Walter Scott, The Talisman, the Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History
by Ibn Warraq
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By contrast, here are three passages of real history that contradict the above noble sentiments. The damning passages are taken from the Arabic life of Saladin by BahÄ” al-DÄ«n Ibn ShaddÄd [1145-1234], who was permanently enrolled in the service of the Sultan in 1188, and for the rest of Saladin’s life was “his intimate and close confidant, being seldom absent for any length of time” :
[A] –¦[A] Frank [a Christian crusader] who had been taken prisoner was brought before him [Saladin]. He ordered his head to be cut off, which was done in his presence, after the man had been offered Islam and had rejected it.” 
[B] “[Saladin] once ordered his son, al-Malik al-Zahir, lord of Aleppo, to execute a young man that came forward, called al-Suhrawardi, of whom it was said that he rejected the Holy Law and declared it invalid. His son had arrested him because of reports about him that he heard. He informed the sultan [Saladin] of this, who ordered his execution and his body to be publicly displayed for some days. This was done.” 
[C] [After the Battle of Hattin, July 1187, Saladin summons the prisoner Prince Reynald of ChÃ¢tillon]: “He said to him, “˜Here I am having asked for victory through Muhammad, and God has given me victory over you.” He offered him Islam but he refused. The sultan then drew his scimitar and struck him, severing his arm at the shoulder. Those present finished him off and God speedily sent his soul to Hell-fire. His body was taken and thrown down at the door of the tent.”
Here is an example of Saladin’s Eastern hospitality. Towards the end of the novel, Scott takes a real incident and uses it to dispatch the villain, Grand Master of the Templars. The latter is about to taste a refreshing drink from a goblet, “but those lips never touched that goblet’s rim. The sabre of Saladin left its sheath as lightning leaves the cloud. It was waved in the air,””and the head of the Grand Master rolled to the extremity of the tent, while the trunk remained for a second standing with the goblet still clenched in its grasp, then fell, the liquor mingling with the blood that spurted from the veins”. Saladin then explains why he had to decapitate the Grand Master just at that moment, “but had I not hastened his doom, it had been altogether averted, since, if I had permitted him to taste of my cup, as he was about to do, how could I, without incurring the brand of inhospitality, have done him to death as he deserved? Had he murdered my father, and afterwards partaken of my food and my bowl, not a hair of his head could have been injured by me. But enough of him””let his carcase and his memory be removed from amongst us.”
 Baha al-Din Ibn Shaddad, The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin, Trans. By D. S. Richards, Burlington, VT: 2002. Introduction, p.2.
 Ibid., p.30.
 Ibid., p.20.
To be continued.