Modern reconstructions of the Third Crusade (1187–92) reflect the sequence of events that has come down to us through a handful of ‘eyewitness’ accounts which, understandably, have been elevated to a privileged position in the wider corpus. However, this paper contends that even the core skeleton of this chronology, so familiar to modern historians, was not particularly well-known in medieval Britain (at least not before 1300), where the expedition inspired the creation of a significantly vaster and richer array of historiographical responses than has been recognised. Focusing on short annalistic texts and little-studied chronicles, this paper seeks to expose the high degree of individuality and diversity encountered in the historical records produced in various localities, even in works that are textually related. Specifically, it explores the benefits (and limitations) of treating annals as repositories and shapers of local memory, as well as their importance as evidence for the transmission and reception of specific narratives. An analysis of regional annals from England, Scotland, and Wales, it will be argued, complicates our understanding of how the Third Crusade was perceived and remembered in medieval Britain; allows us to view the expedition in a wider context; challenges us to reprioritise our sources by putting aside the famous and detailed participant chronicles (if only temporarily); and provides important insights into information dissemination and memory formation in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
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