The Teutonic Knights

The Teutonic Knights possessed several important fortresses in the Middle East. These included Montfort in Galilee, which had a separate hall, built in the second quarter of the 13th century next to the Wadi al-Qarn. It stands north of the castle, at the bottom of a steep slope. The hall is a rectangular structure, 40m x 10-12m, over a barrel-vaulted undercroft. It was probably constructed in at least two stages and is attached to a dam across the wadi; this dam having sluices to control the flow of water. Part of the structure originally served as a mill, probably for processing sugar cane, where a horizontal millwheel seems to have been powered by water directed through wooden channels. The main hall above could not have been used for storing food as it was in a vulnerable position outside the castle. So perhaps the undercroft served as a stable or kitchen after the upper hall was added; the whole structure then forming a guesthouse for high-ranking visitors to the Teutonic Knights' castle. During the final phase of the Crusader occupation of Montfort, a faubourg, or suburb, may also have grown up outside the castle.

The first castle donated to the Teutonic Knights in Cilicia was at Amoude, which was handed over by the Armenian King in 1212. Situated on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Cilician plain, it was a simple fortified enclosure to which the Teutonic Knights added a three-storey keep. Another possible reason for the selection of Amoude was the abundant availability of fish from the nearby Ceyhan River; this still clearly being the case when the German traveller Willbrand of Oldenburg visited Amoude some years later.

Above left Montfort in northern Galilee was a typical and very dramatic spur castle, located on an easily defensible extension of one of the surrounding hills. This position was further strengthened by the excavation of dry ditches, or fosses, separating the castle from the main hill. The Crusader fortifications of Montfort all date from the 13th century and the place served as the Headquarters of the Order of Teutonic Knights until it fell to the Mamluks in 1271. (Duby Tal)

Above right The castle of Montfort: 1 - outer ward; 2 - upper castle; 3 - donjon built over a large cistern; 4 - fosse; 5 - presumed ‘guest house’ built on earlier mill; 6 - remains of a dam across the Wadi al-Qarn. (After Dean, Hubatsch, Frankel and Pringle)

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!