From time to time I will recommend books that have helped me to understand the complex legend of Robin Hood and historical events that have helped inspire his myth. An historical person who has, since about 1521 been continually linked with the outlaw, is of course King Richard I of England (1189-1199).
I have already begun to chronicle the early days of his reign and his association with the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn, near Nottingham Castle and over the years I have read many books on the lionhearted monarch. But none have come as close as Blondel’s Song in explaining his capture, imprisonment and ransom.
Many of us know the legend of Blondel and how this faithful minstrel made his way through Germany and Austria in search of the missing King Richard the Lionheart, singing hopefully under each castle wall. It culminates when, one quiet night under a tower, Blondel’s song is taken up and echoed by a familiar voice inside. That of Richard himself.
“Blondel’s Song sheds new light on one of the most interesting periods in medieval history. Providing new perspectives on the lives of Richard and Blondel, as well as an insight into the courts of love, the Holy Grail and Europe in the turbulent aftermath of the Crusades. As one of our most famous medieval kings, Richard the Lionheart’s rule encompassed some of England’s most colourful and enduring legends- Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham and the discovery of King Arthur’s grave. None however match the untold story of Blondel, Richard’s faithful minstrel and reputed saviour.
Centered around the monarch’s imprisonment, Blondel’s Song uncovers the real story behind Richard’s secret journey back from the Crusades across the Alps in winter, his arrest and subsequent discovery through a minstrel’s song and the effects of his gigantic ransom.”
The author of Blondel's Song is David Boyle and the book is published by Penguin.