When King Richard I went to the Holy land during the Third Crusade, he was given the title coeur de lion (French for lion heart). Who gave him that title? I Imagine that it was a French person.

  • "Lion Heart" is not a title in the medieval sense. It is a nickname like "Sigurd Snake Eye", "Igne Hunchback", "Pedro the Cruel", "Juan la Loca", etc. In the medieval sense a title consists of a ruling office or rank and the name of the territory ruled in that rank. Examples include Count of Burgundy, Duke of Burgundy, King of burgundy, Landgrave of Alsace, Margrave of Moravia, Earl of March, Prince of Orange, etc. The combination of the rank and the territory showed that the bearer claimed legal "title" to use the powers of that rank or office in that territory.
    – MAGolding
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 3:53

2 Answers 2


They were ALL French. The House of Plantagenet (especially early on), in fact ALL of the Angevins, are French. They all spoke French (or a dialect thereof) as a FIRST language. Richard himself didn't speak English.

  • 1
    Yes quite; thank you for pointing this out. And not to mention the Plantagenets' predecessors the Normans...
    – Noldorin
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 23:45

Actually, Richard had acquired that name before he went on the Crusades. Richard and two of his brothers rose up in rebellion against their father, Henry II. They went to France to obtain the support of Louis VII, and it was Louis who actually knighted Richard. This established his initial ties to the French.

When the brothers set out to attack their father, Richard rallied the support of a number of barons from Aquitaine. Eventually, the brothers were defeated and Richard went to his father and begged for forgiveness. His father granted it, but also gave Richard the task of returning to Aquitaine to punish the barons who had fought for him in the rebellion. Many of these barons had very well fortified castles, so this task was not at all easy. It was during this campaign that Richard acquired the name "Lion Heart".

I don't believe there is any record of who exactly coined the phrase, but it was apparently his French adversaries who recognized his courage. I read some sources that suggested it was French minstrels who first used the term to add color to their tales, but no one can be sure.

  • Pretty sure he earned the nickname before fighting the barons, while fighting his Father (who was somehow nicknamed Hercules/Heracles since he was very good at fighting). It was a french nickname yes, but he spoke french and was in Aquitaine for quite a while, I highly doubt his adversaries would praise him and says he's so brave, most likely this came from his side after a peculiar event (maybe he led a charge that went well or went back to fight after beeing out of it, or charged to save one of his brother or something...)
    – LamaDelRay
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 12:48

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