Post-classical history

CHAPTER II

THE HORNS OF HATTIN

‘Our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.’ LAMENTATIONS IV, 18

When King Baldwin rose from his sick-bed at Nazareth it was clear that he would no more be able to govern the country. His leprosy had been aggravated by his fever. He had lost the use of his arms and legs; and they were beginning to decay. His sight had almost gone. His mother, his sister Sibylla and the Patriarch Heraclius kept guard over him and persuaded him to hand the regency to Sibylla’s husband, Guy of Lusignan. Guy was to be in complete control of the kingdom, except only the city of Jerusalem, which, with a revenue of 10,000 besants, the King reserved for himself. The barons of the realm reluctantly accepted the King’s decision.

1182: Reynald’s Red Sea Expedition

Reynald of Chatillon was absent from these deliberations. When he heard of Saladin’s departure to the north in the autumn of 1182, he set in motion a project that he had long had in mind, to launch a squadron on the Red Sea to raid the rich sea-caravans to Mecca and even to attack the Holy City of Islam itself. Towards the end of the year he marched down to Aila at the head of the Gulf of Akaba, bringing galleys that he built with timber from the forests of Moab and tried out on the waters of the Dead Sea. Aila, which had been held by the Moslems since 1170, fell to him; but the fortress on the island close by, the Ile de Graye of the Frankish historians, held out; and Reynald remained with two of his ships to blockade it. The rest of his fleet set gaily out, with local pirates to pilot them. They sailed down the African coast of the Red Sea, raiding the little coastal towns that they passed, and eventually attacked and sacked Aidib, the great Nubian port opposite to Mecca. There they captured richly laden merchant ships from Aden and from India; and a landing-party pillaged a huge defenceless caravan that had come over the desert from the Nile valley. From Aidib the corsairs crossed over to the Arabian coast. They burnt the shipping at al-Hawra and Yambo, the ports of Medina, and penetrated to ar-Raghib, one of the ports of Mecca itself. Close by they sank a pilgrim-ship bound for Jedda. The whole Moslem world was horrified. Even the Princes of Aleppo and Mosul, who had called upon Frankish help, were ashamed to have allies that planned such an outrage on the Faith. Saladin’s brother Malik al-Adil, governor of Egypt, took action. He sent the Egyptian admiral, Husam ed-Din Lulu, with a fleet manned by Maghrabi sailors from North Africa, in pursuit of the Franks. Lulu first relieved the castle of Graye and recaptured Aila, from which Reynald himself had already retired; then he caught up with the corsair fleet off al-Hawra, destroying it and capturing almost all the men on board. A few of them were sent to Mecca, to be ceremoniously executed at the Place of Sacrifice at Mina during the next Pilgrimage. The rest were taken to Cairo, and there they were beheaded. Saladin vowed solemnly that Reynald should never be forgiven for his attempted outrage.

The Horns of Hattin

On 17 September 1183 Saladin left Damascus with a great army to invade Palestine. On the 29th he crossed the Jordan, just south of the Sea of Galilee and entered Beisan, whose inhabitants had all fled to the safety of the walls of Tiberias. On the news of his coming Guy of Lusignan summoned the full force of the kingdom, strengthened by two rich visiting Crusaders, Godfrey III, Duke of Brabant, and the Aquitanian Ralph of Mauleon, and their men. With Guy were Raymond of Tripoli, the Grand Master of the Hospital, Reynald of Chatillon, the Ibelin brothers, Reynald of Sidon and Walter of Caesarea. Young Humphrey IV of Toron came to join them with his stepfather’s forces from Oultrejourdain; but he was ambushed by the Moslems on the slopes of Mount Gilboa, and most of his men were slain. Saladin then sent detachments to capture and destroy the little forts of the neighbourhood, while others sacked the Greek convent on Mount Tabor but failed to break through the strong walls of the Latin establishment on the summit of the hill. He himself encamped with his main army by the fountain of Tubaniya, on the site of the ancient city of Jezreel.

Map 6. Galilee.

1183: Guy quarrels with the King

The Franks had assembled at Sephoria and marched on into the plain of Jezreel on 1 December. The advance-guard, under the Constable Amalric, was at once attacked by the Moslems, but the timely arrival of the Ibelins with their troops rescued it. The Christians encamped at the Pools of Goliath opposite to Saladin, who then extended his wings so as almost to encircle them. For five days the armies remained stationary. It was difficult for supplies to come through to the Christians. After a day or two the Italian mercenaries complained of hunger; and only the timely discovery of fish in the Pools of Goliath saved the army from starvation. Most of the soldiers, including the knights from France and the irrepressible Reynald, wished to attack the Moslems. Guy hesitated and dithered; but Raymond and the Ibelins firmly insisted that to provoke a fight against such superior numbers would be fatal. The army must remain on the defensive. They were right. Saladin many times tried to lure them out. When he failed he lifted his camp on 8 October and moved back behind the Jordan.

Guy’s behaviour had shocked both the soldiery who believed him to be a coward and the barons who knew him to be weak. On his return to Jerusalem he quarrelled with the King. Baldwin felt that the air of Tyre would be kinder to him than the windy heights of Jerusalem. He asked his brother-in-law to make an exchange of the two cities. Guy received the request rudely; whereupon Baldwin with an access of angry energy summoned his chief vassals and on their advice deposed Guy from the regency. Instead, on 23 March 1183, he proclaimed as his heir his nephew Baldwin, Sibylla’s son by her first marriage, a child of six years, and tried to persuade his sister to have her marriage annulled. Meanwhile, though he could not move without help, and could no longer sign his name, he resumed the government himself. Guy’s response was to retire to his county of Ascalon and Jaffa and there throw off his allegiance to the Crown. Baldwin seized Jaffa, which he put under the direct authority of the Crown, but Guy defied him in Ascalon. In vain the Patriarch Heraclius and the Grand Masters of the Temple and the Hospital interceded for the rebel. The King lost his temper with them and banished them from the Court. He had summoned them to order them to preach the Crusade in western Europe, but some months passed before they would now consent to go.

The council of barons on whose advice the King deposed Guy was composed of Bohemond of Antioch, Raymond of Tripoli, the Lord of Caesarea, and the two Ibelins. The Lord of Oultrejourdain was not present. The time had come for the marriage to take place between the Princess Isabella, now aged eleven, and Humphrey of Toron, aged about seventeen. Reynald determined that the ceremony should be celebrated with all the pomp at his disposal at his castle of Kerak, to which the bridegroom was heir. During the month of November guests began to arrive at the castle. Many of them, such as the bride’s mother, Queen Maria Comnena, were Reynald’s personal enemies; but they came in a last attempt to heal the breach between the warring factions. With the guests arrived entertainers, dancers, jugglers and musicians from all over the Christian East. Suddenly the festivities were interrupted by the terrible news that Saladin was approaching with his army.

1183: The Marriage at Kerak

The destruction of Kerak and its godless lord ranked high among Saladin’s ambitions. So long as Reynald held his great castle he could intercept all the traffic that tried to pass between Syria and Egypt; and experience had shown that no treaty could restrain him. On 20 November Saladin was joined by reinforcements from Egypt and encamped before the walls. The farmers and shepherds of the countryside, Christian Syrians, drove their flocks for safety within the town, and many took refuge in the courtyards of the castle. Saladin at once attacked the lower town and forced an entrance. Reynald was only able to escape back into the castle owing to the heroism of one of his knights, who single-handed defended the bridge over the fosse between the town and the citadel till it could be destroyed behind him. With a fine show of bravura the wedding-ceremonies were continued in the castle. While rocks were hurled at its walls, the singing and dancing went on within. The Lady Stephanie, mother of the bridegroom, herself prepared dishes from the bridal feast which she sent out to Saladin. He in return asked in which tower the young pair were housed and gave orders that it should not be bombarded by his siege-engines. But otherwise he did not relax his efforts. His nine great mangonels were in continuous action, and his workmen almost filled up the fosse.

Messengers had hurried to Jerusalem to beg the King for help. He summoned the royal army which he put under the command of Count Raymond; but he insisted on coming himself in his litter with his men. They hastened down past Jericho and up the road by Mount Nebo. On his approach Saladin, whose engines had made little effect on the strong walls of the fortress, lifted the siege and on 4 December moved back towards Damascus. The King was carried in triumph into Kerak; and the wedding-guests were free to go home. Their experience had not ended their discord, from which the young bride suffered the most. Her mother-in-law, no doubt at Reynald’s request, forbade her to see her mother; and her mother, deep in party intrigues that were dear to her Greek blood, regarded her as half a traitor. Only her husband was kind to her. Humphrey of Toron was a youth of extraordinary beauty and great learning, more fitted in his tastes to be a girl than a man. But he was gentle and considerate to his child-wife; and she loved him.

Next autumn Saladin once again marched against Kerak, with an army to which his Ortoqid vassals sent contingents. Once again the huge fortifications were too much for him. He could not lure the defenders out to fight on the slopes below the town; and once again, when an army from Jerusalem approached, he retired into his own territory, only leaving a detachment to raid Galilee and to pillage the country as far south as Nablus. Saladin himself returned to Damascus. There was still much to be done in the reorganization of his Empire. The time had not quite come for the elimination of the Christians.

In Jerusalem the leper-King kept the reins of the government in his decaying hands. Guy still held Ascalon, refusing to admit royal officers into the town. But his friends the Patriarch and the Grand Masters were away in Europe, trying vainly to impress the Emperor Frederick and King Louis and King Henry with the perils awaiting the Christian East. The western potentates received them with honour and discussed plans for a great Crusade. But they each made excuses why they could not themselves participate. All that came of the mission was that a few individual knights took the Cross.

1185: King Baldwin IV’s Will

In the autumn of 1184 Guy once again infuriated his brother-in-law. Ever since the Christian capture of Ascalon the Bedouin of the district had been allowed, on the payment of a small tribute to the King, to move as they pleased to pasture their flocks. Guy, annoyed because the tribute went to the King and not to himself, fell on them one day and massacred them and annexed their flocks.

Baldwin was now bedridden and was never to rise again. He saw how fatal had been the influence of his mother and her friends, and sent for his cousin Raymond of Tripoli to take over the administration. Meanwhile he prepared for his death. Before an assembly of the barons, early in 1185, he announced his will. His little nephew was to succeed to the throne. At the express wish of the assembly Guy was not to have the regency, which was to go to Raymond of Tripoli, who was to hold Beirut as payment for his services. But Raymond refused the personal guardianship of the little King, lest the boy, who seemed delicate, should die young and he be accused of hastening his death. In view of the boy’s health the barons further swore that, should he die before he reached the age of ten, Count Raymond should keep the regency till the four great rulers of the West, the Pope, the Western Emperor and the Kings of France and England, should arbitrate between the claims of the Princesses Sibylla and Isabella. Meanwhile, in a last attempt to bring the factions together, the personal guardianship of the boy was given to his great-uncle, Joscelin of Courtenay, who now began to profess a cordial friendship towards Raymond.

All the assembled barons swore to carry out the King’s wishes. Among them was the Patriarch Heraclius, just back from the West, with the Grand Master of the Hospital, Roger of Les Moulins. The Grand Master of the Temple, Arnold of Toroga, had died during the journey. As his successor the Order had elected, after a stormy debate, Raymond’s old enemy Gerard of Ridfort. Gerard also gave his assent to the King’s will. The child was taken to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and there, held in Balian of Ibelin’s arms, he was crowned by the Patriarch.

A few weeks later, in March 1185, King Baldwin IV was released by death from the agonies of his long disease. He was only twenty-four. Of all the Kings of Jerusalem he was the most unhappy. His ability was undoubted and his courage was superb. But from his sickbed he was powerless to control the intrigues around him and too often had yielded to the nagging influence of his evil mother and his foolish sister. At least he was spared the final humiliations that were to come to the kingdom.

1185: Saladin s Illness

When the King’s pathetic corpse had been buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Raymond as regent summoned the barons once more to ask them what policy he should follow. The winter rains had failed and there was a threat of famine. The only Crusader to come eastward was the old Marquis William of Montferrat, grandfather of the child-King; and he, after satisfying himself that all was well with his grandchild, settled down quietly in a fief in Galilee. His son Conrad, the King’s uncle, set out to follow him but stopped on the way at Constantinople, where his brother Rainier had perished a few years before. There he offered his help to Rainier’s avenger, the Emperor Isaac Angelus, whose sister he married. He forgot about his nephew and Palestine. It was clear to all the barons assembled in Jerusalem that till a large new Crusade could come the starving country could not face a war. They approved of Raymond’s suggestion that a four-years’ truce should be sought from Saladin.

Saladin on his side was willing. There had been a quarrel amongst his relatives in Egypt that needed a settlement; and he had heard that Izz ed-Din of Mosul was restive once more. The treaty was signed. Commerce was renewed between the Frankish states and their neighbours; and a flow of com from the east saved the Christians from starvation.

In April 1185 Saladin marched northward, crossing the Euphrates at Birejik on the 15th. There he was joined by Kukburi of Harran and by envoys from Izz ed-Din’s vassals, the lords of Jezireh and Irbil. Izz ed-Din sent embassies to the Seldjuk rulers of Konya and of Persarmenia. The latter sent some troops to his aid; the former sent a threatening message to Saladin, but took no action. In June Saladin was before Mosul, refusing all Izz ed-Din’s offers of peace, even when the Prince’s aged mother came herself to plead with him. But Mosul was still too formidable a fortress. His troops began to sicken in the summer heat. When in August the Seldjuk Sultan of Persarmenia, Soqman II, suddenly died, Saladin moved northward to capture the Sultan’s vassal cities of Diarbekir and Mayyafaraqin and to rest his men in the cooler air of the uplands. There he fell ill himself and rode, almost dying, to his friend Kukburi’s castle at Harran. His brother, al-Adil, now governor of Aleppo, hastened to come with the best doctors of the East; but they could do nothing. Believing his end to be near and knowing that all his kinsmen were plotting for the inheritance, he made his emirs swear allegiance to his sons. Then, unexpectedly he began to mend. By January 1186 he was out of danger. At the end of February he received an embassy from Izz ed-Din and agreed to make peace. In a treaty signed by the ambassadors on 3 March Izz ed-Din became Saladin’s vassal and was confirmed in his own possessions; but the lands across the Tigris south of Mosul, including Arbil and Shahrzur were put under emirs appointed by Saladin and owing him direct allegiance. Their presence guaranteed Izz ed-Din’s loyalty. Saladin himself was then at Homs, where Nasr ed-Din, Shirkuh’s son and his own son-in-law, was emir. Nasr ed-Din had plotted for the throne of Syria during Saladin’s illness. No one therefore was surprised when he was found dead in his bed on 5 March, after celebrating the Feast of Victims. The victim’s child, Shirkuh II, a boy of twelve, was given the succession to Homs. Saladin confiscated much of his money, but the boy aptly quoted a passage from the Koran threatening torment to those that despoiled orphans and had it restored to him. In April Saladin was back in Damascus. His empire now stretched securely to the borders of Persia.

The truce between the Christians and the Moslems was bringing back some prosperity to Palestine. Trade between the interior and the ports of Acre and Tyre was eagerly renewed, to the advantage of merchants of both religions. If peace could be maintained till some great Crusade could arrive from the West, then there might still be a future for the Kingdom. But fate was once more unkind to the Christians. About the end of August 1186 King Baldwin V died at Acre, not yet nine years old.

1186: Sibylla proclaimed Queen

The Regent Raymond and the Seneschal Joscelin were present at the death-bed. Professing himself anxious to work in with Raymond, Joscelin persuaded him to go to Tiberias and to invite the barons of the realm to meet him there, in security from the plots of the Patriarch, in order that the terms of Baldwin IV’s will should be carried out. He himself would convey the little corpse to Jerusalem for burial. Raymond fell into the trap and went off in good faith. As soon as he was gone Joscelin sent troops that he could trust to occupy Tyre and Beirut and remained himself in Acre, where he proclaimed Sibylla as Queen. He dispatched the royal body to Jerusalem in charge of the Templars. His messengers summoned Sibylla and Guy from Ascalon to attend the funeral; and Reynald of Chatillon hurried to join them from Kerak.

Raymond discovered that he had been tricked. He rode down to Nablus, to Balian of Ibelin’s castle, and, as lawful Regent of the realm, summoned the High Court of the barons. All his supporters hurried to join him. With Balian and his wife, Queen Maria, were her daughter Isabella with Humphrey of Toron, Baldwin of Ramleh, Walter of Caesarea, Reynald of Sidon, and all the tenants-in-chief of the Crown, with the exception of Reynald of Chatillon. There they received an invitation from Sibylla to attend her coronation. They replied by sending two Cistercian monks as envoys to Jerusalem, to remind the conspirators of the oath sworn to King Baldwin IV and to forbid any action to be taken till the Court had held its deliberations.

But Sibylla held Jerusalem and the seaports. The troops of the Seneschal Joscelin and the Constable Amalric, Guy’s brother, were on her side, and Reynald had brought his men from Oultrejourdain. The Patriarch Heraclius, her mother’s old lover, assured her of the support of the Church organization. The Grand Master of the Temple, Gerard of Ridfort, would do anything to spite his old enemy Raymond. Alone in Jerusalem the Grand Master of the Hospital was true to the oath that had been sworn. Amongst the people of Jerusalem there was much sympathy for Sibylla. She represented hereditary right; and though the throne was still nominally elective the claims of the heir could not be easily ignored. At the time of her mother’s divorce Sibylla’s legitimacy had been confirmed. Her brother had been King, and her son. Her one disadvantage was that her husband was disliked and despised.

The Patriarch and the Templars closed the gates of Jerusalem and posted guards, to prevent any attack from the barons at Nablus. They then made arrangements for the coronation. The royal insignia was kept in a coffer with three locks whose keys were in the care of the Patriarch and the two Grand Masters, each holding one. Roger of the Hospital refused to surrender his key for a purpose that he considered contrary to his oath; but at last, with a gesture of disgust, he threw it from his window. Neither he nor any of his knights would take part in the ceremony; which was held as soon as everything could be made ready. In view of Guy’s unpopularity the Patriarch crowned Sibylla alone. But a second crown was placed by her side; and Heraclius after crowning her bade her use it to crown whatever man she thought worthy to govern the realm. She summoned Guy to approach her and kneel before her and placed the crown on his head. The assembled company then did homage to their new King and Queen. As he passed out of the church Gerard of Ridfort cried out aloud that this crown paid back the marriage of Botrun.

1186: King Guy’s First Assembly

Against the fact of the coronation the High Court at Nablus could do little. Baldwin of Ibelin rose in the assembly to say that he for one would not stay in a country to be ruled by such a king and he advised all the barons to do likewise. But Raymond answered that all was not yet lost. They had with them, he said, the Princess Isabella and her husband Humphrey of Toron. Let them be crowned and brought to Jerusalem. Their rivals could not stand up against the united armies of all the barons, save only Reynald of Chatillon, and the sympathy of the Hospital. Raymond added that so long as he was Regent he could guarantee that Saladin would keep the truce. The barons agreed with him and swore to support him, even though it might mean civil war. But they counted without one of the principal actors. Humphrey was terrified at the fate in store for him; he had no wish to be king. He slipped away at once from Nablus and rode to Jerusalem. There he asked to see Sibylla. She spurned him at first, but as he stood sheepishly before her, scratching his head, she relented and let him pour out his story. She listened graciously and herself took him to see Guy, to whom he paid homage.

Humphrey’s defection defeated the barons. Raymond released them from their oath, and one by one they went to Jerusalem and offered their submission to Guy. Even Balian of Ibelin, the most respected of them all, saw that nothing else could now be done. But his brother Baldwin repeated his decision to abandon the realm rather than accept Guy; and Raymond of Tripoli retired to his wife’s lands in Galilee, vowing that he, too, would never pay homage to the new King. He would have loyally accepted Isabella as Queen; but Humphrey’s cowardice convinced him that he himself was now the only worthy candidate for the throne.

Soon afterwards King Guy held his first assembly of barons at Acre. Raymond did not appear; and Guy announced that Beirut, which Raymond had held as regent, was taken from him, and he sent to tell him to render accounts for public money that he had spent during his regency. Baldwin of Ibelin, who was present, was summoned to pay homage by Reynald of Chatillon standing at the King’s side. He merely gave the King a formal salute, telling him that he left his lands of Ramleh for his son Thomas who would pay homage when he was old enough; he himself would never do so. He left the kingdom a few days later and took service under Bohemond of Antioch, who welcomed him gladly and gave him a fief larger than that which he had left. Other lesser lords joined him there; for Bohemond made no secret of his sympathy with Raymond and his party.

With the kingdom so torn into embittered factions it was as well that the truce with the Saracens held firm. Guy would have maintained it; but he reckoned without his friend Reynald of Chatillon. Protected by the truce the great caravans that travelled between Damascus and Egypt had been passing again without hindrance through Frankish lands. At the end of 1186 an enormous caravan was journeying up from Cairo, with a small convoy of Egyptian troops to protect it from Bedouin raiders. As it moved into Moab Reynald suddenly fell on it, slaying the soldiers and taking the merchants and their families with all their possessions to his castle of Kerak. The booty was larger than he had ever taken before. News soon reached Saladin of the outrage. Respectful of the treaty, he sent to Reynald to demand the release of the prisoners and compensation for their losses. Reynald refused to receive the envoys; who went on to Jerusalem to complain to King Guy. Guy listened sympathetically and ordered Reynald to make reparations. But Reynald, knowing that it was to his support that Guy owed and kept his throne, paid no attention to his order; and Guy could not or would not force his obedience.

1187: Raymond’s Treason

So shameless a breach of the truce made war inevitable, a war which the divided country was ill-fitted to face. Bohemond of Antioch hastened to renew his truce with Saladin. Raymond of Tripoli made a truce for his county and extended it to cover his wife’s principality of Galilee, even though its suzerain the King might be at war with the Moslems. At the same time he secured Saladin’s sympathy and promise of support in his aim of making himself king. Wise though Raymond’s policy may have been it was undoubtedly treasonable. Encouraged by Gerard of the Temple, Guy summoned his loyal vassals and marched north to Nazareth, to reduce Galilee to submission before the Moslem attack should begin. Civil war was only averted by the intervention of Balian of Ibelin, who when he arrived at the camp roughly asked the King what he was doing. When Guy replied that he was going to besiege Tiberias, Balian pointed out the folly of the plan; for Raymond, with the Saracen help on which he could call, would have stronger forces than the King. Balian asked that instead he should be sent to talk to Raymond. But his appeal for unity had no effect on the Count, who would only submit to Guy if Beirut was returned to him. It was a price that Guy thought too dear. But as news came of Saladin’s preparations for the coming war, Balian pleaded once again with the King for reconciliation with Raymond. ‘You have lost your best knight in Baldwin of Ramleh,’ he said, mentioning his brother with pride. ‘If you lose the help and counsel of Count Raymond too, you are finished.’ Guy, usually ready to agree with anyone that spoke firmly to him, allowed Balian to go on a new embassy to Tiberias, together with Josias, Archbishop of Tyre, and the Grand Masters of the Hospital and Temple. It was essential that the latter, Raymond’s bitterest enemy, should be involved in any peaceful settlement that was made.

The delegates, escorted by ten Hospitallers, set out from Jerusalem on 29 April 1187. They spent that night at Balian’s castle of Nablus. There Balian had business to transact; so he told the Grand Masters and the Archbishop to ride ahead; he would pass the day there and overtake them on the morrow at the Castle of La Feve, in the Plain of Esdraelon. Late in the evening of the 30th Balian left Nablus with a few attendants intending to ride on through the night. But he suddenly remembered that it was the eve of Saint Philip and Saint James. So he turned aside from the road at Sebastea, the Samaria of the ancients, and knocked at the door of the Bishop’s palace. The Bishop was awakened and admitted him; and they sat talking through the night till the dawn came and mass could be celebrated. He then said good-bye to his host and rode on his way.

On 30 April, while Balian was discussing business with his stewards, and the Grand Masters were riding over the hills to La Feve, Count Raymond at Tiberias received an envoy from the Moslems at Banyas. Saladin’s young son al-Afdal, commandant of the camp there, was told by his father to send a reconnaissance into Palestine and very correctly asked permission for his men to traverse the Count’s territory in Galilee. Raymond, bound by his private treaty with Saladin, could not refuse the embarrassing request. He only stipulated that the Moslems should cross the frontier after daybreak on the morrow and return before dark and that they should do no harm to any town or village in the land. He then sent messengers round all his fief to tell the people to keep themselves and their flocks within their walls for the whole day and to have no fear. At that moment he heard of the coming of the delegation from Jerusalem. Another message was sent out to give it the same warning. Early in the morning on 1 May Raymond watched from his castle the Emir Kukburi and seven thousand mamelukes ride gaily by.

1187: The Springs of Cresson

About the middle of that morning Balian and his company arrived at La Feve. From afar they had seen tents of the Templars dressed below the walls; but when they drew near they found that they were empty; and in the castle itself there was silence. Balian’s groom Ernoul entered the building and wandered from room to room. There was no one there, except two soldiers lying in one of the upper galleries, sick to death and unable to speak. Balian was perplexed and worried. He waited for an hour or two, uncertain what to do, then set out again along the road to Nazareth. Suddenly a Templar knight galloped up dishevelled and bleeding, shouting out of a great disaster.

At the same hour Raymond at Tiberias watched the mamelukes ride home. They kept to the pact. It was well before nightfall, and they had not harmed a building in the province. But on the lances of the vanguard were fixed the heads of Templar knights.

Raymond’s message had reached the Grand Masters at La Feve on the evening of the 30th. Though Roger of the Hospital protested, Gerard of the Temple at once summoned the Templars from the neighbourhood to join him there. The Marshal of the Temple, James of Mailly, was at the village of Kakun, five miles away, with ninety knights. He came and spent the night before the castle. Next morning the cavalcade rode to Nazareth, where forty secular knights joined them. The Archbishop of Tyre remained there; but Gerard paused only to shout to the townsfolk that there would be a battle soon and they must come to collect the booty. As the knights passed over the hill behind Nazareth they found the Moslems watering their horses at the Springs of Cresson in the valley below. At the sight of such numbers both Roger and James of Mailly advised retreat. Gerard was furious. He turned scornfully from his fellow Grand Master and taunted his Marshal. ‘You love your blond head too well to want to lose it’, he said. James proudly replied; ‘I shall die in battle like a brave man. It is you that will flee as a traitor.’ Fired by Gerard’s insults the company charged down into the mamelukes. It was a massacre rather than a battle. James’s blond head was one of the last to fall; and the Grand Master of the Hospital fell by his side. Very soon every Templar knight was slain except three, of whom Gerard was one. They galloped back wounded to Nazareth. It was one of them that rode on to find Balian. The secular knights were taken alive. Some of the greedy citizens of Nazareth had gone out to the battlefield to find the booty that Gerard had promised. They were rounded up and taken off as prisoners.

After sending to his wife to urge her to collect all her knights, Balian joined Gerard at Nazareth and tried to persuade him to come to Tiberias. Gerard pleaded that his wounds were too bad, so Balian went on with the Archbishop. They found Raymond aghast at the tragedy, for which he felt that his policy had been to blame. He gladly accepted Balian’s mediation and, annulling his treaty with Saladin, he rode south to Jerusalem and made his submission to the King. Guy, for all his faults, was not vindictive. He gave Raymond a cordial welcome and even apologized for the manner of his coronation. At last the kingdom seemed to be united again.

1187: Saladin crosses the Jordan

It was as well. For Saladin was known to be gathering a great army across the frontier in the Hauran. In May, while the host was assembling from all over his empire, he had made a journey down the road towards Mecca to escort a pilgrim-caravan in which his sister and her son were returning from the Holy City, to be sure that Reynald would not try another of his bandit raids. Meanwhile troops poured in from Aleppo and Mosul and Mardin till his army was the largest that he had ever commanded. Across the Jordan King Guy summoned all his tenants-in-chief and their tenants to bring their men to meet him at Acre. The Orders of the Hospital and the Temple, eager to avenge the massacre at Cresson, brought all their available knights, leaving only small garrisons to defend the castles under their care. The Templars gave further aid in handing to the King their share of the money sent recently to the Orders by King Henry II in expiation of the murder of Thomas Becket. They had been told to bank it against the Crusade that Henry had sworn to undertake, but the present need was too urgent. The soldiers that it served to equip carried with them a banner with Henry’s arms. Moved by an appeal from Raymond and Balian, Bohemond of Antioch promised a contingent under Baldwin of Ibelin, and sent his son Raymond to join the Count of Tripoli who was his godfather. By the end of June 1200 fully armed knights, a larger number of light native cavalry, half-caste Turcopoles and nearly ten thousand infantrymen were gathered at the camp before Acre. The Patriarch Heraclius was asked to come with the True Cross. But he said that he was unwell, and entrusted the relic to the Prior of the Holy Sepulchre to give to the Bishop of Acre. He preferred, his enemies said, to remain with his beloved Paschia.

On Friday, 26 June, Saladin reviewed his troops at Ashtera, in the Hauran. He himself commanded the centre, his nephew Taki ed-Din the right wing and Kukburi the left. The army marched out in battle formation to Khisfin and on to the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. There he waited for five days, while his scouts collected information about the Christian forces. On 1 July he crossed the Jordan at Sennabra, and on the second he encamped with half his army at Kafr Sebt, in the hills five miles west of the lake, while his other troops attacked Tiberias. The town fell into their hands after an hour of fighting. Raymond and his stepsons were with the King’s army; but the Countess Eschiva, after sending a messenger to tell her husband what was happening, held out with her small garrison in the castle.

When news came that Saladin had crossed the Jordan, King Guy held counsel with his barons at Acre. Count Raymond spoke first. He pointed out that in tremendous summer heat the army that attacked was at a disadvantage. Their own strategy should be purely defensive. With the Christian army undefeated Saladin would not be able to maintain his great forces for long in the parched country. After a while he would have to retire. In the meantime the reinforcements from Antioch would arrive. Most of the knights inclined to follow this advice; but both Reynald of Chatillon and the Grand Master Gerard accused Raymond of being a coward and sold to the Saracens. King Guy was always convinced by the last speaker and gave orders for the army to move out towards Tiberias.

On the afternoon of 2 July the Christians encamped at Sephoria. It was an excellent site for a camp, with ample water and good pasturage for the horses. Were they to remain there, as they had remained by the Pools of Goliath four years before, Saladin would never risk attacking them. Their army was nearly as large as his own, and they had the advantage of the terrain. But that evening the messenger from the Countess of Tripoli arrived. Once again Guy held a council in his tent. The chivalry of the knights was moved to think of the gallant lady holding out desperately by the lake. Her sons with tears in their eyes begged that their mother should be rescued. Others followed to support their plea. Then Raymond rose. He repeated the speech that he had made at Acre but with more desperate emphasis. He showed the folly of leaving the present strong position and making a hazardous march in the July heat over the barren hillside. Tiberias was his city, he said, and its defender his wife. But he would rather that Tiberias and all within it were lost than that the kingdom was lost. His words carried conviction. The council broke up at midnight, resolved to remain at Sephoria.

When the barons had retired to their quarters the Grand Master of the Temple crept back to the royal tent. ‘Sire,’ he said, ‘are you going to trust a traitor?’ It was shameful to let a city be lost that was only six leagues away. The Templars, he declared, would sooner abandon their Order than abandon their chance of vengeance on the infidel. Guy, who had been sincerely persuaded by Raymond an hour before, vacillated and let Gerard over-persuade him. He sent his heralds through the camp to announce that the army would march at dawn for Tiberias.

1187: The Franks encamp at Lubieh

The best road from Sephoria to Tiberias went slightly north of east across the Galilean hills and came down to the lake a mile north of the town. The alternative road ran to the bridge at Sennabra, where a branch followed the shore of the lake north-ward. Saladin’s camp at Kafr Sebt lay across the Sennabra road, by which he had come from over the river. It is possible that traitors from the Christian camp went to tell him that Guy was moving out from Sephoria along the northern road. He therefore led his army for some five miles across the hills to Hattin, where the road began to descend towards the lake. It was a village with broad pastures and abundant water. He was joined there by most of his troops from Tiberias, where only those needed to blockade the castle remained.

The morning of Friday, 3 July, was hot and airless, as the Christian army left the green gardens of Sephoria to march over the treeless hills. Raymond of Tripoli as lord of the fief had the right by feudal custom to command the van. The King commanded the centre, and Reynald with the Orders and Balian of Ibelin brought up the rear. There was no water along the road. Soon men and horses alike were suffering bitterly from thirst. Their agony slowed up the pace of the march. Moslem skirmishers continuously attacked both the vanguard and the rearguard, pouring arrows into their midst and riding away before any counter-attack could be made. By the afternoon the Franks had reached the plateau immediately above Hattin. Ahead of them a rocky hill with two summits rose about a hundred feet, and beyond it the ground fell steeply to the village and on to the lake. It was called the Horns of Hattin. The Templars sent to the King to say that they could go no farther that day. Some of the barons begged him to order the army to press on and fight its way through to the lake. But Guy, moved by the weariness of his men, decided to halt for the night. On the news Raymond rode in from the front crying: ‘Ah, Lord God, the war is over; we are dead men; the kingdom is finished.’ On his advice Guy set up his camp just beyond Lubieh, toward the slope of the Homs, where there was a well, and the whole army grouped itself around him. But the site was ill-chosen, for the well was dry.

Saladin, waiting with all his men in the verdant valley below, could hardly restrain his joy. His opportunity had come at last.

The Christians passed the night in misery, listening to the prayers and songs that came from the Moslem tents below. A few soldiers broke out of the camp in a vain search for water, only to be killed by the enemy. To make their sufferings worse, the Moslems set fire to the dry scrub that covered the hill, and hot smoke poured in over the camp. Under cover of the darkness Saladin moved up his men. When the dawn broke on Saturday, 4 July, the royal army was encircled. Not a cat, says the chronicler, could have slipped through the net.

The Moslem attack began soon after daybreak. The Christian infantry had only one thought, water. In a surging mass they tried to break through down the slope towards the lake gleaming far below. They were driven up a hillock, hemmed in by the flames and by the enemy. Many of them were slaughtered at once, many others were taken prisoner; and the sight of them as they lay wounded and swollen-mouthed was so painful that five of Raymond’s knights went to the Moslem leaders to beg that they might all be slain, to end their misery. The horsemen on the hill fought with superb and desperate courage. Charge after charge of the Moslem cavalry was driven back with losses; but their own numbers were dwindling. Enfeebled by thirst, their strength began to fail them. Before it was too late, at the King’s request, Raymond led his knights in an attempt to burst through the Moslem lines. With all his men he bore down on the regiments commanded by Taki ed-Din. But Taki opened his ranks to let them through, and then closed up again behind them. They could not make their way back again to their comrades so, miserably, they rode from the battlefield, away to Tripoli. A little later Balian of Ibelin and Reynald of Sidon broke their way out. They were the last to escape.

1187: In Saladin s Tent

There was no hope left now for the Christians; but they still fought on, retiring up the hill to the Homs. The King’s red tent was moved to the summit, and his knights gathered round him. Saladin’s young son al-Afdal was at his father’s side witnessing his first battle. Many years afterwards he paid tribute to the courage of the Franks. ‘When the Frankish King had withdrawn to the hill-top,’ he said, ‘his knights made a gallant charge and drove the Moslems back upon my father. I watched his dismay. He changed colour and pulled at his beard, then rushed forward crying: “Give the devil the lie.” So our men fell on the enemy who retreated up the hill. When I saw the Franks flying I cried out with glee: “We have routed them. ” But they charged again and drove our men back again to where my father stood. Again he urged our men forward and again they drove the enemy up the hill. Again I cried out: “We have routed them.” But my father turned to me and said: “Be quiet. We have not beaten them so long as that tent stands there.” At that moment the tent was overturned. Then my father dismounted and bowed to the ground, giving thanks to God, with tears of joy.’

The Bishop of Acre had been killed. The Holy Cross which he had borne into the battle was in the hands of an infidel. Few of the knights’ horses survived. When the victors reached the hilltop, the knights themselves, the King amongst them, were lying on the ground, too weary to fight any more, with hardly the strength to hand their swords over in surrender. Their leaders were taken off to the tent that was erected on the battlefield for the Sultan.

There Saladin received King Guy and his brother the Constable Amalric, Reynald of Chatillon and his stepson Humphrey of Toron, the Grand Master of the Temple, the aged Marquis of Montferrat, the lords of Jebail and Botrun, and many of the lesser barons of the realm. He greeted them graciously. He seated the King next to him and, seeing his thirst, handed him a goblet of rose-water, iced with the snows of Hermon. Guy drank from it and handed it on to Reynald who was at his side. By the laws of Arab hospitality to give food or drink to a captive meant that his life was safe; so Saladin said quickly to the interpreter: ‘Tell the King that he gave that man drink, not I.’ He then turned on Reynald whose impious brigandage he could not forgive and reminded him of his crimes, of his treachery, his blasphemy and his greed. When Reynald answered truculently, Saladin himself took a sword and struck off his head. Guy trembled, thinking that his turn would come next. But Saladin reassured him. ‘A king does not kill a king’, he said, ‘but that man’s perfidy and insolence went too far.’ He then gave orders that none of the lay barons was to be harmed but that all were to be treated with courtesy and respect during their captivity. But he would not spare the knights of the Military Orders, save only the Grand Master of the Temple. A band of fanatical Moslem sufis had joined his troops. To them he gave the task of slaying his Templar and Hospitaller prisoners. They performed it with relish. When this was done he moved his army away from Hattin; and the bodies on the battlefield were left to the jackals and the hyenas.

The prisoners were sent to Damascus, where the barons were lodged in comfort and the poorer folk were sold in the slave-market. So many were there that the price of a single prisoner fell to three dinars, and you could buy a whole healthy family, a man, his wife, his three sons and his two daughters, for eighty dinars the lot. One Moslem even thought it a good bargain to exchange a prisoner for a pair of sandals.

The Christians of the East had suffered disasters before. Their Kings and Princes had been captured before; but their captors then had been petty lordlings, out for some petty advantage. On the Homs of Hattin the greatest army that the kingdom had ever assembled was annihilated. The Holy Cross was lost. And the victor was lord of the whole Moslem world.

1187: Palestine surrenders to Saladin

With his enemies destroyed, it only remained for Saladin to occupy the fortresses of the Holy Land. On 5 July, knowing that no help could come to her, the Countess of Tripoli surrendered Tiberias to him. He treated her with the honour that she deserved and allowed her to go with all her household to Tripoli. Then he moved the bulk of his army down to Acre. The Seneschal Joscelin of Courtenay, who commanded the city, thought only of his own safety. He sent a citizen called Peter Brice to meet Saladin when he arrived before the walls on the 8th, offering its surrender if the lives and possessions of the inhabitants were guaranteed. To many in the city this tame capitulation seemed shameful. There was a short riot in which several houses were burnt; but order was restored before Saladin took formal possession of Acre on the 10th. He had hoped to persuade most of the Christian merchants to stay there. But they feared for the future and emigrated with all their movable possessions. The immense stores of merchandize, silks and metals, jewels and arms, that were abandoned were distributed by the conquerors, particularly by Saladin’s young son al-Afdal, to whom the city was given, amongst their soldiers and comrades. The great sugar-factory was pillaged by Taki ed-Din, to Saladin’s annoyance. While Saladin remained at Acre, detachments of his army received the submission of the towns and castles of Galilee and Samaria. At Nablus Balian’s garrison held out for a few days and obtained honourable terms when it surrendered; and the castle of Toron resisted for a fortnight before its garrison capitulated. There was little other resistance. Meanwhile Saladin’s brother al-Adil came up from Egypt and laid siege to Jaffa. The town would not yield to him; so he took it by storm and sent all the inhabitants, men, women and children, into captivity. Most of them found their way to the slave-markets and harems of Aleppo.

When Galilee was conquered Saladin moved up the Phoenician coast. Most of the survivors from Hattin had fled with Balian to Tyre. It was well garrisoned and the great walls that guarded it from the land were too formidable. When his first attack failed he passed on. Sidon surrendered without a blow on 29 July. Its lord, Reynald, fled to his impregnable inland castle of Beaufort. Beirut attempted to defend itself but capitulated on 6 August. Jebail surrendered a few days later, on the orders of its lord, Hugh Ebriaco, whom Saladin released on that condition. By the end of August there only remained to the Christians south of Tripoli itself Tyre, Ascalon, Gaza, a few isolated castles and the Holy City of Jerusalem.

In September Saladin appeared before Ascalon, bringing with him his two chief captives, King Guy and the Grand Master Gerard. Guy had been told that his liberty could be bought by the surrender of Ascalon; and on his arrival before the walls he harangued the citizens telling them to give up the struggle. Gerard joined his plea to Guy’s; but they answered them both with insults. Ascalon was bravely defended. The siege cost Saladin the life of two of his emirs. But on 4 September the garrison was forced to capitulate. The citizens were allowed to leave with all their portable belongings. They were escorted by Saladin’s soldiers to Egypt and housed in comfort at Alexandria, till they could be repatriated to Christian lands. At Gaza, whose Templar garrison was obliged by the laws of the Order to obey the Grand Master, Gerard’s command that it should surrender was carried out at once. In return for the fortress he obtained his liberty. But King Guy was kept for some months longer in prison, first at Nablus and later at Lattakieh. Queen Sibylla was allowed to come from Jerusalem to join him. As Saladin doubtless expected, their release next spring added to the embarrassment of the Christians.

1187: The Defence of Jerusalem

The day that Saladin’s troops entered Ascalon there was an eclipse of the sun; and in the darkness Saladin received a delegation from the citizens of Jerusalem, which he had summoned to discuss terms for the Holy City’s surrender. But there was no discussion. The delegates refused to hand over the city where their God had died for them. They returned proudly to Jerusalem; and Saladin swore to take it by the sword. In Jerusalem an unexpected helper had arrived. Balian of Ibelin, who was with the Frankish refugees at Tyre, sent to ask Saladin for a safe-conduct to Jerusalem. His wife, Queen Maria, had retired there with her children from Nablus, and he wished to bring them down to Tyre. Saladin granted his request on condition that he only spent one night in the city and did not bear arms. When he came there, Balian found the Patriarch Heraclius and the officials of the Orders trying to prepare the city’s defence; but there was no leader whom the people trusted. They all clamoured that Balian should stay and lead them and would not let him go. Deeply embarrassed, Balian wrote to Saladin to explain the violation of his oath. Saladin was always courteous to an enemy that he respected. He not only forgave Balian but himself sent an escort to convey Queen Maria, with her children, her household and all her possessions, down to Tyre. With her went Balian’s young nephew Thomas of Ibelin, and the young son of Hugh of Jebail. Saladin wept to see these children, heirs to vanished grandeur, pass through his camp into exile.

In Jerusalem Balian did what he could. The population was swollen by refugees from all the neighbouring districts, few of them of use as fighters. For every man there were fifty women and children. There were only two knights in the city; so Balian knighted every boy over sixteen that was born of a noble family and thirty men of the bourgeoisie. He dispatched parties to collect all the food that could be found before the Moslem armies closed round. He took over the royal treasury and the money that Henry II had sent to the Hospital. He even stripped the silver from the roof of the Holy Sepulchre. Arms were given to every man that could bear them.

On 20 September Saladin encamped before the city and began to attack the north and north-west walls. But the sun was in his soldiers’ eyes and the defences there were strong. After five days he moved his camp. For a short moment the defenders believed that he had lifted the siege; but on the morning of 26 September his army was established on the Mount of Olives and his sappers, flanked by his horsemen, were mining the wall near the Gate of the Column, not far from the spot where Godfrey of Lorraine had broken into the city eighty-eight years before. By the 29th there was a great breach in the wall. The defenders manned it as best they could and fought furiously; but they were too few to hold it for long against the hordes of the enemy. The Frankish soldiers wished to make one tremendous sortie and if need be die. But the Patriarch Heraclius had no mind to be a martyr. If they did so, he said, they would leave their women and children to inevitable slavery and he could not give his blessing to so impious an action. Balian supported him; he saw the folly of wasting more lives. On 30 September he went himself to the enemy camp to ask Saladin for terms.

1187: The Surrender of Jerusalem

Saladin had the city at his mercy. He could storm it when he wished; and within the city he had many potential friends. The pride of the Latin Church had always been resented by the Orthodox Christians who formed the majority of the humbler folk in the city. There had been no definite schism. The royal family and the lay nobility, except in Antioch, had shown friendliness and respect to the Orthodox clergy. But the upper hierarchy had been exclusively Latin. In the great shrines of their faith the native Christians had been made to attend ceremonies whose language and ritual were alien to them. They looked back longingly to the days when under just Moslem rulers they had been able to worship as they pleased. Saladin’s confidential adviser for his dealings with the Christian princes was an Orthodox scholar from Jerusalem, called Joseph Batit. He now made contact with the Orthodox communities in the city; and they promised to open the gates to Saladin.

Their intervention was not needed. When Balian came before his tent Saladin declared that he had sworn to take Jerusalem by the sword and only unconditional surrender would absolve him from that oath. He reminded Balian of the massacres committed by the Christians in 1099. Was he to act differently? The battle raged as they spoke; and Saladin showed that his standard had now been raised on the city wall. But at the next moment his men were driven back; and Balian warned Saladin that unless he gave honourable terms the defenders in desperation before they died would destroy everything in the city, including the buildings in the Temple area sacred to the Moslems, and they would slaughter the Moslem prisoners that they held. Saladin, so long as his power was recognized, was ready to be generous, and he wished Jerusalem to suffer as little as possible. He consented to make terms and offered that every Christian should be able to redeem himself at the rate of ten dinars a man, five a woman and one a child. Balian then pointed out that there were twenty thousand poor folk in the city who could never afford such a sum. Could a lump-sum be given by the Christian authorities that would free them all? Saladin was willing to accept 100,000 dinars for the whole twenty thousand. But Balian knew that so much money could not be raised. It was arranged that for 30,000 dinars seven thousand should be freed. On Balian’s orders the garrison laid down its arms; and on Friday, 2 October, Saladin entered Jerusalem. It was the 27th day of Rajab, the anniversary of the day when the Prophet in his sleep had visited Jerusalem and been wafted thence to Heaven.

The victors were correct and humane. Where the Franks, eighty-eight years before, had waded through the blood of their victims, not a building now was looted, not a person injured. By Saladin’s orders guards patrolled the streets and the gates, preventing any outrage on the Christians. Meanwhile each Christian strove to find the money for his ransom and Balian emptied the treasury to raise the promised 30,000 dinars. It was with difficulty that the Hospital and the Temple could be made to disgorge their riches; and the Patriarch and his Chapter looked after themselves alone. It shocked the Moslems to see Heraclius paying his ten dinars for his ransom and leaving the city bowed by the weight of the gold that he was carrying, followed by carts laden with carpets and plate. Thanks to the remains of Henry II’s donation, the seven thousand poor were freed; but many thousands could have been spared slavery if only the Orders and the Church had been more generous. Soon two streams of Christians poured out through the gates, the one of those whose ransoms had been paid by themselves or by Balian’s efforts, the other of those who could afford no ransom and were going into captivity. So pathetic was the sight that al-Adil turned to his brother and asked for a thousand of them as a reward for his services. They were granted to him and he at once set them free. The Patriarch Heraclius, delighted to find so cheap a way of doing good, then asked that he might have some slaves to liberate. He was granted seven hundred; and five hundred were given to Balian. Then Saladin himself announced that he would liberate every aged man and woman. When the Frankish ladies who had ransomed themselves came in tears to ask him where they should go, for their husbands or fathers were slain or captive, he answered by promising to release every captive husband, and to the widows and orphans he gave gifts from his own treasury, to each according to her estate. His mercy and kindness were in strange contrast to the deeds of the Christian conquerors of the First Crusade.

1187: The Refugees

Some of his emirs and soldiers were less kindly. There were tales of Christians being smuggled out in disguise by Moslems who then blackmailed them of all that they possessed. Other Moslem lords professed to recognize escaped slaves and charged high ransoms privately to let their victims go. But wherever Saladin found such practices, his punishment was sharp.

The long line of refugees moved slowly down to the coast, unmolested by the Moslems. They travelled in three convoys, the first led by the Templars, the second by the Hospitallers, and the third by Balian and the Patriarch. At Tyre, already overcrowded with other refugees, only fighting men could be admitted. Near Botrun a local baron, Raymond of Niphin, robbed them of many of their goods. They moved on to Tripoli. There, too, earlier refugees filled the city, and the authorities, short of food, would admit no more and closed the gates against them. It was not till they reached Antioch that they found any resting-place, and even there they were not allowed willingly into the city. The refugees from Ascalon were more fortunate. When Italian merchant captains refused to take them on to Christian ports without heavy fees, the Egyptian government refused to allow the ships to sail till they accepted them free.

The Orthodox Christians and the Jacobites remained in Jerusalem. Each had officially to pay a capitation-tax in addition to his ransom, though many of the poorer classes were excused the payment. The rich amongst them bought up much of the property left vacant by the Franks’ departure. The rest was bought by Moslems and by Jews whom Saladin encouraged to settle in the city. When the news of Saladin’s victory reached Constantinople the Emperor Isaac Angelus sent an embassy to Saladin to congratulate him and to ask that the Christian Holy Places should revert to the Orthodox Church. After a little delay his request was granted. Many of Saladin’s friends had urged him to destroy the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But he pointed out that it was the site, not the building, that the Christians venerated; they would still wish to make pilgrimages there. Nor did he want to discourage that. In fact the Church was only closed for three days. Then Frankish pilgrims were admitted on payment of a fee.

The Christian refugees had not left the city before the Cross over the Dome of the Rock was taken down and all signs of Christian worship removed, and the Mosque al-Aqsa cleaned of all traces of the occupation of the Templars. Both buildings were sprinkled with rose-water and dedicated once more to the service of Islam. On Friday, 9 October, Saladin was present with a vast congregation to give thanks to his God in the Mosque.

1187: Reynald of Sidon’s Diplomacy

With the recovery of Jerusalem Saladin’s chief duty to his faith had been performed. But there were still some Frankish fortresses to be reduced. The Lady Stephanie of Oultrejourdain had been among the ransomed captives at Jerusalem, and she had asked Saladin for the release of her son Humphrey of Toron. He agreed on condition that her two great castles were surrendered to him. Humphrey was sent from his prison to join her; but neither at Kerak nor at Montreal would the garrison obey her order to give themselves up. As she had failed in her bargain she sent her son back into captivity. Her honourable action pleased Saladin, who gave Humphrey his liberty a few months later. Meanwhile al-Adil and the Egyptian army laid siege to Kerak. The siege lasted for more than a year. For many months the defenders were near to starvation. Their women and children were turned out to fend for themselves; some indeed were sold by their men-folk to the Bedouin in return for food. Only when the last horse in the fortress had been eaten did the castle surrender, at the end of 1188. Montreal, less closely pressed, held out for some months longer.

Farther north the Templar castle of Safed surrendered on 6 December 1188, after a month’s heavy bombardment, and the Hospitallers at Belvoir, high over the Jordan valley, followed suit a month later. The Chateau Neuf at Hunin had been occupied some time before. Beaufort, where Reynald of Sidon had taken refuge, was saved by his diplomacy. He was a learned man, with a passionate interest in Arabic literature. He came to Saladin’s tent professing himself willing to surrender his castle and retire to Damascus, if he were allowed three months to settle his affairs. He even hinted that he might embrace Islam. So charming was his conversation that Saladin was convinced of his good faith, only to find out too late that the truce that he had granted had been used to strengthen the castle defences. In the meantime Saladin had moved into the territory of Tripoli and Antioch.

Raymond of Tripoli died about the end of 1187. Soon after his escape from Hattin he had fallen ill of pleurisy, though men thought that his sickness was due to melancholy and shame. Many of his contemporaries considered him a traitor whose selfishness helped to ruin the kingdom; but William of Tyre and Balian of Ibelin both were his friends and defenders. His real tragedy was the tragedy of all the Frankish colonists of the second and third generation, who by temperament and from policy were ready to become part of the Oriental world but were forced by the fanaticism of their newly-come western cousins to take sides; and in the end they could not but take sides with fellow-Christians. He had no children; so he bequeathed his county to his godson Raymond, son of his nearest male relative, Prince Bohemond of Antioch; but he stipulated that should a member of the house of Toulouse come to the East the county must be his. Bohemond accepted the inheritance for his son, then substituted the boy’s younger brother, Bohemond, for fear that Antioch and Tripoli together might be more than one man could defend.

1187: The Defence of Tyre

Indeed, there was soon little left of the inheritance. On 1 July 1188 Saladin swept through the Buqaia, with reinforcements newly come from Sinjar. He passed by the Hospitaller fortress at Krak, which he thought too strong to attack. He moved towards Tripoli; but the arrival there of the King of Sicily’s fleet deterred him. He turned north. At Tortosa he stormed the town, but the Templars’ castle held out against him. He pressed on, under the walls of Marqab, where the Hospitallers tried to dispute his passage. Jabala surrendered on Friday, 15 July, Lattakieh on Friday the 22nd. Lattakieh had been a lovely city, with its churches and palaces dating from Byzantine times. The Moslem chronicler, Imad ed-Din, who was with the army, wept to see it pillaged and ruined. From Lattakieh Saladin turned inland to Sahyun. The vast castle of the Hospitallers was thought to be impregnable; but after a few days of fierce fighting it was taken by assault on Friday, 29 July. On Friday, 12 August, the garrison of Bakas-Shoqr, well protected though their castle was by stupendous ravines, surrendered when no help was forthcoming from Antioch. On Friday the 19th the town of Sarminya fell. A few days later, on the 23rd, Burzey, the southernmost of the Orontes castles, capitulated. Its commander was married to the sister of Saladin’s secret agent, the Princess of Antioch. He and his wife were allowed their liberty. On 16 September the Templar fort of Darbsaq in the Amanus mountains surrendered, and on the 26th the castle of Baghras, which commanded the road from Antioch into Cilicia. But Saladin’s army now was weary, and the troops from Sinjar wished to go home. When Prince Bohemond begged for a truce which recognized all the Moslem conquests, Saladin granted it to him. He could, he thought, finish off the task whenever he chose. For all that was left to Bohemond and his sons were their two capitals of Antioch and Tripoli and the port of Saint Symeon, while the Hospitallers kept Marqab and Krak and the Templars Tortosa.

But farther south there was one other city that Saladin had not taken; and therein he made his great mistake. The refugee barons of Palestine were crowded now in Tyre, the strongest city of the coast, joined to the mainland only by a narrow sandy peninsula, across which a great wall was built. Had Saladin pressed an attack on Tyre as soon as Acre was his, even this wall could not have arrested him. But he delayed just too long. Reynald of Sidon, who then commanded the city, was negotiating the surrender; and Saladin had even sent two of his banners to be displayed on the citadel, when on 14 July 1187, ten days after the battle of Hattin, a ship sailed into the harbour. On board was Conrad, son of the old Marquis of Montferrat and brother of Queen Sibylla’s first husband. He had been living at Constantinople but had been involved in a murder there; so he sailed secretly away with a company of Frankish knights to pay a pilgrimage to the Holy Places. He knew nothing of the disasters in Palestine and made for Acre. When his ship arrived off the port the captain was surprised not to hear the bell that was rung whenever a sail was sighted. He felt that something was wrong so did not cast anchor. Soon a sloop with a Moslem port-official aboard came alongside; and Conrad, pretending to be a merchant, asked what was happening, and was told that Saladin had taken the city four days before. His horror at the news aroused the Moslem’s suspicion; but before he could raise an alarm Conrad had sailed away up the coast to Tyre. There he was welcomed as a deliverer and put in charge of the defence of the city. Saladin’s peace-terms were rejected, and his banners cast into the moat. Conrad was vigorous, ruthless and brave. He saw that the city could be held till help came from the West, and he was confident that on the news of the fall of Jerusalem help would surely come. When Saladin appeared a few days later before Tyre, the vigour of the defence was too much for him. He brought down the Marquis of Montferrat from Damascus and paraded him before the walls threatening his death were the city not given up to him; but Conrad’s filial piety was not strong enough to deflect him from his duty as a Christian warrior. He was unmoved; and Saladin, with his usual kindliness, spared the old man’s life. He raised the siege to march against Ascalon. When next he appeared before Tyre, in November 1187, its fortifications had been strengthened, some naval and military reinforcements had arrived, and the narrow terrain prevented him from using his men and mangonels to advantage. Ten Moslem ships were brought up from Acre; but on 29 December five of them were captured by the Christians; and a simultaneous attack on the walls was driven back. At a council of war Saladin listened to those of his emirs who pointed out that his troops needed a rest. The winter was wet and cold, and there was illness in the camp. On New Year’s Day 1188, Saladin disbanded half his army and retired to conquer the inland castles. Conrad’s energy and confidence had saved the city and with it the continuance of the Christian kingdom.

1187: Saladin’s Honour

Saladin was later to regret very bitterly his failure to capture Tyre. But his achievements had already been tremendous. Whether his triumphs were due to the inevitable response of Islam to the challenge of the intruder Franks, or to the far-sighted policy of his great predecessors, or to the quarrels and the follies of the Franks themselves, or to his own personality, he had given proof of the force and the spirit of the East. At the Horns of Hattin and the gates of Jerusalem he had avenged the humiliation of the First Crusade, and he had shown how a man of honour celebrates his victory.

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