Jay asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 9 years ago

Is it true, Richard the Lionheart, King of England in the Robin Hood movies, spoke only French, no English,?

why would he speak French only if he was King of England...was he eccentric?

Update:

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My answerers seem to be saying he, and the other rulers of England, were French...so why is it thought that England has the oldest and grandest history in Europe?

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  • Alesha
    Lv 4
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm afraid so. French and maybe Latin. First he was a Plantagenet, Norman French nobility, second his mother was Eleanor of Aquitaine the daughter of a French Duke. The English Royalty didn't speak English literally until at least the time of Henry VII, being a Tudor not a Plantagenet. You remember the movie Braveheart. If that meeting between Isabella (Sophie Marceau) and William Wallace(Mel Gibson) in front of the gates of York had ever happened, none of us would have understood it. Isabella was a French Princess and William was a good Scotsman, neither would have stooped to speaking English even if they could. So the meeting would have been conducted in either French or Latin.

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  • Ragnar
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    "why would he speak French only if he was King of England...was he eccentric?"

    No, he was French, his family was from Anjou. It is also highly unlikely that he ever met Robin Hood, as the historical character behind the legend is most likey Roger Godberd, and he lived during the reigns of Henry III and Edward I.

    From the Norman Conquest until 1399, the Kings of England spoke French. 1399 was the year of the coronation of Henry IV (Bollingbroke), at the coronation he made a speech in English, and was the first King of England to do that since Harold Godwinsson.

    But it was his son, Henry V, who spoke and wrote English as a first language, and encouraged it's use in the Royal Court and all matters of state.

    "My answerers seem to be saying he, and the other rulers of England, were French...so why is it thought that England has the oldest and grandest history in Europe?"

    I have never heard this claim that Englands history is the oldest and grandest in Europe. But England did exist as a unified nation since 927AD.

    France is probably the oldest nation in Europe, but until the Hundred Years War, it was basically a patch work of virtually autonomous vassal states which were nominally loyal to the Kings of the French.

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  • 9 years ago

    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.

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  • 9 years ago

    Yes. His ancestors on his father's side were Norman French, and England was only one of their possessions. William of Normandy conquered england in 1066. Richard's mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was an immensely wealthy French heiress who owned a large chunk of France in her own right. It would take a few more generations before the Kings of England came to regard themselvess as English rather than French.

    I am not sure though why you feel that the fact that there were French kings on the english throne means that England doesn't have a long or grand history. We are not the only country to have been conquered, and the nationality of the royal family does not make any difference to a country having a long or interesting history.

    And anyway, no country that I know of ever had a pure-blooded royal family. It was customary for royal families to intermarry with other royal families, most kings married foreign princesses, so most royal families have had very mixed ancestry.

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  • paul s
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    The rulers of England at this time were the descendants of the Norman conquers of England in 1066, (they themselves were actually Vikings who settled in France at the end of the 10th century)they spoke French and owned England and large chunks of France, (nearly 60% of France at the height of their power) many of these Kings seldom went to England as they preferred the comforts of France to the roughness of England, (though at this time England was the richest country in Europe thanks to the wool trade)

    Richard ruled for 10 years but spent around 18 months in total in England, legend has it he hated the place with a passion for being cold, wet and full of 'dull English speaking savages', the only thing he admired was the fighting ability of the people which he would harness for his own glory. (enlisting English soldiers into his armies fighting from the cities of the Holy Land to the fields of France)

    when he died he was buried in France (where he still is)

    English did not become the language of the Rulers of England for another 50 years, and this was only because England and France started their wars with each other, when the English king lost much of his french land to the French King, this started the 100 years war, the hatred France and England have for each other started then, and because of this the English rulers felt it better to become 'proper' English and down play their Norman (i.e French) roots and as such adopted English as their language

    because he was a warrior king and fought side by side with his English subjects he is well respected by the English, but as stated previously he could stand England.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    No he was not eccentric. French was the court language for about 300 years due to the Duke of Normandy conquering England in the Battle of Hastings.

    After the Black Death, the peasants had more influence and English (which they generally spoke) had greater influence. After this period of time, the Norman kings has fewer ties to France and the gradual shift to English began.

    Source(s): Doing this from memory.
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  • 9 years ago

    Yes it is. He spoke only French because he was French - he was also the Duke of Normandy, Gascony, Anjou and Aquitaine. He was particularly influenced by the culture of Aquitaine, and most of his courtiers grew up within that culture. He had no need to speak English, as his nobility were all French speaking, and international communications were conducted in Latin. Besides which, "English" would not fully develop as a national languages for several centuries - during Richard's reign, people in Britain spoke a wide range of dialects, based on Celtic, Saxon and Norse influences.

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  • John P
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Later on in Britain we had trhe German-speaking Georges. In Russia the language of the imperial court was at one time English. What a lot of crazy mixed-up royals!

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  • 9 years ago

    yes he was of Norman (french, like Normandy) descent and was almost never in England during his reign--i think only for a few months, if even

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    "why is it thought that England has the oldest and grandest history in Europe?"

    If that is true, it's only the English who think so.

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