To what extent was the Third Crusade a defeat for the Latin’s

The Third Crusade was fought from 1189 to 1192. It is commonly seen as a failure and its achievement as Mayer argues was “a modest one”. Its dealing with the internal politics had been weak and is territorial gain minimal. The crusade failed to re-capture Jerusalem and thus failed in its papal sanctioned role. However historians such as Riley-Smith, Runicmen and Gillingham have argued otherwise. The territorial gains although small had secured a re-birth of crusader influence in the Holy Land, the Muslim expansion had been brought to heel if only for a short time, in terms of deliverance of men to the east it was superb and victories on the battlefield had been both a military and moral triumph.The re-capture of Jerusalem had been the primary goal of the crusade. Its importance lay in its strong connection with the Christian faith and its tradition al association with the crusading movement, dating back to the First Crusade. Jerusalem however was never liberated. Its geographical position apart from the coastal crusader cities and thus its depth into the Muslim territory had always prevented the city from being maintained after its capture. The failure to re-capture Jerusalem had perhaps been the crusade’s greatest failure.Although in terms of politics negotiations with the Muslims had been fairly successful, internal crusader politics had been quite the opposite. The inherent political instability, which had plagued feudal Europe, was no less different in the Holy Land. This can be seen in the dealings of Kingship of the crusader states. It was decided that Guy was to remain king until his death whereby Conrad de Montfereet would then inherit the throne. They were both to share royal revenues and Conrad was to hole a large northern county consisting of Tyre and if he should recover it, Sidon. However Conrad, the French crusaders and the local barons, none of whom had ever really accepted the 1191 compromise, constantly challenged this. It had thus resulted in direct negotiations with Saladin and a failed attempt to seize Acre for Conrad. The inability to accept a king resulted in disputes amongst the crusader states to reach their peak. In his management of politics Richard had failed, he was as Riley-Smith writes, “not nearly as successful in local politics as he was on the battlefield.”Despite Richard’s return from the Holy Land in 1192, the Third Crusade had spawned an epilogue crusade under taken by the Holy Roman Empire under the leadership of Henry VI. Under Henry the Germans were able to take Sidon and thus restore the land connection between the kingdom of Jerusalem and the county of Tripoli. However the premature death of Henry VI in 1197 brought the crusade to an abrupt end. Only two cities had been captured and by the end only Sidon could be kept by agreement. The crusade of Henry VI had thus been a failure due to his unexpected death.The failure of the Latin forces however was not total. For instance despite fighting few major battles the Latin’s victory on the battlefield had been fairly impressive. Arsuf for example has been seen as the major military success of the Third Crusade. Fought in 1192 the battle was not however as great a successful as it was initially thought to be. Although the Muslims had been routed, the casualties on each side were roughly equal. It is highly likely therefore that Saladin’s forces could have attacked the next day. Nevertheless the battles was won by the Christians and proved to be a great moral victory. Runciman has argued that the battle was “not decisive, but had been a great moral victory for the Christians.” Indeed the success at Arsuf had meant that Richard was able to enhance his reputation as being a great leader and general not only to his men but also the enemy. More importantly the victory brought for Saladin personal and public humiliation. The invincibility of Saladin’s forces since the battle of Hattin had thus been destroyed. The battle of Arsuf had therefore been a success for the Latin’s not only on the battlefield but also in terms of crusader morale.Fought in 1192 the battle of Jaffa secured the Latin’s dominance in the battlefield. In it’s recapture the Latin’s had displayed a brilliant strike surprisingly from the coast but more impressive had been its defence. Defending with very few troops and no cavalry, Richard was able to push back a much larger army. The battle had been as Riley Smith describes, “a superb victory”. Jaffa, more so than any other battle, demonstrates the military success of the Latins on crusade.The survival of the crusader states had been vital to the success of the crusade. By 1187 only the three coastal towns of Tripoli, Antioch and Tyre remained under Christian control. Without a Christian stronghold in the area it would be near impossible for the future crusaders to establish any sort of Latin presence in the area. For what it was the re-establishment of the crusader cities had been very successful. No better an example can be seen that the capture of Acre on 12th July 1191.Perhaps the most successful of all the territorial gains was the re-capture of Acre. It’s capture yielded not only an important moral victory for the Christians but also a significant material gain. The Muslim source, Bah’ad-din recorded contents, its ships and military stores, which contained all the military equipment from Palestine, Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo and Egypt. In addition to this the term gained by it’s surrender were two hundred thousand gold pieces paid to the Franks, and extra one hundred for Conrad personally and fifteen thousand Christian prisoners, with one hundred of rank, liberated.The conquest of Acre was therefore successful not only in it’s strategic position as a major fortified coastal city, but also sheer amounts of resources it provided. Despite this the victory was not a successful as first appears. Mayer has discussed that; “the losses during the siege had been heavy” which is indeed true. Deaths included Queen Sibylla, Patriarch Eractius, five Arch Bishops, six bishops, four abbots, a prior, an archdeacon, two dukes, a landgrave, ten counts, three viscounts and thirty great nobles. The chaplain of Baldwin also writes, “on the 25th 1190 more than 4000 foot soldiers were slain by the Turks.” The success of Acre had perhaps bee exaggerated. Although, it is true that it was captures and subsequently a great amount of wealth came from it, it had been at the cost of a significant number of lives, both noble and common.It is commonly agreed by the leading crusader figures, that Richard’s capture of Cyprus in May 1191 was a key victory for the crusaders. Prior to the crusade the island of Cyprus had claimed its independence from the Byzantine Empire under its leader Isaac Ducus Comenus. His subsequent hostility towards the crusaders on their arrival warranted a total conquest of the island by Richard. The Intinerarrium records that “He [Richard] had found castles crammed with treasures and wealth of every kind.” The conquest had as Gillingham writes “reaped tremendous awards. Richard was able to gain vast amounts of booty which the previous ruler Ducus Comenus had bee storing during his reign.” In addition to this, Richard was further able to impose a fifty percent capital levy on every Cypriot. The conquest of Cyprus had thus been fiscally a tremendous success.The strategic position of Cyprus had been vital to the crusade. The superior numbers of the Muslim forces in Outremer had forced the Christians to rely heavily on sea power. Given this the crusader lands had been supported by the men and supplies ferried across the Mediterranean by the fleets of Venice, Pisa and Genoa. The Acquisition of Cyprus meant that the long journey across the Mediterranean had been significantly shortened. The Christians could now use Cyprus as a supply depot for further action in Outremer. Cyprus also held political success. For instance being a rebel of the Byzantine Empire, it is likely that the previous leader, Ducus Comenus would have allied with the Muslims, given the new rise in Islamic power on the Palestine, Syrian coast. The deposition of Comenus thus removed any potential threat from Cyprus. Furthermore, we can see that in the short-term Cyprus provided Richard with a political bargaining tool.The amount of men and support for the Third Crusade was never to be accomplished again. In terms of organisation the deliverance of manpower and material resources to the east was as Riley-Smith writes, “remarkable”. This can be seen for instance in the organisation of Emperor Frederick’s army. In a fairly short time Frederick had been able to consolidate an estimated army of 10,000 to go on crusade. Although this was most likely an exaggeration, the army was by no doubt very large and thus shows the high level of coordination and management involved in the crusade. This is also shown in both Richard’s and Philip Augustus’ armies. Although there is no way of obtaining an accurate assessment of the size of the armies, Richard’s twenty five ships that landed in Outremer does give some indication of the scale of troops sent to the east. Indeed no such amount of troops under so many leaders would ever leave on crusade again.The end 0f 1192 saw the signing of a peace treaty. For the Christians it was on the whole very reasonable. The coastal cities as far down as Jaffa were to remain in Christian hands and pilgrims would be allowed to freely visit the Holy Land. Furthermore, after the treat it was allowed by Saladin that two Latin priests and two deacons could serve the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and at Bethlehem and Nazareth. However Ascalon, which had been the chief bone of contention throughout the various negotiations was to have its fortifications dismantled and returned to Saladin. The treaty had therefore been highly successful for the Latins as it allowed all new conquered lands to be kept and passages into the holy places was granted.The Third Crusade appears at first sight to have been a failure. Muslim expansion in the later twelfth century had seen an almost total Islamic domination of Egypt, Palestine and Syria. In terms of territory that Third Crusade had made very little difference to this. Only the coastal cities down to Jaffa had been conquered and secured. These however would only survive for another hundred years. Local politics may had been dealt with inefficiently although this was more down to the territorial values of the nobles in medieval society. Only once Henry had married Isabella, Conrad de Monferret’s widow, had the problem been solved. The epilogue crusade of Henry VI saw little success either. Due to Henry’s premature death the Latins had only been able to secure one city. The failure to recapture Jerusalem was the Latin’s greatest failure. However this outward defeat is not entirely accurate. The Latins in truth had made significant achievements in the Holy Land.Although the east was still chiefly in Muslim hands, the crusaders had achieved a re-birth of Christian Outremer, and secured it. The Islamic expansion had not been stopped but it had been halted. On the battlefield the Latins found continued success. Although not as decisive as some sources recorded, the battle of Arsuf and the defence of Jaffa were both brilliant moral and military victories. The acquisition of territory, however slight, proved to be very successful in the resources gained. The conquest of Cyprus and the liberation of Acre demonstrate this. In its failure to recapture Jerusalem and pacify the Islamic threat in the east, the Third Crusade had failed. However given the difficult position of the Christians, it is as Gillingham writes, “amazing that they achieved as much as they did.”

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