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Richard the Lionheart (1961-65)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'A Marriage of Convenience', written by Stanley Miller, directed by Ernest Morris; originally transmitted on ITV (London), 9/4/1962

The Holy Land, 1191. In the desert, a troop of crusaders led by Count Guy come across an Arab horseman and kill him. They discover he is actually a crusader in disguise, wearing the arms of Conrad de Montferrat, and carrying a secret document to Sultan Saladin.

While Richard has been ill with fever, Saladin has been rebuilding his army in Damascus. Now, Richard intends to march on Jerusalem before the sultan can gather a large enough force to defend it.

Guy presents the documents to Richard. They reveal a proposal that Saladin marry the king's cousin, Lady Edith, establishing an alliance between Conrad and Saladin, whose combined armies could overpower the crusaders and divide Palestine between them. Conrad's own advances to the Lady Edith were once rejected and he is determined to humiliate her.

Richard decides to allow Conrad's plan to proceed. He has Sir Kenneth, who is also in love with Lady Edith, pose as Conrad's messenger, and sends his servant, Blondel, with a second message.

Sir Kenneth delivers the message. As Saladin reads Conrad's proposal, Blondel arrives with Richard's secret message. Saladin informs Blondel that he agrees to Richard's plan, but delays his response to Conrad's message.

Before commencement of the Council of Princes, Conrad tells Leopold of Austria and King Philip how he intends to betray both Richard and Saladin. On his arrival, Richard announces that he is forming an alliance with Saladin. The Council are shocked, and he further reveals that Conrad has already proposed a similar plan.

With his plans frustrated, Conrad informs Sir Kenneth of the King's proposed arrangement, aware of the young knight's love for Lady Edith. Sir Kenneth and Lady Edith are secretly married to prevent Richard's planned alliance-by-marriage.

Saladin arrives at Richard's camp to claim his bride. Conrad, Lady Edith and Sir Kenneth arrive and Conrad smugly informs Saladin that the sultan has lost his bride to Sir Kenneth. Outraged, Saladin threatens Conrad. However, he pays his respects to Lady Edith, and to Richard for the proposal of alliance.

To everyone's surprise (except Richard), Sir Kenneth is revealed to be Prince David, son of King William of Scotland, who had joined the crusades in protest at a political marriage that his father had arranged for him. Blondel's visit to Saladin was to explain Richard's plan to unmask the treacherous Conrad.

Richard returns to his battle plans for Jerusalem.