The Crusades chess sets focus primarily on the Third Great Crusade. The white pieces depict Christian forces led by King Richard I of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart. The black pieces represent Muslim armies led by Saladin.
The First Crusade is generally considered to be the only one that significantly rolled back the military progress of Islam. After Byzantine emperor Alexius I called for help against the Muslims, Pope Urban II preached a crusade, which was led by several of Europe’s most important people. In 1099 the Crusaders captured Jerusalem.
In 1187, the Turkish ruler Saladin once again put the Holy City under Muslim control. This event led to the Third Crusade and the coming of King Richard I to the East. He was a brave fighter and is best remembered as the commander of the Third Crusade even though the King Philip II of France was with him until 1191.
The siege of Acre (1189-1191) was the most notable military encounter of the struggle between the two forces. The besieged garrison, with assistance by Saladin, managed to hold out for two years against a combined sea and land force.
Richard made further progress after the falling of Acre but was stubbornly resisted by Saladin. The conflict ended in a stalemate with the two leaders agreeing to an armistice in 1192. Richard did not manage to recapture Jerusalem but secured the right for pilgrims to visit the Holy Sepulchre.