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Richard the Lionheart and Saladin: A Rivalry of the Third Crusade

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2238
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King Richard at the Siege of Acre by Harold DeLay, 1922

The rivalry between the English king Richard the Lionheart and the Muslim ruler Saladin at the time of the Third Crusade captured the imagination of contemporaries and continues to fascinate us today—yet these two larger-than-life figures never actually met. An army of zealous Europeans had seized Jerusalem in 1099 and established a Christian kingdom in the Holy Land, but when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem from the crusaders in 1187, the stage was set for one of the most famous confrontations in history.

Historian Jennifer Paxton tells the story of the epic clash between the Kurdish leader who had united much of the Muslim Middle East to drive the crusaders out of the Holy Land and the glamorous European king who was determined to recapture Jerusalem for Christendom. She analyzes the difficult task that both leaders faced of balancing the religious zeal of their followers against the logistical constraints of medieval warfare.

She also traces the surprising development of Saladin’s reputation in the West, where his magnanimity to his enemies was celebrated for centuries thereafter in novels and films, from Sir Walter Scott’s The Talisman to films such as Youssef Chahine’s pan-Arab epic Saladin and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Paxton is a clinical associate professor of history and director of the University Honors Program at The Catholic University of America.

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