival Saladin: the battle of Jaffa and the battle of Arsuf.
  • The sequel, Medieval II: Total War shows Richard on the box cover, and the player has the opportunity to play the Battle of Arsuf. Richard is also included the expansion pack Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms where he makes an appearance during the Crusades campaign.
  • In Empires: Dawn of the Modern World his campaign is pre-1190 and sees him fight French King Philip II.
  • He also appears in the real-time strategy game Stronghold: Crusader.
  • In Age of Empires 2, Richard can be played in battle against Saladin.
  • In Age of Empires: The Age of Kings for Nintendo DS, Richard the Lionheart is a usable hero and the final campaign features six missions based upon him, including the Battle of Arsuf and a fictional assault on Jerusalem.
  • In Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader, the player character is a 16th-century descendant of Richard I. The game follows an alternate history timeline in which Richard's execution of the prisoners after the capture of Acre completed a ritual that unleashed magic and demons into the world. (2003)
  • In the 2007 action-adventure video game Assassin's Creed (set in the time of the third crusade) Richard plays a major part in the game, making several appearances and at one point interacting with the main character. Richard speaks English with a French accent in the game as a reference to the fact that he spoke only French in real life.
  • In Civilization II, King Richard's Crusade is one of the Wonders of the World. This Wonder provides increased production.

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