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“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Conrad of Montferrat Marries Queen Isabella November 24, 2010

Posted by rwf1954 in Conrad of Montferrat, Guy of Lusignan, history, medieval period, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, the crusades, third crusade, Tyre, Uncategorized.
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(This post is the seventh of an occasional series of 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.) 


Not one to miss an opportunity, the month of November culminated with Conrad of Montferrat a major step closer to the throne of the so-called Kingdom of Jerusalem (Jerusalem remained in Muslim possession at the time). Opportunity first struck shortly after the disastrous defeat of western Christian forces at the Horns of Hattin in July of 1187. He arrived at Tyre, a coastal stronghold on the verge of surrendering to Saladin. He took charge, refusing to allow the surrender, hurling the sultan’s banners off the wall just as the Muslims were about to take possession of Tyre. Saladin would try again at the end of 1187/beginning of 1188 to take the city, but this was a difficult place logistically to capture, and thanks to Conrad, Saladin had been denied the easy victory, and had to leave this western Christian position available for the arrival of reinforcements and supplies. Conrad had asserted since then that he was the logical man for the throne, that Guy of Lusignan, the blunderer at Hattin, was unfit. With the death of Sibylla, opportunity came to Conrad again. Sibylla’s younger sister Isabella was now available, after events earlier in the month (described in previous posts), and his marriage solidified his claim; in fact, it gave him the better claim. Conrad’s only obstacle now was miles across the sea in Sicily. Despite Conrad’s claim, it was unlikely Richard the Lionheart would support Conrad over his vassal; Guy of Lusignan. So while Richard was spending time in Sicily building siege engines and occupying himself with friendly (sometimes not-so-friendly) combat competitions and an occasional feast, the politics of the western Christian territory in the eastern Mediterranean became a whole lot more complicated, even convoluted.

Previous 820th Anniversary Posts:

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