Battle of Arsuf

Battle of Arsuf
Part of the Third Crusade
Schlacht von Arsuf.jpg
Nineteenth century representation of the battle by Éloi Firmin Féron (1802–1876)
Date7 September 1191
ResultDecisive Crusader victory[1]
Kingdom of England
(Angevin Empire)
Kingdom of France
Kingdom of Jerusalem
Knights Hospitaller
Knights Templar
Crusaders from other kingdoms
Ayyubid Sultanate
Commanders and leaders
Richard I of England

Hugh III, Duke of Burgundy
Guy of Lusignan
Garnier de Nablus
Robert de Sablé
James d'Avesnes 
Henry II of Champagne

Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
Aladdin of Mosul
Musek, Grand-Emir of the Kurds 
Taqi al-Din

11,200 in total[2][3]

  • 10,000 infantry
  • 1,200 heavy cavalry
25,000 cavalry[4]
Casualties and losses
700 killed[5] (Itinerarium)7,000 killed[6] (Itinerarium)

The Battle of Arsuf was a battle of the Third Crusade in which Richard I of England defeated the forces of Ayyubid leader Saladin.

The battle took place just outside of Arsuf (Arsur), where Saladin attacked Richard's army as it was moving from Acre to Jaffa.Following a series of harassing attacks by Saladin's forces, battle was joined on the morning of 7 September 1191. Richard's army successfully resisted attempts to disrupt its cohesion until the Hospitallers broke ranks and charged; Richard then committed all his forces to the attack. He regrouped his army after its initial success, and led it to victory. The battle resulted in the coastal area of central Palestine, including the port of Jaffa, returning to Christian control.

Prelude – South from Acre

Map showing the progress of the Third Crusade.

Following the capture of Acre in 1191, Richard was aware that he needed to capture the port of Jaffa before making an attempt on Jerusalem, Richard began to march down the coast from Acre towards Jaffa in August 1191. Saladin, whose main objective was to prevent the recapture of Jerusalem, mobilised his army to attempt to stop the Crusaders' advance. Richard organised the advance with attention to detail. A large part of the Egyptian fleet had been captured at the fall of Acre, and with no threat from this quarter he could march south along the coast with the sea always protecting his right flank.[7]

Mindful of the lessons of the disaster at Hattin, Richard knew that his army's greatest need was water and that heat exhaustion was its greatest danger. Although pressed for time he proceeded at a relatively slow pace. He marched his army only in the morning before the heat of the day, making frequent rest stops, always beside sources of water. The fleet sailed down the coast in close support, a source of supplies and a refuge for the wounded. Aware of the ever-present danger of enemy raiders and the possibility of hit-and-run attacks, he kept the column in tight formation with a core of twelve mounted regiments, each with a hundred knights. The infantry marched on the landward flank, covering the flanks of the horsemen and affording them some protection from missiles. The outermost ranks of the infantry were composed of crossbowmen. On the seaward side was the baggage and also units of infantry being rested from the continuous harassment inflicted by Saladin's forces. Richard wisely rotated his infantry units to keep them relatively fresh.[8][9]

Though provoked and tormented by the skirmish tactics of Saladin's archers, Richard's generalship ensured that order and discipline were maintained under the most difficult of circumstances.[10] Baha al-Din ibn Shaddad, the Muslim chronicler and eyewitness, describes the march:

"The Moslems discharged arrows at them from all sides to annoy them, and force them to charge: but in this they were unsuccessful. These men exercised wonderful self-control; they went on their way without any hurry, whilst their ships followed their line of march along the coast, and in this manner they reached their halting-place."[11]

Baha al-Din also described the difference in power between the Crusader crossbow and the bows of his own army. He saw Frankish infantrymen with from one to ten arrows sticking from their armoured backs marching along with no apparent hurt, whilst the crossbows struck down both horse and man amongst the Muslims.[12]

Other Languages
العربية: معركة أرسوف
asturianu: Batalla d'Arsuf
brezhoneg: Emgann Arsuf
čeština: Bitva u Arsufu
Bahasa Indonesia: Pertempuran Arsuf
עברית: קרב ארסוף
Bahasa Melayu: Pertempuran Arsuf
Nederlands: Slag bij Arsoef
português: Batalha de Arsuf
српски / srpski: Битка код Арсуфа
Tiếng Việt: Trận Arsuf