Post-classical history

Mont Gisard, Battle of (1177)

A victory of the army of the kingdom of Jerusalem under King Baldwin IV and Reynald of Châtillon over an invasion of the kingdom by Saladin, who had launched a diversionary attack from Egypt soon after Raymond III of Tripoli and Philip of Flanders marched to besiege Hama in Syria in November 1177.

A large proportion of the armed forces of Jerusalem and of the military orders had gone north to besiege Hama, and so Baldwin summoned all remaining able-bodied men to muster at Ascalon (mod. Tel Ashqelon, Israel); Saladin bypassed the city and moved inland toward Jerusalem, sending detachments to raid Ramla and Lydda and ambush Franks who were still arriving for the muster. On the afternoon of 25 November, the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, the Franks surprised and routed Saladin’s main force at a hill known as Mont Gisard (mod. Tell Jazar) 8 kilometers (5 mil.) southeast of Ramla, before it was able to form up in battle order. With most of his army dispersed and his base at El- ‘Arish overrun by Bedouin, Saladin retreated to Egypt. A Benedictine priory dedicated to St. Catherine was built on the battle site as an act of gratitude and commemoration.

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