LGBT History


LGBT Sections Intro and TheoryAncient MediterraneanMedieval Europe to WWI Europe Since WWI North America Asia, Africa, Lat America, Oceania Special Bibliographies John Boswell's Works Links Gay Icons FAQ

About IHSP Help Page IHSP Credits

People with a History: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History Sourcebook

Roger of Hoveden:

Philip II Augustus and Richard The Lionheart, from Annals

Did Richard the Lionheart and Philip II Augustus have a homosexual affair? The following passages from Roger of Hoveden have been cited to suggest that they did. Other commentators think that the passages refer to political or "friendship" arrangements. To hold this position requires that one see neither of the passages below as having any relationship to homosexuality.

Hoveden: Vol II, pp. 63-64

This is the Latin text, from Stubbs edition as given in Boswell CSTH 231.

Ricardus dux Aquitaniae, filus regis Angliae, morum fecit cum Philipo rege Franciae, quem ipse in tantum honoravit per longum tempus quod singulis diebus in una mensa ad unum cantinum manducabant, et in noctibus non seperabat eos lectus. Et diliexit eum rex Franciae quasi animam suam; et in tantum se mutuo diligebant, quod propter vehmentem delictionem quae inter illos erat, dominus rex Angliae nimio stupore arreptus admirabatur quid hoc esset.

Boswell translates this, accurately I think,

Richard, [then] duke of Aquitaine, the son of the king of England, remained with Philip, the King of France, who so honored him for so long that they ate every day at the same table and from the same dish, and at night their beds did not separate them. And the king of France loved him as his own soul; and they loved each other so much that the king of England was absolutely astonished and the passionate love between them and marveled at it.

Note that "lectus" does mean bed, couch and nothing else here, and "deligo" is probably best translated as "love" although it could, I suppose, mean "esteem" - clearly a too weak translation here.

Riley does this with the passage.

After the peace was thus made. Richard, earl of Poitou, remained with the King of France, though much against the will of his father and the King of France held him in such high esteem that every day they ate at the same table and from the same dish, and at night had not separate chambers. In consequence of this strong attachment which seemed to have arisen between them, the King of England was struck with great astonishment, and wondered what it could mean.

Riley's version continues:

..and taking precautions for the future, frequently sent messengers into France for the purpose of recalling his son Richard; who, pretending he was peaceably inclined and ready to come to his father, made his way to Chinon, and, in spite of the person who had custody thereof, carried off the greater part of his father's treasures and fortified his castles in Poitou with the same, refusing to go to his father.

Hoveden: Vol II, pp. 356-357

In an entirely distinct passage, in which Hoveden discusses an incident when Richard was king, in 1195, we have another hint which has been read as indicating that Richard was homosexually active.

In the same year, there came a hermit to king Richard, and, preaching the words of eternal salvation to him, said: "Be thou mindful of the destruction of Sodom, and abstain from what is unlawful; for if thou dost not, a vengeance worthy of God shall overtake thee". The king, however, intent upon the things of this world, and not those that are of God, was not able so readily to withdraw his mind from what was unlawful, unless a revelation should come to him from above or he should behold a sign. For he despised the person of his advisor, not understanding that sometimes the Lord reveals to babes the things that are hidden from the wise; for the lepers announced the good tidings to Samaria [2 Kings 7], and the ass of Balaam recalled its master from the unlawful way. Wherefore, the hermit, leaving the king, went his way, and hid himself from before his face. In the process of time, however, although the before-named king despised the admonitions of the poor hermit, still, by inspiration of Divine grace, he retained some part of his warning in his memory, having faith in the Lord, that He who recalled the publicans and the Canaanitish woman to repentance, in his great mercy would give to him a penitent heart.
Hence it was, that on the Lord's day in Easter when the Lord visited him with a rod of iron, not that he might bruise him, but that he might receive the scourging to his advantage. For on that day the Lord scourged him with a severe attack of illness, so that calling before him religious men, he was not ashamed to confess the guiltiness of his life, and after receiving absolution, took back his wife, whom for along time he had not known, and putting away all illicit intercourse, he remained constant to his wife and the two become one flesh and Lord gave him health of both body and soul…"

Source: Roger of Hoveden, The Annals, trans. Henry T. Riley, 2. Vols. (London: H.G. Bohn, 1853; repr. New York: AMS Press, 1968)

Men Sleeping Together?

The big question here is what does "men sleeping together" mean? Some authors deny it has any sexual overtones.

Stephen Jaeger in a post on MEDIEV-L [[email protected]] notes the following as evidence that such intimacy did not imply sexual activity.

  • Greg of Tours, Hist. Franc. VII. 47 & IX. 19: [Sichar and Chramnesind made peace after a feud, and expressed their "magna amicitia"] "They loved each other (diligerent) in mutual charity so much that they frequently ate together and slept in the same bed."
  • Nithard, Historiae III. 6: [two kings -- sorry , incomplete ref. enjoyed such "unanimitas" and "concordia" that they took their meals and slept in the same house".
  • Petrus Damiani, Vita Romualdi, ch. 25, PL 145, 975C: [Otto III was so fond of his cleric Tammo that they wore the same clothes and at table ate from the same bowl, joining their hands together when they met in the dish].
  • Vita Adalberti, ch. 23, MGH, SS 4, 591: [Otto III's adviser and tutor, Adalbert of Prague, became his "sweetest chamber mate". They were together night and day and slept in the same room because "he loved him."]
  • John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, 4.42: "I was closer to his heart [Pope Hadrian IV] than his mother and half brother. Indeed he used to declare, both in public and private, that he loved me more dearly than any other mortal... It was his delight to have me eat with him at his very own table where, against my protestations, he willed and ordered that we use together a common cup and plate."



This text is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The Sourcebooks are collections of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to all aspects of history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, 1997, 2023

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 5 June 2023 [CV]