Richard, Earl of Cornwall

Richard (5 January 1209 - 2 April 1272) was Count of Poitou (bef. 1225), Earl of Cornwall (from 1227) and King of the (German) Holy Roman Empire (formally "King of the Romans") (from 1257).

He was the second son of King John "Lackland" and Isabella of Angouleme, and thus, the younger brother of King Henry III; although all other mediaeval lords of Cornwall have been known as "Earl" (or, later, "Duke"), as he is most known to history through continental accounts his version of that title has come down to us in a French-derived rendering ("Count," as opposed to Earl).

In 1231 he married Isabel Marshal, the widow of the Earl of Gloucester, much to the displeasure of his brother King Henry, who had been arranging a more advantageous match for Richard. Isabel and Richard had four children, of whom only their son, Henry of Almain, survived to adulthood. 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. Later that year Richard joined the Sixth Crusade and departed for the Holy Land.

Richard opposed Simon de Montfort, and rose in rebellion in 1238 to protest the marriage of his sister, Eleanor, to Simon de Montfort.

In 1257, he was elected by three German Electoral Princes known as the "English party" (Cologne, Mainz and Palatinate) as King of Germany.

On April 2, 1272, Richard died at Berkhamstead Castle in Hertfordshire. He was buried at Hayles Abbey, which he had founded.


He married three times:

  • On 16 June 1269 to Beatrice of Falkenburg, daughter of Dietrich I, Count of Falconburg. There were no children. She was aged about sixteen to Richard's sixty, and was said to be one of the most beautiful women of her time. Beatrice died October 17, 1277 and was buried at Friars Minor in Oxford.


Isabel bore him four children, all of whom died in the cradle, except Henry of Almain (1235-1271), Richard's heir apparent. Henry was the victim of the famous murder at Viterbo, when he was cut down while praying in a church by his cousins, Simon the younger de Montfort and Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola. Richard's successor was his son by Sanchia, Edmund, Earl of Cornwall (1249-1300) but he too died childless.

Richard had the reputation of being a womanizer, and indeed his only descendants are found among his illegitimate children. His mistress, Joan de Valletort, was certainly the mother of two of his children. Their daughter Joan de Cornwall married Richard Champernowne, and their son Richard de Cornwall died at the Battle of Berwick in 1297. An illegitimate son, Philip de Cornwall, was a cleric in 1248. Another illegitimate son, Walter de Cornwall, was granted lands by his half-brother Edmund, and died in 1313.


  • Tewkesbury Chronicle
  • Lewis, Frank. Beatrice of Falkenburg, the Third Wife of Richard of Cornwall, 1937de:Richard von Cornwall

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