Richard I and Saladin

Richard I and Saladin

Richard I and Saladin dominate the history of the First Crusade. As with most major leaders of the Medieval Times, they have gained almost mythical status and it is often difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. First-hand accounts of the Third Crusade, as well as research by historians, offer as more information about these two leaders.

Richard I:

"He was tall in stature, of shapely build, with hair between red and yellow. His limbs were straight and flexible; his arms somewhat long; he had long legs." This was written at the time of the Third Crusade

"Richard was not a good king. He cared only for his soldiers. But he was brave, and loved a brave man." This was written in 1965 by L Du Garde Peach

"A very powerful man, of great courage and spirit. He fought great battles and showed a burning passion for war. The king was indeed a man of wisdom, experience, courage and energy.......excitable, brave and clever." This was written by Baha' ad-Din Ibn Shaddad, a Muslim writer, during the Third Crusade. He lived in the court of Saladin.

"Richard of England, a red-haired giant, generous, incredibly brave, hot-tempered and tactless, won a great reputation in the capture of Acre, but quarrelled with his allies who left him and went home." This was written in 1962 by R Unstead


Across the Middle East, Saladin is today a cultural hero. Not only for his popular jihad, but also for his chivalry, honour, decency, and generosity.

"Saladin made a disgraceful income out of the prostitutes of Damascus. none of them could carry on their filthy trade without first buying a licence from him. He (Saladin) spent the money on entertainers. That king of the brothels, who fought in taverns, and spent his time gambling. He (Saladin) conquered countries by either trickery or force. But the greedy tyrant concentrated all his efforts on an attempt to seize the Holy Land, Palestine." This was written by an Englishman who lived in London and worked for the Church.

"Saladin did not spend a single gold or silver coin on anything except a jihad (holy war). Out of his desire to fight for God's cause he left behind his family, children, country, home and all the towns under his control. Saladin was well-mannered and entertaining. If anyone was sick, he would ask about their illness, his treatment, food and drink and whether there was any change in his condition. I never saw him insult anyone. he always stuck to his word and was loyal. No orphan ever came to him without Saladin offering to provide the same amount of care as his father had done. He treated old people kindly and generously."  This was written by Baha' ad-Din Ibn Shaddad, a Muslim writer who lived in the court of Saladin.

"Saladin used the idea of a holy war to bring the Muslims together. His popularity with the poor people increased when he survived several assassination attacks. Friends and enemies saw Saladin as a man of honour. Even the Crusaders praised him. However, he was criticised for fighting against his fellow Muslims and for failing to capture Tyre. Nevertheless, Saladin continues to be admired today." This was written by Elizabeth Hallam in 1989.

See also: 

Richard the Lionheart


MLA Citation/Reference

"Richard I and Saladin". 2023. Web.