Saladin demonstrated mercy by unexpectedly allowing the inhabitants of Jerusalem under Christian rule to live after the city fell to his invading army. He summoned Jews to return to the city and allowed Christians safe visitation under his protection. By contrast, Richard the Lionheart's reign included violence against Jews in England and on one occasion he killed 3000 Muslim prisoners of war on the border of Saladin's camp, to be especially cruel in retaliation for Saladin not agreeing Richard's proposed terms to a treaty. Legend says Richard was killed by a local boy whose father and brothers had been killed by Richard, showing the King's disregard for the lives of his own people.
Saladin was more humane than other Crusade leaders. Other Christian crusade leaders were a lot more brutal and violent than Saladin. When he conquered Jerusalem, he spared the lives of every men and women, and that was a good moral decision on his part. Many other christian crusaders killed and slaughtered many people in the name of God, and that was morally wrong.
Israel and Palestine have had many invaders. Saladin, the Muslim leader around the time of the Crusades, was simply trying to defend his home from Europeans who claimed that territory belonged to Christians. Saladin wasn't the best person in the world, but he could have been like Attila the Hun or someone much worse.
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Negotiations were carried out between Saladin and Balian, through the mediation of Yusuf Batit, one of the Eastern Orthodox clergy, who had been largely suppressed under Latin Christian rule and knew that they would have more freedoms if the city were returned to the Muslims. Saladin preferred to take the city without bloodshed and offered generous terms, but those inside refused to leave their holy city, vowing to destroy it in a fight to the death rather than see it handed over peacefully. Thus the siege began.
At the end of September, Balian rode out with an envoy to meet with the sultan, offering the surrender that he initially refused. Saladin told him that he had taken an oath to take the city by force and would only accept an unconditional surrender. He pointed out to him that his banner had been raised on the city wall. However his army was driven back. Balian then threatened Saladin that his army would destroy the city along with the holy places, slaughter their families and the Muslim slaves who numbered 5000 and burn all the wealth and treasures of the Crusaders. After lengthy negotiations, terms of surrender were agreed since Saladin wanted to take the city by as little bloodshed that he could. The Crusaders were to unconditionally surrender and could leave by paying a ransom of ten dinars for men, five for women and two for a child and those who couldn't pay would be enslaved. Balian then pointed out to him that there were 20,000 of those in the city who could never pay such a sum. Saladin was then willing to accept 100,000 dinars to free all the 20,000 Crusaders who were unable to pay. However Balian told him that the Christian authorities could never raise such an amount of money. It was then proposed that 7,000 of them would be freed for a sum of 30,000 dinars to which Saladin agreed.
If he shed the same amount of blood as the Crusaders than surely he was just as bad. Slaughtering people is not good whether they have done something bad or not. Murder is bad and Saladin was a murderer too. Never forget that. Whether he was less brutal or not.
I do not think that Saladin was a more human leader than the Christian leaders of the Crusades. While I think that Saladin was an honorable and respectful adversary, he was just as guilty of bloodshed and violence as the leaders of the Crusades. I think both sides were despicable.