1194 (The People's Chronology)
Richard the Lion-Hearted returns to England in March following payment of the first installment of the king's ransom, raised by his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who has traveled to Austria to gain his release (see 1193), although the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich VI will never receive the full amount he demanded. England has levied the first secular taxation to be imposed on movable property, and her resources have been strained to the utmost to raise the tons of gold used to pay the ransom. Richard remains for only a few weeks before returning to the Continent. He leaves the administration of England in the capable hands of the archbishop of Canterbury Hubert Walter, who accompanied Richard on the Third Crusade, led his army back to England, levied the taxes to pay the king's ransom, and has put down a plot against Richard by the king's worthless brother John Lackland. Richard's wife, Berengaria, remains in France (she will never set foot in England), and he arranges the marriage of his sister Joanna to Raymond V, comte de Toulouse.
Richard the Lion-Hearted crushes France's Philippe II Augustus at Freteval and regains his French fiefs by the Truce of Verneuil (but see 1198).
Poland's duke Casimir II dies at age 56 (approximate) after a 17-year reign during a civil war in which his brother Mieszko III has tried to regain power (see 1177).
Norway's remaining bishops crown Sverrir Sigurdsson (see 1190; but see also 1196).
Norman rule in Italy ends after 91 years as the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich VI reduces Sicily with help from Pisa and Genoa to terminate the reign of the rich Tancred of Lecce, illegitimate nephew of his Norman wife, Constance d'Hauteville, who has gained support from the pope and from England's Richard Coeur de Lion. Heinrich subdues southern Italy and part of Tuscany, is crowned king of Sicily at Palermo, retains the Matildine lands in central Italy, organizes an imperial administration of his territories, and begins to plan a great empire with its base in Italy. His wife, Constance, has been crowned queen of Sicily at Bari earlier in the year and does not reach Palermo until summer.
China's 12th Song (Sung) dynasty emperor Zhao Dun (Chao Dün) dies after a 4-year reign. He is succeeded by his 26-year-old son Zhao Kuo (Chao Kuo), who will reign until 1224 as the emperor Ning Zong (Ning Tsung). The new monarch will be dominated by his prime minister Han Touzhou (Han T'o-chou) (see 1207).
Norsemen discover Spitsbergen far to the north of the Arctic Circle. The island will later be an important fishery and whaling center (see 1557).
Richard the Lion-Hearted orders construction of docks at Portsmouth on The Solent, having seen that the harbor of Portchester is silting up and that Portsmouth is splendidly situated for use as the base for a fledgling Royal Navy.
Fiction: The Elder Edda is a collection of Scandinavian mythology.
Marie of Champagne dies at age 53. Daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, she has reestablished at her court at Troyes the practices that Eleanor has sponsored, patronizing writers who will explain the system of courtly love. Treatise on Love and Its Remedy (Tractatus de Amore et de Amoris Remedio) by Andreas, chaplain to Marie of Champagne, expounds earnestly on the theory and practice of courtly love (date approximate; see 1277).
China's Huanghe (Yellow River) begins flowing southward from the Shandong massif after repeated alterations of its streambed. The river will retain its new course until 1853.