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Wednesday, 16 August 2017


The Amazon River in South America is the largest river in the world. It moves more water than the next eight largest rivers of the world combined and has the largest drainage basin in the world. It accounts for about one fifth of the world's total river flow.

Amazon River near Iquitos, Peru. By M M from Switzerland 

The Nile is the longest river on Earth (about 6,650 km or 4,132 miles), though other rivers carry more water.

The Congo is the world's deepest river with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft).[

Grand Canyon's Thunder River is the steepest in the United States.

Britain's shortest river is the Brun which runs through Burnley in Lancashire.

The Brun near Heasandford, Burnley. By Richard Spencer, 

There are no rivers In Saudi Arabia. It is the largest country on this planet without a river.

Russia has to bomb their rivers every winter to prevent dangerous flooding caused by ice dams.

Contrary to popular belief, not all rivers flow south. The Nile River flows north and downhill due to gravity.

Evening, Nile River, Uganda. By Rod Waddington, 

The left bank on a river is the left side as you look downstream.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Rio de Janeiro


According to tradition, the spot now called Rio de Janeiro was first visited in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers, who believed the bay they encountered (now called Guanabara Bay) was the mouth of a river.

They named the area Rio de Janeiro, which translates as "River of January," based on their mistaken belief that the bay they sailed into was the mouth of a river.

The city of Rio de Janeiro was founded by the Portuguese in 1565 as São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, in honor of Sebastian, the saint who was the namesake and patron of the then Portuguese monarch.

Founding of Rio de Janeiro in 1565. By Halley Pacheco de Oliveira ,

During the 1567 Battle of Rio de Janeiro, Portuguese forces under the command of Estácio de Sá definitively drove the French out of Rio de Janeiro.

When French privateers captured gold-rich Rio de Janeiro in 1711, the Portuguese were forced to negotiate for its return. The ransom was 612,000 gold cruzados and 100 chests of sugar.

Rio was capital of Brazil from 1763 until 1960, when that role was transferred to Brasilia.

From 1808 to 1822, Rio served as the center for the exiled royal court of Portugal, then fleeing Napoleon's invasion. When Prince Regent Dom João VI arrived with the rest of the royal family in 1808 it was the first time a European monarch had set foot in the Americas.

The Embarkation of John VI and the Royal Family (1810)

Dom João transformed the city, establishing a medical school, national museum, national library (with the largest collection in Latin America) and botanical gardens.

In December 1815, Dom João made Rio the official capital of the Portuguese empire, a role it served until Brazil declared independence from Portugal in September 1822.

There was a large influx of African slaves to Rio de Janeiro during the first half of the 19th century: in 1819, there were 145,000 slaves in the captaincy. By 1840, the number of slaves had reached 220,000. During this period the Port of Rio de Janeiro was the largest port of slaves in America.

The stars on Brazil’s flag depict the night sky as seen from Rio on November 15, 1889, which was the date Brazil declared itself a republic.

On July 16, 1950, 173,850 paid spectators packed into the Maracanã stadium for the final of the 1950 World Cup. An estimated ten percent of Rio's population watched as Uruguay beat Brazil. The game holds the world record for the highest attendance at any soccer match, ever.

In 2014, Rio de Janeiro legalized street art on many types of city property, turning the already colorful city into an outdoor art gallery.

The 2016 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Rio 2016, opened in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016.


Construction on Rio's beloved statue of Jesus, which is perched atop Corcovado, began in 1922. The statue officially opened on October 12, 1931.

The imposing statue of Cristo Redentor ("Christ the Redeemer") sits majestically atop the mountain known as Corcovado ("Portuguese for ‘hunchback"), giving its 2,329-foot height an additional 125 feet. Weighing in at 635 long tons, the soapstone-and-concrete statue's welcoming arms stretch almost 97 feet across.

Aerial view of the statue. By Gustavo Facci from Argentina - Flickr.

Christ the Redeemer cost $250,000 — the equivalent of approximately $3.4 million in 2016 — to build. The statue was funded by Brazilian Catholics.

It is the eighth largest statue of Christ in the world. A giant statue of Jesus Christ on Buntu Burake hill in South Sulawesi, Indonesia (approximately 130 feet tall) is the tallest.

In January 2014, the Rio statue of Jesus lost the tip of its thumb when it was hit by lightning. Its right middle finger was damaged in a storm the previous month.

The Christ the Redeemer is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and can be seen in many Hollywood movies and music videos.


The city’s nickname is ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ Which, if you’re Portuguese is up to scratch, you will know means “Marvellous City”.

The people of Rio are known as “Cariocas”. Carioca means “white man’s house."

Rio de Janeiro celebrates an official Graffiti Day on March 27th—the date Brazilian graffiti pioneer Vallauri Alex died in 1987.

Over two million people gather annually on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on the night of December 31st, making of it the world's largest New Year's Eve party.

The annual Rio carnival is the world’s biggest and attracts around two million tourists.

Banda de Ipanema, one of the largest carnival blocks of the city. By Allbrazilian 

There are about 200 samba schools in Rio.

Sources Daily Express, Smithsonian magazine

Monday, 14 August 2017



Women have worn wedding rings since ancient Egyptian times but men only started doing so in the early 1900s.

Wedding rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because the Romans believed there was a vein in the finger, referred to as the 'Vena Amoris' or the 'Vein of Love' which was said to be directly connected to the heart.

A ring has been included in wedding ceremonies since the 12th century. Pope Innocent III ordained that marriages had to take place in church and that a wedding ring should be exchanged during the service.

Old names for the ring finger include leech finger, physician finger and wedding finger.

While on Apollo 16, Ken Mattingly lost his wedding ring—another astronaut caught it days later as it floated out a door during a spacewalk.


During the Middle Ages, knights wore a ring which they would use to stamp a bill instead of paying cash.

Sailors used to make rings for their fingers out of gold or silver coins by cutting out the middles.

Mood rings were a short-lived fad of the mid-1970s, which were especially popular with young girls. They featured fake gemstones that were filled with liquid crystals. These special crystals were thermochromic, which meant they changed colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. The ring came with a color chart that indicated the person's supposed mood.

A mood ring shown face front. Note the band of color change.


The study of seals and signet rings is called sphragistics.

Elvis Presley was buried with his favourite diamond ring.

The £1.7million ‘Peacock Ring’ holds the record for most cut diamonds set in a single ring. Designed by Indian-based Savio Jewellery, it boasts 3,827 diamonds and weighs more than 50g. The diamonds used in the ring have a combined carat value of 16.5.

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin was a male German Shepherd who ranked as one of the all-time famous canine movie stars.

He was rescued from a World War I battlefield by Lee Duncan, an aerial gunner of the U.S. Army Air Service, who nicknamed him "Rinty".

Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and obtained silent film work for his pet.

Rin Tin Tin was an immediate box-office success and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame.

Rin Tin Tin in the film Frozen River (1929)

Rin Tin Tin signed his own contracts for the films he made with a paw print.

At the height of Rin Tin Tin's fame, a chef prepared him a daily steak lunch. Classical musicians played to aid his digestion.

Along with the earlier canine film star Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin was responsible for greatly increasing the popularity of German Shepherd dogs as family pets.

On August 10, 1932, Rin Tin Tin died at Duncan's home on Club View Drive in Los Angeles.

After the death of Rin Tin Tin, the name was given to several related German Shepherd dogs featured in fictional stories on film, radio, and television.

Rin Tin Tin is one of only three animals to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—the other two being Strongheart and Lassie.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados.

Her mother is Monica (Braithwaite) who is of Guyanese ancestry and her father Ronald Fenty who is of Irish and West Indian ancestry.

Monica is a retired accountant, who now owns a clothing boutique back home in Barbados. Ronald Fenty, is a warehouse supervisor.

She has two younger brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty.

Rihanna was an army cadet that trained with the Barbadian military.

She was discovered by music producer Evan Rogers while he was vacationing in Barbados, with his wife.

Rihanna's debut single "Pon de Replay" was released in May 2005. It peaked in the top five in fifteen countries, including at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart.

Rihanna  at the Concert for Valor in Washington, D.C. in 2014 By [1] - Rihanna,

Rihanna was dating fellow singer Chris Brown when he assaulted her the night before the Grammy Awards in 2009. On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and for making criminal threats. He was ordered to stay fifty yards (46 meters) away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to ten yards (nine meters).

Rihanna holds the record for the most consecutive weeks in the UK singles charts. The Barbados-born pop star had at least one song in the Top 75 for 196 weeks starting with "Run This Town" in 2009 and ending with "Diamonds" in 2013. She snatched the record from The Shadows, Cliff Richard’s backing band, who notched up 186 weeks from 1959 to 1962.

Rihanna passed Justin Bieber on June 18, 2013 as the most-viewed artist on YouTube. At that date the 77 videos on Rihanna's official VEVO channel had clocked a combined 3.784 billion views in total, surpassing the total view counts of the 79 videos on Bieber's official VEVO channel by roughly two million views.

In 2015, a movie called Home was released. The character that Rihanna voiced, Gratuity 'Tip' Tucci, who was the first human black protagonist in a feature film by DreamWorks Animation.

Rihanna's fanbase are known as her Navy, after the lyric "We're an army, better yet a navy" from her song "G4L."

Source Artistfacts

Saturday, 12 August 2017


Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.

When babies in the womb are seen sucking their thumb, they are sucking their right thumb 90% of the time.

Female cats tend to be right-pawed; tom cats tend to be left-pawed.

Right-hand traffic

Most of Europe followed the Roman practice of driving on the left hand side but the French seemed determined to change everything after their revolution in 1789, including the side of the road on which they drove. Napoleon strongly supported right-hand driving, partly as a show of his authority but perhaps also because he was left-handed.

Right hand drive in France

The Americans started by driving on the left but not long after their revolution, anti-British sentiment made them copy the French.

Until 1965, driving was done on the left-hand side on roads in Sweden. The conversion to right-hand was done on a weekday at 5 p.m.  On September 3, 1965 all traffic stopped as the Swedes switched sides. The later time in the day was chosen to prevent accidents out of concern that the drivers would have got up in the morning and been too sleepy to realize 'this' was the day of the changeover.

Traffic moves from left to right in Stockholm, Sweden, on 3 September 1967

Two out of three people who live on Earth drive on the right side of the road.

Source Washington Post

Friday, 11 August 2017


The rifle is a gun with a stock to brace against the shoulder and spiral grooves in its barrel. The grooves are called rifling and they make the bullet spin as it flies through the air, which helps keep it travelling in a straight line. Rifled guns came into use in the 1500s.


One of the most early successful rifles, the long rifle, was developed in the Kentucky territory over the course of the 18th century

Long rifles By Antique Military Rifles - originally posted to Flickr as Kentucky's,

The English military conducted research on various rifles from 1800, especially emphasizing long-range shooting. The first book in English on target rifle shooting was published eight year later.

Long-range shooting became so popular that at the first prize meeting in 1860 of the National Rifle Association, Queen Victoria fired the first shot.

The Massachusetts Rifle Association, "America's Oldest Active Gun Club", was founded in 1875.

The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk III was officially introduced into British Military Service on January 26, 1907. It remains the second oldest military rifle still in official use.

If you were to fire a bullet from a Lee Enfield .303 rifle — the standard rifle of British military up to the mid-Fifties — directly up into the air, it would take about 55 seconds for it to land.

Short Magazine Lee–Enfield No. 1 Mk. III

Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming took top scores in the qualifying examinations for medical school, and he had the choice of three to choose between. Knowing little about them, he chose St. Mary's because he had played water polo against them. He decided to pursue bacteriology rather than becoming a surgeon for another sporting reason. If he took a position as a surgeon, he would have to leave St. Mary's. The captain of St. Mary's rifle club knew that and was desperate to improve his team. Knowing that Fleming was a great shot he did all he could to keep him at St. Mary's. The captain worked in the inoculation service and he convinced Fleming to join his department in order to work with its brilliant director -- and to join the rifle club. Fleming would stay at St. Mary's for the rest of his career.

The United States Army adopted the M1 semiautomatic rifle in 1936.


The AK-47 assault rifle, one of the first proper assault rifles, was developed by Russian national Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947. (AK-47 stands for Automatic.) Kalashnikov was a soldier in World War II who fought against the Nazis. He was inspired to make a better gun when lying wounded in hospital and hearing soldiers complain about Soviet weapons compared with superior German ones.

AK-47 By Allatur, Wikipedia

The AK-47, or Kalashnikov rifle, doesn't jam in sandy or wet conditions, and has killed more people than any other gun. "I sleep well. Politicians are to blame for resorting to violence,’ Kalashnikov would say when asked to justify his creation."

The AK-47 is the world’s most widely used assault rifle. Of the estimated 500 million firearms that exist, approximately 100 million belong to the Kalashnikov family, three-quarters of which are AK-47s. This means there is one for every 60 people on the planet.

In Russia, the Kalashnikov is a tremendous source of national pride. Kalashnikov Vodka has been marketed with souvenir bottles in the shape of the AK-47 Kalashnikov. There are also Kalashnikov watches and umbrellas.


The actor Charlton Heston (1923-2008) was an outspoken advocate for gun ownership in the U.S. and served as president of the National Rifle Association.

By PretoriaTravel 

American citizens own more assault rifles than the British Army.


Thursday, 10 August 2017


Rickets is a Vitamin D defiency disease of young children and is among the most frequent childhood diseases in many developing countries. It is marked by soft, poorly developed bones, resulting in bow legs. The majority of cases occur in children suffering from severe malnutrition, usually resulting from famine or starvation during the early stages of childhood.

The name comes from the old English word 'wrikken; meaning "to twist."

Photograph of children with rickets

Cases of what is now known as rickets were documented by Greek physician Soranus of Ephesus. He practiced in Alexandria and subsequently in Rome as early as the first and second centuries AD.

In 1650 a treatise on rickets was published by Francis Glisson, a physician at Caius College, Cambridge, who said it had first appeared about 30 years previously in the English counties of Dorset and Somerset.

Rickets was common during the Industrial Revolution because the persistent heavy industrial smog deprived children of sunlight.

In 1921 scientists proved rickets was caused by lack of vitamin D. The discovery of the cause of rickets coincided with increased understanding of vitamins – particularly A and D. In 1919, Edward Mellanby, after conducting experiments with various diets on puppies discovered a link between lack of "either fat-soluble A" or something pretty similar. That similar factor, vitamin D, was discovered by Elmer McCollum and Marguerite Davis in 1921.

Before and after photographs for therapy for rickets 

Children growing up during the Second World War were told to eat their greens to avoid rickets.

In the 1940s, margarine was fortified with vitamin D to try to prevent the disease.

By 1945, rickets had all but been eliminated in the United States,

In Dutch, German and Swedish rickets is known as "English disease"

Source Daily Mail

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Cardinal Richelieu


Armand du Plessis was born in Paris on September 9, 1585, the fourth of five children.

Armand's father, François du Plessis, seigneur de Richelieu, was a soldier and courtier who served as the Grand Provost of France and his mother, Susanne de La Porte, was the daughter of a famous jurist.

Armand was delicate from childhood, and suffered frequent bouts of ill-health throughout his life.

François du Plessis died fighting in the French Wars of Religion, leaving his wife and children in debt; with the aid of royal grants, however, the family was able to avoid financial difficulties.

At the age of nine, young Armand's was sent to the College of Navarre in Paris to study philosophy. Thereafter, he began to train for a military career.


Cardinal Richelieu's powerful, analytical intellect was characterized by a reliance on reason, strong will, the ability to govern others and the of use political power effectively. Richelieu adhered to the maxim that "the ends justify the means."

Cardinal de Richelieu by Philippe de Champaigne (1642)

King Henry III had rewarded Richelieu's father for his participation in the Wars of Religion by granting his family the bishopric of Luçon. In order to keep the diocese of Luçon, Armand Jean needed to become a monk. For that purpose he joined the Grande Chartreuse, the main monastery of the Carthusian order.

Richelieu was consecrated as a bishop in 1607. For this he needed a dispensation of the pope, as at age of 21, he was too young to become a bishop.

Richelieu later entered politics and became France's Secretary of State for foreign affairs in 1616.

After the death of the King's favourite, the duc de Luynes, in 1621, Richelieu began to rise to power quickly. The year after, the king nominated Richelieu for a cardinalate, which Pope Gregory XV accordingly granted on April 19, 1622.

He became King Louis XIII's chief minister on August 13, 1624. Cardinal de Richelieu was often known by the title of the King's "Chief Minister". As a result, he is sometimes said to be the world's first Prime Minister.

Richelieu set out to secure the authority of the crown through force and political repression. He played havoc with France's Protestant church and in 1627, the cardinal ordered the army to besiege the Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle; Richelieu personally commanded the besieging troops. The city remained firm for over a year before capitulating in 1628.

Henri Motte's depiction of Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle.

After putting down the Huguenot political uprising, Richelieu still allowed the French Protestants some religious freedom.

By 1631 Richelieu had plotted against the king, and replaced his enemies in the government. By restraining the power of the nobility, he transformed France into a strongly centralized state.

His chief foreign policy objective was to check the power of the Austro-Spanish Habsburg dynasty; although a Roman Catholic cardinal, Richelieu did not hesitate to make alliances with Protestant rulers.

Cardinal Richelieu remained in office until his death in 1642; then Jules Cardinal Mazarin became chief minister.


Even before becoming Prime Minister, Richelieu's political views were well-defined. He believed everyone in society played a specific role in the system, making their unique contributions: the nobility with arms under the control of the king, and the common people through obedience.

Richelieu believed in the divine right of the king, and the mission of the Roman Church, although he contended that the church's job was merely a spiritual one, in which they should not get involved in the affairs of the state. The clergy's role, he believed, was to pray, whilst the king and those who govern were above everything.


Cardinal Richelieu was so fond of cats that he shared his home with 14 of them. Specially appointed attendants cared for the moggies.

Upon his death, the Cardinal left all his worldly wealth to his feline companions. They included:

Félimare, who was striped like a tiger.
Gazette, who was described as "indiscreet."
Lucifer, a jet black angora.
Ludovic le Cruel who was a savage rat-killer
Perruque, named thus because as a kitten, she fell at Richelieu's feet from the wig ("perruque") of an academic named Racan
Pyrame and Thisbe who were named after the mythological lovers because they slept together w/ paws intertwined
Rubis sur l'Ongle who was especially fond of milk.
Serpolet, who was fond of sunning himself in the window.
Soumise, Cardinal Richelieu's favorite.


For many years Richelieu had suffered from recurrent fevers (possibly malaria), intestinal tuberculosis with fistula, and migraines. By late 1642 his right arm was suppurating with tubercular osteitis, and he was coughing blood. Richlieu's doctors continued to bleed him frequently, further weakening him.

Painting by Philippe de Champaigne showing Cardinal Richelieu on his deathbed

Cardinal Richelieu died on December 4, 1642, aged 57. His body was embalmed and interred at the church of the Sorbonne.

Sources All-Art, Compton's Encyclopedia

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Richard III of England


Richard was born on October 2, 1452 at Fotheringhay Castle, the twelfth of thirteen children of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville.

Late 16th-century portrait, housed in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Young Richard was a sickly, stunted baby. He was bought up at Fotheringhay Castle and saw his parents only rarely. He grew up pious and cultured.

His father and elder brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were killed by their rival house the Lancastrians at the Battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460. Richard, who was eight years old, and his brother George were sent by his mother, the Duchess of York, to the Low Countries.

They returned to England a few months later and participated in the coronation of Richard's eldest brother as King Edward IV in June 1461.

Richard spent much of his childhood at the 12th century Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, under the tutelage of his cousin Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (also known as Warwick the Kingmaker), who took care of his courtly education. He received instruction in Chivalry, Etiquette, Law, Latin, Mathematics, Music and Religion. Richard later made his married home.

The ruins of Middleham Castle By CJW 

Warwick was instrumental in deposing Henry VI and replacing him with Richard's eldest brother, Edward.

Richard was forced to flee overseas along with his older brother Edward IV in October 1470 after Warwick defected to the side of the former Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou, and for a second time Richard was forced to seek refuge in the Low Countries.

Richard played crucial roles in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury that resulted in Edward's restoration to the throne the following spring.


When Richard was living at Warwick's estate, he developed a deep affection for.another child in the household, Warwick's daughter Anne.

Anne married Edward of Westminster, son of Henry VI. Following his death at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, she disappears from the records for a while, her whereabouts unknown.

Richard is said to have found Anne working as a scullery maid in a London chophouse and "rescued" her; but this has never been substantiated by historians.

Following the decisive Yorkist victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury, Richard married the widowed Anne Neville on July 12, 1472 when she was 16-years-old.

Stained glass depiction of Richard and Anne Neville in Cardiff Castle

According to Shakespeare Richard III, our protagonist, then Richard Duke of Gloucester, proposed to the widowed Anne Neville as she accompanied the corpse of her husband through the streets. Even 500 years ago biopics did not adhere to the facts.

After he married Anne Neville, Richard returned to his favorite residence, Middleham where he led a life of a rich and powerful country Lord. His wife Anne's dowry made him the biggest landowner in England.

Anne bore Richard one son, Edward Plantagenet (also known as Edward of Middleham, 1473 – April 9, 1484). He died not long after being invested with the title of Prince of Wales.

Contemporary illumination (Rous Roll, 1483) of Richard III, Anne Neville & their son Edward

Richard had two illegitimate children as well, John of Gloucester and a daughter named Kathryn.)

The same year as Richard lost his son, Anne fell terminally ill. She died during an eclipse of the sun.
Meanwhile, Richard began to court his niece Elizabeth of York in preparation for his wife's death. The people were shocked, so Richard withdrew.


In 1470 Richard was appointed Chief Justice of Wales which meant he was virtually the Ruler of Wales.

A skilled and courageous soldier, Richard at first distinguished himself the same year when he suppressed a Welsh revolt and retook Cardigan and Carmarthen Castles.

When Edward mounted a swift and decisive campaign to regain the Crown through combat it is believed that his 18-year-old brother Richard was his principal lieutenant. Richard held the vanguard for Edward at the Battle of Tewkesbury deployed against the Lancastrian vanguard under the Duke of Somerset on May 4, 1471

Edward Prince of Wales fell in the battle of Tewksbury, which decimated the Lancastrian forces, ushering in years of Yorkist supremacy and the reign of King Edward IV. The Lancastrian king, Henry VI, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London, died or was murdered shortly after the battle.

In the early 1480s, war with Scotland was looming. Richard was placed in charge of a campaign in Scotland by his brother where he captured Edinburgh without the loss of a single man whereupon he sued for peace. Richard was widely acclaimed for the success of his campaign.

On the death of Edward IV, on April 9, 1483, his twelve-year-old son, Edward V, succeeded him. His uncle Richard was named Lord Protector of the Realm.

Richard claimed the throne from his nephew on the grounds that Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York were illegitimate. On June 25, 1483, an assembly of Lords and commoners endorsed the claims.


The following day, Richard III began his reign, and he was crowned on July 6, 1483. As King he promoted English interests abroad and involved himself in domestic reform.

Richard III placed the late king's young son Edward V in the Tower of London for his protection. Together with his brother, Richard, Duke of York, Edward was never seen again. It was suspected that Richard murdered them.

There were two major rebellions against Richard. The first, in October 1483, was led by staunch allies of Edward IV and Richard's former ally, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, but the king swiftly put down the revolt.

The second in 1485 was more serious when Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the head of the rival House of Lancaster, landed at Milford Haven, Wales. Richard hastened to meet him at Bosworth Field. The ensuing battle led to his defeat and death.

The name of Richard's horse at Bosworth was "White Surrey". The English king named him"The Wall".


Despite the callous way he treated the princes in the tower, Richard III was a pious man. The king held to the current general belief of his time that any sin, however terrible (even murdering princes), if bought before the Catholic sacrament of penance could be absolved.

Richard was reputed to have celebrated Mass at St James' Church in nearby Sutton Cheney before his downfall at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Then, before he went into battle, the king consulted prayers in a specially composed Book of Hours, a devotional manuscript.


William Shakespeare portrayed Richard as a limping hunchback but it is thought that his withered arm, limp, were complete fabrications. It is likely that apart from a deformed shoulder he was pretty normal looking, short, dark and stocky.

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard (c. 1520,

If Richard did have a disability, it may have been the result of a bout of polio as a small child. It is said that he used a crutch in early youth, but sometimes stubbornly refused it for fear of looking "weak", and had abandoned it entirely by age ten.

Alternatively other historians believe that during his adolescence, Richard developed idiopathic scoliosis, a medical condition in which a person's spine has a sideways curve. The spinal scoliosis probably did not cause any major physical deformity that could not be disguised by clothing.


In August 1485, Henry Tudor, the head of the House of Lancaster, landed in southern Wales with a small contingent of French troops and marched through his birthplace.  Richard hastened to meet him near the village of Market Bosworth, 12 miles west of Leicester.

According to local tradition in Leicester Richard went to see a seer in the town before heading off for the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485 to meet Henry Tudor's Lancastrian forces. She told him "where your spur should strike on the ride into battle, your head shall be broken on the return". On the ride into battle Richard spur struck the bridge stone of the Bow Bridge; as he was being carried back over the back of a horse his head struck the same stone and was broken open.

At the ensuing Battle of Bosworth Richard was abandoned by the Lords William Stanley and Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, severely depleted his army's strength. His friends urged him to flee but the determined Richard fought on furiously. The king was forced into a swamp unhorsed and was hacked at by Welsh pikemen. As he fell mortally wounded, his crown was picked up and placed on Henry's head.

The death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, an 18th-century illustration

Richard was to be the last English King to die on the battlefield.

The late king’s body was slung on a horse and taken to Leicester. It is said that Richard's body was dragged naked through the streets before being buried at Greyfriars Church, Leicester. Richard was the only king not to be buried in a tomb fit for a monarch since William the Conqueror.

Greyfriars church was demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Richard's body was rediscovered in 2012 by archaeologists digging in what is now a car park.

Tudor succeeded Richard to become Henry VII, and cemented the succession by marrying the Yorkist heir, Elizabeth of York.

Richard's defeat at Bosworth Field was the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marking the end of the Middle Ages in England.

He is the subject of the 1593 historical play Richard III by William Shakespeare. The famous fictional portrayal of him was as a physically deformed Machiavellian villain, committing numerous murders in order to claw his way to power.

In 1956 Shakespeare's Richard III was filmed with Laurence Olivier as the hunchbacked king and Clare Bloom played Lady Anne. The movie won a BAFTA for best film and Olivier won best actor.

In 1995 an updated version was filmed with Ian Mckellan as a Fascist ruler set in 1930s Britain. (Kirsten Scott-Thomas played Anne).

Scholars believe that the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” was originally written to mock a nobleman who fell from favor with Richard.

Richard II of England


Richard II was born on January 6, 1367 in Bordeaux, France, during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III.

He was the son of Edward, the Black Prince, Prince of Wales, and Joan of Kent, "The Fair Maid of Kent".

Richard became his father's successor when his elder brother died in infancy. His father died before him, so he became king in 1377, when he was just 10 years old.


Richard II was the last of the main-line kings of the House of Plantagenet.

His uncle John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster was regent until Richard II could rule.

He was crowned on July 16, 1377 at Westminster Abbey.

Portrait at Westminster Abbey, mid-1390s

Less warlike than his father or grandfather, Richard sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years' War started by Edward III.

A firm believer in the royal prerogative, he restrained the power of the aristocracy and relied on a private retinue for military protection.

Richard's fondness for favorites resulted in conflicts with Parliament, and in 1388 the baronial party, headed by the Duke of Gloucester, had many of his friends executed.

Richard recovered control in 1389, and ruled moderately until 1397, when he executed some of the opposing barons in 1397, whereupon he assumed absolute power.

Shakespeare's play Richard II portrays his misrule and deposition as responsible for the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, but modern historians disagree, attributing his downfall to practices that were unacceptable to the political establishment.

Richard was deposed by Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV), John of Gaunt's son with Blanche of Lancaster. He was taken prisoner and kept captive in Pontefract Castle.

Richard's surrender to Henry at Flint Castle


Richard was tall, good-looking and intelligent, but he may have suffered from a personality disorder, especially toward the end of his reign.

Richard promoted an elevated image of himself, and art and culture were at the center of his court, in contrast to the fraternal, martial court of his grandfather.

Richard II once invited 2,000 of the country's rich barons to dine with him. 200 cooks prepared a menu, which included 11,000 eggs, 720 hens, 1,400 oxen lying in salt, 200 rabbits and 120 sheep's heads. Pudding was a three-foot high marzipan castle.

King Richard II married Anne of Bohemia in Westminster Abbey on January 20, 1382. It was the fifth royal wedding in Westminster Abbey and was not followed by any other royal wedding in Westminster Abbey for another 537 years.

Anne and Richard's coronation in the Liber Regalis

Tournaments were held for several days after the ceremony, in celebration. They then made a tour of the realm, staying at many major abbeys along the way.

Richard II had to pawn the Crown Jewels to pay for the wedding.

Anne and Richard were only 14 years old when they first met and married. Over the years the king proved truly devoted to his new wife.

They were married for 12 years, but had no children. Anne's death from plague in 1394 at Shene Manor was a devastating blow to Richard.

Richard married Isabella of Valois on October 31, 1396. She was aged just six  and the wedding was a move for peace with France.

Richard and Isabella on their wedding day

The wedding was celebrated with grand festivities at the French royal court, before they continued to the English enclave of Calais, where the formal ceremony took place.

Six years after becoming a widow, Queen Isabella married her cousin Charles, Duke of Orléans.

She died in childbirth at the age of 19, leaving one daughter, Joan


Richard II died, most likely from starvation, in Pontefract Castle, on the orders of Henry Bolingbroke on February 14, 1400.

Richard I of England


Richard was born on September 8, 1157 at Beaumont Palace, Beaumont, Oxford.

His mother was Eleanor of Aquitaine, his father King Henry II.

Richard was the third of five brothers in addition to three sisters. He was a younger brother of William, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King and Matilda of England. He was also an older brother of Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, Leonora of Aquitaine, Joan Plantagenet and John of England.

He was the favourite son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and was bought up at his mother's court at Poitiers in Aquitaine, speaking French and Provencal. Richard spoke very little English during his lifetime.

Richard was highly educated and trained in knightly chivalry at his mother’s court. He'd displayed a rare political ability from an early age and from early on was writing verse.

Richard spent much of his earlier life with his brothers fighting his father, Henry II. He was dissatisfied with the lands his father had granted him.


A very poor ruler, Richard spent only six months of his ten year reign in England, claiming it was "cold and always raining." He left his kingdom to take care of itself whilst gallivanting abroad on Crusades and the like.

Richard I was officially invested as Duke of Normandy on July 20, 1189 and crowned king in Westminster Abbey on 3 September 1189.

Richard I being anointed during his coronation in Westminster Abbey, 
At King Richard I's crowning in London all Jews were prohibited from attending the coronation feast. The people, already influenced by Crusade fever (the Jews were seen as the historical enemies of Christ), were in the mood to threaten, beat up and kill as many Jews as they could find. Many of them barricaded themselves in their homes, but mobs throughout the country sought the Jews out and set their houses on fire. Soon there was a full-scale riot and five hundred Jews were slaughtered after they took refuge in York Castle whilst other riots occurred over the length and breadth of England, including London which for a time was in danger of being left in ruins.

Richard was lionized back home despite his almost total neglect of his country's administration. His good looks and brave reputation made him into romantic hero.

Richard used England's coffers as a treasure chest for his hobby of fighting battles. He controversially claimed that to fund the Third Crusade he would sell London if he could find a suitable purchaser.

While returning overland from the Third Crusade, Richard was captured by the Duke of Austria and for a time no one knew where the English king was, until according to legend, he was located by the minstrel Blondel.

Richard was handed over to the emperor Henry VI,  and the English people had to pay a huge ransom to set him free.

After 1194, Richard spent the rest of his reign fighting in France including 1198 at the Battle of Gisons, where he was honored with the phrase "Dieu et Mon droit." ("God and my right.") This later became the royal motto of England.

Richard constructed the massive Chateau Gaillard at Les Andelys, Normandy, 50 miles north west of Paris. It was built into the rocks overlooking the Seine river in Normandy, France. When it was completed it was considered to be the greatest castle of its day. Its location is ideally suited for controlling access to the valley river.

According to English law, Richard ruled at the beginning of time. The statue of Westminster in 1275 fixed the beginning of the Lion's Heart's reign as the "extent of time memorial", that is to say the time limit for bringing certain types of action.

Richard was the first English monarch to use the royal "we". He would speak on behalf of his subjects as well as himself.


In 1187 Richard became a Crusader, the first Prince in northern Europe to do so. Richard and Philip II of France, the son of Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII with their Christian soldiers set off from Marseilles together. Richard stopped off in Cyprus and joined Philip later in Acre. He quarreled with his fellow crusaders including Philip who went off in a sulk back home.

The Near East in 1190 (Cyprus in purple)

At the 1191 siege of Acre during the Third Crusade, King Richard I was struck with fever. He was carried to the scene of the battle on a mattress. It was claimed that as he lay there he discharged his arrows killing many Turks.

When Richard went down with fever in the Holy Land, his arch rival, Saladin, sent him peaches, pears and snow from Mount Hermon.

As a symbol of unity between their two countries during the Third Crusade, Phillip II of France and Richard I of England slept in the same bed.

Richard and Philip of France, French manuscript of 1261

Richard managed to hold onto a few coastal towns, retook Acre with the help of a giant catapult and a grappling ladder and Jaffa and of course gained Cyprus. However, due to a dwindling, sick army he failed with the Crusade's main aim of retaking Jerusalem. So in 1192 Richard made a truce with his opponent, Saladin.

As a Crusader, Richard would have worn a conspicuous cross on his tunic. The English monarch and his fellow crusaders were the first “team” to wear sponsor’s logos on their chests.

Richard forbade gambling to all soldiers below the rank of knight during the crusade.

Though his sultan opponent Saladin always kept his word, Richard and his fellow Saracens habitually broke theirs. They were absolved by their priests on the grounds that an oath to an infidel was invalid.

Richard was not a popular man in the Holy Land for generations; his name was used as the bogey-man to frighten the Middle Eastern children.


King Richard was a magnificent physical specimen; Tall, long legs and arms, golden auburn hair and piercing blue eyes. His height is estimated to have been six feet four inches (1.93 m) tall.

Effigy of Richard I of England in the church of Fontevraud Abbey

Richard was intelligent, shrewd, kind, brave, romantic and not surprisingly with all those qualities, arrogant.

He was known as Richard Cœur de Lion or Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior.

A highly cultured man, Richard spoke several languages and was able to compose poetry in French and Provençal,

A famous wit in his era, he was admired for his repartee.


In January 1169, Louis VII of France and Henry II of England signed a contract for the marriage between the French king's fourth daughter Alys and Richard. The 8-year-old Alys was then sent to England as Henry's ward.

Henry II appropriated Princess Alys as his mistress and there were widespread rumors that she had given birth to his son. Richard was discouraged from renouncing Alys because she was Phillip II of France's sister. However, in 1189, after coming to the throne, Richard upset the French king when he refused to honour his contract to marry Alys.

Richard first grew close to Berengaria of Navarre, first-born daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre at a tournament held in her native Navarre. In 1190, Eleanor of Aquitaine met King Sancho in Pamplona and he hosted a banquet in the Royal Palace of Olite in her honor. The engagement could not be celebrated openly, for Richard was still betrothed at the time to Alys,

Richard terminated his betrothal to Alys in 1190 while at Messina in Sicily. This meant that he was finally able to marry Berengaria, who was sent by Eleanor of Aquitaine, to join him on the crusade route.

Berengaria arrived at Messina in Sicily during Lent (when the marriage could not take place) in 1191 and was joined by Richard's sister Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily.

En route to the Holy Land, the ship carrying Berengaria and Joan became separated from the main fleet and ran aground off the coast of Cyprus. They were threatened by the island's ruler, Isaac Comnenus, but Richard came to their rescue, captured Cyprus, and overthrew Comnenus.

Richard married Berengaria of Navarre before leaving Cyprus for the Holy Land. The wedding was held in Limassol, Cyprus on May 12, 1191 at the Chapel of St. George and was attended by Richard's sister Joan.

Effigy of Berengaria at L'Épau Abbey, Le Mans By MOSSOT 

Richard's best man was an Armenian prince who became Leo II, the first King of Armenia.

There were no children from the marriage; opinions vary as to whether it was ever a love match. Richard appeared to have little interest in women. He was married to the sword.

Berengaria had almost as much difficulty in making the journey home as her husband did, and did not set foot in England during his reign.

Berengaria eventually settled in Le Mans, one of her dower properties, after the death of King Richard. She was a benefactress of L'Épau Abbey in Le Mans, entered the conventual life, and was buried in the abbey, following her death on December 23, 1230.


Richard I was well known for his ballads. (Poems telling a tale with a mandolin or similar instrument backing, written in medieval French.)

Richard was captured shortly before Christmas 1192 near Vienna by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, who accused Richard of arranging the murder of his cousin Conrad of Montferrat. Moreover, Richard had personally insulted Leopold by casting down his standard from the walls of Acre.  Duke Leopold kept him prisoner at Dürnstein Castle.

Ruins of Dürnstein Castle, where Richard was kept captive. By Arin

At first no one in England knew where their king was. Legend has it that a minstrel called Blondel searched for his master throughout Europe in vain. Returning home through Austria he learnt there was a closely guarded prisoner whose identity was a secret nearby. Suspecting it could be his master, he located a tiny barred window high up on the castle wall which he thought could be a cell. Under the window he sang the first couplet of a Troubadour's song which he had composed, a voice responded with the second couplet. It was the King.

The detention of a crusader was contrary to public law, and on these grounds Pope Celestine III excommunicated Duke Leopold.

The track "Ja Nun Hons Pris" on Bryan Ferry's 2002 album Frantic was originally written by King Richard.


Richard was not the most saintly of kings. Until he was lying on his deathbed he went seven years without receiving Holy Communion.

Richard was killed whilst besieging the small castle of Chalus in France. The owner had refused to surrender some gold statues and crowns, which a peasant furloughing some fields had come across.

Richard, who had removed some of his chainmail, was wounded in the left shoulder by a crossbow bolt launched from a tower by Bertrand de Gourdon (called alternatively Pierre Basile by chroniclers) in the early evening of March 25, 1199.

At first the king tried to pull out the bolt himself. It broke off, leaving the iron head in the wound. The injury turned septic and Richard asked to see his killer, he ordered that de Gourdon be set free and awarded a sum of money. As the king lay dying he gasped "Youth, I forgive thee." Then to his attendants he gulped "take off his chains, give him 100 shillings and let him go." Richard survived eleven days before passing away on April 6, 1199 with his 77-year-old mother Eleanor at his side

As soon as Richard died, de Gourdon was flayed alive and then hanged.

Richard's heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy and his bowels were buried at the foot of the tower from which the shot was loosed. The rest of his remains were buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.

Tomb containing the heart of King Richard at Rouen Cathedral

Ironically it was Richard who had introduced the crossbow to France.

Sir Richard Baker in his A Chronicle of the kings of England wrote “The remorse for his undutifulness towards his father, was living with him till he died: for at his death he remembered it with bewailing, and desired to be buried as near him as might be. Perhaps as thinking they should meet the sooner, that he might ask him forgiveness in another world."


Richard I was played by Sean Connery with a Scottish lilt, in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Anthony Hopkins portrayed him with a Welsh lilt in The Lion in Winter (1968)

In the 1954 movie King Richard & the Crusaders George Sanders played the Lionheart.

He was portrayed in De Mille's failed epic, The Crusades by Henry Wilcoxin. Loretta Young played his wife, Berengaria, adorned in a ridiculous braided blonde hairstyle.