The Third Crusade Polychrome Chess Pieces.
The Third Crusade Polychrome Porcelain Chess Pieces represent the greatest of all the Crusades. Conceived by J. J. Van Gerdinge in France in the 20th century and fired in a German factory (the Alteste Volkstedter Porzellan-manufafktur) the pieces are cast from hard paste-porcelain and fired in vibrant colors. The King stands an impressive 7″ tall with a 2-1/2″ diameter base. The pieces are colorfully hand-painted, and the garments worn were thoroughly researched for accuracy. Each of the pieces bear the blue factory mark. The chessmen are as new.
Richard the lionhearted, dressed in blue with a British crown, is the King of the Crusaders’ Army. The pawns are depicted as English archers drawing their crossbows. The mounted Knights are clothed in heavy mail armor and wear conical helmets. The bishops are playing harps, which represents Richard‘s love of music, which he acquired from his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Saladin the Great, in a white robe and gold turban, is the King of the Islamic forces. His Bishops hold carrier pigeons, which Saladin used to communicate intelligence reports among his troops. The Turkish cavalry wear light coats of Damascus chain mail.
In 1095, at the council of Clermont, pope Urban II called upon the kings and queens of Europe to begin an armed pilgrimage to free the holy land, specifically Jerusalem, from the Muslims who had taken control of much of Asia minor, thus beginning the first crusade. Years later, when Richard I ascended to the throne of England in 1189, he answered the pope’s request personally, mounting an army and leaving for the Holy Land on what became the Third Crusade. His army first conquered the city of Acre on the west coast of Asia and then moved down the coast, defeating the Islamic forces at Jaffa. He earned the name Richard the lionhearted because of his courage in battle. He reigned as England’s King for 10 years but spent only 10 months of that time in his own kingdom.
The leader of the Muslims was Saladin the Great, a Kurdish warrior from Turkey and visor of Egypt. He had conquered Jerusalem in 1187 and was Master of the Holy Land until Richard’s victories. After the conquest of Jaffa, the two leaders were at a stalemate, and they maintained a truce for two years. The relationship ship became so harmonious that a marriage was proposed between Richard‘s sister and Saladin‘s brother when Richard became ill, Saladin sent his court physician, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, to care for him. Richard returned to England in 1193.