On this date 823 years ago King Richard I of England had 3,000 Muslim men, women and children executed. Richard, known as the Lion Hearted , was in the Holy Land on what has become known as the Third Crusade to take Jerusalem from the Muslim military leader and Syrian Sultan, Saladin. Richard had hoped to trade the prisoners for the True Cross which Saladin held. The True cross was the cross on which the Christians believed Jesus was crucified. Saladin held the cross and a large number of Christian prisoners. Richard demanded the Christian prisoners and 200,000 pieces of gold in exchange for the Muslims. After hearing Richard’s terms of trade Saladin stalled for time in hopes that a nearby Muslim army could help him retake the city of Acre, which Richard occupied. When Richard the Lion Hearted sensed Saladin was stalling he gave Saladin one month to meet the Ransom. After the ransom was not met the slaughter began. The killings, known as the Massacre of Ayyadieh, began at 4:00 in the afternoon on a hill near the City of Acre. The 3,000 Muslim men, women and children were lead out into the desert by Richard in full view of the Muslim army and were lanced, beaten to death or be-headed. A member of Saladin’s court known as Beha-ed-Din documented what he witnessed as the massacre began- “They numbered more than three thousand and were all bound with ropes. The Franks then flung themselves upon them all at once and massacred them with sword and lance in cold blood.” A brief battle took place as the Muslim army attempted to stop the massacre but were driven back. The next day the Muslims went to the massacre sight- “On the morrow morning our people gathered at the spot and found the Musulmans stretched out upon the ground as martyrs for the faith. They even recognised some of the dead, and the sight was a great affliction to them,” Beha-ed-Din wrote. Saladin took the Christian prisoners to Damascus and had them killed. The True Cross was never recovered and disappeared from history.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org