The Third Crusade (1189–1192) was an attempt by the leaders of the three most powerful states of Western Christianity (Angevin England, France and the Holy Roman Empire) to reconquer the Holy Land following the capture of Jerusalem by the Ayyubid sultan Saladin in 1187. It was partially successful, recapturing the important cities of Acre and Jaffa, and reversing most of Saladin's conquests, but it failed to recapture Jerusalem, which was the major aim of the Crusade and its religious focus.
Table of Contents / Timeline
King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem died in 1185, leaving the Kingdom of Jerusalem to his nephew Baldwin V, whom he had crowned as co-king in 1183. The following Year, Baldwin V died before his ninth birthday, and his mother Princess Sybilla, sister of Baldwin IV, crowned herself queen and her husband, Guy of Lusignan, king.
Jihad against the ChristiansKerak Castle, Oultrejordain, J
Raynald of Châtillon, who had supported Sybilla's claim to the throne, raided a rich caravan travelling from Egypt to Syria and had its travelers thrown in prison, thereby breaking a truce between the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Saladin. Saladin demanded the release of the prisoners and their cargo. The newly crowned King Guy appealed to Raynald to give in to Saladin's demands, but Raynald refused to follow the king's orders. Saladin begins his call for a holy war against the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Battle of HattinThe Battle of Hattin
The Muslim armies under Saladin captured or killed the vast majority of the Crusader forces, removing their capability to wage war. As a direct result of the battle, Muslims once again became the eminent military power in the Holy Land, re-conquering Jerusalem and many of the other Crusader-held cities. These Christian defeats prompted the Third Crusade, which began two years after the Battle of Hattin. Pope Urban III is said to have collapsed and died (October 1187) upon hearing the news of the Battle of Hattin.
Saladin captures JerusalemJerusalem
Jerusalem capitulated to Saladin's forces on Friday, 2 October 1187, after a siege. When the siege had started, Saladin was unwilling to promise terms of quarter to the Frankish inhabitants of Jerusalem. Balian of Ibelin threatened to kill every Muslim hostage, estimated at 5,000, and to destroy Islam's holy shrines of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque if such quarter were not provided. Saladin consulted his council and the terms were accepted. The agreement was read out through the streets of Jerusalem so that everyone might within forty days provide for himself and pay to Saladin the agreed tribute for his freedom. An unusually low ransom for the times was to be paid for each Frank in the city, whether man, woman, or child, but Saladin, against the wishes of his treasurers, allowed many families who could not afford the ransom to leave. Upon the capture of Jerusalem, Saladin summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city.
Pope Gregory VIII calls for the Third CrusadeRome, Italy
Audita tremendi was a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory VIII on October 29, 1187, calling for the Third Crusade. It was issued just days after Gregory had succeeded Urban III as pope, in response to the defeat of the Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin on July 4 of 1187. Gregory travelled to Pisa in order to end Pisan hostilities with Genoa so that both seaports and naval fleets could join together for the crusade.
Frederick takes the crossRegensburg, Germany
Siege of AcreAcre
The Siege of Acre was the first significant counterattack by King Guy of Jerusalem against Saladin, leader of the Muslims in Syria and Egypt. This pivotal siege formed part of what later became known as the Third Crusade. The siege lasted from August 1189 until July 1191, in which time the city's coastal position meant the attacking Latin force were unable to fully invest the city and Saladin was unable to fully relieve it with both sides receiving supplies and resources by sea. Finally, it was a key victory for the Crusaders and a serious setback for Saladin's ambition to destroy the Crusader States.
Battle of PhilomelionAkşehir, Konya, Turkey
The Battle of Philomelion (Philomelium in Latin, Akşehir in Turkish) was a victory of the forces of the Holy Roman Empire over the Turkish forces of the Sultanate of Rûm on 7 May 1190 during the Third Crusade. In May 1189, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa began his expedition to the Holy Land as part of the Third Crusade to recover the city of Jerusalem from the forces of Saladin. After an extended stay in the European territories of the Byzantine Empire, the Imperial army crossed over to Asia at the Dardanelles from 22–28 March 1190. After surmounting opposition from Byzantine populations and Turkish irregulars, the Crusader army was surprised in camp by a 10,000-man Turkish force of the Sultanate of Rûm near Philomelion on the evening of 7 May. The Crusader army counterattacked with 2,000 infantry and cavalry under the leadership of Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia and Berthold, Duke of Merania, putting the Turks to flight and killing 4,174–5,000 of them.
Battle of IconiumKonya, Turkey
After reaching Anatolia, Frederick was promised safe passage through the region by the Turkish Sultanate of Rum, but was faced instead with constant Turkish hit-and-run attacks on his army. A Turkish army of 10,000 men was defeated at the Battle of Philomelion by 2,000 Crusaders, with 4,174–5,000 Turks slain. After continued Turkish raids against the Crusader army, Frederick decided to replenish his stock of animals and foodstuffs by conquering the Turkish capital of Iconium. On 18 May 1190, the German army defeated its Turkish enemies at the Battle of Iconium, sacking the city and killing 3,000 Turkish troops.
Frederick I Barbarossa diesGöksu River, Turkey
While crossing the Saleph River near Silifke Castle in Cilicia on 10 June 1190, Frederick's horse slipped, throwing him against the rocks; he then drowned in the river. Frederick's death caused several thousand German soldiers to leave the force and return home through the Cilician and Syrian ports. After this, much of his army returned to Germany by sea in anticipation of the upcoming Imperial election. The Emperor's son, Frederick of Swabia, led the remaining 5,000 men to Antioch.
Philip and Richard set outVézelay, France
Henry II of England and Philip II of France ended their war with each other in a meeting at Gisors in January 1188 and then both took the cross. Both imposed a "Saladin tithe" on their citizens to finance the venture. Richard and Philip II met in France at Vézelay and set out together on 4 July 1190 as far as Lyon where they parted after agreeing to meet in Sicily; Richard arrived in Marseille and found that his fleet had not arrived; he quickly tired of waiting for them and hiring ships, left for Sicily on 7 August, visiting several places in Italy en route and arrived in Messina on 23 September. Meanwhile, the English fleet eventually arrived in Marseille on 22 August, and finding that Richard had gone, sailed directly to Messina, arriving before him on 14 September. Philip had hired a Genoese fleet to transport his army, which consisted of 650 knights, 1,300 horses, and 1,300 squires to the Holy Land by way of Sicily.
Richard captures MessinaMessina, Italy
Richard captured the city of Messina on 4 October 1190. Both Richard and Philip wintered here in 1190.Philip left Sicily directly for the Middle East on 30 March 1191 and arrived in Tyre in April; he joined the siege of Acre on 20 April. Richard did not set off from Sicily until 10 April.
Richard I captures CyprusCyprus
Shortly after setting sail from Sicily, King Richard's armada of 180 ships and 39 galleys was struck by a violent storm. Several ships ran aground, including one holding Joan, his new fiancée Berengaria and a large amount of treasure that had been amassed for the crusade. It was soon discovered that Isaac Dukas Comnenus of Cyprus had seized the treasure. The two met and Isaac agreed to return Richard's treasure. However, once back at his fortress of Famagusta, Isaac broke his oath. In retaliation, Richard conquered the island while on his way to Tyre.
Richard takes AcreAcre
Richard arrived at Acre on 8 June 1191 and immediately began supervising the construction of siege weapons to assault the city, which was captured on 12 July. Richard, Philip, and Leopold quarrelled over the spoils of the victory. Richard cast down the German standard from the city, slighting Leopold. Frustrated with Richard (and in Philip's case, in poor health), Philip and Leopold took their armies and left the Holy Land in August.
Battle of ArsufArsuf, Levant
After the capture of Acre, Richard decided to march to the city of Jaffa. Control of Jaffa was necessary before an attack on Jerusalem could be attempted. On 7 September 1191, however, Saladin attacked Richard's army at Arsuf, 30 miles (50 km) north of Jaffa. Saladin attempted to harass Richard's army into breaking its formation in order to defeat it in detail. Richard maintained his army's defensive formation, however, until the Hospitallers broke ranks to charge the right wing of Saladin's forces. Richard then ordered a general counterattack, which won the battle. Arsuf was an important victory. The Muslim army was not destroyed, despite losing 7,000 men, but it did rout; this was considered shameful by the Muslims and boosted the morale of the Crusaders. Arsuf had dented Saladin's reputation as an invincible warrior and proved Richard's courage as soldier and his skill as a commander. Richard was able to take, defend, and hold Jaffa, a strategically crucial move toward securing Jerusalem. By depriving Saladin of the coast, Richard seriously threatened his hold on Jerusalem.
Battle of JaffaJaffa, Levant
In July 1192, Saladin's army suddenly attacked and captured Jaffa with thousands of men, but Saladin lost control of his army due to their anger for the massacre at Acre. Richard had intended to return to England when he heard the news that Saladin and his army had captured Jaffa. Richard and a small force of little more than 2,000 men went to Jaffa by sea in a surprise attack. Richard's forces stormed Jaffa from their ships and the Ayyubids, who had been unprepared for a naval attack, were driven from the city. Richard freed those of the Crusader garrison who had been made prisoner, and these troops helped to reinforce the numbers of his army. Saladin's army still had numerical superiority, however, and they counter-attacked. Saladin intended a stealthy surprise attack at dawn, but his forces were discovered; he proceeded with his attack, but his men were lightly armoured and lost 700 men killed due to the missiles of the large numbers of Crusader crossbowmen. The battle to retake Jaffa ended in complete failure for Saladin, who was forced to retreat. This battle greatly strengthened the position of the coastal Crusader states.
Treaty of JaffaJaffa, Levant
Neither side was entirely satisfied with the results of the war. Though Richard's victories had deprived the Muslims of important coastal territories and re-established a viable Frankish state in Palestine, many Christians in the Latin West felt disappointed that he had elected not to pursue the recapture of Jerusalem. Likewise, many in the Islamic world felt disturbed that Saladin had failed to drive the Christians out of Syria and Palestine. Trade flourished, however, throughout the Middle East and in port cities along the Mediterranean coastline.
Richard was arrested and imprisoned in December 1192 by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, who suspected Richard of murdering Leopold's cousin Conrad of Montferrat. In 1193, Saladin died of yellow fever. His heirs would quarrel over the succession and ultimately fragment his conquests.
- Chronicle of the Third Crusade, a Translation of Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, translated by Helen J. Nicholson. Ashgate, 1997.
- Hosler, John (2018). The Siege of Acre, 1189–1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle that Decided the Third Crusade. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-30021-550-2.
- Mallett, Alex. “A Trip down the Red Sea with Reynald of Châtillon.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 18, no. 2, 2008, pp. 141–153. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27755928. Accessed 5 Apr. 2021.
- Nicolle, David (2005). The Third Crusade 1191: Richard the Lionheart and the Battle for Jerusalem. Osprey Campaign. 161. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 1-84176-868-5.
- Runciman, Steven (1954). A History of the Crusades, Volume III: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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