The primary objective of the series of Crusades that were launched on Jerusalem and lasted for nearly two hundred years was to recover the Holy Land from the growing influence of Islam. The Crusades were thus Holy wars fought between the Muslims and the Christians, to gain control of Jerusalem and surrounding areas.

When Salah-ad-Din conquered Jerusalem in 1187 CE, it created a shockwave all over Europe. A tax called "The Saladin tithe" was levied in England and to some extent in France in 1188, in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Salah-ad-Din in 1187. Pope Gregory VIII (Alberto di Morra, b. 1100/1105 - d. 1187) therefore called for yet another Crusade to recover Jerusalem from Salah-ad-Din.

The leaders of the Third Crusade were Europe's most important figures: Philip II of France (Philippe Auguste, b. 1165 - d. 1223), Frederick I of the Holy Roman Empire (Frederick I Barbarossa, b. 1122 - d. 1190) and Henry II of England. Later, after the death of Henry II, the English contingent came under the rule of Richard I of England (Coer de Lion/Richard the Lionheart, b. 1157 - d. 1199).

Like the previous crusade, this attempt to recapture Jerusalem did not bear much fruit. However, other cities were captured by the Crusaders. The Roman Emperor Frederick I died by drowning in Cilicia in 1190. Richard, however, was able to capture the island of Cyprus and the City of Acre, but the Muslims eventually recaptured Acre 1191. As a result, Philip decided to return to France in the same year Acre fell to the Muslims. Although crusaders were able to capture a lot of land, they were unable to take control of Jerusalem. Richard then entered into a treaty with Salah-ad-Din by which Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control and unarmed Christian pilgrims would be allowed to visit the city. Richard therefore returned to Europe without capturing Jerusalem.

One of Salah-ad-Din's distinctions is that despite of his win over the Crusaders, the Crusaders held a high opinion of Salah-ad-Din and he gained the respect of many of his nemesis like Richard the Lionheart. In fact when Richard had locked horns with Salah-ud-Din to regain control of Jerusalem, Richard and Salah-ud-Din, despite being military rivals, developed chivalrous mutual respect.

In an offer to unite Christians and Muslims, Richard suggested to Salah-ud-Din to marry his brother (al-Adil) with Richard's daughter, Joan of England, Queen of Sicily, and recommended to make them both rulers of Jerusalem. Although that never materialized because both Joan and al-Adil refused to marry someone outside their faith, it showed the respect that Richard had for his rival.

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