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Post “Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Saladin Passes Away March 4, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in crusades, history, medieval period, Middle Ages, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, the crusades, third crusade.
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(This is the final bonus post following the series of 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 the great Muslim Sultan al-Malik al Nasir Salah al-Din Abu ’l Muzaffer Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi, commonly known as Saladin, passed away quietly in his bed after just under two weeks of severe illness. He was fifty-five years old. This followed his greeting of returning pilgrims from Mecca (Post “Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: “But for the Lack of a Cloak”). The imam Abu Ja’far was reciting the Koran. Saladin’s faithful adviser al-Fadil was at his side. Reports say that when Abu Ja’far reached the words “there is no God but God and in Him do I put my trust,” Saladin smiled and his life ended.

Saladin’s funeral was modest. He accumulated no personal wealth; all resources that came to him were utilized for the benefit of the empire he ruled and the religion he devoutly followed and fought for.

Saladin is honored by Muslims and Christians. This is not a result of revisionism or rose-colored glasses. Contemporary chroniclers, both Muslim and Christian, offer descriptions of this great man’s compassionate nature. This includes Christians who fought bitter wars against forces under Saladin’s command. Was Saladin perfect? No. Of course not. No human being ever is. Was he always gentle and forgiving? Again, no. But in the context of his times, he was extraordinary, even inspirational. He ruled during a time of vicious religious wars. He brought as much magnanimity to this set of circumstances as he could. He believed in the tenets of his faith as he understood them. No slaughter of defenseless innocents. Look for peace when it is available. He remained true to these ideals during most of his life.

Yes, I find Saladin inspirational and relevant today. We live at a time when these old religious divides have been exploited by much lesser humans than Saladin, with people on both sides of the divides willing to demonize others based on their religious faiths. (I write at length about this in “Demonizing Islam is Both Wrong and Foolish”.) Saladin shows us that Muslim leaders can act with moderation and compassion, and that when they take the Saladin approach, they need not be feared. It is my opinion that Saladin would have been disgusted by the actions of suicide bombers who deliberately set out to kill innocents. They are an affront to Islam, to humanity itself. It is also my opinion that Saladin would have been disgusted with Muslim leaders who use their religion to create scapegoats to mask their own ineffectiveness and greed. Billionaire terrorist Yasir Arafat, his family living in comfort in Europe, stands as a prime example. As a citizen of the United States, aligned by nationality with the Christian point-of-view, I see the Saladin inspiration as a call, a reminder, to reach out to moderate Muslims and enlist them in a righteous fight against religious fanaticism of any group. We need to reach out to honorable people of all faiths to unite against shedding innocent blood as a means to terrorize enemies. I hope one day that a united front against fanaticism can embrace the “more-then-one-path-to-God” concept I have written about before . Until then, Saladin’s life can serve as an inspiration for living together in peace, with compassion and empathy for our fellow humans regardless of what spiritual faiths they choose.

There is an ironic footnote to what history now calls the “third crusade.” Saladin fought fellow Muslims to gain power, and then fought Christians on behalf of Islam to remove Christians from Jerusalem and the eastern Mediterranean. His death shortly after negotiating a truce on this all-consuming conflict meant he never had time to complete one of the five essential pillars of his faith—a pilgrimage to Mecca. His chief Christian opponent in the “Third Crusade,” Richard the Lionheart, also never visited the city most sacred to his faith, Jerusalem. He came within twelve miles, and actually shielded his eyes when he saw Jerusalem in the distance—he vowed not to enter the city or even look upon it unless he had conquered it for Christendom. For those who consider God as a force that directly intervenes in our lives, could it be God had a message for these two warriors of their faiths? Was the fact that neither of these icons of this period reached their holy cities a Divine message that killing in the name of religion is not considered a Divine activity? Yes, there are lessons still available from this history for us today.

This will be the last 820th anniversary post, following the progress of the “Third Crusade,” including the two Saladin epilogue posts. My novel, The Swords of Faith, tells this story through the eyes of Saladin, Richard, and two fictional characters, a Christian and a Muslim.


Links to every single one of the 820th anniversary posts concerning the “Third Crusade”:

July 4th – The 820th Anniversary of the Launch of the “Third Crusade”

October 4th – Richard the Lionheart Sacks Messina

November 3rd – Queen Sibylla Dies

November 11th – Richard the Lionheart Signs a Treaty with King Tancred of Sicily

November 15th – Queen Isabella’s Marriage to Humphrey of Toron is Annulled

November 19th – Archbishop of Canterbury Dies

November 24th – Conrad of Montferrat Marries Queen Isabella

December 25th – Richard the Lionheart Feasts at Christmas

December 31st – Shipwreck at Acre; Muslim Defenders Lose Resupply

January 5th – A Wall Comes Down, Presenting an Opportunity

January 20th – Frederick of Swabia Dies; Leopold of Austria Becomes Top-Ranked German Royalty at Acre

February 2nd – A Playful “Joust” Gets Out of Hand in Sicily

February 13th – Saladin’s Forces Relieve the Garrison at Acre

March 3rd – Richard the Lionheart Settles the Alice Marriage Controversy—Sort Of

March 30th – Philip II Leaves Sicily; Berengeria Arrives

April 10th – Richard the Lionheart Leaves Sicily for “Outremer”

April 20th – Philip II of France Lands at Acre

April 22nd – Richard the Lionheart Lands at Rhodes After His Fleet Scatters

May 1st – Richard the Lionheart Leaves Rhodes to Rescue His Sister and Fiancée

May 8th – Richard the Lionheart and His Troops Storm Limassol

May 11th – Crusaders Opposed to Conrad Visit Richard the Lionheart on Cyprus

May 12th – Richard the Lionheart Marries Princess Berengeria

May 30th – Fighting Intensifies at Acre

June 5th – Richard Leaves Famagusta for the Eastern Mediterranean Coast/Saladin Moves his Camp

June 6th – Richard the Lionheart Refused Admittance to Tyre

June 8th – Richard the Lionheart Arrives at Acre

June 11th – Saladin’s Relief Ship Sinks

June 25th – Conrad of Montferrat Leaves Acre; Saladin’s Receives Reinforcements

July 12th – Acre Surrenders

July 31st – Philip II of France Makes a Promise and Leaves for Home

August 2nd – Envoys Discuss Acre Surrender Terms

August 11th – Date for the First Installment of the Acre Ransom Ends in Stalemate

August 20th – Richard the Lionheart Orders the Executions of the Acre Hostages

August 22nd – Richard the Lionheart Leaves Acre to Move South Toward Jerusalem

September 5th – Richard the Lionheart Meets with Saladin’s Brother al-Adil

September 7th – Christian Forces Win the Battle of Arsuf

September 11th – Saladin Gives the Command to Dismantle Ascalon

Sepember 29th – Saladin’s Troops Nearly Take Richard the Lionheart Prisoner

October 20th – Richard the Lionheart Proposes that His Sister Marry Saladin’s Brother al-Adil

November 1st – Saladin Learns of the Death of his Nephew Taqi al-Din

November 8th – Al-Adil Hosts a Banquet for Richard the Lionheart

November 11th – Saladin’s Council Discusses Recent Negotiations with Western Christian Factions

December 12th – Saladin Falls Back to Jerusalem

December 28th – Richard the Lionheart Moves Into the Judean Hills Unopposed

January 3rd – Richard the Lionheart Moves to Within Twelve Miles of Jerusalem

January 6th – Richard the Lionheart Orders a Retreat

January 20th – Richard the Lionheart Decides to Move on Ascalon

February 20th – Richard the Lionheart Arrives in Acre to Make Peace Between Christian Factions

March 20th – Al-Adil Brings Serious Peace Offer to Richard the Lionheart

April 5th – French Army Leaves the “Crusade” After Easter Feast

April 20th – Conrad of Montferrat Is Designated Undisputed King of Jerusalem

April 28th – Conrad of Montferrat Is Assassinated in Tyre

May 5th – Henry of Champagne Becomes the New King of Jerusalem Designate

May 23rd – Richard the Lionheart Takes Darum

June 7th – Western Christian Forces Start Out from Ascalon for Jerusalem

June 11th – Richard the Lionheart Arrives at Beit-Nuba; Saladin Waits in Jerusalem

June 24th – Richard the Lionheart’s Forces Take a Huge Caravan Bringing Supplies to Saladin

July 1st – Saladin Holds a War Council in Jerusalem

July 4th – Richard the Lionheart Withdraws a Second Time Before Besieging Jerusalem

July 27th – Saladin Moves from Jerusalem to Attack Jaffa

July 31st – Richard Storms the Beaches at Jaffa with a Minimal Force

August 5th – Richard Defends Saladin’s Counterattack at Jaffa with a Minimal Force

August 28th – Al-Adil’s Courier Brings Saladin’s “Final Offer” for a Peace Agreement

September 2nd – A Peace Agreement Between Christians and Muslims is Signed

September 5th – Saladin Leaves for Latrun After He Meets Hubert Walter (Not Richard the Lionheart) in Jerusalem

September 29th – Queen Berengeria and Richard’s Sister Joan (Joanna) Leave for Europe

October 9th – Richard the Lionheart Leaves the Middle East “Holy Land,” Ending the “Third Crusade”

December 25th – Post “Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: The First Christmas After the End of the “Third Crusade” for Richard the Lionheart and Saladin

February 20th – Post “Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: “But for the Lack of a Cloak”

To review a comprehensive catalog of historical fiction set during the medieval time period, go to http://www.medieval-novels.com:80/.


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