Marriage Arranged for King Richard
Queen Eleanor has arranged for King Richard to marry Princess Berengia, daughter of the King of Navarre.
King Richard immediately broke off his betrothment to King Philip's sister Alice even though the couple had been betrothed for more than twenty years. King Philip was furious that his sister should be discarded in this insulting fashion.
'I have no intention of marrying my father's whore,' Richard bluntly told Philip and offered to call witnesses to swear that Alice had been a mistress of his own father King Henry II, and had borne him a child. The English and French Kings almost came to blows.
Philip was already in a bad temper after having failed to ally himself with King Tancred of Sicily - Richard had upstaged him by signing his own treaty of friendship with the Sicilian king. The treaty had been sealed when Richard gave Tancred King Arthur's sword Excalibur and Richard received four transport ships and fifteen war galleys in return.
When tempers had cooled, King Philip offered to release King Richard from his promise to marry Alice as long as he returned the Princess to her own French people. In compensation, Richard offered Philip 10,000 marks.
Intending to marry Princess Berengia in the Holy Land, King Richard put her in a separate ship under the wing of his sister Queen Joanna when they set sail with the crusading army from Messina. Unfortunately the fleet ran into a storm.
|Blown Off Course
The wind was sleepy when the crusader fleet sailed from Sicily for the Holy Land. Queen Mother Eleanor had already left for Rome carrying messages from King Richard for the new Pope Celestine III, an old friend from the early days of her first marriage. Walter, Archbishop of Rouen, travelled with her carrying letters from the King giving him authority to act between Earl John and Chancellor Longchamps. He hoped to prevent further trouble at home.
King Richard also sent a message to the embattled crusaders at Acre explaining the delays he had suffered but that he was now on his way.
The crusader fleet out of Messina consisted of 200 ships of which 50 were galleys - slender warships with long keels propelled by two banks of oars. With a crew of 15 sailors they were big enough to hold 40 knights with their war-horses and gear and the same number of foot-soldiers.
Princess Berengia (pictured right) and Queen Joanna were in a separate ship from the King who sailed at the head of his fleet. Despite little wind at first, a storm blew up on Good Friday and though Richard tried to keep the fleet together, the gale worsened, throwing many ships off course. After much praying by the crusaders, the storm eventually subsided and although most of the fleet arrived safely at Crete, 25 ships went missing, including the ship carrying Princess Berengia and Queen Joanna.
The fleet sailed on to Rhodes and since it happened that the King was ill and somewhat suffering, he left it to his galleys to desperately scourge the seas for the lost ships.
Ten days after the storm, Joanna and Berengia's ship was found almost wrecked but safely berthed at Limassol, the chief port on the south coast of Cyprus. The local Greeks were holding the crews of three other wrecked crusader ships in a fort close by. lsaac Comnenus, the devious governor of Cyprus - he had used forged papers to seize the island - had an alliance with Saladin and regularly ransomed shipwrecked mariners. Expecting a trap, Joanna politely declined Isaac's offer to come ashore so Isaac refused permission for her crew to come ashore for food and wine.
When Richard's fleet appeared on the horizon, Isaac panicked and ordered the citizens of Limassol to build a barricade on the beach with doors, shutters, old ships, or anything they could lay their hands on. He drew up his troops behind it.
The shipwrecked crews held by the Greeks in the fort spotted their own fleet and began to fight their way out. Richard stormed ashore at the head of his men, and the Greeks, caught between the invading sailors from the ships and their companions from the fort, promptly retreated: 'Our men along the beach poured out, striking and putting them to rout. They were hard pushed and beaten down, and driven back into the town.'
Governor Isaac (pictured right) fled on his horse with Richard chasing after him on foot, shouting: 'Come Emperor and joust!' But jousting was the last thought on the Emperor's mind and he flew like the wind.
The crusaders soon occupied Limassol and King Richard brought Princess Berengia and his sister Joanna safely ashore.