Third Crusade Responsibility

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  • Topic: Saladin, Crusades, Kingdom of Jerusalem
  • Pages : 6 (2123 words )
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  • Published : April 24, 2013
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Who, or what, was responsible for the failure of the Third crusade?

The third crusade was launched in 1189 due to the catastrophic defeat of Crusader forces at the Battle of the Hattin, in 1187, and the subsequent loss of Jerusalem. The news of this significant setback was, according to the chronicler Ernoul, so great that, Pope Urban died of grief when he heard the news. As a result, the newly elected Pope issued a Papal bull called the “Audita Tremendi” and in turn the three most powerful Christian kings in Europe took up the cause. The religious zeal created by the propaganda of the church even managed Henry II of England and Philip II of France to lay aside their differences and travel to the Holy Land. However, Henry II died and was succeeded by his son Richard the Lionheart. It was his decision to renege on a promise to Philip II that he would marry his daughter Alice would foster mistrust into their relationship and would, more significantly, undermine the Third Crusade due to the lack of Christian unity. The crusade also as a whole was undermined by the lack of efficiency and clearness of thought, this is most evidently seen by the way that it would take all three major leaders a year to leave for the Levant, with Richard being the only one with legitimate reasons for the delay as he had just ascended to the throne and needed to sort England out before he left. The Third Crusade would ultimately turn out to be failure; insofar that Jerusalem remained in Muslim hands. However, there were many successes such as King Richard managed to remain undefeated and there was a genuine amount of fear among the Muslim forces, plunged into disarray by the death of Saladin shortly after the Treaty of Ramla, that he would return after the three-year truce to continue the crusade. Even Saladin himself was said to be wary of this, with his biographer recounting that he said, “'I fear to make peace, not knowing what may become of me. Our enemy will grow strong, now that they have retained these lands.” Unarmed Christian pilgrims were also allowed the right to enter the holy city of Jerusalem as part of the truce.

Perhaps the most important reason for the failure of the Third Crusade was the increasingly deteriorating relations between Philip and Richard. This was not helped by the year of severe mistrust between the Kings of France and the rulers of England since William the Conqueror took the throne in 1066. Despite them both being more than willing to crusade in the East, both waited for the other to make their move believing that the other would invade their country while they were on pilgrimage. The delays caused by the inefficiency of the Crusades were only exacerbated by the messengers sent by Philip to Richard who had seen fit to take Cyprus, an idea that Madden argues was sensible as it would be “difficult to imagine how the crusaders could have continued their war against Saladin without their base in Cyprus.” Philip argued that Richard “was concentrating his efforts on useless exercises” and boldly claimed, “when it came to engaging the Saracens, he turned out to be a coward.”

The failure of the Kings of France and England to work together for the greater cause also interfered in local tensions, such as the dispute over the throne of Jerusalem, and even made them worse. The two main contenders for the throne were both linked to their respective Kings in terms of their feudal relations in Europe. Richard championed Guy of Lusignan, the current King of Jerusalem, because, “Guy’s family, the Lusignans, were feudatories...of Richard’s county of Poitou.” On the other hand, Conrad was related to and thus supported by Philip of France, as they were cousins. At the same time as this growing argument, the two kings locked horns over the situation of Acre. It was Philip who wished to attack the city with haste, while inevitably and rather unfortunately, Richard was of the other mind and wished to delay the attack. This now...
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