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Monday, September 06, 2010

Has anyone seen either of these films.

I've seen both and I highly recommend them to everyone.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I had to write this for my History as well.

Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was born in c.1118 in Cheapside, London, to Gilbert Becket of Thierville and Matilda (with a familiar name of Roheise or Rosea) of Mondeville near Caen. Gilbert, a knight's son, had taken the trade of mercer but in London was a property-owner, living on his rents. They were buried in Old St. Paul's Cathedral. There is a story that Thomas's mother was a Saracen princess who met and fell in love with his English father while he was on Crusade or pilgrimage in the Holy Land, followed him home, was baptized and married him. This story has no truth to it, being a fabrication from three centuries after the saint's martyrdom and inserted as a forgery into Edward Grim’s contemporary (12th century) Life of St Thomas.
One of Thomas's father's rich friends, Richer de L'Aigle, was attracted to Thomas's sisters. He often invited Thomas to his estates in Sussex. There, Thomas learned to ride a horse, hunt, behave like a gentleman, and engage in popular sports such as jousting. Beginning when he was 10, Becket received a brilliant education in civil and canon law at Merton Priory in England, and then overseas at Paris, Bologna, and Auxerre. Richer was later a signatory at the Constitutions of Clarendon against Thomas.
Upon returning to the Kingdom of England, he attracted the notice of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who entrusted him with several important missions to Rome and finally made him Archdeacon of Canterbury and Provost of Beverley. He so distinguished himself by his zeal and efficiency that Theobald recommended him to King Henry II when the important office of Lord Chancellor was vacant.
Henry desired to be absolute ruler of his dominions, both Church and State, and could find precedents in the traditions of the throne when he planned to do away with the special privileges of the English clergy, which he regarded as fetters on his authority. As Chancellor, Becket enforced the king’s traditional medieval land tax that was exacted from all landowners, including churches and bishoprics. This created both a hardship and a resentment of Becket among the English Churchmen. To further implicate Becket as a secular man, he became an accomplished and extravagant courtier and a cheerful companion to the king's pleasures. Thomas was devoted to Henry's interests with such a firm and yet diplomatic thoroughness that scarcely anyone, except perhaps John of Salisbury, doubted his allegiance to English royalty.
King Henry even sent his son Henry to live in Becket's household, it being the custom then for noble children to be fostered out to other noble houses. The younger Henry was reported to have said Becket showed him more fatherly love in a day than his father did for his entire life. An emotional attachment to Becket as a foster-father may have been one of the reasons the younger Henry would turn against his father.
He achieved his final position of power as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several months after the death of Theobald. Henry intended to further his influence by directing the actions of Thomas, his loyal appointee, and diminish the independence and affluence of the Church in England. The famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic occurred at this time.
A rift grew between Henry and Thomas as the new Archbishop dropped his Chancellorship and consolidated the landed revenues of Canterbury under his control. So began a series of legal conflicts, such as the jurisdiction of secular courts over English clergy, which accelerated antipathy between the two great offices. Attempts by King Henry to foment the opinion and influence of the other bishops against Thomas began in Westminster in October 1163, where the King sought approval of stated royal privileges. This led to Clarendon, where Thomas was officially asked to sign off on the King’s rights or face political repercussions.
But Becket started to disobey the King in thing to do with the Church, like for instance. Henry wanted to try criminous clerks in the Kings courts instead of the Church courts. Becket said no. Henry got very, very angry. Becket was exiled to France.
Henry pursued the fugitive archbishop with a series of edicts, aimed at all his friends and supporters as well as Becket himself; but Louis VII of France received him with respect and offered him protection. He spent nearly two years in the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, until Henry's threats against the order obliged him to move to Sens again.
Becket sought to exercise the prerogatives of the Church, particularly the weapons of excommunication and interdict. But Pope Alexander III, though sympathizing with him in theory, favored a more diplomatic approach. Differences thus arose between Pope and Archbishop and legates were sent in 1167 with authority to act as arbitrators.
Becket's firmness seemed about to meet with its reward when in 1170 the Pope was on the point of fulfilling his threats and excommunicating Henry II. At that point Henry, alarmed by the prospect, held out hopes of an agreement that would allow Thomas to return to England and resume his place.


In June 1170, the archbishop of York and the bishops of London and Salisbury held the coronation of Henry the Young King in York. This was a breach of Canterbury's privilege of coronation. In November 1170, Becket excommunicated all three. While the three bishops fled to the king in Normandy, Becket continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church. Soon word of this reached Henry.

After these reports of Becket's activities, Henry is said to have raised his head from his sickbed and roared a lament of frustration. The King's exact words are in doubt, and several versions have been reported. The most commonly quoted, as handed down by "oral tradition", is "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?",[6] but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"[7][8] Many variations have found their way into popular culture. Whatever the King said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four knights, Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Moreville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton, set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury. On 29 December 1170 they arrived at Canterbury. According to accounts left by the monk Gervase of Canterbury and eyewitness Edward Grim, they placed their weapons under a sycamore tree outside the cathedral and hid their mail armour under cloaks before entering to challenge Becket.[9] The knights informed Becket he was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king's will that they retrieved their weapons and rushed back inside for the killing.[9] Becket, meanwhile, proceeded to the main hall for vespers. The four knights, carrying naked swords, caught up with him in a spot near a door to the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the stairs leading up into the quire of the cathedral, where the monks were chanting vespers. Several contemporary accounts of what happened next exist; of particular note is that of Edward Grim, who was himself wounded in the attack.

The burial of Becket
This is part of the account from Edward Grim:
...The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.'
Following his death, the monks prepared his body for burial. According to some accounts, it was discovered that Becket had worn a hair shirt under his archbishop's garments—a sign of penance. Soon after, the faithful throughout Europe began venerating Becket as a martyr, and in 1173 — barely three years after his death — he was canonized by Pope Alexander III in St. Peter's Church in Segni. On 12 July 1174, in the midst of the Revolt of 1173–1174, Henry humbled himself with public penance at Becket's tomb, which became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England. In 1220, Becket's remains were relocated from this first tomb to a shrine in the recently completed Trinity Chapel where it stood until it was destroyed in 1538, around the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, on orders from King Henry VIII. The king also destroyed Becket's bones and ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated. The pavement where the shrine stood is today marked by a lit candle. Modern day archbishops celebrate the Eucharist at this place to commemorate Becket's martyrdom and the translation of his body from his first burial place to the new shrine.
I had to write this for my History.

Richard I of England
Richard was a younger brother of William IX, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King and Matilda, Duchess of Saxony. As the third legitimate son of King Henry II of England, he was not expected to ascend the throne. He was also an elder brother of Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, Leonora of England, Joan Plantagenet and John, Count of Mortain, who succeeded him as king. Richard was the younger maternal half-brother of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France. He is often depicted as having been the favourite son of his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Although born at Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England, like other early Plantagenets, Richard was essentially French. When his parents separated, he remained with his mother. He was invested with her duchy of Aquitaine in 1168 and with the county of Poitiers in 1172. In 1170, in accordance with custom, his elder brother Henry was crowned king of England during his father's lifetime, as Henry III. Historians have named this Henry "the Young King" so as not to confuse him with the later Henry III of England, who was his nephew.
Richard was an educated man who composed poetry, writing in Limousin and also in French (he never learned English). He was said to be very attractive; his hair was between red and blond, and he was light-eyed with a pale complexion. He was apparently of above average height, but his remains have been lost since at least the French Revolution, and his exact height is unknown. From an early age he showed significant political and military ability, becoming noted for his chivalry and courage as he fought to control the rebellious nobles of his own territory.
Revolt against Henry II
Like his brothers, Richard frequently challenged his father's authority. In the spring of 1174, at the age of 16, Richard joined both his brothers, Henry and Geoffrey, in a revolt against their father, whom they sought to dethrone. Initially, only Normandy remained faithful to Henry II; by August, however, Henry had largely crushed the rebellion in England. Crossing the Channel to Normandy, he invaded Poitou and Aquitaine, the domains of Richard's mother, Eleanor, and captured and imprisoned her towards the end of the year.[11] Richard was the last of the brothers to hold out against Henry, but in the end he refused to fight him face to face and humbly begged his pardon.
Henry seemed unwilling to entrust any of his sons with resources that could be used against him. It was suspected that Henry had appropriated Princess Alys, Richard's betrothed, the daughter of Louis VII of France by his second wife, as his mistress. This made a marriage between Richard and Alys technically impossible in the eyes of the Church, but Henry prevaricated: Alys's dowry, the Vexin, was valuable. Richard was discouraged from renouncing Alys because she was the sister of King Philip II of France, a close ally.
After his failure to overthrow his father, Richard concentrated on putting down internal revolts by the nobles of Aquitaine, especially the territory of Gascony. The increasing cruelty of his reign led to a major revolt there in 1179. Hoping to dethrone Richard, the rebels sought the help of his brothers Henry and Geoffrey. The turning point came in the Charente Valley in spring 1179. The fortress of Taillebourg was well defended and was considered impregnable. The castle was surrounded by a cliff on three sides and a town on the fourth side with a three-layer wall. Richard first destroyed and looted the farms and lands surrounding the fortress, leaving its defenders no reinforcements or lines of retreat. The inhabitants of the fortress were so afraid of Richard at this point that they left the safety of their castle and attacked Richard outside its walls. Richard was able to subdue the army and then followed the defenders inside the open gates, where he easily took over the castle in two days. Richard’s victory at Taillebourg deterred many barons thinking of rebelling and forced them to declare their loyalty. It also won Richard a reputation as a skilled military commander.
In 1181-1182, Richard faced a revolt over the succession to the county of Angoulême. His opponents turned to Philip II of France for support, and the fighting spread through the Limousin and Périgord. Richard was accused of numerous cruelties against his subjects, including rape.[12] However, with support from his father and from the Young King, Richard succeeded in bringing the Viscount Aimar V of Limoges and Count Elie of Périgord to terms.
After Richard subdued his rebellious barons, he again challenged his father for the throne. From 1180 to 1183 the tension between Henry and Richard grew, as King Henry commanded Richard to pay homage to Henry the Young King, but Richard refused. Finally, in 1183, Henry the Young King and Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany invaded Aquitaine in an attempt to subdue Richard. Richard’s barons joined in the fray and turned against their duke. However, Richard and his army were able to hold back the invading armies, and they executed any prisoners. The conflict took a brief pause in June 1183 when the Young King died. However, Henry II soon gave his youngest son John permission to invade Aquitaine. With the death of Henry the Young King, Richard became the eldest son and heir to the English crown, but still he continued to fight his father.
To strengthen his position, in 1187 Richard allied himself with Philip II, who was the son of Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII by his third wife, Adele of Champagne. Roger of Hoveden wrote:
"The King of England was struck with great astonishment, and wondered what [this alliance] could mean, and, taking precautions for the future, frequently sent messengers into France for the purpose of recalling his son Richard; who, pretending that he was peaceably inclined and ready to come to his father, made his way to Chinon, and, in spite of the person who had the custody thereof, carried off the greater part of his father's treasures, and fortified his castles in Poitou with the same, refusing to go to his father."
Hoveden mentions how Richard and King Philip "ate from the same dish and at night slept in one bed" and had a "passionate love between them", which some historians have taken to imply a homosexual relationship. In addition, there are allusions to the Books of Samuel's depiction of Jonathan and David in this passage, though overall, Hoveden is chiefly concerned with the politics of the relationship. The historian, John Gillingham, has suggested that theories that Richard was homosexual were probably stemmed from an official record announcing that, as a symbol of unity between the two countries, the kings of France and England had slept overnight in the same bed. He expressed the view that this was "an accepted political act, nothing sexual about it; ... a bit like a modern-day photo opportunity".
In exchange for Philip's help against his father, Richard promised to concede to him his rights to both Normandy and Anjou. Richard paid homage to Philip in November of the same year.
In 1188 Henry II planned to concede Aquitaine to his youngest son John. The following year, Richard attempted to take the throne of England for himself by joining Philip's expedition against his father. On 4 July 1189, Richard and Philip’s forces defeated Henry's army at Ballans. Henry, with John's consent, agreed to name Richard his heir. Two days later Henry II died in Chinon, and Richard succeeded him as King of England, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou. Roger of Hoveden claimed that Henry's corpse bled from the nose in Richard's presence, which was taken as a sign that Richard had caused his death. He was officially crowned duke on 20 July 1189 and king in Westminster Abbey on 13 September 1189.
Crusade plans
Richard had already taken the cross as Count of Poitou in 1187. His father and Philip II had done so at Gisors on 21 January 1188, after receiving news of the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin. Having become king, Richard and Philip agreed to go on the Third Crusade together, since each feared that, during his absence, the other might usurp his territories.
Richard swore an oath to renounce his past wickedness in order to show himself worthy to take the cross. He started to raise and equip a new crusader army. He spent most of his father's treasury (filled with money raised by the Saladin tithe), raised taxes, and even agreed to free King William I of Scotland from his oath of subservience to Richard in exchange for 10,000 marks. To raise even more money he sold official positions, rights, and lands to those interested in them. Those already appointed were forced to pay huge sums to retain their posts. William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely and the King's Chancellor, made a show of bidding £3,000 to remain as Chancellor. He was apparently outbid by a certain Reginald the Italian, but that bid was refused.
Richard made some final arrangements on the continent. He reconfirmed his father's appointment of William Fitz Ralph to the important post of seneschal of Normandy. In Anjou, Stephen of Tours was replaced as seneschal and temporarily imprisoned for fiscal mismanagement. Payn de Rochefort, an Angevin knight, was elevated to the post of seneschal of Anjou. In Poitou, the ex-provost of Benon, Peter Bertin was made seneschal, and finally in Gascony, the household official Helie de La Celle was picked for the seneschalship there. After repositioning the part of his army he left behind to guard his French possessions, Richard finally set out on the crusade in summer 1190. (His delay was criticised by troubadours such as Bertran de Born). He appointed as regents Hugh, Bishop of Durham, and William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex—who soon died and was replaced by Richard's chancellor William Longchamp. Richard's brother John was not satisfied by this decision and started scheming against William.
Some writers have criticised Richard for spending only six months of his reign in England and siphoning the kingdom's resources to support his crusade. According to William Stubbs:
“ He was a bad king: his great exploits, his military skill, his splendour and extravagance, his poetical tastes, his adventurous spirit, do not serve to cloak his entire want of sympathy, or even consideration, for his people. He was no Englishman, but it does not follow that he gave to Normandy, Anjou, or Aquitaine the love or care that he denied to his kingdom. His ambition was that of a mere warrior: he would fight for anything whatever, but he would sell everything that was worth fighting for. The glory that he sought was that of victory rather than conquest.[17]

Richard claimed that England was "cold and always raining," and when he was raising funds for his crusade, he was said to declare, "I would have sold London if I could find a buyer." Like most of the Plantagenet kings before the 14th century, he had no need to learn the English language. Leaving the country in the hands of various officials he designated, Richard was far more concerned with his more extensive French lands. After all his preparations, he had an army of 4,000 men-at-arms, 4,000 foot-soldiers, and a fleet of 100 ships.
Occupation of Sicily
In September 1190 both Richard and Philip arrived in Sicily. After the death of King William II of Sicily, his cousin Tancred of Lecce had seized power and had been crowned early in 1190 as King Tancred I of Sicily, although the legal heir was William's aunt Constance, wife of the new Emperor Henry VI. Tancred had imprisoned William's widow, Queen Joan, who was Richard's sister, and did not give her the money she had inherited in William's will. When Richard arrived, he demanded that his sister be released and given her inheritance. The presence of foreign troops also caused unrest: in October, the people of Messina revolted, demanding that the foreigners leave. Richard attacked Messina, capturing it on 4 October 1190. After looting and burning the city, Richard established his base there. He remained there until Tancred finally agreed to sign a treaty on 4 March 1191. The treaty was signed by Richard, Philip and Tancred. Its main terms were:
• Joan was to be released, receiving her inheritance and the dowry her father had given to her late husband.
• Richard and Philip recognized Tancred as King of Sicily and vowed peace between all three of their kingdoms.
• Richard officially proclaimed his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, son of Geoffrey, as his heir, and Tancred promised to marry one of his daughters to Arthur when he came of age.
• Richard and Tancred exchanged gifts; Richard gave Tancred a sword which he claimed was Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur.
After signing the treaty Richard and Philip left Sicily. The treaty undermined England's relationships with the Holy Roman Empire and caused the revolt of Richard's brother John, who hoped to be proclaimed heir instead of their nephew. Although his revolt failed, John continued to scheme against his brother.
Conquest of Cyprus

The Near East in 1190, before Richard's conquest of Cyprus
In April 1191, while on route to Jerusalem, Richard stopped on the Byzantine island of Rhodes to avoid the stormy weather. It seems that Richard had previously met his fiancée Berengaria only once, years before their wedding. He had assigned his mother to represent him and convince her father, Sancho VI of Navarre, and her other relatives to agree to the wedding, and to bring the bride to him.
On 6 May 1191, Richard's fleet arrived in the port of Lemesos (Limassol) on Cyprus, and he captured the city. The island's despot Isaac Komnenos arrived too late to stop the Crusaders, and he retired to Kolossi. Richard called Isaac to negotiations, but Isaac demanded his departure. Richard and his cavalry met Isaac's army in battle at Tremetusia. The few Cypriot Roman Catholics and those nobles who opposed Isaac's rule joined Richard's army. Though Isaac and his men fought bravely, Richard's army was bigger and better equipped, ensuring his victory. He also received military assistance from the King of Jerusalem and Guy of Lusignan. Isaac resisted from the castles of Pentadactylos, but after the siege of Kantara Castle (which was a siege that had taken place over several days, forcing the surrender of the Reardon family, who were later sold into slavery), he finally surrendered. It was claimed that once Isaac had been captured Richard had him confined with silver chains, because he had promised that he would not place him in irons. Isaac's young daughter was kept in the household of Berengaria and Joan. Richard looted the island and massacred those trying to resist him. He and most of his army left Cyprus for the Holy Land in early June, having gained for the crusade a supply base that was not under immediate threat from the Turks as was Tyre. In his absence Cyprus was governed by Richard de Camville and Robert of Thornham. King Richard later sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar. This was because Richard lost a battle against Muslim forces in the Holy Land, and the Templars (who were already based there in earlier crusades) had nowhere to base themselves.
Before leaving Cyprus, Richard married Berengaria, first-born daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre. The wedding was held in Limassol on 12 May 1191 at the Chapel of St. George. It was attended by his sister Joan, whom Richard had brought from Sicily. When Richard married Berengaria he was still officially betrothed to Alys, and Richard pushed for the match in order to obtain Navarre as a fief like Aquitaine for his father. Further, Eleanor championed the match, as Navarre bordered on Aquitaine, thereby securing her ancestral lands' borders to the south. However, they returned separately. Berengaria had almost as much difficulty in making the journey home as her husband did, and she did not see England until after his death. After his release from German captivity Richard showed some regret for his earlier conduct, but he was not reunited with his wife.
In the Holy Land
King Richard landed at Acre on 8 June 1191. He gave his support to his Poitevin vassal Guy of Lusignan, who had brought troops to help him in Cyprus. Guy was the widower of his father's cousin Sibylla of Jerusalem and was trying to retain the kingship of Jerusalem, despite his wife's death during the Siege of Acre the previous year. Guy's claim was challenged by Conrad of Montferrat, second husband of Sibylla's half-sister, Isabella: Conrad, whose defence of Tyre had saved the kingdom in 1187, was supported by Philip of France, son of his first cousin Louis VII of France, and by another cousin, Duke Leopold V of Austria. Richard also allied with Humphrey IV of Toron, Isabella's first husband, from whom she had been forcibly divorced in 1190. Humphrey was loyal to Guy and spoke Arabic fluently, so Richard used him as a translator and negotiator.
Richard and his forces aided in the capture of Acre, despite the king's serious illness. At one point, while sick from scurvy, Richard is said to have picked off guards on the walls with a crossbow, while being carried on a stretcher. Eventually, Conrad of Montferrat concluded the surrender negotiations with Saladin and raised the banners of the kings in the city. Richard quarrelled with Leopold V of Austria over the deposition of Isaac Komnenos (related to Leopold's Byzantine mother) and his position within the crusade. Leopold's banner had been raised alongside the English and French standards. This was interpreted as arrogance by both Richard and Philip, as Leopold was a vassal of the Holy Roman Emperor (although he was the highest-ranking surviving leader of the imperial forces). Richard's men tore the flag down and threw it in the moat of Acre. Leopold left the crusade immediately. Philip also left soon afterwards, in poor health and after further disputes with Richard over the status of Cyprus (Philip demanded half the island) and the kingship of Jerusalem. Richard suddenly found himself without allies.
Richard had kept 2,700 Muslim prisoners as hostages against Saladin fulfilling all the terms of the surrender of the lands around Acre. Philip, before leaving, had entrusted his prisoners to Conrad, but Richard forced him to hand them over to him. Richard feared his forces being bottled up in Acre, as he believed his campaign could not advance with the prisoners in train. He therefore ordered all the prisoners executed. He then moved south, defeating Saladin's forces at the Battle of Arsuf on 7 September 1191. He attempted to negotiate with Saladin, but this was unsuccessful. In the first half of 1192, he and his troops refortified Ascalon.
An election forced Richard to accept Conrad of Montferrat as King of Jerusalem, and he sold Cyprus to his defeated protégé, Guy. Only days later, on 28 April 1192, Conrad was stabbed to death by Hashshashin before he could be crowned. Eight days later, Richard's own nephew, Henry II of Champagne was married to the widowed Isabella, although she was carrying Conrad's child. The murder has never been conclusively solved, and Richard's contemporaries widely suspected his involvement.
Realising that he had no hope of holding Jerusalem even if he took it, Richard ordered a retreat. There commenced a period of minor skirmishes with Saladin's forces while Richard and Saladin negotiated a settlement to the conflict, as both realized that their respective positions were growing untenable. Richard knew that both Philip and his own brother John were starting to plot against him. However, Saladin insisted on the razing of Ascalon's fortifications, which Richard's men had rebuilt, and a few other points. Richard made one last attempt to strengthen his bargaining position by attempting to invade Egypt—Saladin's chief supply-base—but failed. In the end, time ran out for Richard. He realised that his return could be postponed no longer, since both Philip and John were taking advantage of his absence. He and Saladin finally came to a settlement on 2 September 1192—this included the provisions demanding the destruction of Ascalon's wall as well as an agreement allowing Christian access to and presence in Jerusalem. It also included a three-year truce.
Captivity and return

Bad weather forced Richard's ship to put in at Corfu, in the lands of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos, who objected to Richard's annexation of Cyprus, formerly Byzantine territory. Disguised as a Knight Templar, Richard sailed from Corfu with four attendants, but his ship was wrecked near Aquileia, forcing Richard and his party into a dangerous land route through central Europe.
On his way to the territory of Henry of Saxony, his brother-in-law, Richard was captured shortly before Christmas 1192, near Vienna, by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, who accused Richard of arranging the murder of his cousin Conrad of Montferrat. Moreover, Richard had personally offended Leopold by casting down his standard from the walls of Acre. Richard and his retainers had been travelling in disguise as low-ranking pilgrims, but he was identified either because he was wearing an expensive ring, or because of his insistence on eating roast chicken, an aristocratic delicacy.
Duke Leopold kept him prisoner at Dürnstein. His mishap was soon known to England, but the regents were for some weeks uncertain of his whereabouts. The detention of a crusader was contrary to public law, and on these grounds Pope Celestine III excommunicated Duke Leopold.
Early in 1193, the Duke then handed Richard over to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, who was aggrieved both by the support which the Plantagenets had given to the family of Henry the Lion and also by Richard's recognition of Tancred in Sicily, and who imprisoned him in Trifels Castle. So Pope Celestine III excommunicated Henry VI as well for wrongfully keeping Richard in prison. However, Henry needed the ransom money to raise an army and assert his rights over southern Italy.
Richard famously refused to show deference to the emperor and declared to him, "I am born of a rank which recognizes no superior but God". Despite his complaints, the conditions of his captivity were not severe.
His mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, worked to raise the ransom of 150,000 marks (2-3 times the annual income for the English Crown under Richard) demanded by Henry. Both clergy and laymen were taxed for a quarter of the value of their property, the gold and silver treasures of the churches were confiscated, and money was raised from the scutage and the carucage taxes. The emperor demanded that 150,000 marks (65,000 pounds of silver) be delivered to him before he would release the king, the same amount raised by the Saladin tithe only a few years earlier.[20] At the same time, John, Richard's brother, and King Philip of France offered 80,000 marks for the Emperor to hold Richard prisoner until Michaelmas 1194. The emperor turned down the offer. The money to rescue the King was transferred to Germany by the emperor's ambassadors, but "at the king's peril" (had it been lost along the way, Richard would have been held responsible), and finally, on 4 February 1194 Richard was released. Philip sent a message to John: "Look to yourself; the devil is loose."
The affair had a lasting influence on Austria, since part of the money from King Richard's ransom was used by Duke Leopold V to finance the founding in 1194 of the new city of Wiener Neustadt, which had a significant role in various periods of subsequent Austrian history up to the present.
Later years and death

Tomb at Fontevraud
During his absence, John had come close to seizing the throne. Richard forgave him when they met again and, bowing to political necessity, named him as his heir in place of Arthur, whose mother Constance of Brittany was perhaps already open to the overtures of Philip II. When Phillip attacked Richard's fortress, Chateau-Gaillard, he boasted that "if its walls were iron, yet would I take it," to which Richard replied, "If these walls were butter, yet would I hold them!"
Determined to resist Philip's designs on contested Angevin lands such as the Vexin and Berry, Richard poured all his military expertise and vast resources into war on the French King. He constructed an alliance against Philip, including Baldwin IX of Flanders, Renaud, Count of Boulogne, and his father-in-law King Sancho VI of Navarre, who raided Philip's lands from the south. Most importantly, he managed to secure the Welf inheritance in Saxony for his nephew, Henry the Lion's son Otto of Poitou, who was elected Otto IV of Germany in 1198.
Partly as a result of these and other intrigues, Richard won several victories over Philip. At Freteval in 1194, just after Richard's return from captivity and money-raising in England to France, Philip fled, leaving his entire archive of financial audits and documents to be captured by Richard. At the battle of Gisors (sometimes called Courcelles) in 1198 Richard took "Dieu et mon Droit"—"God and my Right"—as his motto (still used by the British monarchy today), echoing his earlier boast to the Emperor Henry that his rank acknowledged no superior but God.
In March 1199, Richard was in the Limousin suppressing a revolt by Viscount Aimar V of Limoges. Although it was Lent, he "devastated the Viscount's land with fire and sword". He besieged the puny, virtually unarmed castle of Chalus-Chabrol. Some chroniclers claimed that this was because a local peasant had uncovered a treasure trove of Roman gold, which Richard claimed from Aimar in his position as feudal overlord.

In the early evening of 25 March 1199, Richard was walking around the castle perimeter without his chainmail, investigating the progress of sappers on the castle walls. Arrows were occasionally shot from the castle walls, but these were given little attention. One defender in particular amused the king greatly—a man standing on the walls, crossbow in one hand, the other clutching a frying pan which he had been using all day as a shield to beat off missiles. He deliberately aimed an arrow at the king, which the king applauded. However, another arrow then struck him in the left shoulder near the neck. He tried to pull this out in the privacy of his tent but failed; a surgeon, called a 'butcher' by Hoveden, removed it, 'carelessly mangling' the King's arm in the process. The wound swiftly became gangrenous. Accordingly, Richard asked to have the crossbowman brought before him; called alternatively Peter Basile, John Sabroz, Dudo,[23] and Bertrand de Gurdon (from the town of Gourdon) by chroniclers, the man turned out to be a boy. This boy claimed that Richard had killed the boy's father and two brothers, and that he had killed Richard in revenge. The boy expected to be executed; Richard, as a last act of mercy, forgave the boy of his crime, saying, "Live on, and by my bounty behold the light of day," before ordering the boy to be freed and sent away with 100 shillings. Richard then set his affairs in order, bequeathing all his territory to his brother John and his jewels to his nephew Otto.
Richard died on 6 April 1199 in the arms of his mother; it was later said that "As the day was closing, he ended his earthly day." His death was later referred to as 'the Lion (that) by the Ant was slain'. His last act of chivalry proved fruitless; in an orgy of medieval brutality, the infamous mercenary captain Mercadier had the crossbowman flayed alive and hanged as soon as Richard died.
Richard's brain was buried at Charroux Abbey in Poitou, his heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy, and the rest of his body was buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I had to put this together for my English, so I thought I would post it here.
The Adder
Vipera berus
Vipera berus is a venomous viper species that is extremely widespread and can be found throughout most of Western Europe and all the way to Asia. They are not regarded as highly dangerous; bites can be very painful, but are seldom fatal. The specific name, berus, is New Latin and was at one time used to refer to a snake, possibly the grass snake, Natrix natrix.
It is well known for being the only poisonous snake in the UK.
Relatively thick-bodied, adults grow to 60 cm (2 ft) in length with an average of 55 cm (22 in). Maximum size varies per region. The largest—over 90 cm—are found in Sweden; specimens of 104 cm (41 in) have been observed there on two occasions. In France and Great Britain, the maximum size is 80-87 cm (32 to 34.45 in).

V. berus: normal and melanistic color patterns.
The head is fairly large and distinct, the sides of which are almost flat and vertical. The edge of the snout is usually raised into a low ridge. Seen from above, the rostral scale is not visible, or only just. Immediately behind the rostral, there are 2 (rarely 1) small scales. Dorsally, there are usually 5 large plates: a squarish frontal (longer than wide, sometimes rectangular), 2 parietals (sometimes with a tiny scale between the frontal and the parietals), and 2 long and narrow supraoculars. The latter are large and distinct, each separated from the frontal by 1-4 small scales. The nostril is situated in a shallow depression within a large nasal scale. The eye is relatively large—equal in size or slightly larger than the nasal scale—but often smaller in females. Below the supraoculars there are 6-13 (usually 8-10) small circumorbital scales. The temporal scales are smooth (rarely weakly keeled). There are 10-12 sublabials and 6-10 (usually 8-9) supralabials. Of the latter, the numbers 3 and 4 are the largest, while 4 and 5 (rarely 3 and 4) are separated from the eye by a single row of small scales (sometimes 2 rows in alpine specimens).
Midbody there are 21 dorsal scales rows (rarely 19, 20, 22 or 23). These are strongly keeled scales, except for those bordering the ventral scales. These scales seem loosely attached to the skin and lower rows become increasingly wide; those closest to the ventral scales are twice as wide as the ones along the midline. The ventral scales number 132-150 in males and 132-158 in females. The anal plate is single. The subcaudals are paired, numbering 32-46 in males and 23-38 in females.
The color pattern varies, ranging from very light-colored specimens with small incomplete dark dorsal crossbars to melanistic individuals that are entirely dark and lack any apparent dorsal pattern. However, most have some kind of zigzag dorsal pattern down the entire length of the body and tail. The head usually has a distinctive dark V or X on the back. A dark streak runs from the eye to the neck and continues as a longitudinal series of spots along the flanks.[2] Unusual for snakes, the sexes are possible to tell apart by the colour. Females are usually brownish in hue with dark-brown markings, the males are pure grey with black markings. The basal colour of males will often be a tad lighter than that of the females, making the black zigzag pattern stand out. The melanistic individuals are often females.

V. berus
Sufficient habitat complexity is a crucial requirement for the presence of this species, in order to support their various behaviors—basking, foraging and hibernation—as well as to offer some protection from predators and human harassment.[2] It is found in variety of habitats, including: chalky downs, rocky hillsides, moors, sandy heaths, meadows, rough commons, edges of woods, sunny glades and clearings, bushy slopes and hedgerows, dumps, coastal dunes and stone quarries. They will venture into wetlands if dry ground is available nearby. Therefore, they may be found on the banks of streams, lakes and ponds.
In much of southern Europe, such as southern France and northern Italy, it is found in either low lying wetlands or at high altitudes. In the Swiss Alps, it may ascend to about 3000 m. In Hungary and Russia, it avoids open steppeland; a habitat in which V. ursinii is more likely to occur. In Russia, however, it does occur in the forest steppe zone.
This is mainlya diurnal species, especially in the north of its range. Further south it is said to be active in the evening, and it may even be active at night during the summer months. It is predominantly a terrestrial species, although it has been known to climb up banks and into low bushes in order to bask or search for prey.

V. berus
Generally speaking, this is not an aggressive species, tending to be rather timid and biting only when cornered or alarmed. Many people are only bitten after stepping on them. They will usually disappear into the undergrowth at a hint of any danger, but will return once all is quiet, often to the same spot. Occasionally, individuals will reveal their presence with a loud and sustained hissing, hoping to warn off potential aggressors. Often, these turn out to be pregnant females. When threatened, the front part of the body is drawn into a S-shape to prepare for a strike.
This is a cold-adapted species that hibernates in the winter. In Great Britain, males and females hibernate for about 150 and 180 days respectively. However, in northern Sweden hibernation lasts 8–9 months. On mild winter days, they may emerge to bask where the snow has melted and will often travel across snow. Nevertheless, about 15% of adults and 30-40% of juveniles die during hibernation.
Diet consists mainly of small mammals, such as mice, voles and shrews, as well as lizards. Sometimes, slow worms are taken, and even weasels and moles. They feed on amphibians, such as frogs, newts and salamanders. Birds are also reported[by whom?] to be on the menu, especially nestlings and even eggs, for which they will climb into shrubbery and bushes. Generally, diet varies depending on locality.
Juveniles will eat nestling mammals, small lizards and frogs, as well as insects, worms and spiders. Once they reach about 30 cm in length, their diet begins to resemble that of the adults.
In Hungary, mating takes place in the last week of April, while in the north it happens later in the second week of May. Matings have also been observed in June and even early October, but it is not known if the autumn matings result in any young. Females often breed once every two years, or even once every three years if the seasons are short and the climate is severe.

V. berus - showing strongly keeled scales on dorsal area
Males find females by following their scent trails, sometimes tracking them for hundreds of meters a day. If a female is found and flees, the male follows. Courtship involves side-by-side parallel "flowing" behavior, tongue flicking along the back and excited lashing of the tail. Pairs stay together for one or two days after mating. Males chase away their rivals and engage in combat. Often, this also starts with the aforementioned flowing behavior before culminating in the dramatic "adder dance." In this act, the males confront each other, raise up the front part of the body vertically, make swaying movements and attempt to push each other to the ground. This is repeated until one of the two becomes exhausted and crawls off to find another mate. Interestingly, Appleby (1971) notes that he has never seen an intruder win one of these contests, as if the frustrated defender is so aroused by courtship that he refuses to lose his chance to mate. There are no records of any biting taking place during these bouts.
Females usually give birth in August-September, but sometimes as early as July, or as late as early October. Litters range in size from 3 to 20. The young are usually born encased in a transparent sac from which they must free themselves. Sometimes, they succeed in freeing themselves from this membrane while still inside the female. The neonates, measuring 14 to 23 cm (average of 17 cm), are born with a fully functional venom apparatus and a reserve supply of yolk within their bodies. They shed their skins for the first time within a day or two. Females do not appear to take much interest in their offspring, but the young have been observed to remain near their mothers for several days after birth.
Because of the rapid rate of human expansion throughout the range of this species, bites are relatively common. Domestic animals and livestock are frequent victims. In Great Britain, most instances occur in March-October. In Sweden, there are about 1300 bites a year, with an estimated 12% that require hospitalisation.
Mallow et al. (2003) describe the venom toxicity as being relatively low compared to other viper species. They cite Minton (1974) who reported the LD50 values for mice to be 0.55 mg/kg IV, 0.80 mg/kg IP and 6.45 mg/kg SC. As a comparison, in one test the minimum lethal dose of for a guinea pig was 40–67 mg, but only 1.7 mg was necessary when Daboia russelii venom was used.[2] Brown (1973) gives a higher subcutaneous LD range of 1.0-4.0 mg/kg. All agree that the venom yield is low: Minton (1974) mentions 10–18 mg for specimens 48-62 cm in length, while Brown (1973) lists only 6 mg.
Relatively speaking, bites from this species are not highly dangerous.In Britain there have been only 14 known fatalities since 1876; the last a 5-year-old child in 1975 An 82-year-old woman died following a bite in Germany in 2004, although it is not clear whether her death was due to the effect of the venom. Even so, professional medical help should always be sought as soon as possible after any bite. Very occasionally bites can be life threatening, particularly in small children, while adults may experience discomfort and disability long after the bite. The length of recovery varies, but may take up to a year.
Local symptoms include immediate and intense pain, followed after a few minutes (but perhaps by as much as 30 minutes) by swelling and a tingling sensation. Blisters containing blood are not common. The pain may spread within a few hours, along with tenderness and inflammation. Reddish lymphangitic lines and bruising may appear, and the whole limb can become swollen and bruised within 24 hours. Swelling may also spread to the trunk, and with children, throughout the entire body. Necrosis and intracompartmental syndromes are very rare.
Systemic symptoms resulting from anaphylaxis can be dramatic. These may appear within 5 minutes post bite, or can be delayed for many hours. Such symptoms include nausea, retching and vomiting, abdominal colic and diarrhoea, incontinence of urine and faeces, sweating, fever, vasoconstriction, tachycardia, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, shock, angioedema of the face, lips, gums, tongue, throat and epiglotis, urticaria and bronchospam. If left untreated, these symptoms may persist or fluctuate for up to 48 hours. In severe cases, cardiovascular failure may occur.
At least eight different antivenoms are available against bites from this species.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Do you like this trailer that I made click on the link above to view it.