Third Crusade

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The Third Crusade was preached by Pope Gregory VIII in 1187. The immediate cause was the success of the Muslim general and sultan Yusuf Salah al-Din (otherwise known to Christians as Saladin), who had fought against the Kingdom of Jerusalem since 1169 and had defeated and captured Guy of Lusignan, consort to Queen Sybilla. Finally, at the end of the year, news reached Europe that the Holy City had fallen to the "infidels" (although, of course, to both sides, the other followed an illegitimate faith).

The three main leaders of the Crusade were

  • Frederick I Babarossa, Holy Roman Emperor. He set out in May 1189, with over 100,000 men, travelling overland (as ships could not accommodate his army). The Byzantine emperor Isaac II is said to have conspired with Saladin to impede Frederick's progress and all that Frederick's forces managed was the capture of the city of Konya in May 1190. The next month Frederick was thrown from his horse and drowned in a river.
  • Richard I of England and
  • Philip II of France. The two kings set out together in July 1190; they undertook a minor campaign in Sicily, to recover Richard's sister Joan, and then fell out over the long-standing issue of Richard's marriage to Philip's half-sister Alys (Richard taking the view that she had been deflowered and debauched by his father Henry I, and he declined to marry her). Philip sailed direct to Palestine; Richard, leaving 10 days later, sailed via Cyprus (where he overthrew Isaac Comnenus, and seized the island, where he (hastily) married Berengaria of Navarre, before carrying on to the Holy Land.

The capture of the city of Acre, held by Conrad of Montferrat was achieved after a siege of 2 months, but this led to disagreement among the leaders, and eventually Philip, his army, and what was left of the Holy Roman contingents left.

Richard went on, to the point at which he could glimpse the walls of Jerusalem the city. He defeated Saladin, at the battle of Arsuf, and then negotiated a treaty which allowed Christian pilgrims to visit the city, before leaving Palestine, to return to Europe, and to capture and imprisonment.

First Crusade | Second Crusade | Third Crusade | Fourth Crusade | Fifth Crusade | Sixth Crusade | Seventh Crusade | Eighth Crusade
Northern Crusades | Albigensian Crusade | Reconquista
Peasants' Crusade | Crusade of the Faint-Hearted