The Crusades, Part 6: Showdown!!!

Saladin had conquered the holy land. He had beaten back the crusaders city after city until they only owned the fortress of Tyre. He had destroyed there army and captured there generals. But the head general, Guy of Lusignan, was treated well by Saladin. He was treated as a king, and got all of the privileges of his normal life (save freedom.) But Saladin, an honorable king, gave him even that and freed him to go home. But instead of doing that, Guy went back to the fortress of Tyre. But the commander of the forces of Tyre, Conrad, would not allow it and made Guy camp outside the city. I do not know the reason for this; my guess is that because Guy had recently been released, Conrad thought he was spying for Saladin. Thus, he would not let him in.

Guy was baffled. Guy de Lusignan, the king of Jerusalem, would not be let into a city that was rightfully his! He was furious, but did not have the man power to force his way in. Thus, he began recruiting levy in nearby Christian villages and hiring mercenaries to build up an army. Even once he had done this, he decided that he would attack a Muslim fortress; it would hurt his reputation to attack other Christians. So he set out and Besieged the Muslim fortress of Acre. It was not only wealthy, but because it had a port it was possible for other Crusaders to land there and help him. An, as it happens, he would get help.

By this time three powers had distinguished themselves as the dominant powers in western Europe. In Modern day Germany ruled the Holy Roman Empire, a collection of various castles and city states joined together in a union. It was ruled by Frederick Barbarossa, the King of the Holy Roman empire. West of that was France, the beating heart of Europe. It was the paradigm case of Feudalism. It was ruled by Philip II, the King of France. Lastly, northwest of France stood The Kingdom of England. England was doing well. Under it’s king, Richard, it had taken many lands from France. In fact, in controlled so much that France could not attempt to take them back for fear of being crushed. But Philip knew that if Richard left England to go on, lets say; a crusade, he would be free to take back his land. But he knew that if he left, Richard might take his remaining lands. While these two squabbled, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, (Frederick Barbarossa,) decided he would show his faith and march on the holy land.

Sadly enough, he had decided to take the land route and as he marched he came to a river. When he tried to cross it he was thrown off his horse and drowned in the river. His army mostly ran home; a few kept going but were stopped by extreme weather conditions. Seeing that nobody else was going to the holy land, Richard and Philip made up their minds and agreed they would go at the same time so neither of them could attack the other. Now, you may be thinking: Oh, great. A bunch of random peasants throwing themselves on the enemy spears. This is gonna be a complete failure. But, it actually wasn’t. You see, this time Richard and Philip actually brought professional armies. They armored and armed recruits instead of just shipping them off by the truckload. Hell, they even trained them! Anyways, once they had mustered proper armies they set off (via ship thank god.)

Meanwhile, a certain Guy of Lusignan was still sieging Saladin’s fortress of Acre. He had done an initial and unsuccessful assault on the walls, resulting in minimal casualties on each side. Soon enough Saladin arrived to re-enforce the garrison at acre. The problem is, The Crusaders would not let in Saladin’s forces to defend the city they were sieging, and so the garrison soon became isolated having lost any chances of re-enforcements. Saladin realized he had to get to them but the Crusader army was in the way. So he made a fatal mistake: Waiting. More and more soldiers joined the crusader army as he lost soldiers from desertion. They had fought countless battles against the Crusaders and were just tired of all the fighting. The news of re-enforcements from Europe only made it worse for him.

Eventually he decided to attack the Crusader’s camp with what remained of his army. They were winning at first, but then the crusaders ran to plunder the camp’s of Saladin’s officers. Saladin rallied and sent his cavalry at them, beating them back and killing a great number. When they attempted to flee, the forces inside the city sallied out and blocked their escape route. Guy called his soldiers back and formed a defensive line, and Saladin decided a charge would be unsuccessful so he continued to wait outside the city. He soon realized he was vulnerable to attack and that he should fortify his position and prepare for a siege of the besiegers. But his already demoralized soldiers could not take another blow to morale. An extended siege was the LAST thing he needed. But he realized he had to. If he could take out this army and then go and conquer Tyre, (that Crusader fortress that Guy had not been let into,) Richard and Philip would have no fortress to land in and resupply when they got here. They would have no allies, and thus they would turn back. So he decided to dig in and fortify his position.

Luckily for him, it worked. The Crusaders had limited food and a disease had just hit their camp, (though they unknowingly spread it to the Muslim garrison in their repeated assaults,) and so they were falling apart. Saladin finally breached their besieging line and reinforced the depleted garrison of Acre. But the Crusading forces were not done yet. They knew that if they held the siege just a little longer they would get their sorely needed re-enforcements. And they did. Philip and Richard eventually left to help take Acre. When they arrived, they soon took the city with the massive siege engines they had constructed. They blew threw the walls easily and took the city. Unluckily for him, Saladin had never actually defended the city himself so he had left when he heard re-enforcements were coming. But that did not matter to Richard or Philip; they had established a foothold from which to conquer with.

Richard then marched south. His eyes were set on the fortress of Jaffa, as it was the last fortress before Jerusalem. Saladin’s forces at Jaffa were weak, and he realized Richard could effectively walk in, so he decided to meet Richard in open battle on the field before he could reach the fortress. He attacked Richard’s forces while they marched but was repulsed in an epic battle known as the Battle of Arsuf. Eventually Richard arrived at Jaffa and captured it, solidifying his reputation as a great commander. Meanwhile, Saladin grew less and less renowned. Even amongst his troops he lost his reputation. But then the crusaders did something confusing. They stopped. At the doorstep of Jerusalem, the city which thousands of lives had been lost to take, Richard stopped. If you ask me, It was not unlike Hannibal at the gates of Rome. The Crusaders had endured countless victories and defeats, they had fought for years, and now, when they were so close to Jerusalem itself; they stopped. Though many more crusades would be waged, this was the last serious attempt to set up a Christian Kingdom in the Levant. The reason is unknown to me, though experts probably have a finite answer. Sometimes, though, I do like a little mystery with my history.

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