Third crusade

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Third Crusade was a military campaign to which the Pope called the kingdoms of the West in a bull after Sultan Saladin had defeated the army of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and conquered the city of Jerusalem . The crusade began in 1189 under the leadership of Friedrich Barbarossa , Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who died before reaching the Holy Land , Philip II of France and Richard the Lionheart of England. The crusade ended in 1192 with a peace treaty without the city of Jerusalem being conquered by the crusaders. For the Kingdom of Jerusalem only the coastal strip from Beirut to Jaffa could be secured, and Acre , which the Crusaders had conquered after a long siege , became the new capital. Unarmed Christian pilgrims were given free access to Jerusalem.

In connection with the Third Crusade, the term cruce signatus (marked with a cross) appears for the first time , from which the terms “ crusade ” and “crusader” developed. Before that, the crusaders were referred to as "pilgrims", "travelers" or "soldiers of Christ".

Richard the Lionheart in a duel with Saladin. English fantasy, around 1340

Causes of the Third Crusade

The Levant at the beginning of the Third Crusade.

After the failed Second Crusade , the crusader states came under increasing pressure.

In 1154 Nur ad-Din , Emir of Mosul from the Zengid dynasty , conquered the Emirate of Damascus , where he relocated his headquarters. In 1169 Nur ad-Din sent the Saracen general Saladin and his uncle to Egypt to lead a campaign against the Crusaders . The campaign ended with the elimination of the Shiite Fatimid - Caliphate of Cairo by Saladin in 1171 after the Caliph died. Saladin proclaimed himself Sultan of Egypt and founded the Ayyubid dynasty . This led to serious conflicts with Nur ad-Din, who died in 1174. Saladin then occupied Damascus and large parts of Syria . In 1183 he succeeded in taking Aleppo , three years later he conquered Mosul. After defeating his Muslim enemies, Saladin turned to the Crusader states, which were now in his grasp.

With a large army he moved towards Palestine , where he defeated an army of crusaders on July 4, 1187 in the battle of Hattin . After this battle, Saladin wrested cities like Acre almost unhindered from the Crusaders and conquered much of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On October 2, 1187, Saladin's troops captured Jerusalem after a brief siege , releasing anyone who could raise a ransom and enslaved the rest. The Crusaders now controlled only Tire , Tripoli and Antioch , which Saladin attacked the following year.

The news of the conquest of Palestine by Saladin caused great consternation in Europe, which was also the cause of the death of Pope Urban III. should have been. The demand for a new crusade quickly grew. On October 29, 1187, Pope Gregory VIII called for a general armistice in Europe and for the Third Crusade with the bull " Audita tremendi ". When Gregory died in the pontificate after only two months , his successor Clemens III took over . promoting the crusade.

Course of the Third Crusade

In 1187, Wilhelm II , the Norman King of Sicily, was the first ruler to be willing to participate. He immediately dispatched 50 galleys , which greatly contributed to the success of the Tripoli defense.

The English King Henry II and the French King Philip II ended their ongoing conflict over the English fiefdoms in western France and took the cross together on January 21, 1188 in Gisors in Normandy.

The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Friedrich I (called Barbarossa ) declared in March 1188 at the Reichstag in Mainz , in accordance with his idea of ​​the sacred and universal character of the imperial title, his personal participation in the crusade. The financing for Friedrich Barbarossa's crusade was also regulated at the Reichstag in Mainz. It was stipulated that every participant in the crusade had to spend at least three silver marks in order to participate in the crusade. This amount has been estimated as the minimum expenditure of a crusader for two years.

King Henry II died in July 1189 , and his son Richard I succeeded him. In July 1189 he renewed the crusade vows in Azay-le-Rideau on the Loire together with Philip II , whereby it was agreed to draw together, since neither of the two trusted the other and the absence of one king was too great an advantage for those who stayed at home would have meant. They were finally supposed to leave in July 1190. To finance the costs of the crusade, both rulers levied a crusade tax, the so-called Saladin tithes.

The crusade of Frederick I

On May 11, 1189, Frederick set off from Regensburg with what is probably the largest contingent that a single prince ever contributed to a crusade . Friedrich was accompanied by some representatives of the German aristocracy.

As early as 1188, Friedrich had with King Béla III. of Hungary, Emperor Isaac II Angelus of Constantinople and Sultan Kılıç Arslan II of Iconium , who was a friend of Isaac, who assured him of free passage and the provision of his army.

The crusader army chose the land route along the Danube. On May 22nd it crossed the German-Hungarian border. Pentecost was celebrated at the gates of Pressburg . On June 4th, the Emperor was pompously received and entertained at Gran by the Hungarian royal couple. In Hungary, Frederick's son, Duke Frederick VI , got engaged . von Swabia , with the Hungarian king's daughter Konstanze . When the station was made in Belgrade , the number of crusaders had increased many times over due to the influx of people from Austria and Hungary, including Géza , the brother of the Hungarian king. The journey through Hungary went without any major difficulties.

Train across the Balkans

In Niš , Frederick I was received on July 27, 1189 by the Serbian Grand Zupan Stefan Nemanja , who was currently leading a rebellion against the Byzantine Empire , and was given a generous gift.

When the Byzantine border was crossed, it turned out that Emperor Isaac II Angelus not only did not keep the obligations he had taken on, but also harbored hostile intentions against the Crusaders. On their way to Philippople via Triadica , the crusaders were repeatedly harassed by Byzantine and Bulgarian bandits. In the meantime, the Byzantine emperor had secretly agreed an alliance with Saladin against the crusaders and from August onwards explicitly refused to allow them to continue their journey. After Isaac II had Angelus arrested some of the envoys of Frederick I, he had the city of Philippople captured on August 26th and, in the following weeks, surrounding cities and castles were conquered or plundered to feed his army. When negotiations with Isaac did not progress, Frederick I marched on to Adrianople in November , had the city taken on November 22nd and wintered there. Numerous cities in the surrounding area were plundered and Byzantine resistance fought down. Friedrich's army now controlled the surrounding area up to the walls of Constantinople . In December and January Friedrich also made contact with the Serbian Grand Zupan Stefan Nemanja as well as Wallachian and Cuman rebels and negotiated with them about a joint attack on Constantinople. The Byzantine emperor then relented in January 1190. An agreement was signed on February 14th, according to which Isaac had to provide ships, hostages and food. The crusaders crossed the Hellespont in the days from March 22nd to 28th, 1190 near Gallipoli .

Train through Asia Minor

The army then made its way through Asia Minor. From Laodicea it was in a Muslim area and was built by the Turkish Rum - Seljuks attacked. The aging Kılıç Arslan II had withdrawn from the government and left it to his sons. The eldest of them, Rutbeddin , immediately made an alliance with Saladin. On May 7, 1190, the crusaders prevailed against Turkish units for the first time in the battle of Philomelion . In the mountainous landscape there was little food, diseases broke out, and the transport of material became increasingly difficult. On May 18, 1190, the crusader army succeeded in defeating the Turks a second time in the battle of Iconium and taking their capital. The vanquished now had to provide horses, beasts of burden and food and leave hostages to the crusaders who guaranteed safe passage.

At the end of May 1190, Friedrich and his army reached the friendly kingdom of Lesser Armenia in Cilicia and received a friendly welcome and support. He moved over difficult mountain paths to Seleucia at the foot of the Taurus Mountains . On June 10, 1190, already within sight of the city, he drowned in the river Saleph .

Dissolution or march on to Acre

From Antioch a large part of the army returned home demoralized by sea. The few remaining crusaders, led by Friedrich's son, Friedrich von Schwaben, traveled on overland via Tire towards Jerusalem. In October 1190 the remainder of Emperor Frederick's crusader army reached the besieged city of Acre and joined the Christian besiegers.

Philip and Richard's crusade

Embarkation of Philip Augustus in Genoa for the crusade (miniature around 1490)

After they had raised the financial means for a crusade by introducing a special tax in their kingdoms and had settled armed conflicts with one another, Richard I of England and Philip II of France set out for Palestine on July 4, 1190 from the joint meeting point in Vézelay . They drew together for a while, then the two armies parted ways. Richard moved to Marseille , where he met his fleet from England / Western France, which had just circumnavigated the Iberian Peninsula . Philip moved to Genoa , where he had hired a Genoese fleet.

Winter in Sicily

Both reached Sicily by sea in September 1190 . In 1189 Wilhelm II of Sicily died there childless. Tankred of Lecce had prevailed as the new king and was now holding Wilhelm's wife Johanna , Richard's sister, prisoner. Richard conquered the city of Messina on October 4th, 1190 , liberated his sister and let the Crusader army overwinter in Messina. In March 1191, Tankred, Philip and Richard finally signed a formal peace treaty.

On March 30th Philip continued his journey directly to Palestine. Richard also set sail on April 10th.

Richard's conquest of Cyprus

Richard's fleet got caught in a storm off Crete and was thereby divided into two parts. While Richard himself and the main part of his armed forces were gathering in Rhodes at the end of April , some ships with Richard's fiancé Berengaria of Navarre and his sister Johanna were driven to Cyprus .

From the latter part of the fleet, two or three ships were stranded on the Cypriot coast near Limassol . One of them had the bulk of Richard's war chest on board. The surviving crusaders had been captured by the Cypriots and robbed of their belongings. The majority of Richard's war chest fell into the hands of the local emperor Isaak Komnenos . Cyprus had belonged to the Byzantine Empire for centuries until it gained independence in 1184 under Isaac Comnenus. Isaac invited Berengaria and Johanna, whose ships were undamaged, to Limassol. Fearing that they would also be captured there, they declined the offer and waited on their remaining ships off the coast of Cyprus for Richard to arrive with the main part of the fleet. This arrived on May 6th. Richard demanded that Isaac release his men immediately and surrender the stolen property. When Isaac refused, Richard landed with his army and routed Isaac's army, first on the beach and the next day further inland, and occupied Limassol. There Richard married his fiancée Berengaria of Navarre on May 12th.

Isaac now made benevolent promises to Richard, but shortly afterwards retired to Kantara Castle , in the security of the Cypriot hinterland, refused Richard any concession and ordered him to leave the island. Richard quickly conquered large parts of the island and besieged Isaac in his castle. Richard benefited from the poor loyalty of parts of the Cypriot population who had suffered under Isaac's rule over the past seven years. Isaac Komnenus finally surrendered on the condition that Richard should not put him in irons. Richard then moved into the castle and promptly put him and his daughter in silver chains.

Richard now used Cyprus as a rich supply base for his crusade, he captured Isaac's state treasure and imposed high special taxes on Cyprus. On June 5, 1191 he sailed on to Palestine. Cyprus would later become another crusader state.

The battle for Acre

In April 1191 Philip landed with his troops in Tire , Richard's army followed just under seven weeks later. The primary destination of the Crusaders was Acre , which had been besieged by Guido von Lusignan since August 1189 . Guido von Lusignan was the former king of Jerusalem, who had called up his remaining troops to take the city and thus gain a basis for the re-establishment of his kingdom, but this failed because of the stubborn resistance of the defenders. The arrival of the remaining German crusaders in October 1190 did not change the situation either. In addition, the besiegers were again surrounded by Saladin's troops.

Acre surrenders to Philip and Richard (French miniature from the 14th century)

The arrival of the English and French crusaders brought movement to the deadlock. The sea siege was reinforced by the addition of French and English ships. Epidemics broke out in the city. The crusaders undermined the city wall so that it threatened to collapse. In addition, the water supply had been cut off. On July 12, the city was handed over to the Crusaders with Saladin's approval. The soldiers of the Muslim garrison were taken hostage to ensure that Saladin would pay the terms of compensation (payment of 200,000 gold dinars , return of the True Cross , release of the Christian prisoners). Concessions in these dimensions show what a great victory Latin Christianity had won.

Three banners now waved over the citadel of Acre: the English banner of Richard, the French banner of Philip and the German banner of Leopold V of Austria , who had commanded the German contingent since the death of Frederick of Swabia in January 1191, represented the Roman German emperor and therefore claimed the same rank (and the same share of booty) as the two kings. Richard was outraged by Leopold's arrogance, especially since Leopold himself only had the rank of duke. Leopold's demand also seemed inadequate because his small German contingent only played an insignificant role in the conquest of Acon. Without further ado, Richard had a squire throw Leopold's banner into the moat. Because of this humiliation, Leopold V withdrew with his troops to Europe a little later.

The crusaders now quarreled about who should become the future king of Jerusalem. A compromise was finally reached: First Guido von Lusignan and, after his death, Konrad von Montferrat, should become king. Then Philip II left for France on July 31st to regulate the succession of his important vassal Philip of Alsace , who had recently died childless in the Akkon camp. Philip left most of his army with Richard. Richard was now in sole command.

Meanwhile, Konrad von Montferrat sought a separate peace with Saladin behind Richard's back . About half of the prisoners were guarded by the French crusader contingent and used by Konrad as a bargaining chip for such a separate peace. When the payment of the ransom for the Muslim prisoners was delayed, Richard had around 2,700 Muslim prisoners beheaded at the end of August 1191 . With the massacre of the prisoners, Richard decided the internal conflict for himself and drastically demonstrated his determination. Saladin's troops then attacked the meanwhile repaired walls of Akon twice, but were repulsed. Saladin then withdrew his troops to save them for a defense of Jerusalem.

Richard's crusade

Richard was moving south along the coast, while Saladin's light units involved him in constant minor skirmishes. At Arsuf there was a battle with Saladin's main army on September 7, 1191 and the first victory of the Crusaders since Hattin . Saladin's army had to withdraw defeated and from then on avoided open field battles against the crusaders.

So Richard was able to occupy Jaffa without hindrance on September 10th , where he had the city fortifications rebuilt. Saladin meanwhile hurried to the fortress city of Askalon , which secured the strategically important connection road to Egypt. He had decided to concentrate on defending Jerusalem to the detriment of Askalon. So he added the strong garrison there to his army and had the city wall of Askalons destroyed so that the fortress would not fall intact into the hands of the crusaders.

March on Jerusalem

The Crusaders stayed near Jaffa until October 1191, where they rebuilt the surrounding castles to secure the supply and communication routes between Jerusalem and the coast. At the same time, Richard and Al-Adil , the sultan's brother, conducted lengthy secret negotiations on a peace agreement on behalf of the Sultan in the crusader camp. The central point would have been a marriage between Al-Adil and King Richard's sister, Princess Johanna Plantagenet . The couple was supposed to be awarded rulership over the Kingdom of Jerusalem , so that it would have been unnecessary to conquer the city by the Crusaders. However, this plan ultimately failed due to Saladin's brother's refusal to convert to the Christian faith.

On November 15th Richard moved on along the road to Jerusalem in the Ramla area , on December 23rd to the castle Toron des Chevaliers and on the way had the castles in the area re-fortified. Toron des Chevaliers is about 15 km from Jerusalem. There were some minor skirmishes with Saladin's light units again, and Richard found that Saladin's main army was still intact. This made it clear to him that the success of the crusade would have been questionable even if Jerusalem had been conquered. After conquering the city, most of the crusaders would have considered their crusade vows fulfilled and would soon return to Europe. With the remaining forces, Jerusalem and the connection to the port cities on the coast would hardly have been sustainable. So Richard decided to break off the train to Jerusalem and retreat back to the coast. When Richard was told that Jerusalem was on the horizon, he is reported to have said: "Whoever cannot take Jerusalem should not see it either."

March on Ascalon

Richard's decision to repent was highly unpopular among ordinary soldiers, clergymen and chroniclers, although the majority of the nobles agreed with him. In particular, Duke Hugo III. of Burgundy , who led the French contingent, protested against the change of course and moved with the majority of the French crusaders to Jaffa, while Richard with the rest of the crusader army now marched along the coast and under the protection of his fleet to Ashkelon. The French Count Henry II of Champagne , Richard's nephew, stayed with Richard's side with part of the French contingent. Richard occupied Ascalon on January 20, 1192 and stayed there until June. He had the city wall, which had been destroyed by the Muslims, rebuilt there in a hurry. There are reports from contemporaries who claim to have seen him lend a hand during the construction work.

Internal disputes

The need for Richard to end the crusade and return to his realm grew. In April 1192 he had received news that his youngest brother John was claiming the throne in England and that Philip II was attacking English fiefdoms in France. Because of these developments and the lack of prospect of a quick victory at Jerusalem, Richard sought an armistice negotiations with Saladin. He also tried to stabilize the conditions in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, especially since the compromise reached the previous year on the Crown of Jerusalem had proven to be unsustainable - King Guido lacked assertiveness against the barons of the kingdom , and Conrad openly wanted Guido and Richard on. Konrad was even negotiating a separate peace with Saladin behind Richard's back.

On April 16, 1192, Richard held a council with the prelates and barons of the empire, at which they immediately elected Conrad as the new king of Jerusalem. As compensation for Guido, Richard sold him the crusader state of Cyprus as a fief, where he established his own kingdom from May 1192 . Before Conrad von Montferrat could be crowned the new King of Jerusalem, however, he was stabbed to death on April 28 in the street by two assassins . It is uncertain whether Richard was connected to the murderers. Konrad's successor was, with the consent of the barons and prelates of the empire and Richard, Henry II of Champagne, who also married Konrad's widow, Isabella .

Battle for Jaffa

While Richard was now with the main army in Acre at the end of July 1192, Saladin managed to retake Jaffa with a counterattack. The new Muslim garrison, however, was taken by surprise a few days later by Richard, who embarked with a relatively small but well-armed force, and Jaffa was secured for the crusaders ( see Battle of Jaffa ).

Peace with Saladin

On September 2, 1192, Richard and Saladin finally reached a diplomatic agreement. Richard's conquests of the coast of Palestine were confirmed - with the exception of the city of Askalon, whose fortifications were razed and the Saladin was handed over. Christian pilgrims were given free access to Jerusalem. In addition, the two rulers agreed on a three-year armistice. Richard left Palestine on October 9, 1192, ending the Third Crusade.

Return journey

When he came back through Austria, Leopold V had him captured and finally delivered him to Emperor Heinrich VI. out. Richard was only released in 1194 after paying a large ransom and swearing the feudal oath on Heinrich.

Consequences of the crusade

The Third Crusade failed to achieve its goal of retaking Jerusalem. The presence of the crusaders in the Middle East was temporarily secured through the establishment of the crusader state of Cyprus and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem - with Acre as the new capital. At the time when Saladin was at the height of his power, it had succeeded in preventing the threatened total annihilation of the Crusader states. Saladin died as early as 1193, and the turmoil surrounding his successor gave the Crusader states another respite.

During the siege of Acre, German crusaders founded a brotherhood for nursing the sick, from which the Teutonic Order with headquarters in Acre developed in 1198 .

The Third Crusade clearly showed that the individual interests of the participating rulers could not be combined with the idea of ​​a common struggle of Christians. From the Third Crusade onwards, many crusaders took the view that the conquest of the Ayyubid heartland Egypt was necessary for a sustainable liberation of Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Due to the tensions with Byzantium, the overland route was effectively ruled out as a possible route for an army of crusaders to the Holy Land. The model of Friedrich Barbarossa also motivated his eldest son Heinrich VI. 1197 to undertake his German crusade , which also failed because of the early death of Heinrich.

A coin find is associated with the crusade.


  • Arnold Bühler (ed.): The crusade of Friedrich Barbarossas - report of an eyewitness . Thorbecke, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-7995-0612-8 .
  • Ekkehard Eickhoff : Friedrich Barbarossa in the Orient. Crusade and death of Friedrich I. Ernst Wasmuth, Tübingen 1977, ISBN 3-8030-1716-5 .
  • James Reston, Jr .: Warriors of God - Richard The Lionheart and Saladin In The Third Crusade . Anchor Books, New York 2002, ISBN 0-385-49562-5 .
  • Amin Maalouf : The Holy War of the Barbarians. The Crusades from the perspective of the Arabs. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-4233-4018-5 .
  • Carole Hillenbrand: The Crusades. Islamic Perspectives. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 1999, ISBN 0-7486-0630-0 .
  • Hans Eberhardt Mayer: History of the Crusades. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-1701-8679-5 .
  • Christopher Tyerman: God's war. A new history of the crusades . Penguin Books, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-14-026980-2 .
  • Hannes Möhring : Saladin and the Third Crusade. Aiyubid strategy and diplomacy compared primarily the Arabic and Latin sources (= Frankfurter Historische Abhandlungen. Volume 21). Franz Steiner, Wiesbaden 1980, ISBN 3-515-02895-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas S. Asbridge: The Crusades . 7th edition. 2016, p. 403 .
  2. ^ Heinz Halm: Caliphs and Assassins, Egypt and the Middle East at the time of the first crusades. CH Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-66163-1 , p. 306.
  3. ^ Heinz Halm: Caliphs and Assassins, Egypt and the Middle East at the time of the first crusades. CH Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-66163-1 , p. 307.
  4. Thomas S. Asbridge: The Crusades . 7th edition. 2016, p. 477 .

Web links

Commons : Third Crusade  - collection of images, videos and audio files