From Coronation to Crusade 1189 - 1190
Understanding the third Crusade
Task: Card Sort timeline
Extension: Saladin from the Muslim Perspective
Why Crusade? Richards aims as ruler of the Aquitaine Empire
Richard's motives for the Third Crusade
According to historian Giles Constable, some of the general motives for why people joined the Third Crusade included:
- Economic opportunities or possible financial rewards.
- To prove themselves as a great soldier or knight.
- For respect, glory and honour.
- Opportunities for adventure and heroism.
- It was believed to be a religious duty.
- Defeat Saladin.
- Seek revenge for Jerusalem.
- Reclaiming Jerusalem due to its importance within the Christian faith.
- Revenue opportunities through taxes from conquering new lands.
- Glory, i.e. a way of being remembered in posterity.
- Religion, i.e. a requirement of the Church to defend it from the external enemies.
Preparing For crusade
Richard in Sicily
Summarise in your own words, the key events from 1190-1191.
During the six months he spent in Sicily while negotiations continued, Richard provoked a riot in Messina, which he then put down by plundering, burning, and occupying the city. Tancred bought peace by yielding to Richard’s financial demands, and in March 1191 Richard departed.
1. What does this source suggest to you about Richard? (i.e. what can you infer from it about Richard as a person, king etc.)
Task: Critical Thinking and ResearchStudy the source above on Richard's entry to the port of Messina. What do you think it indicates about Richard's intentions?
- Family dispute: William II was married to Richard's sister Joan who was being denied her dowry by Tancred when he ascended the Throne after the former suddenly died. This angered Richard. Joan was also held in captivity on Tancred's orders.
- Wealth: William II left a huge legacy in his will for his father-in-law Henry II - Richard's father - which included gold, money, war galleys and enormous quantities of elegant possessions as well as goods like wine and grain. Henry, however, died before William passed away and Tancred considered that will as null and void. Richard, however, differed and saw himself as natural heir because the will was bequeathed to fund Henry's crusade. Richard considered himself as the successor to that crusade amd claimed the legacy for himself.
- Richard seized the city of Messina in retaliation against Tancred not handing over the dowry releasing it only on receipt of a large sum of gold.
- Richard acquired more funds for the crusades.
- Tancred remained king of Sicily and remained in non-hostile terms with Richard.
- The personal rivalry brewing between Richard and King Philip was worsening
Richard in Cyprus
Richard's fleet of ships veered off course from its journey to Jerusalem and after a short transit in Rhodes due to strong gales it crashed on the Cypriot shores.
Next to arrive was a ship with Richard's sister Joanna and his fiance Berengaria of Navarre and were met with hostility by Isaac.
On 5 May 1191, Richard's ship with his storm-tossed fleet arrived joining Joanna and Berengaria.
He learned that Isaac tried to take his sister and fiance hostage and sought reprisals. He set sail for the port of Limassol.
Richard entered Limassol and defeated a small resistance planted by Isaac.
on May 12, Richard solemnised his marriage to Berengaria.
Isaac as a truce gesture agreed to join Richard's efforts to reach Palestine and serve him. However, Isaac reneged on that agreement.
Richard used this act as a pretext to subjugate the whole island and by the end of May, having circumnavigated the island, it was realised with Isaac finally captured and held prisoner on June 1 1191.
on 5 June 1191, Richard left Cyprus and sailed for Palestine.
Summarised from Edbury, The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374, pp.6-10.
Read the source below from Aytoun's book The Life and Time of Richard First: Surnamed Coeur-de-Lion (London: W. Tegg, 1840), p.95:
1. State one thing we learn from the source?
2. Outline how this source depicts Richard?
3. Explain one limitation of this source.
Key Reading: Richard in Cyprus
The Third Crusade
Events: Richard's Leadership of the Third Crusade
Acre 1191 - Military Victory
- Acre was an important coastal port.
- Saladin took Acre in 1187.
- In 1189, Saladin released Guy of Lusignan who then took the opportunity to siege Muslim held Acre.
- By 1191, the siege ground to a stalemate.
- Richard arrived at Acre in June 1191 with immense pomposity and ceremony and set up camp north of the town. He brought fresh supplies and new equipment boosting morale of the crusaders.
- Earlier in May, Philip had arrived and set up camp on the east side of the town.
- Despite falling ill with an enigmatic medieval illness refered to in Latin as "arnaldia", Richard continued his mission and opened diplomatic channels to Saladin in order to negotiate Crusader interests. This was one of his strategies during his campaigns.
- By July 1191, however, diplomacy had proved futile and renewed military action was the option. By 12 July, the people of Acre surrendered after heavy bombardment from Richard's troops as well as combined efforts with Philip's army. The people - nearly 3000 - were taken as prisoners and marched out of Acre. They were to be for ransom money.
- Richard maintained negotiations with Saladin until August 1191 who appeared to be stalling paying the ransom money as a delay tactic. Fearing the cost of maintaining the prisoners, fearing to appear weak before his army, fearing that releasing the prisoners would give them a second chance to rejoin their own army and attack and desiring to move on towards Jerusalem, Richard slaughtered the prisoners of Acre in cold blood.
Key Reading - John Gillingham Chapter
Arsuf - tactical superiority
- Richard set out 80 miles south towards Jaffa with an army of 15,000 men. It was summer time.
- He sensed that his army was becoming indulgent in Acre being influenced by wine, sex and merriment and so regrouped them and maintained strict formation. No-one was to break rank or formation.
- He made the army march down the shore of the mediterranean coastline in rigid formation. At times it was harsh and difficult due to the scorching heat and many suffered heat stroke, exhaustion and ilnesses. Many also died. The ships passing on the right flank, however, were used for treatment, rest and supplies.
- Richard made the decision to order the navy fleet to flank the right side for supplies and support and the archers and spearmen to guard the left flank from remote attacks by Saladin's agile archers on horseback. The rear was protected Hospitallers and knights.
- Saladin and his army marched southward towards Jaffa on a parallel route periodically attacking the army in order to derail its course.
- By 7 September, Richard's army was 25 miles from Jaffa.
- Fearing the Muslims’ hold over southern Palestine would be threatened and fearing his reputation as the defender of Islam would be seriously damaged, Saladin planned a massive assault on Richard’s forces.
- With a full army of 30,000 men, Saladin attacked Richard's army when they emerged from the wooded hills and on to the plain north of Jaffa.
- Richard's priority was to maintain movement of the army as well as its form and file - no-one was to break formation.
- However, two knights had suddenly broken ranks and were chasing Saladin’s horsemen. Hundreds of crusaders were now following the two knights. Not being part of the initial plan, Richard nevertheless turned his whole army on the Muslims. In the chaotic battle that followed Richard’s men fought off two fierce Muslim counter attacks and made renewed charges, eventually forcing Saladin’s army to retreat.
- Exact casualties for the Battle of Arsuf are not known, but it is estimated that Crusader forces lost around 700-1,000 men while Saladin's army may have suffered up to 7,000.
- Arsuf was an important victory for the Crusaders. It boosted their morale and removed Saladin’s air of invincibility.
- Although clearly defeated, Saladin quickly recovered and, after concluding that he could not penetrate the Crusader’s defensive formation, resumed his harassing tactics of feigned retreats and remote firing with the horseback and stationed archers.
- Richard pressed on and captured Jaffa, but the continued existence of Saladin's army prevented an immediate march on Jerusalem.
- Campaigning and negotiations between Richard and Saladin continued over the next year until both concluded a treaty in September 1192 which allowed Jerusalem to remain in Saladin’s hands but permitted Christian pilgrims to visit the city toll free and unharmed.
Jaffa - Tactical Payoff
- After stalling Saladin at Arsuf, the crusader army marched towards Jaffa and alighted. In Jaffa only a few days, news reached them from southern Palestine that in order to prevent the crusaders taking the town of Ascalon, Saladin had made the decision to sacrifice the city. His men had begun to pull down Ascalon’s walls. Richard argued for an immediate attack on the port in order to disrupt Saladin’s communications with Egypt (which Richard saw as a very attractive and important strategic region). However, a large number of nobles resisted Richard’s decision – they were determined to make a direct assault on Jerusalem and take it. Richard could not persuade them to save Ascalon. The Third Crusade thus stalled.
- The crusaders remained in Jaffa and strengthened its fortifications from any external impending threats. Again, disconcertingly, many of the fighters were distracted by the boatloads of prostitutes who arrived from Acre. Saladin took this opportunity to destroy the networks of crusader castles and fortifications between Jaffa and Jerusalem.
Key Reading - John gillingham
- On 29 October 1191, the crusaders set out from Jaffa and began the work of rebuilding the crusader forts along the route to Jerusalem. They were repeatedly attacked by Saladin’s troops in attempts to halt the advance. However, alongside these military skirmishes, the two sides were also engaged in diplomacy. Diplomacy alongside brutal war was defining characteristics of the Third Crusade. Negotiations would even include bizarre possibilities such as Richard offering Saladin’s brother, al-‘Adil, his own sister Joan to be one of al-Adil’s wives as part of a Muslim-Christian condominium in Palestine to be ruled by the couple under Saladin’s suzerainty. Not surprisingly, Joan reacted in rage to the plan and refused!
- As winter set in, heavy rain and cold typical of the climate slowed down the crusaders. It took them nearly two months to reach Beit Nuba, twelve miles from Jerusalem. It was there that Richard, together with knights of the crusader states and the Military Orders, began to doubt the wisdom of laying siege to Jerusalem. They were mainly worried that supply lines to the coast would be cut off by the Muslims and that, even if Jerusalem was taken, the crusaders would not have sufficient resources or manpower to hold on to the Holy City. Thus, they woiuld take it only to lose it again. Moreover, the adverse weather (heavy rain) was hamering progression and spoiling the food supplies in addition to intermittent ambushing parties sent by Saladin. It was perhaps at this point as well that the impact of the death of Frederick Barbarossa and the departure of Philip II was felt most keenly, denting morale and efforts.
- On 13 January, 1192, Richard gave the order to withdraw from the march to Jerusalem. This was a devastating decision that shattered the morale of the Third Crusaders. Richard moved his increasingly depressed and divided army to Ascalon where he kept them busy rebuilding the walls of the city that Saladin had so recently torn down in order to attack the latter's forces as they travelled between Egypt and Syria.
- In May 1192, the fortress of Darum south of Ascalon was attacked by Richard and captured it thus adding length to the coastline in the hands of the Crusaders.
- With the weather improving and a tiring Muslim army, the other (mainly French) crusader leaders met and decided on marching a second time towards Jerusalem to try and recapture it. When Richard returned from Darum, they collectively advanced once more to wards Jerusalem reaching Beit Nuba.
- Dispute arose over what to do. Richard wanted to retreat and head back to Jaffa because the supply line back to Jaffa was exposed and vulnerable and the Jerusalem defenses were too formidable and strong for a short and successful attack. Another long and drawn out battle would be needed and with shortage of supplies and water, this would be etremely difficult. Richard thus turned back. The remaining French troops wanted to continue and march on.
- on 27 July 1192, Saladin decided to take advantage of the crusaders’ retreat from Jerusalem by launching a lightning attack on Jaffa. In under four days, the Muslim sappers and stone-throwers destroyed sections of Jaffa’s walls. The small Christian garrison was forced to take refuge in the citadel of Jaffa. When Richard heard of Jaffa’s plight he rushed south from Acre at the head of a sea-borne counter attack. As they approached Jaffa the crusaders’ boats stopped, unsure whether Saladin’s forces had taken the citadel. One of the defenders managed to escape and swam to the Christian fleet, explaining that if they acted quickly there was still time to save the town. Richard knew that his men were heavily outnumbered, but he ordered them to attack and was one of the first to wade ashore at the head of his small army. The surprise of his attack gave the crusaders an improbable and dramatic victory. If Saladin was successful in capturing Jafaa, the crusader land would have been cut into two and divided.
- Richard’s forces may have been unable to take Jerusalem, but his victory at Jaffa demonstrated his tactical skill and valour - qualities of a great military leader. It also demonstrated that Saladin was incapable of driving the crusaders out of southern Palestine. Negotiation therefore remained the only option.
- Following his victory at Jaffa, Richard’s energy was sapped and he fell dangerously ill. He was increasingly worried that his territories in France were in danger from the conspiracy between his brother John and Philip. The time had come to sign a truce with Saladin. The Treaty of Jaffa was agreed on 2 September. In return for a three-year truce, Palestine was to be partitioned:
- Saladin was to retain control of Jerusalem.
- Ascalon’s fortifications were once again to be destroyed.
- The crusaders were allowed to keep the conquests of Acre and Jaffa,
- and the coastal strip between the two towns.
- Christian pilgrims were allowed access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
- Continual crusader military presence along the costal towns.
- Free access for Western pilgrims to any religious site within the crusader territories and beyond.
- Cessation of hostilities.
- Diplomacy to succeed over warfare and therefore adopted more rigorously.
Rivalry with Philip
The squabble for Jerusalem and Richard and Philip's on going feud.
Tension resurfaced among the ranks because each king supported a different claimant to the throne of Jerusalem. Philip was allied to Conrad of Montferrat whereas Richard supported Guy of Lusignan. In 1191, it was intitially agreed that Guy should hold the throne for his lifetime, but that on his death the crown should pass to his rival, Conrad. However, in April 1192 the barons of the kingdom of Jerusalem overwhelmingly voted for Conrad - much to Richard's consternation. This loss to Guy was compensated for by Richard selling the lordship of Cyprus to him (where Guy insisted on the title 'King') because he did not want Guy returning to Poitou as his family had a reputation of rebelliousness and Richard did not want instability within Angevin territory. In the same month in Tyre, April 1192, Conrad was assassinated by paid Nizari Ismaili assassins (hashshashin). Some historians accuse Richard's direct involvement or complicity.
By that time Philip had already made the decision to abandon the Third Crusade and return to France. Philip’s continued ill health, his irritation at Richard’s arrogant attempt to take over the Crusade and the need to assert his rights over Flanders following the Count of Flanders’ death at Acre, must all have influenced his decision. Before he left the Holy Land, Philip swore that he would not attack Richard’s territory in France. Richard did not trust Philip to keep his promise and the threat of Philip’s interference in Angevin territory became an increasing distraction for the Lionheart during the remainder of the Third Crusade.
Success of the third crusade
Perspective 1: Successful
Naus and Ryan, "High Stakes and high Reward: The memory of Royal Crusading" in Remembering the Crusdaes and Crusading , ed. by Cassidy-Welch (Oxon: Routledge, 2017), p.153:
Matthews, "The Great Men of Christendom: The Failure of the Third Crusade" (MA diss., Western Kentucky University, 2011), p.5:
the Third Crusade—and by extension all of the previous and subsequent Crusades—were destined to fail because of structural disadvantages which plagued the expeditions to the Holy Land. The Christians in the Holy Land were not self-sufficient, and they depended on an extensive amount of aid from Europe for their existence, but the Christians of Europe had their own goals and concerns which did not allow them to focus on building a stable kingdom in the Holy Land. For European Christians, crusading was a religious obligation, and once their vows were fulfilled, they no longer had any desire to remain in the Levant. Although the Crusaders did score some short-term victories over their Muslim adversaries, the Christian presence in the Holy Land was unsustainable, for the Crusades—from the European perspective—were a religious movement without a tangible, long-term political objective, and given those circumstance, any crusade would be unsuccessful.
Evaluation Tasks - creating a documentary
- What were the main events of the Crusade? (ACRE/JAFFA/ARSUF/JERUSALEM/TRUCE)
- Was the battle of Arsuf the most significant battle or the Third Crusade?
- To what extent was the massacre at Acre a huge mistake?
- What were the achievements of Richard I on the Third Crusade?
- Why was Richard was unable to recapture Jerusalem?
- How successful was the Third Crusade?
- To what extent did the western European politics determine the outcome of the Third Crusade?
- Does Richard I deserve to be remembered as a great crusader?
- Saladin v Richard? Who deserves the praise?
- What happened to Richard and Saladin after the Crusade?
- How far do the events of the Crusade demonstrate the military leadership ability of Richard I?
1. Using your own knowledge and relevant sources, explain why Richard was unable to recapture Jerusalem. (15)
You want to think about the following factors to structure your answer:
- Richard's leadership.
- Weaknesses within the crusading army.
- Strength of the opposition.
In pairs or small groups, select one or two of the questions below and debate them briefly using your own knowledge as well as what you have studied in this topic. Each side prepares their points and counter-points:
- To what extent can it be argued that the Third Crusade ended in a stalemate?
- To what extent was the rivalry between Richard I and Philip II the main reason for the limited success of the Third Crusade?
- 'Richard I was a bad crusader'. Discuss.
- 'The Battle of Arsuf was the most important turning point in the Third Crusade'. Discuss.
- Why did Richard fail to recapture Jerusalem?
- To what extent did the western European politics determine the outcome of the Third Crusade?
- Why was Saladin unable to defeat the Franks (European crusading army) during the Third Crusade?