Blondel’s Song: The Capture, Imprisonment and Ransom of Richard the Lionheart by David Boyle - review by Frank Fairfield

Frank Fairfield

Blondels Have More Fun

Blondel’s Song: The Capture, Imprisonment and Ransom of Richard the Lionheart

By

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Richard the Lionheart is an iconic figure in English history. The red cross of St George that he popularised on the Third Crusade is today a ubiquitous symbol of our brave new England, patriotically adorning car registration plates, painted on the faces of football fans, and tattooed across the spreading jelly bellies of those modern crusaders who carry fire and sword to the bars of Ibiza rather than the gates of Jerusalem. And wasn't it in Richard's cause that the archetypal English rogue Robin Hood – loveable, loyal and brave – took to the woods of Sherwood in defiance of bad brother John and his repressive, duplicitous tyranny?

It comes as some surprise, then, to learn from David Boyle's richly absorbing and revealing study that the historical Richard could not even speak English (French was his preferred lingua franca, but he could manage some Latin if pushed); did not much like England (he spent only nine months of

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