IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING II
Known as Cœur de Lion or the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior, Richard I became King of England on July 6, 1189, and ruled until his death ten years later. He was the stuff of which legends were made, particularly in the story of Robin Hood, although he’s strictly an offstage presence, being held prisoner in a far-off land until the very end and his triumphant return. Robin, you will remember, battled the evil Prince John who was doing his best to usurp Richard’s throne in his absence. Eventually, Richard returns triumphantly to England, but in a bit of a slap in the face to Robin, he forgives John and names him his heir to the throne. Robin is abandoned to Sherwood Forest and his “merry men” (see Robin Hood – Men in Tights).
In reality, Richard, it seems, was a rather lackluster king, spending only six months of his ten-year reign in England (“hates London, it’s cold and it’s damp”) preferring to spend his time on crusades, battling Saladin, and waging wars throughout the world (“who would Jesus invade?”).
He died as a result of an arrow wound (live by the arrow, die by the arrow). According to a 13th century bishop, Richard was required to spend 33 years in purgatory atoning for his many sins before finally being allowed into heaven in March 1232.
Richard III also began his reign on July 6, nearly 300 years later in 1483. He took the crown shortly after having his nephew 12-year-old King Edward V declared a bastard and sent to the Tower. His only accomplishment as king seems to have been the murder of his two nephews (and a number of scholars would take that away from him too). Bishops have not said how many years he had to spend in purgatory before joining his ancestors up above, but we can guess it was quite a few.