Saladin (1163? - ll93) was the great Moslem leader of the Third Crusade. The 1170's and 1180's witnessed the rise of a new, unified Islamic state centered in Egypt and galvanized by the skilled leadership of Saladin. Saladin was also a chivalrous knight, whose humanity often prevailed over his natural enmity for the Christians. Saladin was chivalrous as well as able, a vigorous and successful general, often moved by impulse. Saladin at first engaged in a truce with the Crusader states but the truce was broken by a Christian robber baron who persisted in attacking Muslim caravans. Being the most cultivated man and the noblest character, Moslem or Christian, of the whole crusading period, he set himself the objective of ending Christian rule in Syria. Saladin reunited the efforts of Egypt and Baghdad, and preached to the Moslem world to rise in a Jihad, a Holy War, a counter crusade, of all the Moslems against the Christians. This Jihad excited almost as much feeling in Islam as the First Crusade had done in Christendom. The response was formidable. Saladin brought the Moslem cities of Syria and Mesopotamia under his control and distributed them to faithful members of his own family. Saladin was neither a Turk nor an Arab, but a Kurd, and therefore, like the crusaders themselves, of the Aryan stock. In 1187 Jerusalem fell, and soon there was nothing left of the kingdom left to the Christians except the port of Tyre. It was now a case of crusader against crusader; and in 1187 Jerusalem was retaken. This provoked the Third Crusade in 1189.

Richard and Saladin came to terms, which left Jerusalem in the hands of the courteous Moslem, but allowed the Christians possession of the Holy Sepulcher and the right of pilgrimage there. Saladin's taking of Jerusalem: there was no pillaging, no slaughter of non-combatants. The great Arab leader kept the upper hand with some ease, He answered Richard's cruelty to his Moslem captives with truly "Christian" mercy to his own captives. Christians were allowed to depart freely and to take with them all their property, with a grace period of 40 days. "Let them alone, otherwise they will accuse us of bad faith.. Give them occasion to praise the goodness of our faith." The mediaeval Christian reaction to this "modern" proposition can easily be imagined. After the truce, which was to run for three years, Christian's secured a strip of coast with the right of access for pilgrims to the Holy city. Saladin's temper is revealed in his proposal that his brother marry Richard's sister, with Palestine as a betrothal gift. Richard now (1193) turned homeward; and in the same year Saladin died. The kingdom was divided among his relatives and respite for Christians.
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