The Great Men of Christendom: The Failure of the Third Crusade
By Justin Lee Mathews
Master’s Thesis, Western Kentucky University (2011)
Abstract: This thesis is a study of the reasons for the failure of the Third Crusade to achieve its stated objectives, despite the many advantages with which the venture began. It is proposed herein that the Third Crusade—and by extension all of the previous and subsequent Crusades—were destined to fail because of structural disadvantages which plagued the expeditions to the Holy Land. The Christians in the Holy Land were not self-sufficient, and they depended on an extensive amount of aid from Europe for their existence, but the Christians of Europe had their own goals and concerns which did not allow them to focus on building a stable kingdom in the Holy Land.
For European Christians, crusading was a religious obligation, and once their vows were fulfilled, they no longer had any desire to remain in the Levant. Although the Crusaders did score some short-term victories over their Muslim adversaries, the Christian presence in the Holy Land was unsustainable, for the Crusades—from the European perspective—were a religious movement without a tangible, long-term political objective, and given those circumstance, any crusade would be unsuccessful.