To What Extent Can We Attribute Responsibility For Instances Of Persecution In History To The Influence Of Powerful Individuals?

3200 words - 13 pages

This essay is going to focus upon Richard the Lionheart (1157 - 1199), whose very name is synonymous with courage and bravery. He is also recognised by the title ‘Lionheart’, as opposed to the legacy that most Kings and Queens leave, where they are recognised by a mere number; this stresses his importance as an historical figure. If there is a conclusion drawn by the majority, popular folklore would lead us to believe that Richard was the greatest King of the Middle Ages, particularly if the comparison is made against his brother King John, who myth again would believe was one of the weakest1 . Personally he was a man who displayed many fine attributes, such as being a man of culture, who ...view middle of the document...

However, again, the man of paradox showed when Henry II quelled the rebellions and took control of most of his lands. Even although Richard was the last to relinquish his position, when he realised he was going to be forced to fight his father he chose not to but meekly asked for his forgiveness instead. The way he yielded to his father would indicate that he was not a man of strength and leadership; however, as a figure of contrasts, he wielded power in different ways by trying to contain the French nobles he was surrounded by, in their struggles to acquire more of his land, and as time progressed his personality showed more signs of ruthless cruelty in the way he would deal with these uprisings. His growing power and skill as an ‘military commander’ was evidenced in 1179 when he defeated the nobles at the Fortress of Taillebourg, where previously treacherous nobles ended up declaring loyalty to him. This would appear to evidence the ruthlessness and mercilessness of Richard’s character from a young age if hardened nobles yielded to his power instead of finding the strength, possibly even in numbers, to oppose him. In contrast, Flori2 suggested that Richard played an influential role in making Aquitaine peaceful due to him being a heroic warrior and this was why he earned the affectionate nickname of ‘Lionheart’. This does not indicate that he was using his strength of character to persecute those who were less powerful than he was.
Throughout this time Richard’s relationship with his father further deteriorated as he sought to take the English Crown for himself. His father, Henry II, wanted his oldest son, Henry the Young, to become King but Richard opposed this idea wanting all the power for himself and consequently refused to pay homage to Henry the Younger. This resulted in a battle in 1883, when Henry the Young and some of his nobles invaded Richard’s territory in Aquitaine in order to suppress him; they managed to gain the support of the nobles that Richard had previously quashed and consequently owed him no loyalty. Despite this, Richard still defeated the invaders and once again his ruthless personality was evidenced when he order the execution of any prisoners taken. This underlying unrest continued until 1189, when after Richard had combined forces with King Philip of France and defeated Henry’s army, King Henry agreed to have Richard succeed him, upon his death, to the throne of England. Two days later King Henry was dead; many believed that it was Richard who had caused his father’s death but nevertheless he was officially crowned King. This again would appear to indicate the callous and impatient nature of Richard’s personality, whereby his arrogance would allow nothing to stand in the way of any goals he personally wanted to pursue.
During his coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1189, Richard had decreed that there would be no women or no Jews allowed. Jews at this time were seen as unpopular figures due to the being seen as...

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