Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall

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Richard of Cornwall (5 January 1209 – 2 April 1272) was Count of Poitou (from 1225 to 1243), 1st Earl of Cornwall (from 1225) and German King (formally "King of the Romans", from 1257). One of the wealthiest men in Europe, he also joined the Sixth Crusade, where he achieved success as a negotiator for the release of prisoners, and assisted with the building of the citadel in Ascalon.

Contents

Biography

Early life

He was born on 5 January 1209 at Winchester Castle, the second son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême. He was made High Sheriff of Berkshire at the age of only eight, was styled Count of Poitou from 1225 and in the same year, at the age of sixteen, his brother King Henry III gave him Cornwall as a birthday present. Richard's revenues from Cornwall provided him with great wealth, and he became one of the wealthiest men in Europe. Though he campaigned on King Henry's behalf in Poitou and Brittany, and served as Regent three times, relations were often strained between the brothers in the early years of Henry's reign. Richard rebelled against him three times, and had to be bought off with lavish gifts.

Marriage to Isabel, 1231-40

In March 1231 he married Isabel Marshal, the wealthy widow of the Earl of Gloucester, much to the displeasure of his brother King Henry, who feared the Marshal family because they were rich, influential, and often opposed him. Richard became stepfather to Isabel's six children from her first husband. In that same year he acquired his main residence, Wallingford Castle in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), and spent much money on developing it. He had other favoured properties at Marlow and Cippenham in Buckinghamshire. Isabel and Richard had four children, of whom only their son, Henry of Almain, survived to adulthood. Richard opposed Simon de Montfort, and rose in rebellion in 1238 to protest against the marriage of his sister, Eleanor, to Simon. Once again he was placated with rich gifts. When Isabel was on her deathbed in 1240, she asked to be buried next to her first husband at Tewkesbury, but Richard had her interred at Beaulieu Abbey instead. As a pious gesture, however, he sent her heart to Tewkesbury.

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