Army raised for Third Crusade
The 21st of January 1189 AD
Under the brilliant leadership of Saladin the forces of Egypt and Syria had combined, and in the poorly led and disjointed Christian states in the Holy Lands there was limited resistance to the Muslim resurgence. Saladin by 1187 had retaken Jerusalem, in itself a great achievement, but also a spur to his Christian opponents to react.
Setting aside their dynastic and territorial disagreements for a time the rulers of three of Europe’s greatest powers – The Holy Roman Empire; France; and England and its possessions in France – sparked by religious conviction and by the hope of greater glory, joined in preparing for the Third Crusade: from January 1189 armies were raised in preparation for a great attack on Saladin.
But though they reached an accommodation among themselves, two of the three leaders – The Emperor Frederick I, Philip II, and Henry II respectively – could not cheat death: Henry, exhausted by the struggle with his own son Richard would die in July 1189 at Chinon; and the ageing Frederick would drown on his way to fight the Saracens. Richard the Lionheart was to prove himself in battle (and show his ruthlessness too by having thousands of helpless hostages put to the sword), but not as a diplomat, his intransigence a major factor in Frederick’s successor Leopold quitting the Crusade.
For Christians the treaty which ended the Third Crusade allowed them entry to Jerusalem, though without weapons to protect them. One goal was thus achieved, but Saladin remained in control of the territory. The situation was too fragile to hold; another Crusade was at some future point inevitable.
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