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Overview

Richard the First (September 8, 1157 to April 6, 1199), also known as Richard the Lion Hearted, was the King of England from July 6, 1189 until his death. He was most famously known as the central Christian commander during the Third Crusade[2]. Presumably his history on Earth-616 is nearly identical to that of his real world counterpart.

The Crusades

In 1187 the Saladin of Egypt had conquered Jerusalem. Edicts from Pope Gregory VIII prompted the Third Crusade to liberate the holy land from its Muslim conquerors. Among King Richard's knights was Eobar Garrington the Black Knight of that era.[3]

Unknown to Richard at the time was the fact that his brother Prince John had teamed up with the spirit of Mordred of 9th Century Camelot who conspired to overthrow Richard's rule. They led Richard into a trap that led him being captured by the Muslim horde. In order to thwart Mordred and Prince John, the wizard Merlin summoned the spirit of Dane Whitman (the Black Knight of the modern era) to possess the body of his ancestor Eobar Garrington in order to rescue King Richard. He was assisted by his teammates the Defenders who travelled back in time to rescue his spirit. Mordred and Prince John were defeated thanks to the assistance of yet another time traveller, Prester John who used the magical Evil Eye to banish the foes. With King Richard freed, the Defenders returned to their own time while the spirit of Dane Whitman opted to remain in the 12th Century and fight alongside the King[4]

By July of 1191 Richard and his knights had continued fighting their way to Jerusalem but the toll of supplies on their prisoners prompted Richard to send the Black Knight to meet with the Saladin of Egypt and make an exchange of the prisoners for the fragments of the True Cross in order to prevent the slaughter of the prisoners. However the Knight faced serious delays and was unable to return in time before Richard's confederates, King Philip II of France, Leopold of Austria, and Conrad of Monferrat convinced him to burn the 2700 prisoners alive, earning the ire of the Black Knight.[5] The Black Knight attempted to slay King Richard, but realized he could not do so without changing history and refrained from doing so. Later Richard fell ill thanks to a conspiracy between Conrad of Monferrat and a mystic named Sabbah who used a spell to make him sick. Richard was saved when the Black Knight and Prester John exposed the conspiracy that ended with the King being restored to health. However King Richard ordered the Black Knight banished and his name stricken from the history books for the previous attempt on his life.[6]

However, later that year King Richard fell ill once again and ordered the Black Knight to his side. He ordered the Knight to assassinate the Saladin of Egypt before his own death. At this time the spirits of both Garrington and Whitman struggled for control of their body. While Garrington intended to assassinate the Saladin, Whitman knew that to do so before the Saladin's destined fate would also alter history. Taking control again, Whitman prevented another assassin -- the Syrian Rashid ah-Din -- from killing the Saladin and allowed himself to be captured. King Richard, having apparently overcome his illness paid a ransom to free the Black Knight, who continued to serve by his side for many year thereafter.[7]

Around 1192, King Richard led his knights into further battle with the Saladin and his forces in the Saladin's homeland of Egypt. By this time both King Richard and his long time foe had developed a long respect for each other. During an attack by the Saladin's minions, King Richard and his knights were rescued by El Alemain. El Alemain was the brother of one of Richard's knights, Sir John O'Dare whose crew died of plague on their way to the battlefield. El Alemain vowed to his brother to fight for King Richard in the Crusades. Alemain proved his worthy to King Richard by defeating the Saladin in one-on-one combat, but allowed the Egyptian ruler to go free. Richard then dubbed El Alemain the Crusader.[8] During this period Guy de Montfort, one of Richard's knights, attempted to assassinate the king. However he failed thanks to the intervention of the Crusader, although the hero did not have the evidence to expose De Montfort.[9] Richard later sent the Crusader to save his knight Sir Quincy who had been captured by the Saladin.[10]




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