Pierre Basile

Pierre Basile (died April 6, 1199), also named Bertran de Gurdun and John Sabroz, was a Limousin boy famous for shooting King Richard I of England with a crossbow at the siege of Châlus-Chabrol on March 25, 1199. King Richard, who had removed some of his chainmail, was not mortally wounded by Basile's bolt; however, the wound resulted in gangrene.

Basile was one of only two knights defending the castle and was renowned amongst the English attackers for his appearance: the castle was so ill-prepared for King Richard's siege that Basile was forced to defend the ramparts with cobbled-together armour and a makeshift shield constructed from a frying pan, much to the mirth of the English besiegers. It is perhaps this dismissive attitude that led to Richard taking little precaution on the day he was shot.

Although there are numerous variations of the story's details, it is generally agreed that King Richard ordered that Basile suffer no punishment (and, in fact, that he be paid 100 shillings).[1] Nevertheless, after Richard's death, mercenary captain Mercadier disregarded his orders and Basile was flayed alive and then hanged.[2]

'Peter Basili' or 'Pierre Basile' is not believed to be his real name, since it variates with the names 'John Sabroz' and 'Bertran de Gurdun' as the name of Richard's killer.[3][4] In truth, it is considered unlikely that contemporary chroniclers knew his real name.


  1. ^ Flori 1999, p. 234.
  2. ^ Flori 1999, p. 238.
  3. ^ Gillingham 1989, p. 16.
  4. ^ Flori 1999, pp. 233–254.


  • Flori, Jean (1999). Richard Coeur de Lion (in French).
  • Meade, Marion Eleanor of Aquitaine