Massacre at Ayyadieh

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Massacre at Ayyadieh
Part of Third Crusade
Massacre of the saracen prisoners, ordered by King Richard the Lionheart (Alphonse de Neuville).
Date August 20, 1191 (1191-08-20)
Target Saladin
Attack type
Deaths 2,600
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Richard I of England

The Massacre of Ayyadieh occurred during the Third Crusade after the fall of Acre when Richard I of England had more than two thousand Muslim soldiers and civilians from the captured city killed in front of the Saracen armies of Saladin on August 20, 1191. Despite attacks by Muslim forces during the killings, the Christian Crusaders were able to retire in good order.


After the fall of Acre, Richard I wanted to exchange a large number of Muslim prisoners from the city for the True Cross, a large ransom and Christians held captive by Saladin.

However, the Saracen leader stalled for time because he hoped a fresh Muslim army would reach him and help recapture Acre. When Richard I asked for a list of important Christians being held captive by the Muslims, Saladin refused. The English king realised he was being stalled so he demanded that a ransom payment and prisoner exchange should occur within one month.

When the deadline was not met, an infuriated Richard I ordered that all the prisoners from Acre should be taken to a small hill called Ayyadieh. There in full view of the Muslim army and Saladin's own field headquarters, around 3000 soldiers, men, women and children from the city (according to Muslim sources) were put to the sword. Although Christian sources do not mention any non-combatants, Richard I estimated around 2,600 captives were killed.

Parts of the Muslim Army became so enraged by the killings that they attempted to charge the Crusader lines but were repeatedly beaten back, allowing Richard I and his forces to retire in good order.