University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

II: The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted and Philip Augustus,   pp. 44-85 PDF (16.9 MB)


Page 72

72 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES  II 
who had been specifically named in one of the agreements. He offered to turn
all these over to Richard and give hostages for completing the transfers
if the king would free his hostages from the garrison of Acre. Or Richard
could take the Cross, money, and prisoners, and give hostages to guarantee
that he would free the hostages from Acre. Richard's envoys insisted that
the instalment be delivered, and their word accepted for the freeing of the
hostages. 
 When Saladin refused, Richard lost his temper. He selected a few of the
hostages who were important enough to be worth large ransoms. The rest he
and the duke of Burgundy led outside the city and slaughtered in sight of
Saladin's host. The Moslem writers believed that this had been the king's
intention from the beginning - and Christian references to the murder as
vengeance for the crusaders slain before Acre would seem to support their
view, but this seems improbable. It is more likely that there was mutual
distrust and misunderstanding between Richard and Saladin about the exact
arrangements. Richard was by nature arrogant, impulsive, and impatient. He
wanted to clear up the business so he could start his campaign. Hence he
took what seemed the simplest course. No Christian king would worry much
about the lives of two or three thousand Moslems. As to the Christian prisoners
left in Saladin's hands, one is forced to conclude that Richard was convinced
that few if any were men of importance. A chivalric king would worry little
more about low-born Christian sergeants than about Moslems.46 
 As king Richard waited at Acre, he must have considered the general strategic
situation very carefully. He knew that, if his crusaders were adequately
supplied with food and water and intelligently led, they could defeat any
army Saladin was likely to muster. Apparently the sultan's best course was
to use his large reserves of manpower to wear down the Christian army by
continuous attacks in the field and by determined defense of all fortresses.
Richard probably realized, however, that this policy was actually impossible.
Saladin's troops could not be persuaded to sacrifice themselves in fierce
assaults on the crusading host in the hope that it would mean victory for
their successors. The fall of Acre had completely discouraged the Moslem
garrisons. In the purely military sense, Saladin's one hope lay in a crushing
defeat of his foes before his own men lost all their spirit. Richard's chief
problem was to keep his troops supplied. The sultan had already ravaged 
 46 Eracles, p. 178; Bernard le Trésorier, p. 276; Bahã'-ad-Din,
pp. 272-273; Diceto, II, 94; Devizes, p. 428; Gesta, II, 188-189; Estoire,
pp. 226-228; Itinerarium, p. 243. 


Go up to Top of Page