Third Crusade (1189 – 1192)
The situation in the Holy Land changed dramatically three decades after the Second Crusade. The Muslims joined their forces under Sultan Saladin against the Crusader States and recaptured Jerusalem in 1187. The news of the Fall of Jerusalem resulted in a major shock throughout Europe but also renewed the interest for Crusade. The call for the Third Crusade by Pope Gregory VIII was responded Frederick I (Barbarossa) of Germany, Philip II of France and Richard I (the Lionheart) of England. Therefore, the Third Crusade is often referred as the Kings’ Crusade.
Frederick I Barbarossa departed on the Crusade first. His army was decimated by famine and the attacks of Seljuk chivalry in Asia Minor, while Frederick drowned in Cilicia in 1190. Afterwards most of his forces returned to Germany but the remaining 5,000 men led by his son Frederick of Swabia joined the Siege of Acre laid by Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem in August 1189. However, the outbreak of dysentery and fever during the winter of 1190-91 also claimed the life of Frederic of Swabia.
Leopold V of Austria arrived to the Holy Land in spring 1191 and took over the command over remnants of the German Crusaders. Philip II arrived with his troops in May, while Richard the Lionheart arrived in June, 1191, capturing Cyprus from Isaac Comnenus on his way. Immediately after his arrival to Acre, Richard took over the command and captured the city on July 12. The way to Jerusalem has been open but the Crusaders were already at strife. Leopold V of Austria returned to Europe because he was angered by Richard for casting down the German standard from the walls of Acre, while Richard and Philip quarreled already from the beginning. Richard I was as Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine Philip’s vassal and for that reason Philip expected from Richard to accept his command but that was not the case. When Philip wanted to launch an attack Richard went on a lunch but when Richard was ready to attack Philip had a headache. The quarrel between Richard and Philip ended with departure of the latter from the Holy Land in August.
Philip’s and Leopold’s departure from the Holy Land did not discourage Richard in his determination to continue the expedition. He advanced southwards to Jerusalem and defeated Saladin in the Battle of Arsuf, captured Jaffa, rebuilt Ascalon and arrived 20 kilometers from Jerusalem by the end of the year. However, he was forced to retreat to the shore because of insufficient number of men to lay a siege. After a while, Richard tried to reach Jerusalem again but he was forced to retreat for the second time. In August, he was victorious over Saladin at Jaffa but news from his homeland forced him to hurry back to England. Before leaving the Holy Land, he made a three-year truce with Saladin, retained Jaffa with a narrow strip of coast for the Christians and the right of free access to the Holy Sepulcher.