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  • Writer's pictureMary Ellen Johnson

Quit Making up Stuff about Richard the Lionheart!!

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

Don't even bother telling me that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, on and on. I understand all of that...and I am still GREATLY offended when I read that the Lionheart preferred having sex with his own gender. Why??? Because there is very little proof of that. Real historians largely come down on the side that he was heterosexual. The alternate possibility was never even considered until mid-twentieth century. We all like to come up with something new to write about, don't we?

Well, thanks also to A LION IN WINTER--an otherwise great film--lots of people snicker about this great warrior's sexual proclivities. (Is there something particularly satisfying about proclaiming that macho men aren't so stereotypically macho after all?) Not so!!

Another pet peeve of mine is decoding our ancestors' actions on the basis of our own. One of the proofs that Richard was gay was he only allowed men into his coronation celebrations. (Oh, my God, a homosexual orgy!! What other explanation could there be?) Well, women were never allowed into those celebrations. Another that he and Phillip of France slept in the same bed. Yeah, sharing a bed--even with strangers when traveling--was commonplace. And when Richard's father lamented the pair's great love for each other he was talking in political terms. I could go on and on but don't need to because you can google. Even Sharon Kay Penman, an excellent researcher and historical novelist, regrets she originally portrayed Richard as gay.

There are many things that can be said about the Lionheart, some of them very unflattering. He was a great soldier--by the standards of the day, a barbarian by ours--and a pretty crappy king. What is indisputable about Richard I is that, like most of us, he was a very complex human being.

Had I been female and living in the Lionheart's court, I would have probably found him irresistible. Had I been a male soldier, I would have loyally followed him into hell--in this case the Holy Land. That's just the kind of heterosexual man he was.

Much later portrait of Richard the Lionheart. Most likely no resemblance whatsoever.

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