His birthplace is probably indicated by his surname, Devizes in Wiltshire, but of his life we know nothing. He is credited by Bale with the composition of the Annales de Wintonia, which are edited by Henry Richards Luard in the second volume of the Annales Monastici. If this statement be correct, then the chronicler survived King Richard I.
In his account of the coronation of Richard the Lionheart in 1189 he was the first to use the word holocaust for the mass murder of the Jews of London, although the use of this word simply refers to a " whole (holos) burnt (kaustos)" sacrificial offering to a god.
The Chronicon de rebus gestis Ricardi Primi (1192), by which Richard of Devizes is chiefly known, covers only the first three years of Richard's reign; it is practically an account of events in England and the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. The narrator of the chronicle is a French Jewish cobbler giving advice to young French Christians intending to visit England.
For the events of the crusade itself, some consider Richard to be poor authority. But his account of the preparations for the crusade, and of English affairs in the king's absence, is valuable, in spite of some possible inaccuracies.
A new reading has emerged recently of the Chronicle mostly due to the inordinate number of classical and biblical references it is laced with (see Anthony P. Bale's article, cited below). Rather than a true historic record, Devizes' account is now being read as an elegant satire and a challenge of contemporary Christian myths against the Jewish community and its mores; particularly those of ritualistic murders of Christian boys by the Jews of Winchester. It is however by no means a defence of the Jewish community. Others have seen the author as intensely conservative, steeped in the prejudices of his order, and can be seen as being hostile to the Jews and to the chancellor, William Longchamp.
Devizes writes in a vivid and epigrammatic style; his Latin shows the effect of the 12th-century Renaissance in its polish and in its reminiscences of classical poets.
the editions of the Chronicon de rebus gestis Ricardi Primi