View Full Version : Richard The Lion Heart spoke only french.

02-09-11, 00:42
Richard the Lionheart spoke no English and he spent just ten months of his ten-year-reign in England.

Richard The Lion Heart was king for only nine years, of that he only spent 6 months in England and the only Christmas he spent in England was in the royal castle in Southampton. The Three lions of England are Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard the Lion Heart. Of these three, none of them spoke English, they were Normans so spoke French.

Although speaking only French and spending very little time in England (he lived in his Duchy of Aquitaine in the southwest of France, preferring to use his kingdom as a source of revenue to support his armies), he was seen as a pious hero by his subjects. He remains one of the very few Kings of England remembered by his epithet, rather than regnal number, and is an enduring, iconic figure in England.

02-09-11, 07:57
Most kings of England from William the conqueror in 1066 until the mid 14th century spoke almost only French (and sometimes also Latin). Some might have known some English, but none were native speakers until Henry IV (1366-1413). Perhaps that is because English only replaced French as the official language of government in 1362, a few years before Henry's birth. Ironically Henry IV was the son of John of Gaunt, himself born and raised in Belgium, not in England, while Henry IV's mother was of Norman and pure French descent !

02-09-11, 17:37
Hardly surprising that Richard spoke only French, having 3 older brothers it was not envisioned that he would eventually inherit the throne of England. Rather he was groomed as the future Duke of Aquitaine (his mother Eleanor, was Dutchess of Aquitaine in her own right) and was mainly raised and educated there.

Imo, Richard was neither hero nor a good king for England. He bankrupted the country in order to fight his endless wars and crusades but he did do one sensible thing for the country and that was to leave England in the very capable hands of one William Marshall. A remarkable man and statesman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Marshal,_1st_Earl_of_Pembroke

04-09-11, 14:08
Well.. Even William of Orange spoke French, instead of Dutch. It was quite common in former centuries.
French was the language of diplomats very long.


According to official records,William's last words are said to have been:
Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de mon âme; mon Dieu, ayez pitié de ce pauvre peuple.
My God, have pity on my soul; my God, have pity on this poor people.

If one dies? It seems to be obvious to speak the mother language..

04-09-11, 16:31
Just a point, the Normans did not speak French as we know it, rather the dialect of Normandy. Understandably the language also has a Norse influence.

There is a list of some of the differences and similarities between Norman, French, Swedish and English here

04-09-11, 17:01
Just a point, the Normans did not speak French as we know it, rather the dialect of Normandy.

When the Normans settled in France in the IXth and Xth century, Old French wasn't the "French as we know it" too