DATELINE: ANGERS – Despite the release of a royal report on the death of King Richard Lionheart, many in the kingdom continue to doubt the official story.

Led by Chief Yeoman of the Guard Warryne of Courtshire, the so-called Warryne Commissyione undertook an exhaustive analysis of the evidence following Richard’s sudden death at Châlus-Chabrol in April 1199. Interviewing over a dozen witnesses, examining material evidence including the crossbow that reportedly fired the fatal bolt, the bolt itself, and interviews with the assassin Betrand de Gurdon before his untimely death at the hands of Jacobus de Rubis not long afterwards, the investigators’ report espoused what critics have since called the “single bolt theory.” Or, more derisively, the “magic bolt theory.”

“It’s insanity,” said a tradesman who declined to be named. “Clearly there was a conspiracy at work, with multiple crossbowmen firing multiple bolts from multiple angles. Triangulation of crossbowfire, that’s the key.” His sentiments were echoed by many on the street and in the fields. “It’s a conspiracy,” agreed Herbert the Muttoneer of Brittany, “manufactured by Prince John to seize power and prevent King Richard from putting through reforms to free the serfs and deliver free milk and honey.” When reminded that no such decrees were found in Richard’s desk, he added “They must have gotten to you too.”

Conspiracy theorists disputing the “single bolt theory” point to the Zappruder Tapestry, which was in the process of being woven by Zappruder of Munich when the King was struck down. The tapestry appears to show several crossbowmen on the ramparts of Châlus-Chabrol with several bolts in flight, with the King’s head being thrown up and to the left in a motion supposedly inconsistent with the position of Betrand de Gurdon (identifiable in the tapestry by his frying pan shield, which the King laughed at seconds before his fatal wounding).

“Ridiculous speculation,” said Yeoman Warryne in response to the allegations of a conspiracy. “The ‘second shooter’ on the ‘mossy wall’ of Châlus-Chabrol is clearly just another defender and the ‘second bolt’ is just a bird or a feature of terrain. As for the attitude of the King’s head, it is clearly just an artistic interpretation on Zappruder of Munich’s part.” King John echoed Yeoman Warryne in a statement from court, saying that he “deplored any indication of a conspiracy or conspiracies in the death of my late beloved brother, and that the incident was the unfortunate result of a lone crossbowman.”

Many remain unconvinced, with the man-on-the-street and the man-in-the-field offering any number of alternate theories. Many blamed Prince John for the killing, but most seemed convinced that it was an attempt by unknown parties to head off Richard’s divestment from the war in France, instead deepening the conflict into the present quagmire with Phillip II. The chronicler Sir Olivier of Stoneshire has promised to illuminate a manuscript revealing the truth of the matter, but his efforts have as yet not been released.

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