Seine River Cruise Travel Journal—Day 6

Chateau Gaillard
Chateau Gaillard

I have been looking forward to today because this was our Richard the Lionheart day.

After breakfast, The Wife and I went up on the deck to read and take in the scenery as we traveled up the Seine toward Les Andelys.

One of the unique joys of a river cruise is sitting on the deck of the ship with a glass of wine watching the towns, castles, fields and people move by at a gentle pace.

Les Andelys is a area along the northern bank of the Seine about 25 miles from Rouen. Richard the Lionheart built the castle there—Chateau Gaillard—in 1198, and at the same time constructed the town (Petit Andely) and church.

Interestingly, this is one of the few churches we’ve seen in France not named after Mary. This one is named the Church of our Savior—well done, Richard.

Richard is a fascinating character. He was a descendent of William the Conqueror. He was a crusader and great military strategist, who struck fear in one of Islam’s greatest leaders, Saladin, and restored the hopes of Christendom following the devastating defeat at the Battle of Hattin in 1187. He was also a great leader, who inspired confidence in the men under his charge. He is a great study in leadership.

One of the bishops who had been closest to Richard during the  Third Crusade said of him “that he has no equal among all the knights in the world, either for valor or for generosity. He is in every respect distinguished for every excellent quality.”

Even those against whom Richard fought were in awe of him. “Since the beginning of the world we have never heard of such a knight, so brave and so experienced in arms,” one emir who fought against Richard said. “In every deed at arms he is without rival, first to advance, last to retreat. We did our best to seize him, but in vain, for no one can escape his sword. His attack is dreadful. To engage with him is fatal. His deeds are not human.”

Richard's Tomb
Richard’s Tomb

Saladin, Islam’s revered leader at the time, and Richard’s arch-enemy thought so much of Richard he said that if he must lose his dominions, he would just as soon lose them to so magnificent a king as Richard because Richard was “a man of honor, of magnanimity, and of general excellence.”

It is unfortunate that so often we must determine the greatness of man in the crucible of war, but such is life in a fallen world. It, however, will be interesting to see if as the Kingdom advances and men “beat the swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4) whether the challenges of the business world will become the primary backdrop against which greatness is determined. Will people talk about the “honor, magnanimity and general excellence” of a Christian business leader like we talk about Richard the Lionheart?

One of the nice surprises in Rouen two days ago was finding in the Rouen Cathedral the tomb that contains the heart of Richard the Lionheart. If only more of us had such a courageous heart. GS

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