During the crusades, it was common for young men to “escort” older, more experienced men. However, most kings and noblemen were more secretive and discreet with their actions than King Richard is rumored to have been with his male lovers and companions.
Perhaps, one of the greatest military leaders and warriors of history is King Richard the Lionheart. At the tender age of 16, Richard was commanding his own army and leading stronger, more experienced men into battle. Standing at 6’5″ (according to some accounts) and quite attractive, he was muscular, fair complexioned and sported reddish/blonde hair that was quite appealing to not only the opposite sex, but also to other men. His mother’s favorite son, King Richard the Lionheart eventually ruled England, Ireland, Cypress and parts of France.
Although historical accounts remain sketchy, many historians agree that King Richard was at the very least bisexual and engaged in homosexual relationships throughout his lifetime, often allowing young men to serve as his personal escorts, using modern terminology.
Homosexuality was scorned by the church, and Richard had a devout relationship with this institution. Confessing several times, publicly twice, Richard denounced his “sins of sodomy,” but continued with his homosexual behavior. There are accounts that place him in relationships with women (including one marriage) and siring an illegitimate son (Philip of Cognac), however the account telling the story of his relationship with King Philip II overshadows all other historical accounts.
Historians indicate that in an effort to overthrow his father (King Henry II), Richard sought out a political alliance with King Philip II of France. Their alliance turned into a friendship that became quite close by 1187 AD. It was said of the relationship that: “They ate every day at the same table and from the same dish, and at night their beds did not separate them. And, the King of France loved him as his own soul; and they loved each other so much that the King of England (Richard’s father) was absolutely astonished at the passionate love between them and marveled at it.” Despite the fact that sleeping in the same bed at night was an accepted political act of the time, their relationship started homosexual rumors about Richard. Adding to the rumors was the extended amount of time Richard spent at the king’s court, in addition to their close friendship.
King Richard eventually overthrew his father and won the crown of England. However, he only visited England twice during his reign. He fought in the Holy Lands during the Third Crusade. Known for his powerful presence on the battlefield, he was also recognized for being extremely brutal and cruel when fighting. His temper flared, and he took extreme actions against prisoners and adversaries.
Despite his extreme masculinity as a warrior, he sought out lovers while on crusades. One such escort lover was a young knight named Raife deCurmon (according to British novelist and journalist Colin Spencer). The young knight had been freed by Richard from Saracen captivity and served Richard both on and off the battlefield.
Richard was an extremely pious man and well-acquainted with the established church rituals. However, his zest for young male lovers kept him always in need of repenting for his crimes. He constantly kept himself surrounded by young men who served the purposes of modern-day escorts. And, even though he felt the need to repent, he rarely hid his affection for these men, which is the only thing that sets the King’s behavior apart from that of his noble contemporaries.