Richard set off from Sicily probably intending to go straight to the Holy Land. But a chance storm enforced a landing at Cyprus, where the locals were not friendly. Which meant that Richard ended up conquering the place in it's entirety, putting it's ruler Isaac Comnenus in chains of silver, and selling the island to the Templars.
An uncomfortable arrival in Sicily
Well, bringing 25 ships full of soldiers to Messina was probably always going to cause problems - and so it proved, with a series of running battles with the locals. But Richard didn't want trouble on this occasion, so he managed to get things calmed down. He built a wooden castle called Mategriffon - which alloed him to be safe, but also allowed him to stockpile provisions for his army, so they didn't go stealing off the locals. So tempers were eased - though since Nategriffon meant 'Death to the Greeks' I doubt this was the basis for a new, loving relationship...
Sorting out the housekeeping in Sicily
Richard had a few bits of housekeeping to sort out in Sicily when he arrived there in 1190:
- Get the army ready - his men spent 4 months building siege engines. They grumbled.
- Sort things out with Philip of France - the Treay of Messina 1190. Richard finally 'fessed up to the fact that he had no intention of marrying Philip's sister Alice; and swore that he could bring any number of witnesses who would prove that Alice had not only been sleeping with Henry, but had had his child. Philip was forced to release him. But he made sure he got off the island before Richard's new betrothed arrived, Berengaria of Navarre.
- Bring Tancred to book: Tancred was the ruler of Sicily, usurping the throne after the death of the previous ruler William. Richard had no beef with a bit of usurpation - but as it happens, William had been married to Richard's sister Joan, and Tancred had refused to return her dower. So Tancred agreed to repay.
The conquest of Cyprus
Richad was having none of that. He turned his part of the fleet around, landed with some knights and laid about him until Isaac and his army ran. In for a penny and so on, so Richard then proceeded to conquer all the coastal towns, with the locals deserting the unpopular Isaac in droves.
Isaac though wasn't fussed, becuase he had a plan. Richard was on his way to the Holy Land - so as long as he could sit things out safely somewhere he could just wait for Richard to leave. Cyprus is blessed with plenty of impregnable mountain castles...
But Isaac had figured without his daughter - she was captured in Kyrenia castle. Now Isaac might have been a vicious tyrant, but he qs a big softie when it came to his daughter, so he threw himself on Richard's mercy, and surrendered on condition that Richard didn't clap him in irons.
So Richard had a silver chain made for him. How Isaac laughed.
It's not clear if Richard evey planned to conquer Cyprus. But it's conquest was a significant part of the succes of the Third Crusade. It remained in Christian hands for 4 centuries, and be a vital source of support for Outremer. Initially Richard sold it to the Templars, but later sold it instead to the ousted King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan.
Marriage with Berengaria
Richard and Berengaria were married in May 1191 in the chapel of St George in Limassol, and then she was crowned by the Bishop of Evreux. There's no evidence of any great romance here - and of course no children. But equally there's no evidence to suggest that the couple didn't get on. Berengaria is quoted as being the only queen of England never to set foot in England, since she set up shop in Le Mans. I mean why would she visit, it's wet there afterall. It may be that she did visit England after Richard's death... but that measn she still qualifies. Good pub quiz question.