Extra History is an educational series of Extra Credits about historical moments. From the Punic Wars to the The Brothers Gracchi, the series has endless stories to tell.
Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem. Raymond III, Count of Tripoli. And The Grandmaster of the Knights Templar. Before them, they carry the True Cross, a piece of wood from the cross Christ died on, secured in an ornate silver box. And they’re on a rescue mission to relieve the besieged city of Tiberias. But they are not allies. Until a few days ago, these men were divided over a bitter succession crisis. However now they put that aside to face a threat so great no one kingdom can face it. The man who’d united the Muslim middle east against them: Saladin.
A king does not kill kings. After the battle at Hattin, Saladin had dealt a grievous blow to the Crusader states. Important figures captured, and the majority of Guy's forces had been decimated at the Horns of Hattin. But there was another place that was vital for Saladin to take to keep his uneasy alliance strong. Jerusalem, a city of holy sites for the Abrahamic faiths, had been occupied for 80 years. Now it was time to take it back.
Saladin had just taken Jerusalem which meant that it wouldn't be long before a Crusade was called. He had some time to prepare thanks to infighting amongst the English and French kings, King Richard I and King Phillip II. So he will... do nothing! Let's go on a journey together folks and watch how Saladin begins to lose power through a series of mistakes and ill-considered gift baskets.
And so we come to the negotiations between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, where some of the best-known stories of the Crusades will play out. Starting with a mass execution of prisoners. Yikes. Saladin's luck begins to run low while Richard III shows himself to be a much better tactician and general that Saladin's previous enemies. But by the time the Crusaders are knocking on Jerusalem's door, Saladin realizes. He doesn't have to beat Richard. He just needs to outlast him.
Things look bleak for Saladin. Richard I had returned and the Lionheart can be seen right outside Jerusalem. Internally, his coalition is starting to fracture. There are divisions amongst his advisors and amongst his soldiers. He's certain that this is the end. But his camp isn't the only one troubled by desperate divisions. The Crusaders are beginning to see cracks in their structure as well. Who can outlast whom?