Brad A. Sand and Carl Edwin Lindgren
In 1173 Raymond
III, Count of Tripoli, chose to break a promise to one of his house-hold
knights. This decision was the seed that
would grow into discord between the leaders of the crusader states, lead to the
destruction of the Christian army at the battle of Hattin, and to the fall of
the Kingdom of Jerusalem. This house-hold knight of Raymond was Gerard
de Ridfort, the future Grand Master of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple
of Solomon, Templars. The conflict between these two men would be
the straw that broke the back of the Kingdom
The conflict is
rooted in the dispute over who would marry Lucia de Botrun, the heiress of
Botrun. Raymond III of Tripoli
had promised Gerard de Ridfort the hand of the first suitable heiress in his
country. But when the lord of Botrun
died a few months later, leaving his lands to his daughter Lucia, Raymond
ignored Gerard’s claim and gave her to a rich Pisan named Plivano, who
ungallantly put the girl on to a weighing-machine and offered the Count her
weight in gold (Runciman 1952).
Raymond’s choice to offer the girl in marriage to the Italian merchant
was at least partially based on the fact that Lucia is record as a plump little
lady whose weight was recorded as ten stone (Robinson 1991), or 140.18
pounds. Plivano had gold to offer and
Gerard had his personnel service. The
choice then was easy considering the fact that Gerard was already in Raymond’s
service, and surely there would be another suitable heiress. Plivano and the Pisans were able to guarantee
their dominance of the city of Botrun,
Raymond was able to fill the coffers of the County
of Tripoli, and Gerard de Ridfort
would be able to marry the next heiress. At least it would appear as a simple
decision for Raymond but the effects of Plivano taking Lucia’s hand in marriage
would set in motion a chain of events that would bring down a Kingdom. Gerard de Ridfort was outraged and left the service
of Raymond, and secular life, to join the Templars. He would carry his anger
toward the Count of Tripoli with him to the end.
The history of the crusader states begins on July 15, 1099 when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem after a difficult one month siege during the First
Crusade. Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom
of Jerusalem, along with the Countship of Tripoli, the
Principality of Edessa and the Principality of Antioch formed the crusader
states. Their position was never secure
and the crusader states were in an almost continual state of war with their
neighbors. The crusader states could not
afford disunity among themselves anymore then they could afford the Muslims
unified under one leader.
This is exactly
where they found themselves in 1184. The
Christians were fighting Salah ed-Din Yusuf , Saladin, a most formidable
foe. He had united the various Moslem
states under his rule into a powerful empire, able to produce greater armies
than those which the crusaders had fought against in the First Crusade
of Jerusalem was ruled by a young
king of courage and determination.
Baldwin IV King of Jerusalem
was loved and respected by the people of the kingdom but he was dying of
leprosy. His illness meant that he was
often unable to rule and had to surrender power to a regent (Armstrong
2001). His choices for an heir were Guy
de Lusignan, Humphrey IV of Toron or his nephew Baldwin, a mere child. Guy de Lusignan, the husband of his sister
Sibylla, a foppish young Frenchman, who had no experience in military
leadership or administration, nor anything else that mattered, was in no way
suited to become the next king of Jerusalem.
Humphrey IV of Toron, the husband of Baldwin’s
half sister Isabella, was intensely disliked by the warrior barons of court as
an effeminate bookworm and not fitting prospect to be king (Robinson 1991). His
sister Sibylla’s child by her first marriage, Baldwin,
was too young to rule on his own.
Baldwin IV initially surrendered the regency to his brother-in-law Guy
de Lusignan. Guy eventually defied one
of the King’s requests and was deposed upon the advice of the kingdom’s chief
selected Raymond III of Tripoli as
his new regent. Raymond was Baldwin’s
cousin and had acted as the leper King’s regent during his minority, and he
would resume the position again because of the King’s infirmity.
In an attempt to
raise interest in the Latin states predicament and because he was upset by
their support for Guy, Baldwin IV had dispatched the Templar Grand Master
Arnold de Torroge, the Hospital of Saint John, Hospitaller, Grand Master Roger
de les Moulins and the patriarch of Jerusalem Heraclius to Europe. The emperor Fredrick, Louis of France and
Henry of England all received the delegation royally and expressed sympathy for
their plea for a new Crusade (Robinson 1991).
Their sympathies were welcome but the Kingdom
of Jerusalem needed troops and it
was apparent the three European leaders would not be sending aid in any substantial
provided that his nephew become his heir and if the boy should die before he
reached the age of ten, the succession to the throne would be decided by the
four powers of Christendom: the pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, the king of
France and the king of England. Until
their decision was reached, Raymond III of Tripoli
would continue as regent of the realm (Robinson 1991). All the great barons and leaders of the realm
had sworn to carry it out (Howarth 1982).
Among those swearing to carry out the dying King’s will were the
Patriarch of Jerusalem Heraclius and Hospitaller Grand Master Roger de les
Moulins, who had just returned from their mission to Europe.
Grand Master of Arnold de Torroge had died returning from the West. The downward spiral of fate and intrigue
accelerated. A new Master of the Temple
was elected: the election was, as usual, secret, but it seems that it was
decided only after a violent debate in the Order. In Jerusalem
it was rumored that Gilbert Erail, Commander of Jerusalem and Treasurer of the
Order, and Arnold de Torroge’s ‘companion of rank’, would be the new Master;
but when the Templar electors announced their decision, it was for Gerard de
Ridfort (Howarth 1982). Gerard de
Ridfort had quickly risen to the position of Senchal, whose duties were
concerned with the administration of the lands, houses, food and pack train of
the Order (Upton-Ward 1992), but now he in a key position of power and in a
position to oppose the Regent for the Kingdom.
Gerard had also given his assent to the dying King’s will should his
nephew not reach the age of ten.
In March of 1185,
King Baldwin IV finally succumbed to the diseased that had wasted his
body. The barons of the Latin
Kingdom passed the crown to his nephew
Baldwin V, a seven-year-old child, who would be known as Baudouinet by his
people and the Latin chroniclers.
Baudouinet was a sickly child and Raymond III, Count of Tripoli, refused
to act as the child’s guardian for fear that he may be accused of hastening the
boy’s death. The boy’s stepfather, Guy
de Lusignan, was specifically excluded from the regency by his departed
brother-in-law. The regency stayed with
Raymond, and the personal guardianship for the child-king was entrusted to the
Baudouinet’s great uncle, Joscelin III de Courtenay Seneschal of the Kingdom
In addition to
the problems of a child king, the kingdom was facing a famine, there was not
any planned aid coming from Europe, and the Byzantine
Emperor Andronicus Comnenus had made a treaty with Saladin guaranteeing not to
come to the aid of the Franks. Frankish
Syria could no longer rely on the assistance of the Greeks, who were too taken
up with intestinal struggles, their wars against the Normans,
and the growing hostility of Venice
(Oldenbourg 1966). Raymond III of Tripoli
as regent for the young king quickly sought to negotiate a truce with Saladin. He did not hope the proposition would be
accepted – but it was, for Saladin himself was ill, and thought he was dying
(Howarth 1982). The Kingdom
of Jerusalem appeared to have a
four year reprieve and a chance to gain some much needed support from the
Christian powers in the West.
between Saladin and the Kingdom of Jerusalem
had allowed trade to be renewed, the defense of the boarder castles to be
strengthened and given the crusader states the one thing they need most dearly,
time. Saladin was already fifty years
old and appeared to be near death.
Without him personally holding his empire together the Latin states
might once again be able to deal with individual Muslim states as opposed to a
unified Muslim front. They had four
years for the Baudouinet to grow into a leader or time for the four powers of
Christendom to find a suitable leader should the boy not survive to age ten.
In August 1186,
what everyone had feared, Baudouinet died in Acre in the
castle of his great uncle, Joscelin III de Courtenay. Raymond III Count of Tripoli
and Joscelin were present at the death-bed.
Baldwin IV’s fears had come to pass and his foresight appeared to have
paid off. His will for the Kingdom
of Jerusalem was still intact, and
all the great barons and leaders of the realm had already sworn to carry it
out, but his will now depended upon the honor of those who swore their oaths.
Joscelin III de
Courtenay suggested to Raymond III Count of Tripoli
that he go to Tiberias, his fief by marriage, and to gather all the barons of
the realm with him there to avoid the meddling of the patriarch of Jerusalem. Joscelin would take the body of Baudouinet to
Jerusalem for burial at the Church
of the Holy Sepulcher. Raymond
considered this sound advice and following it set out for his castle in
Tiberias. As soon as Raymond was out of
sight, Joscelin set in motion a plan that would tear apart the stability that
Baldwin IV had willed and that Raymond had maintained since the leper King’s
Joscelin III de
Courtenay rushed word to the Princess Sibylla, and her husband Guy de
Lusignan. This made sense because she
was the mother of the recently passed boy, but Joscelin had ulterior
motives. Sibylla and Guy rushed to Jerusalem
to seize power while Raymond was traveling to Tiberias. Joscelin knew this coup could not survive
without some key support and he sent his trusted men to Sibylla and Guy’s supporters the Patriarch Heraclius, the
Constable Amalric de Lusignan, Reynald de Chatillon, and of course Gerard de
Ridfort the Grand Master of the Templars.
All had taken
the oath to uphold King Baldwin IV’s will, except Reynald de Chatillon, but each
had their reason for supporting Princess Sibylla and Guy de Lusignan. The Seneschal Joscelin III de Courtenay was
Sibylla’s maternal uncle and was opposed to Raymond III gaining any more power. The Patriarch Heraclius had been the lover of
Agnes de Courtenay, Baldwin IV and Sibylla’s mother, and had secured his
appointment only because of the Queen Mother’s favor. His good looks seem to have been his only
qualification for the post (Armstrong 2001).
The Constable Amalric de Lusignan was Guy’s brother; he had also shared
the bed of Agnes de Courtenay, and owed his position to Sibylla and her
mother. Reynald de Chatillon supported
Sibylla and Guy mainly because they were too weak to oppose him and he opposed
Raymond III of Tripoli, he claimed,
because the truce was incompatible with his religious integrity. In reality Reynald would use any excuse
possible to raid everything he could and opposed anyone with the strength to
stop him. Gerard de Ridfort supported
Sibylla and Guy because they opposed Raymond, and he had the power to hurt the
man who had cheated him.
Joscelin III de Courtenay secured the coastal cities under his control. The Patriarch Heraclius brought his control
of the church in the Kingdom. The
Constable Amalric de Lusignan used his troops to secure the city of Jerusalem
along with the Templar knights under Grand Master Gerard de Ridfort’s
control. Reynald de Chatillon gathered
his troops and rushed to meet the others in Jerusalem. The Princess Sibylla and Guy de Lusignan’s
party held the seaports, controlled the city of Jerusalem
and controlled the clergy of the Kingdom.
When Raymond III
discovered the deception he rode to his nearest supporter and, as the Regent of
the Kingdom, summoned the High Court of the Kingdom. All the chief barons of the Kingdom, with the
exception of Reynald de Chatillon, attended the court and unanimously opposed
the coup. While the barons were meeting they
received an invitation from Sibylla to attend her coronation. Their reply was to send messengers to Jerusalem,
to remind the conspirators of their oath to King Baldwin IV and to forbid the
Patriarch from proceeding with the coronation.
held little concern for the will of the barons and locked the gate to the city
of Jerusalem. There was one man in Jerusalem
who still refused to support Sibylla, and that man was Roger de les Moulins,
Grand Master of the Hospitallers. His
position was not just political; it was based on the fact that they had all
sworn a sacred vow, which was now being broken.
He would not forswear his oath, nor would he have anything to do with
those who did.
objections, plans for the coronation of Sibylla went forward, but there was a
problem. The coronation regalia was kept
in a chest with three different locks.
The three keys had been entrusted to the patriarch and the grand masters
of the two orders. The Hospitaller
Master would not give up his key to break his oath or to help others to break
theirs. Nor would he allow any
Hospitaller knight to participate in or even to attend what he considered to be
an illegal coronation. Badgered to a fit
of anger by de Ridfort and the Patriarch, he threw his key out the window. It was easily found in the courtyard below,
and the chest opened (Robinson 1991).
Heraclius agreed to crown only the Princess Sibylla. A second crown was placed by her side and the
Queen was directed to crown who would rule the Kingdom with her. She took the crown and summoned her lord, Guy
de Lusignan, saying,”My Lord, come, receive this crown, for I know no man to
whom I may better offer it” (Grousset 1970).
He knelt before her and she placed the crown upon his head.
Ridfort had extracted some amount of his revenge. The Grand Master of the Temple was heard to
murmur at that moment, “This crown is a fair return for the inheritance of
Botrun” Raymond III had in fact lost the
crown, but Gerard de Ridfort’s hatred was not appeased for all that (Oldenbourg
Guy de Lusignan
had the crown and his fellow conspirators held the city of the Jerusalem
but they still needed the recognition of the barons meeting with Raymond
III. The barons were not willing to give
their consent, especially considering the way the crown had been gained and
their previous oaths to Baldwin IV.
Raymond and the barons devised their own plan. They had the Princess Isabella with them and
her husband Humphrey IV of Toron.
Humphrey was not there first choice as King, but he was better then Guy,
and he was with them in this conflict.
The barons would crown Humphrey themselves and then march on Jerusalem. Raymond, as Regent, assured them he could
maintain the truce with Saladin. The
conspirators could not hope to hold out against their combined strength. All the barons supported the plans, except
one. Humphrey had no desire to ever be
King, and he was unwilling to take any part in a civil war. On the night the barons agreed on the plan,
Humphrey rode to Jerusalem and
When Humphrey IV
of Toron abandoned the barons, their cause was lost. They no longer had any legal recourse. They
would have to submit the regency to Guy de Lusignan or abandon the Kingdom
of Jerusalem. Raymond III of Tripoli
retired, in disgust, to his own lands.
Most of the barons of the Kingdom submitted to Guy, not always in the
best of grace, while other chose to abandon the kingdom
When asked by
Guy de Lusignan and Sibylla to account for the money spent during his regency,
Raymond III of Tripoli used the
implications as an excuse to break off all relations with the kingdom Jerusalem
and devote himself to the County of Tripoli
and his fief of Galilee.
No longer concerned about the welfare of the kingdom
of Jerusalem, and only concerned
with his own lands, Raymond began negotiations with Saladin. He had his own lands and interest to consider
and he understood that the only way for the Latin kingdoms to survive was with an
extended peace with Saladin.
of Jerusalem was healing from the
recently avoided civil war, but the kingdom was hoping it was still protected
by the two remaining years of the truce with Saladin. Saladin had recovered from his illness, but
he was a man of his word and was going to honor his agreement. The Kingdom’s collective breath must have been
let out considering the situation.
No sooner had
the air left their lungs then Reynald de Chatillon, who was to pious not to
attack Muslims, broke the Kingdom’s truce with Saladin. Caravans had been passing between Egypt
and Damascus since the truce had
been formalized. An enormous caravan was
passing through Reynald’s lands with a small detachment of soldiers. It was more then Reynald could withstand. He
attacked the caravan, killing the soldier and capturing more spoils then he had
ever taken before. Saladin was outraged
and demanded that Guy de Lusignan return what had been taken from him. Guy asked but Reynald was unwilling to part
with any of his plundered goods. One of
the main reasons Reynald had supported Guy in the first place was because de
Lusignan was too weak to oppose him.
The truce was
broken and Saladin began to mobilize his forces and began preparations to
totally eliminate the kingdom of Jerusalem.
Raymond III of Tripoli
had not attempted to conceal his agreement with Saladin. When it became known in Jerusalem,
King Guy assembled his army and prepared to subjugate Raymond by force. The expedition, typically, was not Guy’s idea
– he never really had any ideas at all, and Gerard de Ridfort played on his
brainlessness unscrupulously. De
Ridfort’s malice towards Raymond was unbound, and it was he who pushed Guy into
this unaccustomed posture of authority.
It would have been madness for Guy to force the issue; Outremer would
have committed suicide in civil war (Howarth1982). Instead of trying to gain control of Reynald
de Chatillon and to maintain the peace, Guy, at Gerard de Ridfort’s urging, was
preparing to attack Raymond for failing to pay homage for his fief of Galilee. Guy de Lusignan and Raymond III of Tripoli
would have been fighting a civil war at the time of Saladin’s invasion if not
for the intervention of Balian of Ibelin.
Balian of Ibelin was a member of one of the most prominent baronial
families and had married Maria Comnena, the mother of the Princess
Isabella. Balian’s sound advice was
desperately needed, and Guy de Lusignan, uncharacteristically, followed
it. Balian persuaded Guy to reconcile
himself with Raymond and reunite the kingdom.
Guy agreed to send a delegation to negotiate with Raymond. The delegation was composed of Balian of
Ibelin, Josias the Archbishop of Tyre, Roger de les Moulins Grand Master of the
Hospitallers and Gerard de Ridfort Grand Master of the Templars. All agreed that Raymond III of Tripoli
and Gerard de Ridfort must set aside their hostilities if the Kingdom
of Jerusalem was going to survive.
set out from Jerusalem on the 29th of April 1187. The next day, Balian of Ibelin remembered
that he had personal business to attend to so he told the others to ride ahead
and that he would over take them the next day.
That same day Raymond III of Tripoli
received a messenger from the Muslims.
Saladin was sending a reconnaissance through Galilee. The unit’s leader requested permission for
his men to pass through Raymond’s lands.
Raymond bound by his treaty with Saladin could not refuse, but he did
require that the Muslims cross after sunrise the following day and return
before sunset, and they could not harm any town or village in the land. Raymond sent messengers to all his people,
warning them to keep themselves and their livestock within their cities walls
and they would not be harmed. Upon
hearing of the delegation approaching from Jerusalem,
he sent another messenger to warn them of the Muslims reconnaissance.
sunrise on the morning of the 1st
of May 1187, a force of 7,000 Muslim horsemen crossed into Galilee
and began their reconnaissance. When
Balian of Ibelin arrived at the delegation’s meeting site he found Templar
tents neatly ordered in front of him, but as he approached it became apparent
that the camp and the near by castle had been abandoned. He waited for nearly two hours, uncertain
about what else to do, and then continued on to meet with Raymond III. Balian of Ibelin knew nothing about the
Muslim forces in the area and the entire region appeared to be abandoned.
rest of the royal delegation had received the warning the evening before. Roger de les Moulins Grand Master of the
Hospitallers and Josias the Archbishop of Tyre decided that the wisest choice
was to follow Raymond III’s advice, but Gerard de Ridfort insisted on summoning
all the Templars in the region. The
Marshal of the Templars James de Mailly and ninety Templar knights answered de
Ridfort’s call. The next day they were
joined by forty secular knights and they rode out to meet the Muslim force.
Gerard stopped to shout to the
townsfolk that there would be a battle soon and they should prepare to collect
the booty. As the knights passed over a
hill they found the Muslims watering their horses at the Springs of
Cresson. At the sight of such numbers
both Roger de les Moulins and James de Mailly advised retreat. Gerard de Ridfort was contemptuous of their
advice. He turned scornfully from his
fellow Grand Master and taunted his Marshal.
“You love your blond head too well to want to lose it” he said. James proudly replied; “I shall die in battle
like a brave man. It is you that will
flee as a traitor.” (Runciman 1952). Of
the hundred and forty knights that took the field, only three survived the
day. The townsfolk who had followed the
Christian knights were rounded up and sent to the slave markets in Damascus. This was a dark day for the kingdom
of Jerusalem, it had lost over a
hundred and thirty knights, one of which was Roger de les Moulins the Grand
Master of the Hospitallers, a moderate and respected voice of reason, and one
of the three knights that survived the battle was Gerard de Ridfort. James de Mailly was correct in his statement
because he did die like a brave man and Gerard did flee the field.
was one piece of good news for the kingdom
of Jerusalem that came from the
battle at the Springs of Cresson, Raymond III of Tripoli
was shaken by the part he played in the disaster and agreed to ride to Jerusalem
and pay homage to Guy de Lusignan. Guy
met Raymond excepting his submission and even apologized for the manner in
which he had been crowned. The kingdom
of Jerusalem was united again, but
a storm was brewing in the East.
was gathering an army from all across his empire. His empire stretched from Egypt
in the West, to Yemen
in the South East, modern day Iraq
in the North West and Turkey
in the North East. Troops from every
corner of his lands were rushing to join him in this holy war, jihad, to
recover the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The figures given today estimate the size of
Saladin’s army between 30,000 and 45,000 troops, of which 12,000 were
de Lusignan summoned all the barons of the kingdom to meet him at Acre. Guy sent requests to all the other crusader
states. The Templars and the
Hospitallers sent every man they could spare.
The Templars even supplied the money given to them by Henry II of England
in atonement for the murder of Thomas Becket, to arm additional troops, the
need was so great. Raymond III of Tripoli
brought all the troops under his command.
By the end of June the Christian army totaled 1,200 fully armed knights,
another 4,000 lighter armed serjeants and Turcopoles, with another 15,000 to
20,000 infantry, with an additional number of armed pilgrims joining in the
columns. Even though the different
sources vary greatly, it seems apparent the Muslims out numbered the Christians
about two to one, and having the same numeric ratio in professional cavalry but
the Christians did have an advantage in quality. The situation was so desperate that the
Patriarch Heraclius was summoned to come with the True Cross, a piece of the
cross upon which Jesus had supposedly been crucified and one of the Christians
most holy relics, and join the amassing army.
Heraclius realized that he was too ill to meet the King and decided
instead to send the bishop of Acre to join the army.
was the first to move, on the 1st
of July 1187, he and his army crossed the river Jordan
south of Lake Tiberius. He divided his forces and encamped some of
his army five miles West of Lake Tiberias near the village
of Kafr Sabt. He led the rest of the army in an attack on
the city of Tiberias.
town quickly fell to the Muslims in part because the majority of its defenders
were with Guy de Lusignan in Acre. The Countess Eschiva, the wife of Raymond III
of Tripoli, sent messengers to her
husband in Acre and retreated with the remaining
defenders to the citadel of the town.
When the news of Saladin’s
crossing into Galilee arrived in Acre,
Guy de Lusignan called a counsel of all his barons. Raymond III pointed out that in the terrible
summer heat the army that was attacking was at the disadvantage. The Christian army should remain on the
defense and make the Muslims come to them.
As long as they were still holding a strong position and were a
continued threat to Saladin, he would be unable to maintain his army. Reinforcements were still arriving and the
longer the Christians waited the stronger their army grew. The majority of the barons agreed with
Raymond, but both Reynald de Chatillon and Gerard de Ridfort opposed the plan
and accused Raymond of cowardice and sympathizing with the Muslims. Guy was swayed by the most militant voices
and in an attempt to not appear weak and do nothing, he ordered the army to
move to Sephoria.
was an excellent bivouac site with plenty of water and grazing for the
horses. Guy de Lusignan’s army held
ground that could be defended against a Muslim attack. The Christian position was not perfect but it
was promising. The Christian camp
received a messenger from the Countess Eschiva informing them of the loss of
Tiberias. Guy called for another council
of his barons. The Countess’ sons were
with their step-father in Guy’s army and they were moved to rescue their
mother. The men were moved by the
courageous Countess trapped in the citadel but Raymond III opposed such
foolishness. If they abandoned their
defensive positions and marched across the barren hills between Sephoria and
Tiberias in the summer heat they would lose more than the fief of Galilee. Raymond is chronicled as saying: “I counsel
you, sire, to let the citadel of Tiberias be taken. Tiberias is mine; the lady of Tiberias is my
countess; she is in the fortress with my children and all my fortune. I am therefore the first to be concerned and
no one will lose as much as I by the fall of the citadel. But I would rather see my wife captive and my
city taken then the whole Holy Land lost. For lost you are, if you march against
Tiberias at this moment. I know the
country. Along the whole route there is
not a single water point. Your men and
your horses will all be dead of thirst even before they are surrounded by the
multitudes of the Moslem army!” (Grousset 1970).
de Lusignan and the barons were moved by Raymond III’s impassioned appeal and
it was decided that the army would remain in Sephoria. Everyone retired to their tents for the
night, but sometime during the night Gerard de Ridfort crept back to the King’s
tent and persuaded Guy to change his mind.
The call was sent through the camp that the army would march to Tiberias
morning of the 3rd July 1187, the Christian army prepared to leave
the safety of Sephoria. The army was
divided into three divisions with Raymond III in the lead, Guy de Lusignan
commanding the center and Balian of Ibelin, with the Templars, in charge of the
rear. It is recorded as being a long, hot
and dusty march in the best of circumstances.
There was little or no water along the entire route. The men and horses were suffering from the
heat and lack of water which slowed the army’s march. Muslim horse-archers began harassing the
Christians, slowing their advance even more.
The Christian knights would charge the lighter Muslim archers, but they
would withdraw only to reappear when the charge was ended. By afternoon the army had stalled on the
plateau above Hattin. The Templars
informed Guy that they could no longer continue. The local barons implored Guy to continue on,
but because of the weariness of his men he decided to stop for the night. Upon hearing the news that the army was
setting up camp, Raymond rode in from the front crying: “Alas, Lord God, the
battle is over! We have been betrayed
unto death.” (Reston 2001). The
Christian army set up camp for the night near a well, but it was dry.
night did not bring the Christian soldiers any relief. During the night Saladin’s troops moved up
surrounding the Christians, setting fires up-wind of the camp and ambushing any
soldier searching for water. The army of
the Kingdom of Jerusalem
spent the night without water, in billowing clouds of smoke and embers, and
listening to the Muslim army making preparations around them. During the night
Saladin had brought up loads of arrows to resupply the archers who had been
harassing the Christian army. He brought
additional supplies of arrows to preposition them for the upcoming battle. Some of Saladin’s men were collecting piles
of dry brushwood and placing them along the expected route of the Christian
army. On the morning of the 4th July 1187, the
Christian army reformed its divisions and prepared to continue its
advance. The army headed toward the
springs at Hattin in the hopes of finding water.
had no intentions of allowing the Christians to reach water. The Muslims began their attack. The foot-soldiers parched by an entire day
without water, and with Lake Tiberias visible below them, attempted to break
through the Muslim lines and rush too the water. The Christian infantry was surrounded by the
Muslim troops or fire, and the entire force was slaughtered or taken
prisoner. The Christian cavalry
continued a desperate counter-attack, but the Muslims continued pushing them away
from water and up the Horns of Hattin.
Guy de Lusignan directed Raymond III to lead his knights in an attack to
break the enemy lines. The Muslim
commander, of this wing of Saladin’s army, simply opened his ranks and allowed
the Christian knights to pass through the line, letting their own charge and
the landscape carry them out of the battle and way from the fighting, and
closing his lines behind them. Exhausted
and cut off from the rest of the Christian army and with only 12 knights
remaining, Raymond and his meager group attempted to continue the fight but the
battle was already lost. The surviving
Christians retreated to the Horns of Hattin where they were able to pitch Guy’s
tent and attempted to defend themselves.
They were attacked from all sides and the Muslims were able to capture
the True Cross. This was a heavy blow to
the remaining Christians still fighting with Guy. The Christian knights were fighting on foot,
their horses having expired beneath them, being pushed within an ever shrinking
perimeter. The knight’s no longer able
to stand to defend themselves were fighting while sitting on the ground. Guy’s tent was torn down and the remaining
Christians were overwhelmed.
army of the Kingdom had been wiped out.
A handful of Christian knights had been able to fight their way free of
the battle field but the greater part of the chivalry of the land was either
dead or prisoner of Saladin. The Bishop
of Acre was dead and the True Cross was in Muslim hands. Guy de Lusignan was captured along with the
Constable Amalric de Lusignan, his brother, Reynald de Chatillon, Humphrey IV
of Toron, Gerard de Ridfort the Grand Master of the Templars, along with
Plivano lord of Botrun and many other barons and lords. Ibn Al-Athir the Muslim chronicler described
the level of the disaster; ‘The number of dead and captured was so large that
those who saw the slain could not believe that anyone could have been taken
alive, and those who saw the prisoners could not believe that any had been
killed. From the time of their first
assault on Palestine until now the
Franks had never suffered such a defeat (Gabrieli 1993).
had some scores to settle and Reynald de Chatillon was decapitated by the
Sultans own hand, as Guy de Lusignan and the other leading barons watched. The King and all the barons and lords would
be ransomed, the foot-soldiers, and those unable to pay a ransoms, would be
sold as slaves. Saladin would not risk
sparing the knights of the Military Orders.
All the Hospitallers and Templars were gathered under the Sultans
personal supervision and executed, all except Gerard de Ridfort.
day after the disaster at the Horns of Hattin, the Countess Eschiva surrendered
Tiberias to Saladin. There was no longer
any reason to hold out; there was no longer an army to relieve them.
day later, 8th July 1187,
Saladin’s army was outside the city of Acre. As the Muslims prepared their assault on the
city, a delegation from the city came out to discuss terms for the
surrender. After the fall of Acre,
Saladin was able to split his army into several units. There was no Christian army to fear and he sent
them to capture the various fiefdoms of the Kingdom. Saladin’s brother led an additional army up
from Egypt and
took the city of Jaffa by
storm. By the end of August there only
remained a few isolated pockets of Christian resistance south of the County
of Tripoli; Tyre,
Ascalon, Gaza, Jerusalem
and a few isolated castles.
siege of Ascalon began at the end of August.
In September Saladin arrived in person with two of his chief prisoners,
Guy de Lusignan and Gerard de Ridfort.
Guy was told he could trade his freedom for the city, Gerard joined in
the plea for the city to surrender, but both were answered with insults. On the
4th September 1187, the city surrendered to Saladin
after the Sultan offered the residents safe passage and guaranteed their
safety. At Gaza,
Gerard de Ridfort ordered the Templar garrison to surrender in return for his
own freedom. The Templars were bound by
their oath of obedience to follow the Grand Masters command, and the city was
left defenseless and forced to surrender.
Gerard de Ridfort was free again, but another Christian city had been
defenders joined the long lines of refugees seeking shelter.
September 20th Saladin and his army were camped outside the walls of
Jerusalem. Balian of Ibelin agreed to defend the Holy
City but only after receiving
permission from Saladin do to so (1).
The Latin defenders of the city did the best they could with a hand full
of soldiers, merchants, boys and old men, but on the October 2nd 1187, Balian went to seek terms of
surrender from Saladin. The walls of Jerusalem
had been breached and Muslim attackers were pressing the defenders. Saladin agreed to terms, but only after
Balian threatened to burn every building and Muslim Holy site in the city
before it was taken. In less then three
months all that remained of the Kingdom
of Jerusalem was the city of Tyre
and a few scattered castles.
III of Tripoli escaped the
battlefield of Hattin but had fallen ill with pneumonia. The County
of Tripoli was intact, but his
territories in the Kingdom of Jerusalem
were lost. His wife and her sons were
safe with him in Tripoli, but the Kingdom
of Jerusalem was being dismembered. He died not long after the fall of the city
of Jerusalem. He had no children of his own. He stipulated in his will that should a
member of the house of Toulouse come East, the County of Tripoli was theirs,
and if no one of their line chose to accept the County, then it was to go to
his godson Raymond of Antioch, the son of his nearest male relative.
July 1188, Guy de Lusignan was released from Saladin’s custody. Guy had taken an oath, “To never again take
up arms against any Muslim; and to sail across the sea away from the Holy
Land” (Robinson 1991) as a condition of his release. Guy was a king without a kingdom. The only city of the Kingdom
of Jerusalem still in Christian
hands was Tyre, and it was
controlled be Conrad of Montferrat (2). Guy
quickly made his way to the County of
Tripoli. Gerard de Ridfort gathered his remaining
Templars and rushed to join his king.
Guy was never one to let an oath stand in his way, especially one to
heathen. Guy traveled to Tyre
twice, both times the cities gates were closed to him. Conrad had saved the city after the
destruction of the Christian army and he had no intentions of turning it over
to Guy de Lusignan.
of the destruction at Hattin had reached the West and there was a call for a
new Crusade. Support for the Kingdom
of Jerusalem was pouring in, but
Guy de Lusignan was locked out of its only remaining city. Refusing to besiege the last Christian city
in the kingdom, and unwilling to retreat in disgrace to Tripoli
he was left without many options. With
the counsel of Gerard de Ridfort, Guy led his army in an attack on the city of Acre.
Guy de Lusignan’s
attack was a shock to everyone. This was
the only time in all the two centuries of the Crusades that a besieging army
was less than half the size of the army inside the city (Robinson 1991). Considering the Christian leader and the size
of his forces, Saladin initially ignored the army outside of Acre. The Christian’s were without siege engines
and their army was too small to pose a real threat. What Saladin failed to realize was that Guy’s
army was growing daily, as new forces arrived from the West. By the time Saladin decided to act, it was
too late; the Christian army had grown too strong. Saladin’s army encircled the Christians but
was unable to dislodge them from the defenses around Acre.
On October 4th
1189, the Christian and Muslim forces engaged in a pitched battle. Neither side was able to dislodge the
other. The Christians eventually retreated
to their defenses, all except one.
Gerard de Ridfort refused to leave the battle until there was a
Christian victory. All alone, he
brandished his sword and shouted out his challenge to the entire Muslim army. The Muslims watched him for a few minutes in
amazed amusement, then easily made him their prisoner (Robinson 1991). It is impossible to determine if Gerard
thought that Saladin would ransom him once more or he had lost his sanity. The Sultan had lost his patience with the
Grand Master of the Templars. Saladin had
Gerard de Ridfort executed. Gerard de
Ridfort was dead.
It is impossible
to know what might have become of the Kingdom
of Jerusalem if Gerard de Ridfort
had not become Grand Master of the Templars, or if he had not so bitterly
opposed Raymond III of Tripoli. What is apparent is that if Raymond had
remained Regent, the Kingdom of Jerusalem
would have survived at least two more years.
When Gerard broke his oath to Baldwin IV he ensured that Raymond would
fall from power, but the oath had been given because Guy de Lusignan was not
competent to be King. When Saladin was
preparing to attack the Kingdom of Jerusalem,
Gerard was advising Guy to attack Raymond and plunge the Kingdom
of Jerusalem into a civil war. When others were trying to pull the Kingdom
together, Gerard was leading a quarter of his Templar knights to their death in
an insane attempt to embarrass the Count of Tripoli.
Raymond III of Tripoli
knew he was the best choice to lead the Kingdom
of Jerusalem. He was respected by the local barons and his
Muslim neighbors. He felt cheated by Guy
de Lusignan and his conspirators, but when the Kingdom was threatened he was
with the Christian camp. When Saladin
chose Tiberias as his invasion site it was because he knew it was Raymond’s
lands, and that the Count’s wife would be defending the city. Raymond knew Saladin was trying to lead the
Christians into a trap. Raymond knew he
had the most to lose by staying on the defensive. He also knew that even if the men could
survive a battle in the barren waste between Sephoria and Tiberias, the horse
could not. Raymond and Saladin knew that
the key to the Christian army were the heavily armored knights, and the key to
the knights were their horses. Raymond
was willing to sacrifice his lands and family to protect the Kingdom
of Jerusalem. Gerard was willing to do anything to oppose
Raymond, even if it meant the destruction of the Kingdom
of Ibelin had sent to Saladin requesting safe conduct to Jerusalem. His wife, Queen Maria Comnena and her
children were in Jerusalem and he
was attempting to bring them to safety.
Saladin granted his request on the condition he only spend one night in
the city and he not bear arms. When he
arrived the officials of the city were attempting to prepare their defenses,
but they did not have a leader that everyone would follow. They all begged Balian to stay and lead them,
and they would not let him leave. Balian
sent a letter to Saladin asking for forgiveness for is breach of their
marquis Conrad of Montferrat had just arrived at Acre to
find the city in Muslim hands. He was
able to set sail and reached the city of Tyre. Tyre
was prepared to surrender. Conrad was
able to strengthen the cities defenses and more importantly the citizens resolve. By the time Saladin was able to redirect his
attentions to the city, it was to strong.
Tyre was on a strongly
fortified peninsula surround on three sides by ocean with a narrow stretch of
land protected by a massive wall.
Saladin attempted to take the city but was unable to bring his siege
engines within range, and unable to mine the walls because of the water. Unable to sustain a blockade his armies
abandon the siege.
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