Post-classical history


Beaufort, or Belfort (mod. Qal‘at al-Shaqif Arnun, Lebanon) is a castle in the mountains of northern Palestine. It occupies the eastern edge of a rocky plateau overlooking the valley of theLitani. The castle was captured by Fulk of Anjou, king of Jerusalem, in 1139 and added to the royal domain. By 1158, however, it formed part of the lordship of Sidon and was the seat of a burgess and justice court. After the battle of Hattin (1187), it endured a year’s siege by Saladin’s forces before surrendering in 1190. It was ceded once more to the Franks in 1240 and returned to Julian, lord of Sidon. In 1260, however, following the sack of Sidon by the Mongols, Julian was forced to sell (or lease) his entire lordship to the Templars. Beaufort fell to the Mamlûk sultan Baybars I in 1268.

The castle has a roughly triangular plan, measuring some 150 meters (492 ft.) north to south by up to 100 meters (328 ft.) east to west, with a rock-cut ditch on the south and west and a sheer 300-meter (984-ft.) cliff on the east. From the outer gate in the southeast, a path leads up by a zigzag route into the upper bailey, which contains the earliest Frankish feature, a square tower-keep, and the latest, a two-bay rib- vaulted hall dating from the 1260s. South of the castle lie the remains of a walled suburb.

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