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Tiles showing Richard and Salah-ad-Din
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These floor tiles were found at Chertsey Abbey in Surrey. The tiles depict a vigorous display of valour: the English king Richard I (reigned 1189-99) slaying the Ayyubid Sultan Salah-ad-Din (1138-93) with his lance. In fact, although Richard and Salah-ad-Din were famous adversaries during the Third Cruisade (1189-92), Richard never killed Salah-ad-Din. The scene is a dramatic invention and was clearly intended to act as a tribute to Richard’s bravery in battle.

The subject had a natural appeal for later English kings and was a particular favourite of Henry III (reigned 1216-72), who had it painted on the walls of the Antioch Chamber at Clarendon Palace. The quality and draughtsmanship of the tiles is superior to other riles produced at Chertsey and may suggest that they were intended to furnish a royal palace.

Tiles showing Richard and Salah-ad-Din

From Chertsey, England, c. AD 1250-60,
L. 17,1 cm.
W. 10,4 cm.
Gift of HM Queen Victoria and Dr. H. Manwaring Shurlock.

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