July 4th – The 820th Anniversary of the Launch of the “Third Crusade” July 4, 2010Posted by rwf1954 in historical fiction.
Tags: Crusades, July 4th 1190, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Third Crusade, Vezelay France
It’s July 4th, 2010, the 820th anniversary of Richard the Lionheart’s departure on what history now calls the “third Crusade.” Today is also the official release date for my novel about this event, The Swords of Faith. July 4th, 2010 in contemporary America has its own historical significance – the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain (actual independence would follow a few years later after a fight). But for the western Christian armies at Vézelay, France, waiting to leave for the Middle East, July 4th, 1190 was the third anniversary of the disastrous annihilation of the Christian army at the Horns of Hattin, just west of Lake Tiberius/The Sea of Galilee. This victory for Saladin, the legendary Muslim sultan of Egypt and Syria, left Jerusalem, held for nearly a century by western European Christians, nearly undefended; by October 2nd of 1187, Saladin took Jerusalem for his religion. So on July 4th, 1190, Richard the Lionheart, recently crowned King of England, commanding a huge force, along with King Philip II of France, commanding a force about half the size of Richard’s, left Vézelay for what would be a two-year-plus, history changing trek.
On this blog, I will be pointing out some more 820th anniversary dates as the Third Crusade marches, and sails, toward its destiny. Legends will be made. East meets West; West meets East – in ways that are still discussed today. On these anniverary dates, I’ll offer comments of my own. I’ll invite yours. As an American fascinated with these events, I have researched this period extensively. Reader/reviewers have praised my “meticulous” research. But though I have been to areas in France, I have never been to Vézelay. Has anyone reading this blog been to Vézelay? What’s there today? What were the likely conditions on July 4th, at the beginning of the summer? And for everyone – what should we take from the “Third Crusade” for the present? Should we leave this period alone and “let bygones be bygones?” Or does history have lessons for us. I obviously don’t like the bygones-be-bygones idea or I wouldn’t have written a novel about the period. On the rest, I have my own ideas; I will express them as we go. I invite yours as well.
Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, head-to-head. For lovers of history, and drama, and the drama of history – does it get much better than this?