Massacre at Ayyadieh

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Massacre of the saracen prisoners, ordered by King Richard the Lionheart (Alphonse de Neuville).

The Massacre of Ayyadieh occurred on August 20, 1191. It was perpetrated by Richard Coeur de Lion, better known as King Richard the Lionheart of England, during the Crusades to recover the Holy Land from the Saracens under the command of Saladin. It is best understood in the context of Richard's attempt to take the city of Acre.

On the fall of Acre, King Richard attempted to negotiate with Saladin offering a large number of captured prisoners in exchange for the True Cross (reputedly the actual cross upon which Jesus Christ had been crucified), together with a large ransom and a number of Christian captives taken by Saladin's men in earlier clashes with the crusaders.

Saladin stalled for time in the hope that an approaching Muslim army would allow him to retake control of the city. When Saladin refused a request from Richard to provide a list of names of important Christians held by the Saracens, King Richard took this as a delaying tactic, and insisted that the ransom payment and prisoner exchange should occur within one month. When the deadline was not met the King became infuriated and planned an execution which took place on a small hill called Ayyadieh, a few miles from Acre. The killings were carried out in full view of the Muslim army and Saladin's own field headquarters. Around 3000 soldiers, and possibly some of the women and children that usually accompanied them, were executed.

A Muslim force enraged by this act attempted to charge the crusader lines but was repeatedly beaten back, allowing the King and his army to retire in good order.

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Sources[edit]

  • Payne, R "The Crusades: A History", Robert Hale Publishing Company, Chapter "Richard and Saladin" p 238-39, 1984