As soon as it comes to the crusades, the names of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin immediately come to mind. These are two legendary leaders and commanders, real legends are made about them. Richard I Plantagenet is the most famous of the English kings, his name is mentioned no less often than the mythical King Arthur. Unlike the latter, Richard is a real historical figure, like Saladin. Their lives are intertwined and the story is very reminiscent of a knightly romance.
Richard was born into the family of an English monarch and was third in line to the throne, which made his chances of getting the crown very slim. His mother sent him to his homeland, to Aquitaine. There he was brought up at the court of Duchess Eleanor, where courtly poetry reigned. Perhaps, Richard absorbed his legendary knightly nobility from the romantic songs of popular troubadours. He trained knightly prowess in civil strife with local barons, in which he succeeded.
In 1183, Richard's father, Henry, ordered him to take the oath of allegiance to his elder brother, he was to ascend the throne. When Richard flatly refused, his brother went to war in Aquitaine. The father supported the invasion. The atrocities did not last long, Henry the Younger died, but this did not improve the relationship between father and son. King Henry invented a new humiliation: he demanded that Aquitaine be given to Richard's younger brother, John. He attacked the province, but the future king, nicknamed Lionheart, really fought like a lion. As a result, King Henry retreated, but did not calm down. Open war between father and son began in 1188. It ended with Henry's humiliated petition for peace. The monarch soon died and Richard was crowned the new king of England.
The people loved Richard, because he was the embodiment of all knightly virtues and valor, was a brilliant commander, strong intelligent and also incredibly beautiful. Richard was extremely tall - under two meters in height, he had bright blue eyes and blond curls. The king who looked like a dream! How could you not love him?
The fascination with the crusades made the reign of Richard I nominal. He was constantly absent. In this context, another no less legendary person is inextricably linked with the king - Sultan Saladin. According to all historical evidence, these two extraordinary people respected each other immensely. You can even say they were friends. Some historians claim that the two monarchs even wanted to become related.
Despite the sympathy, the generals waged war. Richard dreamed of occupying Jerusalem, which was held by Saladin. Throughout the Middle East, Richard successfully took cities, but the Holy City was not given to him. How is it: Muslims desecrate a Christian shrine, but Richard can not do anything ?! How did the king of the crusaders manage to defeat the sultan during the famous battle of Arsuf? The site of a key 12th-century battle during the Third Crusade has recently been pinpointed by an enterprising archaeologist from Israel.
Dr. Raphael Lewis knew about the dramatic conflict from historical records, but wanted to move further in search of a real place where the Crusaders and Muslims met in a decisive battle. The Sharon Plain in Israel is where he believes these historical events took place. Of course, the evidence is largely hidden as centuries have passed. Dr. Lewis had to use a combination of research and environmental work to figure it out. In this he was helped by an excellent archaeological instinct. Gradually, Lewis advanced in his research.
The doctor used various environmental studies in a very unusual manner. He even studied factors such as what time of day the sun was high enough in the sky to be out of sight of the archers. Lewis took into account the movements of the moon, temperature and humidity, and the direction of the wind. In the end, he turned his attention to the area in the area of modern Arsuf and Arsuf-Kedem. The site was not very suitable for excavation, but in spite of everything, the doctor began to search.
Archaeological research has been crowned with success in the form of various intriguing finds that coincide in time with the desired event. Archaeological artifacts included arrowheads and a horseshoe. The historic battle took place on September 7, 1191. Prior to this, Richard's forces took the city of Akko, and then moved south along the coast with the intention of capturing the port city of Jaffa.
Richard feared the failures of Hattin, where Saladin had defeated the crusaders before, cutting off from the water and crushing their forces. The king advanced slowly but surely, often giving the troops a rest. On the right, the army was defended by the Mediterranean Sea, making it possible to call in the fleet for help.
Sultan Saladin attacked Richard's army unexpectedly. A certain amount of discipline has been lost. Some of Richard's warriors were too hot-headed and attacked against the orders of their king. The battle came to a standstill near the forest, where Saladin's men retreated. It is believed that if the crusaders had followed them further, a more decisive victory would have been won. Jerusalem would be taken.
Why did Saladin decide to strike such an open blow at that very moment? Dr. Lewis thinks this could be a misjudgment based on geography. "Saladin did not believe that Richard was going towards Jaffa, he thought that at that moment the king of the Crusaders and his troops were going to turn inland towards Jerusalem." As a result, the Third Crusade ended not with an epic battle, but with a peace treaty.
Richard the Lionheart asked Saladin for a truce for three years in order to settle matters in England during this time, from where very disturbing news came. After that, Richard said that he would return and recapture the Holy City from Saladin. The Sultan replied to this that the king of England is a very honest, generous and direct person, that he respects him immensely. If anyone should get Jerusalem, it is only Richard and no one else.
Meanwhile, Saladin allowed Christian pilgrims to freely visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Such was the noble Sultan Saladin and the customs of the times of the "dark and wild" Middle Ages. There is a lot to learn, isn't there? Especially at a time when Muslims have lost such a high dignity of Saladin, and Christians have completely forgotten all the teachings of the New Testament.
“God chose the unwise of the world to put the wise to shame, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the mighty; and the ignorant of the world and the humiliated and meaningless God chose to abolish the meaningful, so that no flesh could boast before God.”(1 Corinthians 1:27)
Read more about the holy warriors of Christianity in our article why the Knights Templar are considered the most brutal in history.
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