Post-classical history

Ramla, Third Battle of (1105)

A battle in southwestern Palestine between the forces of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem and an Egyptian army commanded by Sharaf al-Ma‘ālī Samā’ al-Mulk, a son of the vizier al-Afdal.

At the beginning of August 1105, an Egyptian army of about 5,000 soldiers, composed primarily of Arab cavalry, Sudanese infantry, and mounted Turkish bowmen, together with allies from Damascus, gathered at Ascalon (mod. Tel Ashqelon, Israel). King Baldwin gathered his army of 500 horsemen and 2,000 infantry at Jaffa (mod. Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel), and then advanced and met the allied Egyptian and Damascene army at Ramla, the battle occurring on 27 August 1105. The battle was closely contested, with the Egyptian infantry repelling repeated attacks by the Frankish cavalry. At one point a counterattack by the Damascene mounted archers caused great havoc in the Frankish ranks and nearly broke their army, but Baldwin attacked with his own division and routed the attackers. Many of the Egyptian cavalry on the Muslim left flank left the battle to try to plunder Haifa (mod. Hefa, Israel), without success, while the remainder of the cavalry were forced to retreat; despite these setbacks, the Egyptian infantry were able to withstand numerous mounted assaults and were only overcome following the collapse of their Damascene allies.

The Egyptian army retreated back to Ascalon. Having suffered many casualties, the Franks were unable to pursue the enemy and were content to plunder the Egyptian camp. The third battle of Ramla ended the last of the Fatimids’ large scale attempts to reconquer Palestine from the Franks.

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