Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3rd Crusade

July, 1190

Richard I of England and Philip II of France began their march towards the Middle East, taking part in the 3rd Crusade launched against the Muslim held “Holy Land”. The Seljuk Turks had originally taken Jerusalem and the surrounding cities from the Byzantine Empire. The 1st Crusade had reconquered the “Holy Land” from the Turks. Under the leadership of Sultan Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, Muslim forces retook Jerusalem again. This prompted Richard the Lionheart and Philip II of France to lead a crusade to retake Jerusalem. A third army under Frederick I Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire joined in the crusade but soon disbanded when Barbarossa fell from his horse into a river and drowned.


After taking the island of Cyprus, Richard moved on to help take the city of Acre. Philip, who had taken his army a separate path, met up with Richard and helped besiege the city. After a month long siege, the city fell to the hands of the Crusaders. Philip II went back to France and Richard, now the leader of the Crusade, moved on to take Jaffa as a launching point for an attack on Jerusalem. Richard decided against this, however, and instead made a truce with Saladin. This left Jerusalem in Muslim hands but allowed unarmed Christians pilgrims safe passage to the city.


Marked by opposites of great chivalrous behavior and massacres on both sides, the Kings’ Crusade as it became known, achieved little except bolster discontent with the populace of both religions. Saladin’s reputation was weakened as he was unable to defeat Richard and Richard incurred anger from many Christians for deciding against taking Jerusalem. In an age of chivalry, however, the behavior of both rulers gained them great respect and even earning a new name for Richard, Richard the Lionheart.