The Third Crusade


August 14, 2022

The Third Crusade (1189–1192) was a major military campaign announced by Pope Gregory VIII. for the recapture of Jerusalem, which was conquered by Saladin in 1187. After the fiasco of the Second Crusade, the Zengian dynasty controlled and united Syria, and after several wars with the Crusaders and the Fatimids, also Egypt. The Zengian Empire was gradually conquered in the 1270s and 1280s by Saladin, originally a vassal and warlord in the service of Zengian Nur ad-Din, bringing the Palestinian Crusader states into the grip of a unified Muslim state. Sultan Saladin then launched a war against the Crusaders; his campaign culminated in the victorious Battle of Hattin in 1187 and then the conquest of Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VIII. responded by announcing the third crusade, to which even the most powerful rulers of the Christian world signed up: the Roman-German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the French king Philip II. Augustus and King Henry II of England and after his death his son Richard and with them many other powerful European feudal lords. The German army set out on the journey in 1188, passed through Hungary and the Byzantine Empire, and in May 1190 destroyed the Seljuk army at Iconium. A month later, however, Emperor Frederick drowned in the Salef River and his expedition disintegrated; part of the army decided to return to Europe and only a fraction under the command of Barbarossa's son Frederick of Swabia arrived in Antioch. In 1190, the French and the English also set out, choosing the route to Palestine by sea. After wintering in Sicily in mid-year, the Crusaders arrived in the Holy Land; before that, the English king Richard managed to conquer the renegade Byzantine province of Cyprus. The Europeans joined the local crusader barons and together with them conquered the powerful port city of Acre, which became the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem for the next hundred years. King Philip then decided to return to France, while Richard the Lionheart remained for the next year. His campaign was crowned with several successes, but he failed to recapture Jerusalem. The Crusade eventually ended in a truce with Saladin.

Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

On July 4, 1187, the forces of the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, Saladin, crushed the Jerusalem army at the Battle of Hattin and captured the main Christian commanders, including the King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan. Most of the garrisons of the Crusader castles and cities were present in the destroyed army, and there was no longer a force in Palestine that could stop Saladin's invasion. In mid-September 1187, Saladin already had the cities of Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, Sidon, Beirut and Askalon in his power. On October 2, Jerusalem also capitulated, defended by Balian of Ibelin. The Muslims were resisted only by a few foci of resistance, where the barons of Jerusalem concentrated their forces, such as the port of Tire and Tripoli. Many Crusader castles inland, such as Krak des Moabites, Belvoir and Krak de Montréal, resisted, were surrounded and resisted the siege for several months or years. However, only Antioch, Tripoli and Tire remained in the hands of the Crusaders, as well as the mighty castles of the Johannite order - Krak des Chevaliers and Marqab. Saladin besieged the port of Tyros several times, but failed thanks to the brilliant defense of the Italian adventurer Conrad of Montferrat, who arrived in Tire ten days after the Battle of Hattin. Conrad took command of the remnants of the Crusader defenses, and his efforts culminated on 2 January 1188, when Saladin's forces besieging the port of Tyros gave up the siege. Konrad thus maintained the main Palestinian stronghold for the Crusaders. After the Muslim victory, the demography of Palestine changed considerably. Western rite Christians had to leave the cities, and Muslims began to come in their place. However, Orthodox Christians and Syrian Jacobites were allowed to remain alongside the Jews. They also formed a minority of