The Patriarch Heraclius quarrels with the king of England—He returns to Palestine without succour—The disappointments and gloomy forebodings of the Templars—They prepare to resist Saladin—Their defeat and slaughter—The valiant deeds of the Marshal of the Temple— The fatal battle of Tiberias—The captivity of the Grand Master and the true Cross—The captive Templars are offered the Koran or death—They choose the latter, and are beheaded— The fall of Jerusalem—The Moslems take possession of the Temple—They purify it with rose-water, say prayers, and hear a sermon—The Templars retire to Antioch—Their letters to the king of England and the Master of the Temple at London—Their exploits at the siege of Acre.
“Gloriosa civitas Dei Jerusalem, ubi dominus passus, ubi sepultus, ubi gloriam resurrectionis ostendit, hosti spurio subjicitur polluenda, nec est dolor sicut dolor iste, cum sepulchrum possideant qui sepulchrum persequuntur, crucem teneant qui crucifixum contemnunt.”—The Lamentation of Geoffrey de Vinisauf over the Fall of Jerusalem.
“The earth quakes and trembles because the king of heaven hath lost his land, the land on which his feet once stood. The foes of the Lord break into his holy city, even into that glorious tomb where the virgin blossom of Mary was wrapt up in linen and spices, and where the first and greatest flower on earth rose up again.”—St. Bernard, epist. cccxxii.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1185.
THE Grand Master, Arnold de Torroge, who died on his journey to England, as before mentioned, was succeeded by Brother Gerard de Riderfort.*
On the tenth of the calends of April, a month after the consecration by the patriarch Heraclius of the Temple church, the grand council or parliament of the kingdom, composed of the bishops, earls, and barons, assembled in the house of the Hospitallers at Clerkenwell in London. It was attended by William king of Scotland and David his brother, and many of the counts and barons of that distant land.† The august assembly was acquainted, in the king’s name, with the object of the solemn embassy just sent to him from Jerusalem, and with the desire of the royal penitent to fulfil his vow and perform his penance; but the barons were at the same time reminded of the old age of their sovereign, of the bad state of his health, and of the necessity of his presence in England. They accordingly represented to King Henry that the solemn oath taken by him on his coronation was an obligation antecedent to the penance imposed on him by the pope; that by that oath he was bound to stay at home and govern his dominions, and that, in their opinion, it was more wholesome for the king’s soul to defend his own country against the barbarous French, than to desert it for the purpose of protecting the distant kingdom of Jerusalem. They, however, offered to raise the sum of fifty thousand marks for the levying of troops to be sent into Asia, and recommended that all such prelates and nobles as desired to take the cross should be permitted freely to leave the kingdom on so pious an enterprise.*
* Bernard Thesaur. cap. 157, apud Muratori script. Rer. Ital. p. 792. Cotton MS., Nero E. vi. p. 60, fol. 466.
† Radulph de Diceto, ut Bup. p. 626. Matt. Par. ad ann. 118.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1185.
Fabian gives the following quaint account of the king’s answer to the patriarch, from the Chron. Joan Bromton: “Lasteley, the kynge gaue answere, and sayde that he myghte not leue hys lande wythoute kepynge, nor yet leue yt to the praye and robbery of Frenchemen. But he wolde gyue largely of hys owne to such as wolde take upon theym that vyaffe. Wyth thys answere the patryarke was dyscontente, and sayde, ‘We seke a man, and not money; welnere euery crysten regyon sendyth unto us money, but no lande sendyth to us a prince. Therefore we aske a prynce that nedeth money, and not money that nedeth a prynce.’ But the kynge layde for hym suche excuses, that the patryarke departed from hym dyscontentyd and comforteless, whereof the kynge beynge aduertysed, entendynge somwhat to recomforte hym wyth pleasaunte wordes, folowed hym unto the see syde. But the more the kynge thought to satysfye liyni wyth hys fay re speche, the more the patryarke was discontented, in so myelin that at the laste he sayde unto hym, ‘Hytherto thou haste reygned gloryously, but here after thou shalt be forsaken of him whom thou at thys tyme forsakeste. Thynke on hym what he hath gyuen to thee, and what thou haste yelden to him agayne: howe fyrste thou were false unto the kynge of Fraunce, and after slewe that holy man Thomas of Caunterburye, and lastely thou forsakeste the proteccyon of Crystes faith.’ The kynge was amoued wyth these wordes, and sayde unto the patryarke, ‘Though all the men of my lande were one bodye, and spake with one mouth, they durste not speke to me such wordys.’ ‘No wonder,’ sayde the patriarke, ‘for they loue thyne and not the; that ys to meane, they loue thy goodes temporall, and fere the for losse of promocyon, but they loue not thy soule.’ And when he hadde so sayde, he offeryd hys hedde to the kynge, sayenge, ‘Do by me ryghte as thou dyddest by that blessed man Thomas of Caunterburye, for I had leur to be slayne of the, then of the Sarasyns, for thou art worse than any Sarasyn.’ But the kynge kepte hys pacyence, and sayde, ‘I may not wende oute of my lande, for myne own sonnes wyll aryse agayne me whan I were absente.’ ‘No wonder,’ sayde the patryarke, ‘for of the deuyll they come, and to the deuyll they shall go,’ and so departyd from the kynge in great ire.”*
* Hoveden annal. apud rer. Angl. script, post Bedam, p. 636, 637.
According to Roger de Hoveden, however, the patriarch, on the 17th of the calends of May, accompanied King Henry into Normandy, where a conference was held between the sovereigns of France and England concerning the proposed succour to the Holy Land. Both monarchs were liberal in promises and fair speeches; but as nothing short of the presence of the king of England, or of one of his sons, in Palestine, would satisfy the patriarch, that haughty ecclesiastic failed in his negotiations, and returned in disgust and disappointment to the Holy Land.† On his arrival at Jerusalem with intelligence of his ill success, the greatest consternation prevailed amongst the Latin Christians; and it was generally observed that the true cross, which had been recovered from the Persians by the Emperor Heraclius, was about to be lost under the pontificate, and by the fault of a patriarch of the same name.
A resident in Palestine has given us some curious biographical notices of this worthy consecrator of our Temple church at London. He says that he was a very handsome parson, and, in consequence of his beauty, the mother of the king of Jerusalem fell in love with him, and made him archbishop of Cæsarea, (biau clerc estoit, et par sa beauté l’ama la mere de roi, et le fist arcevesque de Cesaire). He then describes how he came to be made patriarch, and how he was suspected to have poisoned the archbishop of Tyre. After his return from Rome he fell in love with the wife of a haberdasher who lived at Naplous, twelve miles from Jerusalem. He went to see her very often, and, not long after the acquaintanceship commenced, the husband died. Then the patriarch brought the lady to Jerusalem, and bought for her a very fine stone house. “Le patriarche la fist venir en Jerusalem, et li acheta bonne maison de pierre. Si la tenoit voiant le siecle ausi com li hons fait sa fame, fors tant que ele n’estoit mie avec lui. Quant ele aloit au mostier, ele estoit ausi atornée de riches dras, com ce fust un emperris, et si serjant devant lui. Quant aucunes gens la veoient qui ne la connoissoient pas, il demandoient qui cele dame estoit. Cil qui la connoissoient, disoient que cestoit la fame du patriarche. Ele avoit nom Pasque de Riveri. Enfans avoit du patriarche, et les barons estoient, que là où il se conseilloient, vint un fol ou patriarche, si li dist; ‘Sire Patriarche, dones moi bon don, car je vous aport bones novelles Pasque de Riveri, vostre fame, a une bele file!’”* “When Jesus Christ,” says the learned author, “saw the iniquity and wickedness which they committed in the very place where he was crucified, he could no longer suffer it.”
* The above passage is almost literally translated from Abbot Bromton’s Chronicle. The Patriarch there says to the king, “Hactenus gloriose regnasti, sed amodo ipse te deseret quern tu deseruisti. Recole quæ dominus tibi contulit, et qualia illi reddidisti; quomodo regi Franciæ infidus fuisti, beatum Thomam occidisti, et nunc protectionem Christianorum abjecisti. Cumque ad hoc rex excandesceret, obtulit patriarcha caput suum et collum ex ten sum, dicens, ‘Fac de me quod de Thomá fecisti. Adeo libenter volo a te occidi in Anglia, sicut a Saracenis in Syria, quia tu omni Saraceno pejor es.’ Cui rex, ‘Si omnes homines mei unura corpus essent, unoque ore loquerentur, talia mihi dicere non auderent.’ Cui ille, ‘Non est mirum, quia tu et non te diligunt, prasdam etiam et non hominem sequitur turba ista.’ Recedere non possum, quia filii mei insurgerent in me absentem.’ Cui ille, ‘Nec mirum, quia de diabolo venerunt, et ad diabolum ibunt.’ Et sic demum patriarcha navem ascendens in Galliam reversus est.”— Chron.Joan. Bromton, abbatis Jornalensis, script. X. p. 1144, ad ann. 1185.
† Sed hæc omnia præfatus Patriarcha parum pendebat, sperabat enim quod esset reducturus secum ad defensionem Ierosolymitanæ terræ præfatum regem Angliae, vel aliquem de filiis suis, vel aliquem virum magna auctoritatis; sed quia hoc esse non potuit, repatriaturus dolens et confusus a curia recessit.—Hoveden ut sup. p. 630.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT A.D.1185
The Order of the Temple was at this period all-powerful in Palestine, and the Grand Master, Gerard de Riderfort, coerced with the heavy hand of authority the nobles of the kingdom, and even the king himself. Shortly after the return of Heraclius to Palestine, King Baldwin IV. died, and was succeeded by his infant nephew, Baldwin V., who was crowned in the church of the Resurrection, and was afterwards royally entertained by the Templars in the Temple of Solomon, according to ancient custom.† The young king died at Acre after a short reign of only seven months, and the Templars brought the body to Jerusalem, and buried it in the tombs of the Christian kings. The Grand Master of the Temple then raised Sibylla, the mother of the deceased monarch, and her second husband, Guy of Lusignan, to the throne. Gerard de Riderfort surrounded the palace with troops; he closed the gates of Jerusalem, and delivered the regalia to the Patriarch. He then conducted Sibylla and her husband to the church of the Resurrection, where they were both crowned by Heraclius, and were afterwards entertained at dinner in the Temple. Guy de Lusignan was a prince of handsome person, but of such base renown, that his own brother Geoffrey was heard to exclaim, “Since they have made him a king, surely they would have made me a God!” These proceedings led to endless discord and dissension; Raymond, Count of Tripoli, withdrew from court; many of the barons refused to do homage, and the state was torn by faction and dissension at a time when all the energies of the population were required to defend the country from the Moslems.*
* Contin. Hist. Bell. Sacr. apud Martene , tom. v. col. 606. It appears from Mansi that this valuable old chronicle, formerly attributed to Hugh Plagon, is the original Frcucli work of Bernard the Treasurer.
† Quand le roi avoit offert sa corone au Temple Dominus, si avaloit uns degres qui sont dehors le Temple, et entroit en son pales au Temple de Salomon, ou li Templiers manoient. La etoient les tables por mengier, ou le roi s’asseoit, et si baron et tuit cil qui mengier voloient.—Contin. bell. sacr. apud Martene , tom. v. col. 586.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1186.
Saladin, on the other hand, had been carefully consolidating and strengthening his power, and was vigorously preparing for the reconquest of the Holy City, the long-cherished enterprise of the Mussulraen. The Arabian writers enthusiastically recount his pious exhortations to the true believers, and describe with vast enthusiasm his glorious preparations for the holy war. Bohadin F. Sjeddadi, his friend and secretary, and great biographer, before venturing upon the sublime task of describing his famous and sacred actions, makes a solemn confession of faith, and offers up praises to the one true God.
“Praise be to God,” says he, “who hath blessed us with Islam, and hath led us to the understanding of the true faith beautifully put together, and hath befriended us; and, through the intercession of our prophet, hath loaded us with every blessing … I bear witness that there is no God but that one great God who hath no partner, (a testimony that will deliver our souls from the smoky fire of hell), that Mohammed is his servant and apostle, who hath opened unto us the gates of the right road to salvation …”
“These solemn duties being performed, I will begin to write concerning the victorious defender of the faith, the tamer of the followers of the cross, the lifter up of the standard of justice and equity, the saviour of the world and of religion, Saladin Abool-modaffer Joseph, the son of Job, the son of Schadi, Sultan of the Moslems, ay, and of Islam itself; the deliverer of the holy house of God (the Temple) from the hands of the idolaters, the servant of two holy cities, whose tomb may the Lord moisten with the dew of his favour, affording to him the sweetness of the fruits of the faith.”†
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
On the 10th of May, A.D. 1187,Malek-el-Afdal, “Most excellent prince,” one of Saladin’s sons, crossed the Jordan at the head of seven thousand Mussulmen. The Grand Master of the Temple immediately despatched messengers to the nearest convents and castles of the Order, commanding all such knights as could be spared to mount and come to him with speed. At midnight, ninety knights of the garrison of La Feue or Faba, forty knights from the garrison of Nazareth, with many others from the convent of Caco, were assembled around their chief, and began their march at the head of the serving brothers and the light cavalry of the Order. They joined themselves to the Hospitallers, rashly engaged the seven thousand Moslems, and were cut to pieces in a bloody battle fought near the brook Kishon. The Grand Master of the Temple and two knights broke through the dense ranks of the Moslems, and made their escape. Roger de Molines, the Grand Master of the Hospital, was left dead upon the field, together with all the other brothers of the Hospital and of the Temple.
* Contin. Hist. ut sup., col. 593, 4. Bernard. Thesaur apud Muratori script, rer. Ital., tom. vii. cap. 147, col. 782, cap. 148, col. 173. Assizes de Jerusalem, cap. 287, 288. Guill Neubr. cap. 16.
† Vita et res gestæ Saladini by Bohadin F. Sjeddadi, apud Schultens, ex. MS. Arab. Pref.
Jacqueline de Mailly, the Marshal of the Temple, performed prodigies of valour. He was mounted on a white horse, and clothed in the white habit of his order, with the blood-red cross, the symbol of martyrdom, on his breast; he became, through his gallant bearing and demeanour, an object of respect and of admiration even to the Moslems. He fought, say the writers of the crusades, like a wild boar, sending on that day an amazing number of infidels to hell! The Mussulmen severed the heads of the slaughtered Templars from their bodies, and attaching them with cords to the points of their lances, they placed them in front of their array, and marched off in the direction of Tiberias.*
The following interesting account is given of the march of another band of holy warriors, who, in obedience to the summons of the Grand Master of the Temple, were hastening to rally around the sacred ensigns of their faith.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
“When they had travelled two miles, they came to the city of Saphet. It was a lovely morning, and they determined to march no further until they had heard mass. They accordingly turned towards the house of the bishop and woke him up, and informed him that the day was breaking. The bishop accordingly ordered an old chaplain to put on his clothes and say mass, after which they hastened forwards. Then they came to the castle of La Feue, (a fortress of the Templars), and there they found, outside the castle, the tents of the convent of Caco pitched, and there was no one to explain what it meant. A varlet was sent into the castle to inquire, but he found no one within but two sick people who were unable to speak. Then they marched towards Nazareth, and after they had proceeded a short distance from the castle of La Feue, they met a brother of the Temple on horseback, who galloped up to them at a furious rate, calling out, Bad news, bad news; and he informed them how that the Master of the Hospital had had his head cut off, and how of all the brothers of the Temple there had escaped but three, the Master of the Temple and two others, and that the knights whom the king had placed in garrison at Nazareth, were all taken and killed.”†
In the great battle of Tiberias or of Hittin, fought on the 4th of July, which decided the fate of the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Templars were in the van of the Christian army, and led the attack against the infidels. The march of Saladin’s host, which amounted to eighty thousand horse and foot, over the hilly country, is compared by an Arabian writer, an eye-witness, to mountains in movement, or to the vast waves of an agitated sea. The same author speaks of the advance of the Templars against them at early dawn in battle array, “horrible in arms, having their whole bodies cased with triple mail.” He compares the noise made by their advancing squadrons to the “loud humming of bees!” and describes them as animated with “a flaming desire of vengeance.”* Saladin had behind him the lake of Tiberias, his infantry was in the centre, and the swift cavalry of the desert was stationed on either wing, under the command of Faki-ed-deen (teacher of religion). The Templars rushed, we are told, like lions upon the Moslem infidels, and nothing could withstand their heavy and impetuous charge. “Never,” says an Arabian doctor of the law, “have I seen a bolder or more powerful army, nor one more to be feared by the believers in the true faith.”
* Chron. terra Sancta apud Martene , tom. v. col. 551. Hist. Hierosol. Gest. Dei, tom. i. pt. ii. p. 1150, 1. Geoffrey de Vinisauf.
† Contin. hist. bell. sacr. ut sup., col. 599.
Saladin set fire to the dry grass and dwarf shrubs which lay between both armies, and the wind blew the smoke and the flames directly into the faces of the military friars and their horses. The fire, the noise, the gleaming weapons, and all the accompaniments of the horrid scene, have given full scope to the descriptive powers of the oriental writers. They compare it to the last judgment; the dust and the smoke obscured the face of the sun, and the day was turned into night. Sometimes gleams of light darted like the rapid lightning amid the throng of combatants; then you might see the dense columns of armed warriors, now immovable as mountains, and now sweeping swiftly across the landscape like the rainy clouds over the face of heaven. “The sons of paradise and the children of fire,” say they, “then decided their terrible quarrel; the arrows rustled through the air like the wings of innumerable sparrows, the sparks flew from the coats of mail and the glancing sabres, and the blood spurting forth from the bosom of the throng deluged the earth like the rains of heaven. … The avenging sword of the true believers was drawn forth against the infidels; the faith of the UNITY was opposed to the faith of the TRINITY, and speedy ruin, desolation, and destruction, overtook the miserable sons of baptism!”
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
The cowardly patriarch Heraclius, whose duty it was to bear the holy cross in front of the Christian array, confided his sacred charge to the bishops of Ptolemais and Lydda†—a circumstance which gave rise to many gloomy forebodings amongst the superstitious soldiers of Christ. In consequence of the treachery, as it is alleged, of the count of Tripoli, who fled from the field with his retainers, both the Templars and Hospitallers were surrounded, and were to a man killed or taken prisoners. The bishop of Ptolemais was slain, the bishop of Lydda was made captive, and the holy cross, together with the king of Jerusalem, and the Grand Master of the Temple, fell into the hands of the Saracens. “Quid plura?” says Radulph, abbot of the monastery of Coggleshale in Essex, who was then on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was wounded in the nose by an arrow. “Capta est crux, et rex, et Magister militiae Templi, et episcopus Liddensis, et frater Regis, et Templarii, et Hospitalarii, et marchio de Montferrat, atque omnes vel mortui vel capti sunt. Plangite super hoc omnes adoratores crucis, et plorate; sublatum est lignum nostra salutis, dignum abindignis indigne heu! heu! asportatum. Væ mihi misero, quod in diebus miserse vitee meae talia cogor videre … O dulce lignum, et suave, sanguine filii Dei roratum atque lavatum! O crux alma, in qua sal us nostra pependit! &c.*
* Muhammed F. Muhammed, N. Koreisg. Ispahan, apud Schultens, p. 18.
† Radulph Coggleshale, an eye-witness, apud Martene, tom. v. col. 553.
“I saw,” says the secretary and companion of Saladin, who was present at this terrible fight, and is unable to restrain himself from pitying the disasters of the vanquished—”I saw the mountains and the plains, the hills and the valleys, covered with their dead. I saw their fallen and deserted banners sullied with dust and with blood. I saw their heads broken and battered, their limbs scattered abroad, and the blackened corpses piled one upon another like the stones of the builders. I called to mind the words of the Koran, ‘The infidel shall say, What am I but dust?’ … I saw thirty or forty tied together by one cord. I saw in one place, guarded by one Mussulman, two hundred of these famous warriors gifted with amazing strength, who had but just now walked forth amongst the mighty; their proud bearing was gone; they stood naked with downcast eyes, wretched and miserable … The lying infidels were now in the power of the true believers. Their king and their cross were captured, that cross before which they bow the head and bend the knee; which they bear aloft and worship with their eyes; they say that it is the identical wood to which the God whom they adore was fastened. They had adorned it with fine gold and brilliant stones; they carried it before their armies; they all bowed towards it with respect. It was their first duty to defend it; and he who should desert it would never enjoy peace of mind. The capture of this cross was more grievous to them than the captivity of their king. Nothing can compensate them for the loss of it. It was their God; they prostrated themselves in the dust before it, and sang hymns when it was raised aloft!”†
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. Ag.D. 1187.
Among the few Christian warriors who escaped from this terrible encounter, was the Grand Master of the Hospital; he clove his way from the field of battle, and reached Ascalon in safety, but died of his wounds the day after his arrival. The multitude of captives was enormous, cords could not be found to bind them, the tent-ropes were all used for the purpose, but were insufficient, and the Arabian writers tell us that, on seeing the dead, one would have thought that there could be no prisoners, and on seeing the prisoners, that there could be no dead. As soon as the battle was over, Saladin proceeded to a tent, whither, in obedience to his commands, the king of Jerusalem, the Grand Master of the Temple, and Reginald de Chatillon, had been conducted. This last nobleman had greatly distinguished himself in various daring expeditions against the caravans of pilgrims travelling to Mecca, and had become on that account particularly obnoxious to the pious Saladin. The sultan, on entering the tent, ordered a bowl of sherbet, the sacred pledge amongst the Arabs of hospitality and security, to be presented to the fallen monarch of Jerusalem, and to the Grand Master of the Temple; but when Reginald de Chatillon would have drunk thereof, Saladin prevented him, and reproaching the Christian nobleman with perfidy and impiety, he commanded him instantly to acknowledge the prophet whom he had blasphemed, or be prepared to meet the death he had so often deserved. On Reginald’s refusal, Saladin struck him with his scimitar, and he was immediately despatched by the guards.*
* Chron. Terræ Sanctæ, apud Martene, tom. v. col. 558 and 545. A most valuable history.
† Omad eddin Kateb-Abou-hamed-Mohamed-Benhamed one of Saladin’s secretaries. Extraits Arabes, par M. Michaud.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
Bohadin, Saladin’s friend and secretary, an eye-witness of the scene, gives the following account of it: “Then Saladin told the interpreter to say thus to the king, ‘It is thou, not I, who givest drink to this man!’ Then the sultan sat down at the entrance of the tent, and they brought Prince Reginald before him, and after refreshing the man’s memory, Saladin said to him, ‘Now then, I myself will act the part of the defender of Mohammed!’ He then offered the man the Mohammedan faith, but he refused it; then the king struck him on the shoulder with a drawn scimitar, which was a hint to those that were present to do for him; so they sent his soul to hell, and cast out his body before the tent-door!”†
Two days afterwards Saladin proceeded in cold blood to enact the grand concluding tragedy. The warlike monks of the Temple and of the Hospital, the bravest and most zealous defenders of the Christian faith, were, of all the warriors of the cross, the most obnoxious to zealous Mussulmen, and it was determined that death or conversion to Mahometanism should be the portion of every captive of either order, excepting the Grand Master of the Temple, for whom it was expected a heavy ransom would be given. Accordingly, on the Christian Sabbath, at the hour of sunset, the appointed time of prayer, the Moslems were drawn up in battle array under their respective leaders. The Mamlook emirs stood in two ranks clothed in yellow, and, at the sound of the holy trumpet, all the captive knights of the Temple and of the Hospital were led on to the eminence above Tiberias, in full view of the beautiful lake of Gennesareth, whose bold and mountainous shores had been the scene of so many of their Saviour’s miracles. There, as the last rays of the sun were fading away from the mountain tops, they were called upon to deny him who had been crucified, to choose God for their Lord, Islam for their faith, Mecca for their temple, the Moslems for their brethren, and Mahomet for their prophet. To a man they refused, and were all decapitated in the presence of Saladin by the devout zealots of his army, and the doctors and expounders of the law. An oriental historian, who was present, says that Saladin sat with a smiling countenance viewing the execution, and that some of the executioners cut off the heads with a degree of dexterity that excited great applause.* “Oh,” says Omad’eddin Muhammed, “how beautiful an ornament is the blood of the infidels sprinkled over the followers of the faith and the true religion!”
* Contin. hist. bell. sacr. apud Martene, tom. v. col. 608. Bernard. Thesaur. apud Muratori script, rer. Ital., cap. 46. col. 791.
† Bohaam, cap. 35. Abulfeda. Abulpharag.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
If the Mussulmen displayed a becoming zeal in the decapitation and annihilation of the infidel Templars, these last manifested a no less praiseworthy eagerness for martyrdom by the swords of the unbelieving Moslems. The Knight Templar, Brother Nicolas, strove vigorously, we are told, with his companions to be the first to suffer, and with great difficulty accomplished his purpose.† It was believed by the Christians, in accordance with the superstitious ideas of those times, that heaven testified its approbation by a visible sign, and that for three nights, during which the bodies of the Templars remained unburied on the field, celestial rays of light played around the corpses of those holy martyrs.‡
The government of the Order of the Temple, in consequence of the captivity of the Grand Master, devolved upon the Grand Preceptor of the kingdom of Jerusalem, who addressed letters to all the brethren in the West, imploring instant aid and assistance. One of these letters was duly received by Brother Geoffrey, Master of the Temple at London, as follows:
“Brother Terric, Grand Preceptor of the poor house of the Temple, and every poor brother, and the whole convent, now, alas! almost annihilated, to all the preceptors and brothers of the Temple to whom these letters may come, salvation through him to whom our fervent aspirations are addressed, through him who causeth the sun and the moon to reign marvellous.”
* Omad eddin Kateb, in his book called Fatah, celebrates the above exploits of Saladin. Extraits Arabes, Michaud. Radulph Coggleshale, Chron. Terr. Sanct. Apud Martene tom. v. col. 553 to 559. Bohadin, p. 70. Jac. de Vitr. cap. xciv. Guil. Neubr. apud Hearne, tom. i. lib. iii. cap. 17, 18. Chron. Gervasii, apud X. script, col. 1502. Abulfeda, cap. 27. Abulpharag. Chron. Syr. p. 399, 401, 402. Khondemir. Ben-Schunah.
† Geoffrey de Vinisauf apud Gale, script. Antiq. Anglic, p. 15, “O zelus fidei! O fervor animi !” says that admiring historian, cap. xv. p. 251.
‡Geoffrey de Vinisauf ut sup. cap. v. p. 251.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
“The many and great calamities wherewith the anger of God, excited by our manifold sins, hath just now permitted us to be afflicted, we cannot for grief unfold to you, neither by letters nor by our sobbing speech. The infidel chiefs having collected together a vast number of their people, fiercely invaded our Christian territories, and we, assembling our battalions, hastened to Tiberias to arrest their march. The enemy having hemmed us in among barren rocks, fiercely attacked us; the holy cross and the king himself fell into the hands of the infidels, the whole army was cut to pieces, two hundred and thirty of our knights were beheaded, without reckoning the sixty who were killed on the 1st of May. The Lord Reginald of Sidon, the Lord Ballovius, and we ourselves, escaped with vast difficulty from that miserable field. The Pagans, drunk with the blood of our Christians, then marched with their whole army against the city of Acre, and took it by storm. The city of Tyre is at present fiercely besieged, and neither by night nor by day do the infidels discontinue their furious assaults. So great is the multitude of them, that they cover like ants the whole face of the country from Tyre to Jerusalem, and even unto Gaza. The Holy City of Jerusalem, Ascalon and Tyre, and Beyrout, are alone left to us and to the Christian cause, and the garrisons and the chief inhabitants of these places, having perished in the battle of Tiberias, we have no hope of retaining them without succour from heaven and instant assistance from yourselves.”*
Saladin, on the other hand, sent triumphant letters to the caliph. “God and his angels,” says he, “have mercifully succoured Islam. The infidels have been sent to feed the fires of hell! The cross is fallen into our hands, around which they fluttered like the moth round a light; under whose shadow they assembled, in which they boldly trusted as in a wall; the cross, the centre and leader of their pride, their superstition, and their tyranny. … ”†
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
After the conquest of between thirty and forty cities and castles, many of which belonged to the Order of the Temple, Saladin laid siege to the holy city. On the 20th of September the Mussulman army encamped on the west of the town, and extended itself from the tower of David to the gate of St. Stephen. The Temple could no longer furnish its brave warriors for the defence of the holy sanctuary of the Christians; two miserable knights, with a few serving brethren, alone remained in its now silent halls and deserted courts.
* Epistola Terrici Præceptoris Templi de captione terræ Jerosolymitanæ, Hoveden annal. apud rer. Angl. script. post Bedam, p. 636, 637. Chron. Gervas. ib. col. 1502. Radulph de Diceto, apud X. script. col. 635.
† Saladin’s letter to the caliph Nassir Deldin-Illah Aboul Abbas Ahmed.–– Michaud, Extraits Arabes.
After a siege of fourteen days, a breach was affected in the walls, and ten banners of the prophet waved in triumph on the ramparts. In the morning a barefoot procession of the queen, the women, and the monks and priests, was made to the holy sepulchre, to implore the Son of God to save his tomb and his inheritance from impious violation. The females, as a mark of humility and distress, cut off their hair and cast it to the winds; and the ladies of Jerusalem made their daughters do penance by standing up to their necks in tubs of cold water placed upon Mount Calvary. But it availed nought; “for our Lord Jesus Christ,” says a Syrian Frank, “would not listen to any prayer that they made; for the filth, the luxury, and the adultery which prevailed in the city, did not suffer prayer or supplication to ascend before God.”*
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
On the surrender of the city (October 2, A.D. 1187) the Moslems rushed to the Temple in thousands. “The Imauns and the doctors and expounders of the wicked errors of Mahomet,” says Abbot Coggleshale, who was then in Jerusalem suffering from a wound which he had received during the siege, “first ascended to the Temple of the Lord, called by the infidels Beit Allah, (the house of God), in which, as a place of prayer and religion, they place their great hope of salvation. With horrible bellowings they proclaimed the law of Mahomet, and vociferated, with polluted lips, Allah Acbar—Allah Acbar (God is victorious). They defiled all the places that are contained within the Temple; i.e., the place of the presentation, where the mother and glorious virgin Mary delivered the Son of God into the hands of the just Simeon; and the place of the confession, looking towards the porch of Solomon, where the Lord judged the woman taken in adultery. They placed guards that no Christian might enter within the seven atria of the Temple; and as a disgrace to the Christians, with vast clamour, with laughter and mockery, they hurled down the golden cross from the pinnacle of the building, and dragged it with ropes throughout the city, amid the exulting shouts of the infidels and the tears and lamentations of the followers of Christ.”†
When every Christian had been removed from the precincts of the Temple, Saladin proceeded with vast pomp to say his prayers in the Beit Allah, the holy house of God, or “Temple of the Lord,” erected by the Caliph Omar.* He was preceded by five camels laden with rose water, which he had procured from Damascus,† and he entered the sacred courts to the sound of martial music, and with his banners streaming in the wind. The Beit Allah, “the Temple of the Lord,” was then again consecrated to the service of one God and his prophet Mahomet; the walls and pavements were washed and purified with rose water; and a pulpit, the labour of Noureddin, was erected in the sanctuary‡ The following account of these transactions was forwarded to Henry the Second, king of England:
* Les dames de Jerusalem firent prendre cuves et mettere en la place devant le monte Cauviaire, et emplir d’eue froide, et firent lors filles entrer jusqu’au col, et couper lor treices et jeter les. — Contin. hist. bell. sacr. apud Martene, tom. v. col. 615.
† Chron. Terræ Sanctæ, Radulphi Coggeshale, apud Martene, tom, v.col. 572, 573; flentibus christianis, crines et vestes rumpentibus, pectora et capita tundentibus, says the worthy abbot.
ERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
“To the beloved Lord Henry, by the grace of God, the illustrious king of the English, duke of Normandy and Guienne, and count of Anjou, Brother Terric, formerly Grand Preceptor of the house of the Temple at Jerusalem, sendeth greeting,— salvation through him who saveth kings. “Know that Jerusalem, with the citadel of David, hath been surrendered to Saladin. The Syrian Christians, however, have the custody of the Holy Sepulchre up to the fourth day after Michaelmas, and Saladin himself hath permitted ten of the brethren of the Hospital to remain in the house of the hospital for the space of one year, to take care of the sick … Jerusalem, alas, hath fallen; Saladin hath caused the cross to be thrown down from the summit of the Temple of the Lord, and for two days to be publicly kicked and dragged in the dirt through the city. He then caused the Temple of the Lord to be washed within and without, upwards and downwards, with rose-water, and the law of Mahomet to be proclaimed throughout the four quarters of the Temple with wonderful clamour. …”§
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
Bohadin, Saladin’s secretary, mentions as a remarkable and happy circumstance, that the Holy City was surrendered to the sultan of most pious memory, and that God restored to the faithful their sanctuary on the twenty-seventh of the month Regeb, on the night of which very day their most glorious prophet Mahomet performed his wonderful nocturnal journey from the Temple, through the seven heavens, to the throne of God. He also describes the sacred congregation of the Mussulmen gathered together in the Temple and the solemn prayer offered up to God; the shouting and the sounds of applause, and the voices lifted up to heaven, causing the holy buildings to resound with thanks and praises to the most bountiful Lord God. He glories in the casting down of the golden cross, and exults in the very splendid triumph of Islam.**
* See ante, p. 6.
† Saladin ot mandé a Damas por euë rose assés por le Temple laver … il avoit quatre chamiex ou cinq tous chargiés.–– Contin. Hist. Bell. Sacr. col. 621.
‡ Bohadin, cap. xxxvi, and the extracts from Abulfeda, apud Schultens, cpa. Xxvii. P.42, 43. Ib’n Alatsyr, Michaud, Extraits Arabes.
§ Hoveden. annal. apud rer. Angl. Script. post Bedam, p. 645, 646.
** Bohadin apud Schullens, cap. xxxvi.
Saladin restored the sacred area of the Temple to its original condition under the first Mussulman conquerors of Jerusalem. The ancient Christian church of the Virgin (otherwise the mosque Al Acsa, otherwise the Temple of Solomon) was washed with rose-water, and was once again dedicated to the religious services of the Moslems. On the western side of this venerable edifice the Templars had erected, according to the Arabian writers, an immense building in which they lodged, together with granaries of corn and various offices, which enclosed and concealed a great portion of the edifice. Most of these were pulled down by the sultan to make a clear and open area for the resort of the Mussulmen to prayer. Some new erections placed between the columns in the interior of the structure were taken away, and the floor was covered with the richest carpets. “Lamps innumerable,” says Ibn Alatsyr, “were suspended from the ceiling; verses of the Koran were again inscribed on the walls; the call to prayer was again heard; the bells were silenced; the exiled faith returned to its ancient sanctuary; the devout Mussulmen again bent the knee in adoration of the one only God, and the voice of the imaun was again heard from the pulpit, reminding the true believers of the resurrection and the last judgment.”*
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
The Friday after the surrender of the city, the army of Saladin and crowds of true believers, who had flocked to Jerusalem from all parts of the East, assembled in the Temple of the Lord to assist in the religious services of the Mussulman sabbath. Omad, Saladin’s secretary, who was present, gives the following interesting account of the ceremony, and of the sermon that was preached. “On Friday morning at daybreak,” says he, “every body was asking whom the sultan had appointed to preach. The Temple was full; the congregation was impatient; all eyes were fixed on the pulpit; the ears were on the stretch; our hearts beat fast, and tears trickled down our faces. On all sides were to be heard rapturous exclamations of ‘What a glorious sight! What a congregation! Happy are those who have lived to see the resurrection of Islam.’ At length the sultan ordered the judge (doctor of the law) Mohieddin Aboulmehali-Mohammed to fulfil the sacred function of imaun. I immediately lent him the black vestment which I had received as a present from the caliph. He then mounted into the pulpit and spoke. All were hushed. His expressions were graceful and easy; and his discourse eloquent and much admired. He spake of the virtue and the sanctity of Jerusalem, of the purification of the Temple; he alluded to the silence of the bells, and to the flight of the infidel priests. In his prayer he named the caliph and the sultan, and terminated his discourse with that chapter of the Koran in which God orders justice and good works. He then descended from the pulpit, and prayed in the Mihrah. Immediately afterwards a sermon was preached before the congregation.”*
* Ibn-Alatsyr, hist. Arab, and the Raoudhatein, or “the two gardens.” Michaud, Extraits Arabes. Excerpta ex Abulfeda apud Schuliens, cap. xxvii. p. 43. Wilken Comment. Abulfed. hist. p. 148.
This sermon was delivered by Mohammed Ben Zeky. “Praise be to God,” saith the preacher, “who by the power of his might hath raised up Islamism on the ruins of Polytheism; who governs all things according to his will; who overthroweth the devices of the infidels, and causeth the truth to triumph. … I praise God, who hath succoured his elect; who hath rendered them victorious and crowned them with glory, who hath purified his holy house from the filthiness of idolatry … I bear witness that there is no God but that one great God who standeth alone and hath no partner; sole, supreme, eternal; who begetteth not and is not begotten, and hath no equal. I bear witness that Mahomet is his servant, his envoy, and his prophet, who hath dissipated doubts, confounded polytheism, and put down lies, &c. …
“O men, declare ye the blessings of God, who hath restored to you this holy city, after it has been left in the power of the infidels for a hundred years. … This holy house of the Lord hath been built, and its foundations have been established, for the glory of God. … This sacred spot is the dwelling place of the prophets, the kebla, (place of prayer), towards which you turn at the commencement of your religious duties, the birthplace of the saints, the scene of the revelation. It is thrice holy, for the angels of God spread their wings over it. This is that blessed land of which God hath spoken in his sacred book. In this house of prayer, Mahomet prayed with the angels who approach God. It is to this spot that all fingers are turned after the two holy places. … This conquest, O men, hath opened unto you the gates of heaven; the angels rejoice, and the eyes of the prophets glisten with joy…”†
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1187.
Omad informs us that the marble altar and chapel which had been erected over the sacred rock in the Temple of the Lord, or mosque of Omar, was removed by Saladin, together with the stalls for the priests, the marble statues, and all the abominations which had been placed in the venerated building by the Christians. The Mussulmen discovered with horror that some pieces of the holy stone or rock had been cut off by the Franks, and sent to Europe. Saladin caused it to be immediately surrounded by a grate of iron. He washed it with rose-water and Malek-Afdal covered it with magnificent carpets.‡
* Omad eddin Kateb.––Michaud, Extraits Arabes.
† Khotbeh, or sermon of Mohammed Ben Zeky.—Michaud, Extraits Arabes.
‡ See the account of this remarkable stone, ante p. 7, 8.
After the conquest of the holy city, and the loss of the Temple at Jerusalem, the Knights Templars established the chief house of their order at Antioch, to which place they retired with Queen Sibylla, the barons of the kingdom, and the patriarch Heraclius.*
The following account of the condition of the few remaining Christian possessions immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem, was conveyed by the before-mentioned Brother Terric, Grand Preceptor of the Temple, and Treasurer General of the Order, to Henry the Second, king of England.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1188.
“The brothers of the hospital of Belvoir as yet bravely resist the Saracens; they have captured two convoys, and have valiantly possessed themselves of the munitions of war and provisions which were being conveyed by the Saracens from the fortress of La Feue. As yet, also, Carach, in the neighbourhood of Mount Royal, Mount Royal itself, the Temple of Saphet, the hospital of Carach, Margat, and Castellum Blancum, and the territory of Tripoli, and the territory of Antioch, resist Saladin. … From the feast of Saint Martin up to that of the circumcision of the Lord, Saladin hath besieged Tyre incessantly, by night and by day, throwing into it immense stones from thirteen military engines. On the vigils of St. Silvester, the Lord Conrad, the Marquis of Montferrat, distributed knights and foot soldiers along the wall of the city, and having armed seventeen galleys and ten small vessels, with the assistance of the house of the Hospital and the brethren of the Temple, he engaged the galleys of Saladin, and vanquishing them he captured eleven, and took prisoners the great admiral of Alexandria and eight other admirals, a multitude of the infidels being slain. The rest of the Mussulman galleys, escaping the hands of the Christians, fled to the army of Saladin, and being run aground by his command, were set on Are and burnt to ashes. Saladin himself, overwhelmed with grief, having cut off the ears and the tail of his horse, rode that same horse through his whole army in the sight of all. Farewell!”†
Tyre was valiantly defended against all the efforts of Saladin until the winter had set in, and then the disappointed sultan, despairing of taking the place, burnt his military engines and retired to Damascus. In the mean time, negotiations had been set on foot for the release from captivity of Guy de Lusignan king of Jerusalem, and Gerard de Riderfort, the Grand Master of the Temple. No less than eleven of the most important of the cities and castles remaining to the Christians in Palestine, including Ascalou, Gaza, Jaffa, and Naplous, were yielded up to Saladin by way of ransom for these illustrious personages; and at the commencement of the year 1188, the Grand Master of the Temple again appeared in arms at the head of the remaining forces of the Order.‡
* Hist. Hierosol. Gesta Dei per Francos, tom. i, pt. ii. p. 1155.
† Hoveden ut sup. p 646. Schahab’eddin in the Raoudhatein.––Michaud.
‡ Jac. de Vitr. cap. xcv. Vinisauf, apud XV script, p. 257. Trivet ad ann. 1188, apud Hall, p. 93.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1188.
The torpid sensibility of Christendom had at this time been aroused by the intelligence of the fall of Jerusalem, and of the profanation of the holy places by the conquering infidels. Three hundred knights and a considerable naval force were immediately despatched from Sicily, and all the Templars of the West capable of bearing arms hurried from their preceptories to the sea-ports of the Mediterranean, and embarked for Palestine in the ships of Genoa, Pisa, and Venice. The king of England forwarded a large sum of money to the Order for the defence of the city of Tyre; but as the siege had been raised before its arrival, and as Conrad, the valiant defender of the place, claimed a title to the throne of Jerusalem in opposition to Guy de Lusignan, the Grand Master of the Temple refused to deliver the money into Conrad’s hands, in consequence whereof the latter wrote letters filled with bitter complaints to King Henry and the archbishop of Canterbury.*
In the spring of the year 1189, the Grand Master of the Temple marched out of Tyre at the head of the newly-arrived brethren of the Order, and, in conjunction with a large army of crusaders, laid siege to Acre. The “victorious defender of the faith, tamer of the followers of the cross,” hastened to its relief, and pitched his tents on the mountains of Carouba.
GERARD DE RIDERFORT. A.D. 1189.
On the 4th of October, the newly-arrived warriors from Europe, eager to signalize their prowess against the infidels, marched out to attack Saladin’s camp. The Grand Master of the Temple, at the head of his knights and the forces of the Order, and a large body of European chivalry who had ranged themselves under the banner of the Templars, formed a reserve. The Moslem array was broken by the impetuous charge of the soldiers of the cross, who penetrated to the imperial tent, and then abandoned themselves to pillage. The infidels rallied, they were led on by Saladin in person; and the Christian army would have been annihilated but for the Templars. Firm and immovable, they presented, for the space of an hour, an unbroken front to the advancing Moslems, and gave time for the discomfited and panic-stricken crusaders to recover from their terror and confusion; but ere they had been rallied, and had returned to the charge, the Grand Master of the Temple was slain; he fell pierced with arrows at the head of his knights; the seneschal of the Order shared the same fate, and more than half the Templars were numbered with the dead.†
WALTER. A.D. 1190.
To Gerard de Riderfort succeeded the Knight Templar, Brother WALTER.‡ Never did the flame of enthusiasm burn with fiercer or more destructive power than at this famous siege of Acre. Nine pitched battles were fought, with various fortune, in the neighbourhood of Mount Carmel, and during the first year of the siege a hundred thousand Christians are computed to have perished. The tents of the dead, however, were replenished by newcomers from Europe; the fleets of Saladin succoured the town, the Christian ships brought continual aid to the besiegers, and the contest seemed interminable.* Saladin’s exertions in the cause of the prophet were incessant. The Arab authors compare him to a mother wandering with desperation in search of her lost child, to a lioness who has lost its young. “I saw him,” says his secretary Bohadin, “in the fields of Acre afflicted with a most cruel disease, with boils from the middle of his body to his knees, so that he could not sit down, but only recline on his side when he entered into his tent, yet he went about to the stations nearest to the enemy, arranged his troops for battle, and rode about from dawn till eve, now to the right wing, then to the left, and then to the centre, patiently enduring the severity of his pain.” … “O God,” says his enthusiastic biographer, “thou knowest that he put forth and lavishly expended all his energies and strength towards the protection and the triumph of thy religion; do thou therefore, O Lord, have mercy upon him.”†
* Radulph de Diceto ut sup. col. 642, 643. Matt. Par. ad ann. 1188.
† Radulph Coggeshale, p. 574. Hist. Hierosol. apud Gesta Dei, tom. i. pars 2, p. 1165. Radulph de Diceto ut sup, col. 649. Vinisauf, cap. xxix. P. 270.
‡ Ducange Gloss, tom. vi. p. 1036.
At this famous siege died the Patriarch Heraclius.‡
* Geoffrey de Vinisauf, apud XV script. cap. xxxv. p. 427. Rad. Coggleshale apud Martene, tom. v. col. 566, 567. Bohadin, cap. 1. to c.
† Bohadin, cap. v. vi.
‡ L’art de verif. tom. i. p 297.