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2017 | 1 | 23-37
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Two Treaties of Messina 1190–1191: Crusading Diplomacy of Richard I

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In the summer of 1190, King Richard I together with King Philip II of France departed on a crusade, which was the reaction to the battle of Hattin and subsequent capture of Jerusalem by Muslim forces. In September 1190, both kings appeared in the Sicilian city of Messina where they were forced to spend winter. Sicily was under the rule of Tancred of Lecce, who seized the throne after the death of King William II of Sicily whose wife was Joanna, sister of King Richard. Tancred held her in his custody and deprived her of her dowry and other possession. This was one of the reasons why Richard I soon fell into conflict with Tancred. He was also at odds with the hostile citizens of Messina who attacked his forces and caused him many troubles. Open war with Tancred’s people was interrupted only after the conclusion of the peace treaty on 6 October 1190. Tancred gave Richard 20,000 ounces of gold as compensation of his sister’s dowry and the marriage was agreed upon between one of Tancred’s daughter and Richard’s nephew Arthur, duke of Brittany, whom Richard named his heir. Growing tension between Richard and Philip came to a head when Philip accused Richard of violation of the treaty with Tancred. When Philip’s gossip was disproven by Richard himself, Philip was also forced to make a treaty with Richard. The main aim of this treaty was to release Richard from his oath to marry Philip’s sister, Alice since he was awaiting a new bride Berengaria of Navarre. This treaty was concluded in March 1191. While the first treaty had an impact on events in England, the second freed Richard’s hands regarding his marriage diplomacy.
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