The Third Crusade (1187 to 1192)

In the Near East, the Third Crusade (also known as the Kings’ Crusade) unfolded in Anatolia, Levant, and Palestine. The goal of European leaders was to reconquer the Holy Land , taking it back from Saladin. In this article, you will learn of important events, notable commanders, and the outcome of the Third Crusade.

After the Second Crusade ended in failure, the Zengid dynasty gained control of a unified Syria and waged conflict against the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. This created a unification of Egyptian and Syrian forces under the command of Saladin, who was bent on reducing the Christian states. A passionate religious Henry II of England and Philip II of France stopped fighting with one another so that they could lead a new Crusade together. With the leadership of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, a massive army formed and traveled across Anatolia.

Unfortunately, the Emperor drowned before he reached the Holy Land. Because of this, many discouraged troops returned home.

Commander Spotlight: Richard I of England

Richard I served as King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. In his lifetime, he ruled many different places, as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Gascony, Count of Maine, and Lord of Ireland , just to name a few titles. This is the man who is called Richard the Lionheart in history books because he had earned a reputation as a strong military leader and warrior.

When Richard was 16, he was already commanding his own army. During the Third Crusade, he became an important Christian commander, leading a successful campaign after the departure of Philip Augustus. Against Saladin, he won many victories.

Highlights of the Third Crusade

·    The Third Crusade involved 8,000 English men, 2,000 French men, and 15,000 German men.

·    When Saladin had successfully taken Acre and Jerusalem, Pope Urban II was said to have collapsed and died on the spot after hearing the news. However, when the Pope died, he could not have learned of the fall of Jerusalem. At that time, the only events he knew of was the battle of  Hattin and the fall of Acre.

·    Pope Gregory VIII replaced Pope Urban II. He believed that the capture of Jerusalem was punishment for the sins of Christians across Europe. It was he that called for a new crusade to the Holy Land.

·    At the Battle of Arsuf, Richard marched to the city of Jaffa to launch an attack on Jerusalem. Saladin attempted to lure Richard’s forces so that they could easily be killed, but Richard stayed in his formation until the Hospitallers rushed to cease the right flank of Saladin’s army. The Templars took the left flank and together, Richard was victorious in the battle.

In the End

The Third Crusade resulted in the Treaty of Ramla, where Saracens allowed unarmed Christian pilgrimages to Holy Land. However, Jerusalem would remain under Saracen control. Territorial changes that took place involved Cyprus and parts of the Palestinian coast, which became annexed under Crusader control.