“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Acre Surrenders July 12, 2011Posted by rwf1954 in Acre, Conrad of Montferrat, crusades, history, Leopold of Austria, medieval period, Philip II of France, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, the crusades, third crusade.
Tags: Acre, Conrad of Montferrat, Crusades, Leopold of Austria, medieval history, Philip II of France, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Third Crusade
(This post is the 29th of what will be approximately 70 posts following 820th anniversary highlights of what history now calls the “Third Crusade.” My novel, The Swords of Faith, tells the story of this legendary clash between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.)
820 years ago today, Saladin’s forces at Acre finally surrendered the city to western Christian forces on the basis of terms negotiated between al-Mashtuh inside Acre, and Richard the Lionheart. It was a bitter defeat for Saladin who had fought to hold on to the city for nearly two years. It was not a dramatic victory for Richard, in that his forces did not take the city by storm after many attempts to do so. Events ebbed and flowed over the days leading up to the surrender:
- July 3rd: French forces breached the wall at Acre but could not take the city.
- July 4th: Richard rejected surrender terms from the Acre garrison that he thought were too lenient for a surrender after such a long siege.
- July 5th: Saladin could not get forces under his command to carry out an order to attack the Christian camp. (With Saladin’s fragile coalition, this was not the last time he would face this problem.)
- July 7th: A swimmer arrived with a last appeal from the defenders; if nothing could be done to relieve them, they would need to negotiate whatever terms were available.
- July 11th: English/Pisan forces mounted an attack but could not take the city.
Saladin’s first reaction was to disavow the terms of the surrender. He told the swimmer who had brought the news to prepare for a quick return trip through the surrounding waters to the trapped Acre garrison. But the western Christian banners were going up along the walls. And the agreement was made in Saladin’s name.
Saladin cringed at the terms:
- The city and everything in it including the ships in the harbor were surrendered to the Western Christian forces.
- 200,000 dinars were to be paid.
- The Muslims were to release 1500 undesignated prisoners and 100 specifically identified prisoners.
- 10,000 dinars were to be paid to Conrad of Montferrat, and 4000 to Conrad’s associates.
- The “True Cross” taken by Saladin’s forces at the Battle of Hattin in 1187 was also to be returned to the western Christians.
- After the terms were met, Richard would release the 3000 Acre prisoners held by his forces.
Saladin knew these were extreme terms, potentially unfulfillable terms. The money was huge, and some of the requested prisoners were not even under Saladin’s control. But he would need to try to honor these terms. The extremity of the terms would create consequences that would lead to one of the most controversial actions of the “Third Crusade.”
With respect to those banners going up along the walls of Acre, one belonged to Leopold of Austria. He had his banner placed right next to those belonging to King Philip of France and King Richard. By Leopold’s logic, he was a representative of the German Western Empire. Richard had the banner torn down and thrown into the moat. By Richard’s logic, Leopold was a mere duke, offering little contribution to the victory achieved by the English and French kings. This action against Leopold’s banner would result in serious consequences to Richard a few years later when he tried to return from the “Third Crusade” through territory controlled by Leopold of Austria.
Previous 820th Anniversary Posts:
To review a comprehensive catalog of historical fiction set during the medieval time period, go to http://www.medieval-novels.com:80/.