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 Religious and Military Orders

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 of Jerusalem.

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 (Verbruggen 1997).

The Kingdom 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 vassals.  Baldwin 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 amounts.

Baldwin IV 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.

The Templar 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 of Jerusalem. 

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.

The truce 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 death.

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.

The Seneschal 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.

The conspirators 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.

Ignoring his 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).

The Patriarch 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.

Gerard de 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 1966). 

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 submitted Sibylla.

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 of Jerusalem. 

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.

The kingdom 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.

The delegation 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.

            At 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.

            The 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.

            There 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.

            Saladin 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 professional cavalry. 

            Guy 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.

            Saladin 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.

            The 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.

             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).

            Guy 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 at dawn.

            The 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.

            The 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.

            Saladin 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.

            The 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).

            Saladin 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.

            The 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.

            Three 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.

            The 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 lost.  Gaza’s defenders joined the long lines of refugees seeking shelter.

            On 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.

            Raymond 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.

            In 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.

            News 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 Jerusalem.


(1)    Balian 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 agreement.

 (2)    The 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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