Richard the Lionhearted

Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title:

Richard Coer de Lyon






Survives in seven manuscripts from the early 14th to late 15th Century



Textual Information

Brief Summary:

This Middle English romance is a crusading poem which draws upon and embellishes King Richard’s participation in the Third Crusade.  In the poem, Richard responds when the Pope calls for aid after the Saracens, lead by Saladin, attack and conquer Acre, Syria, and several other locations which had been in the hands of Christians. The Saracens also took control of the True Cross. Richard and other political leaders, such as the King of France, vow to take back the Cross. Richard defeats the Saracens in a battle and imprisons all of the Saracens living in Acre. He states that he will release them only after ransom was paid, including the return of the True Cross. When the Saracens deny they have the cross, Richard executes most of the prisoners. After ten years and a series of battles, Richard is forced to call a temporary truce with Saladin in order to return to England to reclaim his throne from his brother, John.


Relics Appearing in Text:

True Cross


Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations


Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland Advocates’, MS 19.2.1
London, British Library, MS Egerton – 2862
London, College of Arms MS HDN 58
Oxford, Bodleian, MS 21802
London, British Library MS Harley 4690
Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 175/96
London, British Library, MS Additional  31042

The poem also survives in two printings:
Wynkyn de Worde’s 1509 London printing: Kynge Rycharde cuer du lyon, Oxford, Bodleian – Crynes 734 and Manchester, John Ryland’s Library – Deansgate 15843
Wynkyn de Worde’s 1528 printing: Kynge Rycharde cuer du lyon, Oxford, Bodleian – S. Seld. D. 45  and London, British Library – C.40.c.51


List of Editions of the Medieval Text: 

Richard Coer de Lyon. Edited by Peter Larkin. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2015
Available online:



Share This Book