AFTER divorcing this first wife, Louis VII. married again, and to his great joy became a father of a son, whom he called Philip, "the Gift of God," or Philip Augustus. This child was crowned as Philip II. during his father's lifetime, and succeeded him before reaching fifteen years of age. Although so young, he showed great skill and tact, made a treaty with his nobles when they rebelled against him, suppressed all law-breakers, and—like most of the good Christians of his day—persecuted the Jews with great cruelty. He also extended his lands by marrying a descendant of Charlemagne, Isabella of Hainault (ĕ-nō), who brought him vast estates as part of her dowry.
Philip Augustus also upheld Eleanor and Henry II.'s sons in their rebellion against their father. One of these princes, Richard,—later known as the Lion-hearted,—was a great friend of his. After some time they two induced Henry to meet them under an elm on the frontier, and sign a treaty.
Here it was also arranged that, instead of continuing to fight against each other, the two nations should combine forces to undertake a new crusade. This plan was made because news had just been received that the King of Jerusalem had been taken prisoner, and that the Holy City had been obliged to surrender to Saladin, a leader of the Turks and Saracens noted for great valor.
When the tiding came that the Holy Sepulcher was again in the hands of the infidels, great excitement prevailed everywhere, and it was soon decided that all those who could not, for any reason, take part in the expedition, should contribute one tenth of their wealth to help defray the expenses of the third crusade. This tax is known as "Saladin's Tithe," because it was raised to fight this Saracen ruler and his forces.
Philip, King of France, and Richard—who was now King of England—started by sea for the Holy Land. They were obliged, however, to winter in Sicily, where, having nothing else to do, they began a quarrel, which was to grow more and more bitter in time. From there, Philip hurried directly to the siege of Acre, while Richard stopped on the way to take possession of the island of Cyprus.
The two kings had expected a large German force to join them in Palestine, but the Emperor, Frederick Barbaros'sa, was drowned on the way, and his army was nearly exterminated, so that only a small band of Germans met Philip and Richard at Acre. There, during the two-years' siege which followed, many quarrels arose among the crusaders, who were very jealous of one another.
The city having finally been taken, Philip Augustus announced that he must return home; but before he left he made a solemn promise not to attack any of Richard's lands while the latter was absent from England. Richard therefore remained in the Holy Land, doing such feats of arms that his name became a terror to the foe. Still, in spite of his heroic efforts, he did not succeed in retaking Jerusalem, and had to content himself with making a treaty by which Saladin agreed to leave the maritime cities in the hands of the Christians, and to allow pilgrims to visit the holy shrines without molestation.
Richard now set out for home, too, but was shipwrecked on the way, and fell into the hands of the Duke of Austria, who sold him to his enemy, the Emperor of Germany, by whom he was kept in prison for fourteen months. The story of his captivity, of his rescue by his minstrel, and of his return home, is told in English history. It was during Richard's absence that his brother, John Lackland, made an attempt to take possession of England, being aided in this treachery by Philip Augustus. So when news finally came that Richard was ransomed and coming home, Philip wrote immediately to John Lackland, saying, "Take care of yourself, for the devil in unchained!"
Having returned home and made friends with his false brother, Richard proceeded to avenge himself for Philip's treachery by making war against him. For the next five years, therefore, there was much trouble between the two nations. During this time the French king suffered several defeats, and had several hair-breadth escapes; but Richard was finally killed while besieging a castle in central France (1199).
In 1201 the fourth crusade was preached, but, although noblemen from all parts of Europe took part in it, none of the kings enlisted. The crusaders, having hired ships from Ven'ice, yet not being able to pay for them in coin, gave, instead, their services to that republic, which was then engaged in war in Dalmatia. Next, the crusaders went on to Constantinople, which they conquered, and where they founded a Latin empire which was to last about sixty years. The chief historian of this crusade is the entertaining story-teller, Villehardouin (veel-at-dwăn '), whose account of this campaign in one of the French classics
Seven years after the fourth crusade had been preached, the French began to wage war against some heretics in the south of France—people who professed to be Christians, and yet upheld certain doctrines contrary to the teachings of the Church. As one of their strongholds was Albi (al-bee'), they are known as the Albigenses, and the crusades against them—which lasted, with intervals, about thirty-five years—is known as the fifth, or Albigensian crusade. The king himself was too busy at that time to take part in it, so the war was led by a Normon baron, Simon of Mont'fort, who conducted it with great energy, and was rewarded for his services by the gift of large estates in the south, and the title of Count of Toulouse (too-looz').
In 1209, these crusaders took the town of Béziers (bā-zyā'), where they put to death all the inhabitants. One of the captains, having asked how they were to distinguish between heretics and good Catholics, was cruelly told to kill all, for "the Lord would know which were the sheep and which were the goats!" Carcassonne (car-ca-sōn') soon fell also, and the heretics had to sue for peace.
Simon of Montfort having died (1218) during a renewal of the Albigensian war, his son besought the help of the king, who now granted it; but the southerners did not like their new master, and in the end the estates won by Montfort were given up to the king and added to the crown lands (1229).