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Accession of Richard I page 3

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Some days elapsed before Richard made any use of this communication; but he met Philip with haughtiness and reserve, and frequent disputes took place between them. At length, during one of these altercations, Coeur-de-Lion suddenly produced the letter, and asked whether he knew the handwriting. Philip indignantly declared it to be a forgery, and accused Richard of seeking a cause of quarrel, by which means he might break off his contract of marriage with the Princess Alice, Philip's sister. Richard replied calmly that he could not marry the lady Alice, since it was well known that she had born a son to his father, King Henry. This circumstance, if true, was well known to Richard during his father's lifetime, when he had so frequently demanded that his bride should be given up to him - a request which, it is evident, had merely been made as a pretext for rebellion. Richard now offered proofs of what he had alleged, and, whatever may have been the force of these proofs, Philip consented to give up the contest. In the days of chivalry, as now, money was accepted in compensation for breaches of such contracts, and Philip sold the honour of his sister for an annual pension of 2,000 marks for five years. For this sum he gave Richard permission to marry whoever he pleased (Roger of Hoveden).

Coeur-de-Lion had already chosen his bride. Some three years before, while staying at the court of Navarre, he had fallen in love with Berengaria, the daughter of the king of that country. The young princess is described as having been very beautiful, of extremely youthful and delicate appearance, presenting in every respect the most striking contrast to the robust frame and gigantic presence of her lover. Their passion seems to have been more romantic and sincere than usually happens in similar cases. It is certain that Richard asked for no dowry with his bride, sought for no political advantages, but merely dispatched his mother, Queen Eleanor, to ask the lady's hand. Such conduct alone might have won the heart of Berengaria, even though she had not been already interested in his favour. Undeterred by the dangers and difficulties of the journey across the Alps, she at once set out to join her intended husband. The queen and the princess travelled with a suitable escort, and reached Naples in safety. Thence they passed on to the city of Brindisi, where they waited until the French king should have departed to the Holy Land.

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