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

II: The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted and Philip Augustus,   pp. 44-85 PDF (16.5 MB)

Page 75

cavalry charge could crush it. Hence he ordered the Hospitallers to wait
until he gave the order for a general assault. The Hospitallers were soon
goaded beyond endurance, however, and shortly before Richard was ready to
give the signal for a cavalry charge, they passed through their infantry
and rode at the Moslems. This left Richard and Hugh of Burgundy no choice,
and they ordered a general attack. The cavalry squadrons rode through the
infantry, and charged all along the line. The Turkish horse could not withstand
the heavily armed knights. In the rear, where they had been closely engaged,
their losses were very heavy. The French also slew many of their foes. The
troops of Richard's command and the Templars barely made contact with the
rapidly retreating Turks. 
 Saladin still had a chance for victory. At the battle of Acre the crusaders
had routed the Turks, had scattered in the pursuit, and had been cut to pieces
when the enemy rallied. Richard, however, had no intention of being caught
in that trap. When his cavalry lost contact with the enemy, he halted and
reformed his line so that the inevitable Turkish rally met another orderly
charge. This process was repeated once more before the Turks finally retired
into the forest of Arsuf. The battle was a decided victory for Richard. The
enemy had suffered severely while his own losses had been comparatively light.
The only crusader of importance to fall was the heroic James of Avesnes,
who had probably pressed the pursuit with more enthusiasm than sense.50 But
more important than the actual Turkish losses was the effect on their morale.
Saladin's troops became convinced that they could not win in the open field,
and lost all interest in attempting pitched battles. The battle of Arsuf
was the last Turkish attempt to destroy King Richard's host. 
 Three days after the battle of Arsuf, the crusading army arrived at Jaffa.
As Saladin had destroyed the fortifications of the town, the first task of
the crusaders was to restore them. Meanwhile king Richard considered his
future course. There were several possibilities, of which the most obvious
was to march on Jerusalem as soon as he had established a firm base at Jaffa.
But Richard was too much of a realist to regard this plan with any great
optimism. Although he could undoubtedly lead his army to Jerusalem and lay
siege to it, there was grave doubt as to whether he had enough men to keep
his supply line secure. And if his communications were cut, he might well
have difficulty extricating his army even if he captured 
 50 Estoire, pp. 252-266; Hoveden, III, 131; Itinerarium, pp. 262-275; Bahã'-ad-Din,
pp. 290-293; Eracles, p. 185. 

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