“But what are kings, when regiment is gone" - Richard of Cornwall

13 January 1257, Richard of Cornwall was elected King of the Romans in Frankfurt.

“But what are kings, when regiment is gone, / But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?” (Christopher Marlowe)

Two donor figures from Meißen Cathedral* 

Germany had indeed once a British king - Richard of Cornwall, son of John Lackland (and thus nephew of Richard Cœur de Lion and grandson of Eleanor of Aquitaine), crusader and one of the richest men in Europe, was elected King of the Romans - the official title of the Holy Roman Empire's ruler. He held the title until his death in 1272, thus reigning for 15 years - from abroad, most of the time. He visited the empire 4 times.

Richard's royal seal, depicting him as King of the Romans

Richard, brother-in-law of Frederick II, was elected in Frankfurt by three of the princes while the opposing candidate Alfonso of Castile, grandson of King Philip of Swabia, polled the other three, a fait accompli typical for the days of the Inerregnum, the days without a king, after Frederick’s death in 1250. One of the prince-electors, Ottokar of Bohemia, was actually bribed by both parties, finally decided for Richard, probably after an additional baksheesh, and the coronation followed in May 1257. After Richard of Cornwall’s death, Alfonso made another try, vetoed by Pope Gregory X and finally Rudolf of Habsburg was elected in 1273, ending the interregnum for good and marking the beginning of his house as one of the leading families in Europe.

*made probably by a student from the workshop of the anonymous sculptor known as Naumburg Master around 1260. They are usually interpreted as depicting Emperor Otto I and his wife Adelaide of Italy, founders of the Bishopric of Meißen – since Richard of Cornwall was one of the donors and had no particular reason to celebrate Otto, it is well possible that the two figures actually depict him and one of his wifes, either Sanchia of Provence or Beatrice of Falkenburg, whom he married in 1269, three years before his death.

Depicted below are

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