The 3rd Crusade

And How It Impacted History

The 3rd Crusade Summary

The 3rd Crusade is a 12th century religious campaign in an attempt for European leaders to gain control of the "Holy Land". It involved many skirmishes and battles and had the highest death toll of all 7 of the Crusades. This was not a religious debate nor was it a few petty battles. It was a war. The 3rd Crusade was started mainly because the Pope (Gregory VIII) viewed the Islamic teachings as a threat. He also wanted to show off the large number of countries he controlled. (As in, how many would help him during the Crusade.) Richard the Lionheart, Frederick Barbarossa and Phillip II Augustus were the military leaders for the Europeans and Saladin was the Islamic leader. The main goal (for the Christians) was to reclaim Jerusalem from Saladin.

The main leader of the Christians, Richard the Lionheart, was described as, "A very powerful man, of great courage and spirit. He fought many great battles and showed a burning passion for war. The king was indeed a man of wisdom, experience, courage and energy... excitable, brave and clever" (

The Muslim King, Saladin, had a somewhat similar reputation, "Saladin did not spend a single gold or silver coin on anything except a jihad (Holy war). Out of his desire to fight for God's cause; he left behind his family, children, country, home and all the towns under his control. Saladin was well-mannered and entertaining. If anyone was sick, he would ask about their illness, his treatment, food and drink and whether there was any change in his condition. I never saw him insult anyone. he always stuck to his word and was loyal. No orphan ever came to him without Saladin offering to provide the same amount of care as his father had done. He treated old people kindly and generously."


One of the most extraordinary examples of cruelty to other humans is the Siege of Acre. The Christian army laid siege on the city for almost 2 years. They were sandwiched between the defensive force of Acre and Saladin's army. Many people died because of disease, hunger, dehydration and the constant battles. The Christians also used a tactic that was very popular during the time. They would take dead and disease ridden bodies and trebuchet them into the city in an attempt to spread disease. But Lionheart's army eventually succeeded in capturing Acre. They now had about 3,000 prisoners. But there was a problem, the Crusader army wanted to negotiate with Saladin for the prisoners, but the Muslim leader was clever. He knew that the Christians wanted to proceed and try to capture Jerusalem, but they were held back by negotiating about the prisoners. They had to feed and water both their own army and also the many prisoners. So Saladin held the negotiations for as long as he pleased. "With characteristic ruthlessness, Richard acted. Realizing that Saladin was not going to pay the ransom, and that he was using the prisoners against him, Richard waited until the agreed time had elapsed for the money to be paid and had them all – all 2,700 of them, men, women and children – executed in front of the walls of Acre, in view of the enemy. Richard has been criticized by historians for this act, and indeed it is a black stain on his reputation, but in the context of the war, where prisoners were quite regularly executed by both sides, and given that Saladin had not kept his end of the ransom bargain, it might seem a little more excusable" (

The 3rd Crusade ended with Saladin and Christians agreeing to let unarmed pilgrims enter Jerusalem so that they would be able to pray.

The Muslim Leader, Saladin
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The Christain King, Richard the Lionheart
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Experiment Summary

2 experiments that draw similarities to the 3rd Crusade are the Stanford Prison experiment (1971) and the Robber's Cave experiment (1954, 1961).

The Stanford Prison experiment was conducted in order to see the psychological affects of becoming a prison guard and also a prisoner. The test started by creating an advertisement for the experiment so they would have willing participants in the study. Then the men who showed up were tested to ensure that no homicidal or sociopathic people were going to be in the experiment.After that, the prisoners went through a brief stage of humiliation. "Each prisoner was systematically searched and stripped naked. He was then deloused with a spray, to convey our belief that he may have germs or lice" ( And of course, they were given there outfits. Then the experiment was started. The 1st day went by pretty smoothly, no severe punishments, no fights, no cruelty to other humans. But on the 2nd morning, there was a rebellion. It was not a physically violent one, but it was stopped by force. The guards used a fire extinguisher to blast a chilling stream of carbon dioxide at the prisoners. The ringleaders were then thrown into solitary confinement. That was just the start of the cruelty in this experiment, the head of the experiment, Philip Zimbardo. said, "I ended the study prematurely for two reasons. First, we had learned through videotapes that the guards were escalating their abuse of prisoners in the middle of the night when they thought no researchers were watching and the experiment was "off." Their boredom had driven them to ever more pornographic and degrading abuse of the prisoners." (

The lesson learned from this experiment was that even normal, mentally stable men can be turned into crazy psychotic sadists when put in a position of power.

The Robber's Cave experiment was conducted to see the psychological effects of two groups pitted against each other. The experiment included over 20 white, middle class 11 year old boys who were separated into 2 groups and then put into summer camps. The plan was to go for 3 weeks. On the 1st week, the boys had no idea of each others existence. They did team building activities and games. This was meant to create a bond that would keep the teams together.

On the 2nd week, the camps met up and formed a tournament with competitive games. This was meant to make the 2 groups spiteful of each other. "At first, this prejudice was only verbally expressed, such as taunting or name-calling. As the competition wore on, this expression took a more direct route. The Eagles burned the Rattler's flag. Then the next day, the Rattler's ransacked The Eagle's cabin, overturned beds, and stole private property. The groups became so aggressive with each other that the researchers had to physically separate them" (

But on the 3rd week, the "counselors" said there was a problem with the water system and that they needed to cooperate with each other in order to fix it. Both groups were completely cooperative and willing to help each other. They ended up fixing the water and were, at that point, completely uninterested in competition. The groups had a great time playing games with each other and never had another conflict throughout the remainder of the camp. The lesson of this experiment is that two groups with different ideas have conflicts but can overcome their differences.


All 3 of these events can be tied together in some way. When Richard killed all of his prisoners. ( Of course, nobody was killed during the experiment, but the cruelty to other humans is similar. With the guards treating the prisoners as poorly as they did. ( They were abusing the prisoners beyond the psychological acceptability of a prisoner. They were literally going insane.

And in the Robber's cave experiment, when the two groups were fighting and insulting each other ( That is similar to how the Pope wanted to ensure that Christianity was the most powerful religion in the world. There idealogical standpoints were different , so they fought about it. They both ended with some form of cooperation though. With the Pilgrimage agreement and also the repairing of the water system.

The largest similarity of all of these is that there is extreme cruelty to other humans. Both in the death toll of the 3rd Crusade and the psychological affects of the 2 experiments.