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British Monarchy: An Overview

His father, Henry II, was the descendant of a noble family who had ruled the French province of Anjou for 250 Years. His mother, Eleanor, was in her own right, the Duchess of Aquitaine, which her family had ruled since the 10th century. Through the royal tradition of politically expedient marriage, the subsequent inheritance of sovereignty, and the premature death of his older brother, Richard became the sole heir to the Angevin Empire which reached from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees Mountains.

The political volatility of the middle ages required that all monarchs had to be prepared at all times to defend their territories. Because of this reality, Henry II was constantly traveling throughout his empire in order to crush rebellions, battle ambitious, neighboring kings, and attend to the tasks of governing. As a result, throughout his adolescence, Richard rarely saw his father. Richard was raised under his mother's care.

Few specifics are known about his formal education. It is evident, however, that he was an apt pupil. He was comfortable enough in Latin to be able to crack jokes at the expense of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He wrote poetry in both French and Provencal, composed songs and even gave instructions to the choir at the royal chapel (Gillingham 33). He quickly mastered the art of horsemanship, an essential part of his education as a member of a high social class. He excelled, and even s


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