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Lionheart!: A Novel of Richard I, King of England
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Lionheart!: A Novel of Richard I, King of England

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  271 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
The life and times of Richard the Lionheart and the Plantagenets--Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Richard's brothers--is recreated against the backdrop of the medieval religious crusades and family conflict.
Unknown Binding, 410 pages
Published January 1st 1981 by Simon & Schuster
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Sparrow I don't know that it would be accurate historically, to portray him that way. Same gender relationships and sex between two men or two women could…moreI don't know that it would be accurate historically, to portray him that way. Same gender relationships and sex between two men or two women could happen, but those acts were considered so abhorrent and taboo, that it was always hidden. A king would never be “out” of the closet, or consider themselves to be gay, mainly because it didn't exist yet as a concept.

Just how public people were about those same sex interactions depended entirely on the fluctuating attitudes of their time. During the Renaissance, European and English aristocracy admired and celebrated the Hellenistic period, and much if it's culture. It wasn't uncommon in Ancient Greece, or Rome, for men to keep young men as sex servants, of a sort- but even then, it was frowned upon if the sex servant was past a certain age. It's not a stretch to believe that a cultural revival of Hellenism might loosen rectitude against same-sex sex, but it was usually reserved for the aristocratic people, and again, seen as little more than a dalliance. During times when was sexual promiscuity was in vogue, attitudes regarding sex acts, and partners, were more lax as well, and you may see more references to it in the historical record- but irregardless of the time, between the law, the church, and one's perilously important social standing amongst peers, anyone who had a predilection for it, as opposed to an experimental act, would have been forced to hide it. Homosexuality certainly wasn't understood; it was seen as a mental illness, as opposed to a genetic or biological thing.

Richards time was not one of liberating sexual freedoms. His homosexuality, as we now known the concept, isn't definite or proven, but assuming he was, he himself likely didn't acknowledge or think of himself as homosexual or gay. He has some interactions with men in the book, as he might have in life, but I think it stops there. Edward II was, much more definitely homosexual based on historical records, but even then, his lovers were called his “favorites”. And I suspect the of friendship/lover slope was rather slippery, since many of those “favorites” in history were known to be greedy, grasping, and likely not gay at all, but rather using what they saw as a weakness to their advantage. Husbands and wives- particularly kings and queens- were veritable strangers, sometimes not even sharing a common tongue. Women- queens, especially, had to be seen as pious, chaste, and of uncompromising loyalty, which didn't always make for a close relationship, the way we think of marriage today. King Richard would have been isolated in his youth from many people, simply bc of his station, and it isn't hard to believe that potential lovers capitalized on that loneliness for their own purposes.

Look at it this way: when this novel was first published, in the 1970's, homosexuality was still seen as a mental illness- even though it was becoming more and more accepted. Even today, ignorance and prejudice abound, so for the author to not portray him as openly gay doesn't seem at odds with the time he lived in. (less)

Community Reviews

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Krista Baetiong Tungol
Lionheart: A Novel of Richard I weaves both real and imagined accounts of Richard I of England through the eyes of six personalities: himself as a raw boy and later on as England’s king; Mercadier, his loyal mercenary captain who nurtures a gloomy past; Blondelza, a jongluerese who is both his mistress and great love; Berengaria, the wife who loves him unconditionally despite his blatant neglect; Alexander (of Neckam), his foster brother and personal chronicler during the Third Crusade; and Elea ...more
Martha Rofheart (1917-1990) was an American author of historical fiction who wrote several novels on subjects as diverse as Cleopatra (The Alexandrian), Henry V (Fortune Made His Sword) and the Greek poet, Sappho (Burning Sappho). Lionheart, her 1981 novel on England’s King Richard I, is the first of her books that I’ve read and although I had one or two problems with it, I did enjoy it and am looking forward to trying her others.

The story of Richard I, known as the Lionheart, is told from the
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend the book despite the grammatical errors in it. The book does involve Richard Lionheart, but it is not just about him. The author played fast and loose with history in her writing, but the reading ease made me overlook such atrocities.

I did like the author's use of other characters to tell Richard's history. The author did not waste time with any person or subject that did not affect the life and times of Richard Lionheart.
Country Junction Mercantile
Enjoyable read. I liked the character perspectives.

The story of Richard the Lionhearted, told form the perspective of several of the main characters, including Richard himself. In this story you'll go from the castle to the battlefield, meet soldiers and Queens. The author did an excellent job of capturing the period's customs and atmosphere, both good and bad.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars- I really enjoyed the early years but not the troubadour parts. A special sort of reading experience, Richard's early years told from different perspectives.
Sandra McIntier
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An epic saga of life in the 12th century, the lives of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Crusades, courtly love, troubadours and Cathars. The story focuses on the life of Richard I, the Lionheart, told from the perspective of several people: Richard (historical), his mother, Eleanor (historical), Alexander, his foster brother and scribe (historical), Berengaria, his wife (historical),
Mercadier, his mercenary (historical), and Blondelza his long-term lover (fiction). Richard is described as "t
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful fictionalised account of the story of Richard the Lionheart, a courageous king who earned the approval of one and all, his subjects, knights, women, his charisma ensured he charmed everyone.
Told from his childhood onwards and from many different points of view from the characters who knew him the novel charts his progress to adulthood to the times of the bloody crusades and his love for the two women who would figure largely in his life, the "Glee" maiden and part of the troubadour s
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geoffrey Plantagenet, married to William the Conqueror's granddaughter, Maud, was the first of the Plantagenets. He got this name because he always wore a sprig of planta genesta (common broom flower) into battle.

Henry II, ( Maud's son) and Richard the Lionheart's father is remembered as the king who murdered a saint (Thomas a Becket) Richard III was the last Plantagenet king.

Richard I, Lionheart, led the third crusade. He did not conquer Jerusalem but made a treaty with Saladin to allow Jerusa
L.  (It's a magical day!)
Richard lives up to the 'Dick' part of his name in this book. A good chunk of the story reads like The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as Dick seems to be constantly on the hunt for Miss Right Now, with important historical events being mentioned off-hand. ("And then he rebelled against his father.") When Dick eventually does find Miss Right, I didn't feel the love. I think he was just feeling sorry for someone saddled with the name Blondelza. Seriously, that's got to be one of the worst names ever. ...more
Rohit Kilpadi
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Wonderfully written. Easy to read, with a smooth story line, each chapter in the voice of one of the characters. This gives a well rounded view of the happenings in Richard's life.
Can't wait to read more books by Martha Rofheart
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first it was a little hard to get into. I guess I was more used to the flowing writing styles of Tisdale and Delacroix. But I am so glad I stuck with it. It was a fabulous read. I loved how the story progressed with each new section being told from a different character's perspective. It gave me more insight at every turn.
Melissa Ann
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first the switching view points rather annoyed me but then it got interesting to see the different views of the king. I really did enjoy the story a great deal, it was a fun read even though it did drag a little bit in some spots.

I cried terribly at the end though.
Debra S. Rowland
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I enjoyed the pace of the book. Not overwriting any one period of his life. I also enjoyed the changing narrators giving different views of Richard. But the histories I've read painted him as cruel and hard, not at all his character in this book.
Ramona Lott
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book.

I feel like I know the king and his mom. Sad that he couldn't marry the love of his life. This is well written and one of those books that you have to get to the end yet are missing the people who live within as soon as it is over.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One Word

Boring. The chronicles of this king stay true to historical documents. However the made up details and characters are so drawn out, that I was too bored to care. I finished a too long tale and give three stars for effort.
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked the different narrators to add depth to Richards life but I had a hard time getting involved into the story.
Sheila Lowe
A novel of Richard I, told by himself as a boy, his mother Eleanor, his friend, his love and from Richard as a man. Very unique.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brain Food:
Scandal Level:
Must be ___ old to read:
Read if you liked:
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
not what I expected....but interesting ideas about Blondel not being what we've been taught
Endeavour Press
This book is published by Endeavour Press.
Courtney Klein
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based in history an intriguing, part laughter inducing, anguish ridden and heart wrenching novel. Hated to put it down.
Rebecca McChesney
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
didn't stray too far from history or get so heavy to read that I had to muddle through, enjoyable overall
mark francis
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story,

Great historical fiction about one of the most Interesting personalities of the mid-evil period.
Hard for you to put down.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an okay read, sort of dragged in spots, and this author is certainly no Sharon Pennman, who Lionheart was awesom.
Linda Plenge
rated it it was amazing
Mar 07, 2016
rated it liked it
Mar 28, 2016
Hannelore Olshak
rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2017
Geri F
rated it it was ok
Feb 29, 2016
Kim Hathorn
rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2011
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Martha Jones Rofheart was an actress and a novelist, inspired by her grandfather's stories of their Welsh ancestors.
More about Martha Rofheart...

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“I have learned, even though I have been cloistered from the world so long, that no man really looks with favour upon the one who gives him favour, unasked.” 0 likes
“Papa says folk will always hate what they do not understand; it is from ignorance.” 0 likes
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