Who would buy a king?
And how much would he cost?
In 1193, Duke Leopold V of Austria handed Emperor Henry VI valuable booty: Richard Lionheart, King of England.
The price was 50,000 silver marks, worth over 1 billion Euro's today, a proper consolation for his excommunication. The city of Wiener Neustadt owes his existence to the thief.
Richard, returning from the third crusade, had to avoid the lands of his numerous enemies, among whom the French king and the Emperor. His attempt to return home via Austria was unwise. During one of his tantrums at Acre, he had thrown Duke Leopold's banner into the mud.
The Emperor seized the prisoner at Trifels Castle and demanded from England 100,000 silvers marks. The country - with its population of 2.2 million - bled out financially. Even precious liturgical objects were melted down.
After the payment of the "purchase price", the Emperor possessed sufficient silver to conquer the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, which' crown he received in 1194. Since then, he reigned from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.
Translation: Erik Eising (MA)