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Third Crusade

Results of the Third Crusade

The Third Crusade failed in its main objective: Jerusalem remained in Muslim hands. That it was regarded as a failure can be seen in the actions of Europeans: Henry VI was soon planning a new Crusade set for 1196. Henry died on the very eve of his crusade and Germany fell into civil war, but the leadership was taken up almost immediately by the new pope, Innocent III.

The English and the French were too preoccupied with their struggle against one another to try again right away, so there was no new efforts from that quarter, either. Yet, the Third Crusade did succeed in a very important way: it preserved Outremer. The valiant defense of Tyre by Conrad of Montferrat could not have been kept without reinforcements from the West. And Guy's mad assault on Acre would never have succeeded without those same armies. Because of the Third Crusade, Outremer still clung to a narrow strip of cities along the coast of Lebanon and Palestine, and those cities could serve as the basis for future efforts to reclaim Jerusalem. Moreover, the victories had served as a significant counter-balance to Saladin's early victories, and he emerged from the Third Crusade not quite as invincible as he had at first appeared.

The Third Crusade also led to the acquisition of Cyprus by the Latins. This was a major addition to Outremer and one that outlasted the mainland. Its acquisition was important not only because it created a new crusader state, but also because it had been taken away from the Greeks. With Cyprus in Latin hands, the Byzantine Empire could no longer threaten Antioch from the sea.

The Third Crusade also gave birth to the Teutonic Knights. This military order was formed at Acre by survivors of the German Crusade. They were never as important in the Holy Land as either the Templars or the Hospitallers, but they always maintained a contingent and were there at the end in 1291. The Teutonic Knights played an extremely important role, however, in the conquest of the Baltic Slavs and the history of Poland, Livonia, and Lithuania.

Finally, in failing to regain Jerusalem, the Third Crusade marks the beginning of forty years of almost continuous crusading from Europe. None enjoyed very great success, and certainly none could claim even the modest victories on the field of battle that Richard had won.