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Sultan Saladin Describes the Crusaders

Hugh O’Reilly

Saladin, a Sultan of Egypt and Syria, led the Islamic opposition to the Third Crusade, eventually recapturing Palestine from the Catholic Kingdom of Jerusalem. His generally chivalrous behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers.

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Saladin in the Third Crusade
Biliotheque des Croisades by Gustave Doré
Behold how Saladin - perhaps the greatest warrior the Arab world has known - viewed the Catholic Crusaders. It is interesting to note that the following letter was written when the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was already in decline. In this letter Saladin was addressing the Arabian princes, requesting reinforcements. He writes:

“We hope from the goodness of Allah that the danger in which we find ourselves will reignite the zeal of the Muslims, and that they will strive to extinguish the ardor of our enemies and demolish the edifice constructed by the Franks.

“While our enemies continue to come by land and sea, our country is threatened by the greatest disgraces. What astounds us is to compare the energy of the infidels [the Catholics] with the indifference of the true believers.

“Is there even one Muslim who responds to the invitation and comes when he is called to fight?

“Look, however, at the Christians. See how they come in multitudes, how they hasten to send reinforcements, how they support one another, how they make the sacrifice of their riches, how they share the expenses of war, how they are resigned to the greatest privations! On their side there is not a single king, lord, island or city - not a man however small his importance may be - who does not send his subjects and countrymen to represent them in this theater of bravery…”

Based upon and translated from
George Bordonove, Les Templiers, p. 130

Posted November 15, 2008

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