Post-classical history

Cresson, Battle of (1187)

A battle fought at the spring of the Cresson, a site near the town of Nazareth (mod. Nazerat, Israel), on 1 May 1187. In the fighting 140 Christian knights of the kingdom of Jerusalem, including Templars and Hospitallers, were defeated by 7,000 Muslims under Saladin’s emir Muzaffar al-Dīn Kukburī.

In April 1187, Saladin’s son al-Afdal obtained permission from the lord of Tiberias, Raymond III of Tripoli, to pass through the lordship in order to raid the royal domain around Acre. The Muslims were to withdraw the same day and do the lordship no harm. Entering the lordship on 1 May north of Lake Tiberias, Kukburī followed the shore south to Tiberias (mod. Teverya, Israel) itself before turning west. A Latin account, the Libellus de expugnatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum expeditione, indicates, however, that other Muslim groups had already crossed the Jordan the night before and were thus able to reach as far west as Shafa ‘Amr, before returning through the Wadi Saffuriya and Battauf Valley respectively. Gerard of Ridefort, master of the Temple, and Roger ofLes Moulins, master of the Hospital, were on their way north to mediate between Raymond and King Guy, and received warning of the raid from Raymond on 30 April while they were at the Templar castle of La Fève (al- Fula) in the Jezreel Valley. Disregarding Raymond’s instructions not to interfere with the Muslims, they decided to attack them. Reinforced by Templars from Caco, their force of 80-90 Templars and 10 Hospitallers moved north to Nazareth where they were joined by 40 knights of the king. They then proceeded northeast toward Tiberias and came upon the main Muslim force returning toward the Jordan at the spring of the Cresson. In the battle, the master of the Hospital and all the knights of the military order were killed, apart from Gerard of Ridefort and two other Templars; the secular knights were taken prisoner.

Although the spring of the Cresson has been identified variously as ‘Ayn al-Jauza and ‘Ayn Kasyun, later chronicle references suggest that the spring and the brook issuing from it were the Kishon (Cison), whose east-flowing branch was identified in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries with the valley (Wadi Kasta, Wadi al-Madi) that runs south on the east side of Mount Tabor and thence to the Jordan Valley. The battle therefore seems likely to have taken place where the upper reaches of this valley were crossed by the Saffuriya to Tiberias road, near the village of al-Shajara (Seiera, Sysara).

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