Post-classical history

Montréal

A castle and town in Transjordan, also known in Latin as Mons Regalis (mod. ash-Shaubak, Jordan). The castle was constructed by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1115.

Sited on a conical hilltop, Montréal was oval in plan with at least two walls, one inside the other. The knights and sergeants of the garrison formed the nucleus of a Frankish settlement, which appears to have been located inside it. The parish church, also inside the castle, apparently belonged to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem; over its principal door was an inscription mentioning a viscount, Hugh, and the date 1118. Documentary and archaeological evidence also indicate the existence of a suburb, extending down the valley and including Eastern Christian inhabitants, who may have used a smaller chapel standing between the castle’s inner and outer gates. From this a rock-cut tunnel led down to the castle’s water supply.

The chronicler William of Tyre records that Pagan, a former royal steward or butler, received lordship of the land beyond the Jordan after the revolt of the previous lord, Roman of Le Puy, against King Fulk in 1132. It is not entirely certain whether Roman’s fief included Montréal, since a certain Pagan of Montréal appears in charters in 1126 and 1132. By 1142/1143, however, when Pagan the Butler started building the castle of Kerak in Moab, his lordship of Montréal extended from the river Zarqa in the north to the Red Sea in the south, including Amman and the Balqa region in addition to Kerak, Montréal, and Wadi Musa. In 1161, King Baldwin III gave the lordship to Philip of Milly in exchange for Nablus. By 1169, however, Philip had joined the Templars and was succeeded by Walter of Beirut, who was married to his daughter, Helena. When Helena and her daughter died in 1174, the lordship passed briefly to Miles of Plancy, husband of her sister Stephanie, who was murdered the same October. Stephanie was finally remarried, in 1177, to Reynald of Châtillon.

Montréal and its lordship occupied an important position controlling the caravan routes between Egypt, Syria, and the Hijaz. It served as forward base for Reynald’s attacks on Aila in 1181, 1182-1183, and 1184; and in 1182 and 1187 the lands around it were devastated by the Ayyûbids. After the battle of Hattin, it held out until spring 1189, when al-‘Adil allowed the defenders a safe conduct to Christian-held territory. In 1217, the German pilgrim Thi- etmar found lodgings with a Frankish widow still living there, who introduced him to the Bedouin guides who would escort him to Mount Sinai.

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