08.06.

1191: Richard the Lionheart Arrives to the Holy Land

1191: Richard the Lionheart Arrives to the Holy Land
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Depiction of Richard (l) and Saladin (r), c. 1250–60

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 2 June 1191
  • After Richard’s arrival, the Crusaders had the strongest concentration of Christian kings in the Holy Land ever. Namely, French king Philip II Augustus had already arrived at the camp. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was also supposed to come, but was killed on the way.

On this day the famous English King Richard the Lionheart arrived to the Holy Land to participate in the Crusade.

He landed his fleet numbering hundreds of ships at the city of Acre, which the Crusaders were trying to conquer from the Muslims. Richard had about 8,000 people aboard his ships, which was a considerable military force.

What did King Richard find when he came to the Holy Land? The once-strong crusader state, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, was now in disarray. In fact, only a few years earlier, the powerful Muslim ruler Saladin conquered Jerusalem and almost all of Palestine, so that the crusader territory of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was reduced to a single city – Tyre. This strong fort in the north, on the territory of what is now Lebanon, managed to hold protected by its location (on a cliff that was once an island and was later connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land).

The Crusaders of Tyre wanted to recover at least some part of the former territory of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The first in line was the wealthy city of Acre on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – located where Galilee (the place where Jesus Christ spent his childhood and youth) touches the sea.

Crusader Siege of Acre was one of the most unusual sieges in the history of warfare. In fact, the very besiegers were soon besieged by the mentioned Muslim ruler Saladin, so there was a double siege.

At the time, King Richard the Lionheart arrived at the Crusader camp near Acre. The Crusaders were squeezed between the walls of Acre, which they wanted to conquer, and Saladin’s troops that were around them, occasionally launching attacks.

But, after Richard’s arrival, the Crusaders had the strongest concentration of Christian kings in the Holy Land ever. Namely, French king Philip II Augustus had already arrived in the camp.

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was also supposed to come, but was killed on the way, so the imperial contingent of knights was commanded by Duke Leopold of Austria.

Soon, the united crusader forces were able to conquer Acre and four crusader flags were hoisted from the city walls:

– the English flag of King Richard the Lionheart,
– the French flag of King Philip II Augustus,
– the flag of the Kingdom of Jerusalem,
– the Austrian flag of Duke Leopold.

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