“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Richard the Lionheart Proposes that His Sister Marry Saladin’s Brother al-Adil October 20, 2011Posted by rwf1954 in al-Adil, crusades, history, medieval period, Middle Ages, Richard the Lionheart, Safadin, Saladin, the crusades, third crusade.
Tags: al-Adil, Crusades, medieval history, Middle Ages, Richard the Lionheart, Safadin, Saladin, Third Crusade
(This post is the 39th 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.)
In one of the more bizarre moves of the “Third Crusade,” a move that belongs in the “truth-stranger-than-fiction” category, 820 years ago today Richard the Lionheart proposed that his sister, Joan, recent widow of the king of Sicily, marry al-Adil, Saladin’s brother, and that the two jointly rule a territory that would include Jerusalem. After all, that is how many disputes were resolved inEurope. And negotiations between the forces commanded by Richard the Lionheart and Saladin had stalled. Little of substance toward a settlement had occurred between the negotiators. On October 17th, Richard sent his own heart-felt almost naïve letter spelling out how much both sides had suffered, and how since Jerusalem meant more to Christians than to Muslim, the parties should resolve the conflict along Richard’s terms.
Saladin sent back a quick, polite reply—Richard’s personal appeal had not been persuasive. So Richard followed with this creative proposal of a unifying marriage. Saladin and his brother and advisers needed to decide on a response.
Saladin was brilliant in assessing the situation accurately, then crafting the perfect response. The key was Saladin’s understanding that this proposal was not serious. What of the Kingdom of Jerusalem Guy/Conrad issue? Were they just going to be left out of any settlement? Was this Richard’s attempt to signal his seriousness about an ultimate settlement, and to provoke a meaningful counterproposal? Whatever it was, Saladin’s understanding of its lack of seriousness guided him to his masterful response—simple—he accepted the proposal.
Now Richard had a dilemma on his hands. He brought the matter to his sister Joan—he hadn’t discussed this with her before making the proposal. She angrily refused the idea. She was not going to marry a Muslim! Richard had to go back to Saladin’s negotiators and explain the problem. But there was an easy solution for Richard to propose. Al-Adil could convert to Christianity. Obviously, this was not an easy solution at all. The Muslims quickly dismissed this idea. Though Richard mentioned getting the Pope’s permission for one of his nieces to marry a Muslim, the whole idea fizzled, confirming Saladin’s original conclusion that Richard’s proposal was never serious.
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/.