1. Is it true? Yes - Richard spoke French as his first language and virtually no English. Richard was the son of Henry Duke of Anjou (also King Henry II of England) and Eleanor of Aquitaine - both French. Richard was born and raised in France and (as Das says, above), only spent a few months of his ten year reign in England. 2. Why did he not speak English if he was ruling the English people? Richard lived less that 150 years after the Norman invasion of England. There was a great and bitter divide between the invaders and the subjected people. The ruling class were virtually all Norman French (different from the rest of France being descended from 'Northmen' - Vikings) or local collaborators who had adopted Norman customs. Only peasants would have routinely spoken the local variation of Saxon - much like Russian before the revolution, when the Russian aristocracy spoke French, only speaking Russian to their servants. 3. Why is it thought that England has the oldest and grandest history in Europe? It isn't - not in Europe, anyway! I see this question was first posted on the US site which excuses this misunderstanding ;) In Europe, we tend to think of Italy and Greece as having the oldest, grandest history. The image of England having a grand history I would imagine is based on the full-scale adoption of Classical Roman virtues and standards as our own about the same time we started colonising the rest of the planet - giving the impression that we were the natural heirs to Augustus. England was usually considered by our neighbours to be a rough, hostile and barbarous country, right up until we got our navy together and started winning sea battles. England has a highly interesting and bloody violent history, especially in this period, but it was hardly grand. A lot of the modern image of the medieval world, full of chivalrous knights and courtly love etc is a much later invention, courtesy of Romantic poets, Pre-Raphaelite painters and other sentimentalists.