Richard and Saladin: Warriors of the Third Crusade

The overarching goal of the Third Crusade, which began in 1189, was to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims. Although the Christian crusaders would ultimately fail at their goal of re-establishing their hold on the Holy Land, many of the qualities of two historically famous figures emerge from the conflict. Although they were never to meet each other, King Richard I (the Lionhearted) of England and Salah ad-Din (Saladin) were the most dominant figures during this crusade, and the opposition and proximity of these two adversaries invites both comparison and contrast. Many Christian and Muslim contemporaries admired and respected both men, who in many ways were described in quite similar terms, and they described the characteristics of both Richard and Saladin in detailed sources. This may be why the legacies of both men live on to this day. We learn a great deal about Richard and Saladin from these sources, and we also gain insight into why both are often considered chivalrous warriors, as well as why Saladin has also become an embodiment of the Muslim concept of jihad.

It is important to first consider the historical events that preceded and surrounded the Third Crusade. Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095 when he called for Christians to free Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the control of the Muslims. This crusade "appealed to people from almost every level of society right across Christian Europe", so there was a very large response to this papal call to arms, and the crusade proved to be very successful.1 The First Crusade was to be the only one that would accomplish its stated goal, and four different crusader states were established: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the County of Tripoli. Following their great success, many of the crusaders "returned to the West as heroes, fêted for their achievements".2 Thus, the First Crusade set a precedent of success, and in many ways successive crusades began as a reaction to losses from the gains of the First Crusade. Pope Eugenius III issued a papal bull calling for the Second Crusade in 1145 in response to the fall of the County of Edessa to Muslims. This crusade had two major components: one was centered in the West in Spain, while the other, composed mostly of German and French soldiers, journeyed to the Baltic region in the East, eventually failing in a siege of Damascus. Although there was some success and progress made on the Iberian Peninsula, "the lack of success in the Baltic and the despair and anger engendered by the defeat of the main armies cast a shadow over crusading for many years".3 It would be approximately forty years before the Third Crusade would begin.

Before relating the major events of the Third Crusade, the backgrounds of both Richard and Saladin must first be examined, especially since Saladin is so directly related to the precipitating events of the crusade. Richard was born in 1157 and was the third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He spent much of his youth in Aquitaine, where his mother "imbued Richard with her special code of courtly love".4 As Richard grew older, he was defiant of his father. Richard was the Duke of Aquitaine, but this title carried no real power, and since he wanted more, he made a pact with the King of France. Despite the rebelliousness of his son, Henry II eventually forgave Richard, and it was after this point that Henry vested Richard with "the power and authority to subdue the rebellious barons of Aquitaine and Gascony and to confiscate the lands of any barons who resisted him", allowing Richard to hone his military skill.5 Shortly after his father's death in 1189, Richard succeeded Henry as King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Count of Anjou, and he would soon prepare to set out on the Third Crusade.

Saladin was born into a Kurdish family in 1137 at Tikreet, and he grew up in Baalbek and Damascus. It is sometimes argued that Saladin learned from his education in Damascus to "walk in the path of righteousness, to act virtuously, and to be zealous in waging war against infidels".6 He began his rise to power in Egypt, where he succeeded his uncle's command, serving Nur ad-Din, the lord of Syria centered in Damascus. Despite differences between the two men, following Nur ad-Din's death in 1174, Saladin was able to take control of Syria, and he was pronounced sultan of both Egypt and Syria, ending a division between the two that had lasted centuries.7 This produced a united Arab front against the Christians and led to the events directly preceding the Third Crusade: the Frankish defeat at the Battle of Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem in 1187.

Similarly to the Second Crusade, the Third Crusade was also a response to losses in the East – this time from the defeat at Hattin and the capture of Jerusalem. Following these disasters, Pope Gregory VIII made an appeal for aid in the Holy Land. Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor, set out for the East in 1189, but he died before he could reach the Holy Land, which was a severe loss for the Europeans near the very beginning of the Third Crusade.8 The two most significant remaining leaders to set out on crusade from the West were Richard of England and Philip of France, who set out by sea separately in 1191. Richard stopped at Cyprus on his way to the Holy Land and conquered the island before meeting up with Philip at the siege of Acre on 8 June 1191. Saladin was unable to break the Christians' blockade, and the city fell to the crusading kings in a little over a month, after which Philip departed to return to the West and Richard turned south toward Jaffa.9

Before setting out for Jaffa, Richard killed the Muslim captives that he had because he felt that Saladin was not honoring the terms of Acre's surrender. During the march on 7 September 1191, Saladin attacked the crusaders on the plains of Arsuf near Jaffa, but he suffered a heavy loss. Richard was then able to take Jaffa, and he then spent some time consolidating his gains. He decided that he had to return home the following spring because he had word of intrigue between his brother John and King Philip back home. Saladin decided to try and retake Jaffa, but Richard was able to defeat Saladin once again. Because of Richard's need for departure and because the resources of both Richard and Saladin were very low, they reached a three-year truce on 2 September 1192, in which the Christians had to give up a small portion of their gains and Christian pilgrims would be allowed to enter Jerusalem.10 Richard soon departed the Holy Land on 9 October 1192, never to return, and Saladin died a few months later on 4 March 1193. The Third Crusade failed in its goal to recapture Jerusalem, but it did secure the coastline from Jaffa to Tyre, creating a point from which future crusades could be launched.11

The preceding sketch of the occurrences of the Third Crusade sets the scene to examine the characteristics and actions of Richard and Saladin in greater detail. Both Richard and Saladin were successful generals; Richard's successes not only at the siege of Acre but also during the Battle of Arsuf testify to this, as do Saladin's victories when first taking Acre and during the Battle of Hattin. Richard, for example, showed an appreciation of wider strategy in acknowledging the role of Egypt, and he also realized that although he and the other crusaders might be able to recapture the city of Jerusalem, that it would be very difficult to defend the city.12 This understanding of strategy allowed Richard to realize that the combination of Saladin's dual control of Egypt and Syria allowed him to in effect surround the crusader states, while in the case of Jerusalem, many of the crusaders would want to return home after completing their objective of retaking the city. As a general, Saladin made "himself known to the rank and file of the soldiers in his army, creating bonds of loyalty and solidarity and enhancing corporate morale", important factors in waging battle.13 Saladin was also a general whose "presence could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat" such as during his conquest of Acre when Ibn Shaddad writes that he "'stood firm with a handful of men until he was able to withdraw all his men to the hill and then lead them down into battle again, shaming them into turning and fighting."14 Thus, Saladin was able to spur on his troops to victory even in the face of defeat.

Both Richard and Saladin were also capable of the slaughter of a great number of prisoners. Richard was "capable on occasion of extreme severity towards prisoners", such as when he had "many Muslim prisoners killed at Acre", perhaps numbering as many as 3,000.15 Prior to Richard's recapture of Acre, Saladin had made sure that "Templars and Hospitallers were...executed" after the Battle of Hattin, using his victory as an "opportunity to rid himself of his most feared opponents."16 Richard and Saladin are likely to have executed their prisoners for pragmatic and militaristic reasons – neither of the two men wanted to face the prisoners of the opposite side again in battle. After Acre, Saladin delayed in living up to the terms of his treaty with Richard in an attempt to keep "the king hanging on for a long time".17 Bahā' ad-Din notes that "the English King saw that Saladin delayed in carrying out the terms of the treaty", confirming Saladin's delay in a Muslim source.18 This suggests that it was to Richard's advantage to depart and to Saladin's advantage to delay, and rather than delaying or leaving men behind to guard the prisoners, Richard found it to his military advantage to kill the prisoners and move southward with his army.

Primary sources provide a great deal of evidence that corroborates many of the specific details of the Third Crusade. In fact, one of the only major differences within several of the sources deals with issues of the descriptions and portrayals of Richard and Saladin themselves. The Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi portrays Saladin in a much different way than does Ambroise in his The Crusade of Richard Lion-Heart even though both are sources originating from Englishmen. In the Itinerarium Saladin is a figure with many negative qualities for much of the work, up until the point at which he and Richard conclude the three-year truce in 1192. According the author of the Itinerarium, Saladin "treacherously killed...unsuspecting men" to gain lordship in Egypt, rising to a "ruler from a slave", and it was only good fortune that allowed a "pimp, who army in taverns...[to be] suddenly raised up high."19 Thus, the author does not have a very high opinion of the origins of Saladin or the means through which he came to power.19

During the account of the Third Crusade itself, there is also a negative portrayal of Saladin in the Itinerarium. He is presented as a cruel man who had Christians slaughtered, wounded, and thrown into chains and had many prominent Christians (such as Templars and the prince of Antioch) beheaded.20 There is also an incident in which Saladin is boasting and bragging in front of some Christians. One of them retorts that God is using Saladin for God's own purpose, "'just as a worldly father sometimes when he is enraged grabs a filthy stick from the mud with which to beat his erring sons, and then throws it back into the dungpit from which he took it.'"21 Saladin is portrayed in a very negative light during this episode. Later, the author of the Itinerarium writes that Saladin is a "timid creature, like a frightened hare."22 There are many other examples such as these of disparaging comments and a negative portrayal of Saladin.

Following the conclusion of his truce with Richard, however, Saladin seems to become a different person in the Itinerarium. Not only do Richard and Saladin converse amicably through messengers, but Saladin also shows Hubert Walter, bishop of Salisbury "much honor and fulfilled all his requests" when the bishop visits Jerusalem.23 Saladin proves to be a very good host to this bishop from England. Saladin "enjoin[s] his servants to show the bishop and his people every kindness."24 Does this seem to be the same person described above? Hubert even tells Saladin that if there were any way in which to combine "[Saladin's] virtues with those of King Richard, and share them out between [them] so that both...were furnished with the abilities of both, two such princes could not be found in the whole globe."25 It may be difficult to believe that mixing the positive qualities of a man who was described as a "filthy stick" and a "timid creature" with those of Richard would create such a magnificent ruler. The Itinerarium's description of Saladin becomes much more positive and essentially the direct opposite of what it had been prior to the truce between Richard and Saladin.

Ambroise's description of Saladin in his Crusade is much more balanced throughout the work, although his view of Saladin is definitely not always positive. At one moment, Saladin is an intelligent Saracen, while soon thereafter he comes "himself to wreak / The vengeance swift he coveted / And cut off every Christian head."26 Ambroise once again expresses a negative view of him following the siege of Acre because Saladin's delay in abiding by the terms of the treaty following the siege of Acre. Ambroise writes that he was "false and recreant therein, / Failing to ransom or recover / The men whom he to death gave over", placing sole responsibility of the Muslim prisoners' death at Richard's hands upon Saladin.27 Despite this, however, Ambroise will later describe Saladin as the "brave and generous Saracen", shifting back to a positive portrayal.28 Ambroise is also impressed with Saladin's actions following the truce in 1192. He also describes the way in which Saladin honors the safe-conduct of Christian pilgrims and even honors them, as well as the way in which he courteously receives Hubert Walter.29 Similarly to the Itinerarium, there is both praise and disparagement in Ambroise's work, but yet with Ambroise it is dispersed throughout. Also, there do not seem to be quite so many negative comments, and such comments do not seem quite as severe as those found in the Itinerarium.

Interestingly, within the Crusade Ambroise relates an episode similar to the stick of God analogy in the Itinerarium. According to Ambroise, Saladin's victories "[w]ere won because through him God chose / To work, and through his work bring those / His people who had gone astray / Back once more to the righteous way."30 In both this and the stick of God analogy Saladin is equated with Christian punishment originating directly from God. This is perhaps the only explanation that Christians can come up with for why God would allow the Christians to be removed from Jerusalem. After all, according to the Christian view, God wants Christians to hold the city. Saladin's role as punisher may partially explain his dichotomous portrayal within these two Christian primary sources. On the one hand, there is a figure that represents and is responsible for displacing the Christians from Jerusalem, but on the other there is a figure with many positive characteristics. Although many of these characteristics come through in the works, Saladin is still the enemy and still a powerful figure who believes in an opposing faith. Following the conclusion of the truce with Richard, Saladin becomes less of a threat and less of an enemy, and he is viewed a great deal more positively. Of course, some of the negativity surrounding Saladin might also be attributed to biases on the parts of the Christian authors, especially since it can be argued that Richard is in effect the hero of their works.

If the Itinerarium and Ambroise's Crusade seem somewhat confused in their portrayal of Saladin, they are very clear and almost completely positive in their descriptions of Richard, noting many positive characteristics. According to the Itinerarium, Richard is generous and "delighted all his subjects with his actions and his incomparable superiority."31 Richard is also compared to the heroes of classical works, as well as to Roland. He has "the valour of Hector, the heroism of Achillies, he was not inferior to Alexander, nor less valiant than Roland[, and]...he easily surpassed in many respects the most praiseworthy figures" of the time.32 In this source, there seems to be no limit to Richard's excellence. After all, his "magnificent deeds overshadowed all others, no matter how glorious."33 Ambroise also describes Richard in very positive terms in his Crusade. According to Ambroise, "the whole world o'er / There was no mightier warrior" than Richard.34 At one point, Richard does "a noble thing; / His heart to good was swift to spring."35 Similarly to the Itinerarium, Richard is described as a very good and noble figure.

Considering the previous descriptions of Richard in the Itinerarium and the Crusade, it might seem that Richard was considered to be perfect within both of these Christian sources. Although this is very nearly the case, they both are at least somewhat critical of Richard's rashness. In the Itinerarium, there is a description of a time in which Saladin's men almost capture Richard in an ambush because he is traveling nearly unaccompanied. Directly following this episode, some of Richard's household "scolded him over his frequent recklessness and cautioned him against such behavior."36 In the Crusade, Ambroise also mentions this (although not in such strong terms) when he writes that "worthy men great effort spent / Counseling him to mend his way" in which "he flung himself into the fight."37 Although Richard's recklessness is definitely described to be a negative characteristic, the author of the Itinerarium tries to somewhat explain or rationalize this behavior when he states that if anyone should think that Richard "could be accused of rash actions, [that person] should know that he had an unconquerable spirit, could not bear insult or injury, and his innate noble spirit compelled him to seek his due rights" so that he "may not unreasonably be excused."38 Although both sources describe Richard's rashness as a negative characteristic, neither source wants to make too much of it.

Muslim sources seem to agree with this generally positive assessment of Richard. In fact, many Muslim authors shower "warm praise...on Richard the Lionheart."39 One Arab historian named Ibn al-Athir writes that Richard "'was the man of his age as regards courage, shrewdness, endurance, and forbearance and because of him the Muslims were sorely tested by unprecedented disaster.'"40 This is quite a long list of positive characteristics, and stating that Richard was the "man of his age" might even suggest that he was even stronger than Saladin in these characteristics. Although there might be some hints of equality in the Christian sources (such as when Hubert Walter comments in the Itinerarium that anyone that possessed a combination of Richard and Saladin's qualities would also possess unparalleled magnificence), there does not seem to be anything to suggest that Saladin might in some way actually be better than Richard.

Bahā' al-Dín also describes many positive characteristics of Richard. For example, he writes that Richard was "courageous, energetic, and daring in combat...renowned as a warrior."41 This is similar to some of the positive descriptions of Richard in the Christian sources previously mentioned. Perhaps the same author (despite the small difference in spelling), Bahā' al-Dín describes the "king of England [as] a very powerful man among the Franks, a man of great courage and spirit" and says that although "his kingdom and standing were inferior to the French king [Philip]...his wealth, reputation, and valour were greater."42 Similarly to the Christian sources, Richard is placed above his peers in many qualities. A little later, Bahā' al-Dín continues by saying that "the king [Richard] was indeed a man of wisdom, experience, courage, and energy...[and] his arrival put fear into the hearts of Muslims", further complimenting Richard.43 Although this author also mentions Richard's execution of his Muslim captives after Acre and says that Richard broke his word, he also offers some explanations for why Richard may have done so as opposed to placing too much blame upon him. One reason Bahā' al-Dín mentions is that it was an act of "reprisal for their [the Christians] own prisoners killed before then by the Muslims", while another is that Richard "did not want to leave behind him in the city a large number (of enemy soldiers)."44 Bahā' al-Dín often praises and describes Richard's positive characteristics, but when he has the opportunity to deride Richard for a cruel act, he chooses not to do so and instead offers explanations for why a man that he had described as wise and valorous had performed such an act.

Muslim sources describe the positive characteristics of Richard in much the same way that Christian sources do, but how do they describe Saladin? Much of what they have to say is positive. Bahā' al-Dín wrote a biography of Saladin, and it provides a great deal of information about his character, tending toward a balanced view. Saladin's faith seems to be of prime importance, since the section dealing with this topic is the first to appear in the biography. A ruler of "firm faith", Saladin "venerated deeply the laws of the Faith."45 Despite this, however, Bahā' al-Dín feels the need to defend Saladin's faith because there were some problems with it. One example is that Saladin did not go on the "Pilgrimage" and missed some ramadāns, seemingly due to illness.46 In other areas, Saladin seems to have greatly excelled, however. He was a very just ruler, "just, benign, merciful, [and] quick to help the weak against the strong."47 When he dispensed justice, Saladin "listened to the litigants, for all had access to him, great and small, old, hale, and sick."48 Saladin is also noted for his courage and steadfastness. To demonstrate these qualities, Bahā' al-Dín writes that "Saladin was indeed one of the most courageous of men; brave gallant, firm, [and] intrepid in any circumstance."49 In addition to these, there are also many other examples of respect and praise for Saladin's qualities in the passages of Bahā' al-Dín's biography.

Although there is this respect and praise for Saladin, there is also criticism. Ibn al-Athir writes that Saladin "never evinced real firmness in his decisions" and that when he laid siege to a city, "if the defenders resisted for some time, he would give up and abandon the siege...[which is why] it is his fault that the Muslims suffered a setback at the walls of that city [Tyre]."50 This is a criticism of stratagem that is not found of Richard in either the Itinerarium or Ambroise's Crusade. But the criticism does not end here. Ibn al-Athir also criticizes the way in which after he had seized the strongholds at Acre, Ascalon, and Jerusalem, Saladin had "allowed the enemy soldiers and knights to seek refuge in Tyre", making the city "virtually impregnable."51 Again, Saladin's strategy and decisions are questioned. It is likely that much of this has to do with the way in which Saladin kept losing battles with Richard, such as at Acre and Arsuf, even though the overarching confrontation between the two figures ended in a truce. Saladin's major military accomplishments were all won prior to the beginning of the Third Crusade; during the crusade he made mistakes, while Richard won victories.

Despite their differences in faith, as well as other individual differences between Richard and Saladin, both have shared a legacy in that they have been considered exemplars of chivalry. In his book about William Marshal, an exemplar of chivalry, Georges Duby defines and discusses chivalric obligations, and he identifies four primary obligations centering on loyalty, proper conduct as a warrior, courtoisie (courtesy), and largesse (generosity).52 According to Duby loyalty obliged a chivalric knight to keep his word and not to betray his sworn faith, proper conduct involved valor and victory in battle while still conforming to certain rules and remaining honorable, courtesy compelled chivalric knights to treat ladies a certain way, and generosity is what established social distinction.53 There is no real mention of either Richard or Saladin acting courteously in the sources previously mentioned, and there is little mention of loyalty. One Muslim source does make it seem as though Richard had only been able to secure surrender from the Muslims at Acre after promising to spare them their lives, but as previously mentioned, the actual reasons behind Richard's execution of his prisoners, as well as what exactly happened, can be and is contested.54 This possible disloyalty can also be countered with a rousing speech that appears in the Itinerarium regarding Richard's loyalty to his "beloved companions" in which he says that if he does not bring them the aid that he has promised them, then he should "never again usurp the name of king", making loyalty appear central to Richard and his authority.55

If there is so little mention of loyalty and no mention of courtesy in these sources, how could Richard and Saladin be considered chivalric based on their actions during the Third Crusade? Although these sources contain hardly any information about Richard and Saladin's loyalty and courtesy, they provide quite a few references to their conduct as warriors and their generosity. Personal valor is emphasized in the case of both Richard and Saladin. The author of the Itinerarium describes the way in which Richard "pursued the Turks with singular ferocity...[and] no one escaped when his sword made contact with them; wherever he want his brandished sword cleared a wide path on all sides", and Saladin is said to comment later in the account that Richard is a king "who is endowed with...great valour" in battle.56 Ambroise writes that Richard, "[w]ith his sword of steel in hand...charged full tilt upon the foe / And harried them most fiercely", while Bahā' al-Dín remarks about Richard's renown as a warrior.57 Richard's valor and standing as a warrior is questioned neither in Christian nor Muslim sources.

There is also a focus on Saladin's conduct as a warrior and his personal valor. According to Bahā' al-Dín, he "never saw [Saladin] find the enemy too numerous or too powerful", and he uses Saladin's actions and thinking at Acre as an example, even though the battle ultimately ended in a loss for the Muslims.58 At the fall of Acre, "every time [Saladin] looked toward Acre and saw the agony she was in and the disaster looming for her inhabitants, he launched himself once more into the attack and goaded his men on to fight."59 In this instance, Saladin displays personal valor (and leadership), even in the face of defeat. In the Christian sources, Ambroise mentions Saladin's bravery.60 Although Saladin's conduct as a warrior and his personal valor are not quite as pronounced in these sources as Richard's (probably as a result of his losses during the Third Crusade), there are still quite a few references to Saladin's ability as a warrior.

There are also references to the generosity necessary for a chivalric knight in the descriptions of both Richard and Saladin in these sources. One example lies in the Itinerarium, where Richard is said to have been conferred with "a generous character...which seemed rather to belong to an earlier age."61 Ambroise also mentions Richard's "largesse" in his work.62 To describe Saladin's generosity, Bahā' al-Dín describes the way that Saladin "used to give away whole provinces", that he was "as generous when he was poor as when he was rich, and [that] his treasurers kept certain reserves concealed from him for fear that some financial emergency might arise."63 This is generosity at its utmost. As an example from a Christian source, Ambroise also describes Saladin as "generous".64

Although there are examples in these sources establishing Saladin as the kind of person who could be considered a chivalric figure at a later point in time, it seems as though Richard is set up as a chivalric figure within the Christian sources right away. For example, he is described as "the flower of virtue and the crown of knighthood."65 Such consideration as a superior knight required that the knight be chivalrous. After describing an event in which Richard was nearly captured, he writes that Richard was able to avoid capture because "he fought with such dauntless will / And did such deed of gallantry, / He and his men of chivalry".66 It is here that Richard's connection with chivalry is the most direct within these sources. Even though Saladin is not as directly connected as Richard within these primary sources, both are portrayed in later works as chivalric figures. Richard, who was to "become the very epitome of chivalry" and "one of the most romantic figures of all of English history", was featured in chivalric works along with Saladin, his enemy.67 Saladin became a "central figure in thirteenth-century chivalric works" and an "exemplar of chivalric behaviour."68 This is especially interesting in that Saladin was a Muslim and chivalry was so tied in with Christian knighthood, but there is evidence within the primary sources that Saladin actually did possess qualities of chivalric virtue, as was previously argued.

In addition to Saladin's chivalric qualities, his zeal for jihad in the form of Holy War is also important to Saladin and his legacy. According to Bahā' al-Dín, the "Holy War and the suffering involved in it weighed heavily on Saladin's heart and his whole being".69 This makes it seem as though Saladin had an internal personal struggle with the concept, and it also almost seems as if the idea of Holy War consumed Saladin. There is no similar evidence of any sort of deep, personal religiousness in Richard's case. Saladin "spoke of nothing else [other than Holy War]...[and] had little sympathy with anyone else who spoke of anything else or encouraged any other activity."70 It is possible that Bahā' al-Dín is attempting to make it seem that Saladin was more concerned with Holy War than he was in reality. If Saladin was really so single-minded as to say that "when God grants [him] victory over Palestine...[he would] set sail on this sea...[to] pursue the as to free the earth of anyone who does not believe in God, or die in the attempt", it seems hard to believe that he could also treat Hubert Walter, a Christian bishop, so well and have so much respect for Richard, a Christian king.71 Even though Holy War was probably a concern for Saladin, perhaps even a major concern, it is more likely that it was one among many. The concept of jihad could be used as propaganda for bringing Muslims together and to help consolidate Saladin's power. As propaganda, it could be used as a rallying cry to bring both the public and the military together.72 Peter Partner, who wrote a book that focused on Holy War, argues that Saladin was a "genuinely religious ruler...[who] also appeared to make a real effort to rule according to Islamic law", but he can also see a "propagandist intention...[in] Saladin's entire prosecution of the holy war".73 Similarly to Richard, Saladin is likely to have had other objectives in waging war other than religious zeal. As Partner states, Richard and Saladin "waged holy war with motives that included all sorts of temporal objectives...principally their own dynastic aggrandizement".74 Saladin is likely to have had many different motivations for his actions both during and prior to the Third Crusade.

Whatever Saladin's exact feelings and motivations were regarding the concept of jihad, it has become a part of his legacy. The story of his success with jihad and his ability to recapture Jerusalem lives on to this day. James Reston, Jr. argues that "in the seemingly endless struggle of modern-day Arabs to reassert the essentially Arab nature of Palestine, Saladin lives, vibrantly, as a symbol of hope and as the stuff of myth."75 It would seem that Saladin is a key and inspiring figure for those in the Middle East who hope to once again "liberate Jerusalem".76 Similarly to Richard, Saladin's legacy is that of an exemplar of romantic ideals of chivalric knighthood, but Saladin's legacy also has an additional component. It can also invoke religious and political feelings that lie at the heart of some present-day issues and problems.

Richard the Lionheart and Saladin are two fascinating historical figures whose forces clashed during the Third Crusade over 800 years ago. Christian sources such as the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi and Ambroise's The Crusade of Richard Lion-Heart, as well as Muslim sources by such historians as Bahā' al-Dín and Ibn al-Athir describe and illustrate the lives of these two men. Although they were technically enemies of opposing faith on a Holy War against one another, there were many amazing similarities between the two, and both are remembered today for some of the chivalric qualities that they displayed during the crusade. Additionally, the name of Saladin has connection to some modern conceptions of jihad. Connections such as this one make an examination of the conflict between and characteristics of Richard and Saladin during the Third Crusade even more relevant and engaging.



  • 1 Jonathan Phillips, The Crusades, 1095-1197 (New York: Pearson Education Limited, 2002) 14.

  • 2 Phillips 26.

  • 3 Phillips 76.

  • 4 James Reston, Jr., Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade (New York: Doubleday, 2001) 29.

  • 5 Reston 32.

  • 6 Reston 5.

  • 7 Reston 7.

  • 8 Phillips 140.

  • 9 Phillips 144.

  • 10 Phillips 150.

  • 11 Phillips 150.

  • 12 Phillips 147.

  • 13 Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades, Islamic Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2000) 182.

  • 14 Hillenbrand 515-16.

  • 15 Hillenbrand 550.

  • 16 Phillips 136.

  • 17 Helen J. Nicholson, Chronicle of the Third Crusade (Brookfield: Ashgate, 1997) 229.

  • 18 Francesco Gabrieli, Arab Historians of the Crusades, trans. E.J. Costello (Berkley: University of California Press, 1969) 223.

  • 19 Nicholson 28.

  • 20 Nicholson 33, 34.

  • 21 Nicholson 46-7.

  • 22 Nicholson 357.

  • 23 Nicholson 377.

  • 24 Nicholson 378.

  • 25 Nicholson 378.

  • 26 Ambroise, The Crusade of Richard Lion-Heart, trans. Merton Jerome Hubert (New York: Columbia University Press, 1941) 128 (Line 2,616), 136 (Lines 2,824-26).

  • 27 Ambroise 227 (Lines 5494-96).

  • 28 Ambroise 402 (Line 10,902).

  • 29 Ambroise 438 (Lines 12,007-12), 440-42 (Lines 12,101-152).

  • 30 Ambroise 429 (Lines 11,765-67).

  • 31 Nicholson 145.

  • 32 Nicholson 145.

  • 33 Nicholson 146.

  • 34 Ambroise 55 (Lines 685-6).

  • 35 Ambroise 75 (Lines 1,233-4).

  • 36 Nicholson 267.

  • 37 Ambroise 283 (Lines 7,166-7 and 7,171).

  • 38 Nicholson 146.

  • 39 Hillenbrand 336.

  • 40 Hillenbrand 336.

  • 41 Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, trans. Jon Rothschild (New York: Schocken Books, 1983) 208.

  • 42 Gabrieli 213.

  • 43 Gabrieli 214.

  • 44 Gabrieli 224.

  • 45 Gabrieli 87, 90.

  • 46 Gabrieli 89.

  • 47 Gabrieli 93.

  • 48 Gabrieli 93.

  • 49 Gabrieli 97.

  • 50 Maalouf 203.

  • 51 Maalouf 203.

  • 52 Georges Duby, William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985) 86-7.

  • 53 Duby 86-7.

  • 54 Gabrieli 222.

  • 55 Nicholson 271.

  • 56 Nicholson 254, 261.

  • 57 Ambroise 409 (Lines 11,144-6); Maalouf 208.

  • 58 Gabrieli 98-9.

  • 59 Gabrieli 216.

  • 60 Ambroise 402 (Line 10,902).

  • 61 Nicholson 145.

  • 62 Ambroise 193 (Line 4,574).

  • 63 Gabrieli 96.

  • 64 Ambroise 402 (Line 10,902).

  • 65 Nicholson 342.

  • 66 Ambroise 426 (Lines 11,679-82).

  • 67 Reston xv.

  • 68 Phillips 150.

  • 69 Gabrieli 100.

  • 70 Gabrieli 100.

  • 71 Gabrieli 101.

  • 72 Hillenbrand 191.

  • 73 Peter Partner, God of Battles: Holy Wars of Christianity and Islam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997) 93.

  • 74 Partner 309.

  • 75 Reston xiv.

  • 76 Reston xiv.


Works Cited

  • Ambroise. The Crusade of Richard Lion-Heart. Trans. Merton Jerome Hubert. New York: Columbia University Press, 1941.

  • Duby, Georges. William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.

  • Gabrieli, Francesco. Arab Historians of the Crusades. Trans. E.J. Costello. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

  • Hillenbrand, Carole. The Crusades, Islamic Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2000.

  • Maalouf, Amin. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Trans. Jon Rothschild. New York: Schocken Books, 1983.

  • Nicholson, Helen J. Chronicle of the Third Crusade. Brookfield: Ashgate, 1997.

  • Partner, Peter. God of Battles: Holy Wars of Christianity and Islam. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.

  • Phillips, Jonathan. The Crusades, 1095-1197. London: Pearson Education, 2002.

  • Reston, Jr., James. Warriors of God. New York: Doubleday, 2001.