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                                                                                                  Battles in the Kingdom of Heaven 1174-1192

There is little information on the battles during this period apart from Hattin and Arsouf and then it's a bit sketchy. I'm going to try and piece together what information there is and hopefully get a picture of what warfare during this period was like. This is a work in progress so please be patient. If you know of any primary sources in English I'd be happy to hear from you. I only speak English so any foreign sources would have to have been translated. I already have ''Historia Regini Hierosolymitani'' and the biography by Anna Comnena.

Hama 1175

Siege of Harim, Syria 1177

Mount Gisard 1177

Tell Jezer, Ramla 1177

Hims 1178

Hama 1178

Marj'Ayyun 1179
There are no numbers available for the troops involved on both sides. Saladin had invaded Sidon so King Baldwin IV and Count Raymond of Tripoli set out to intercept them. Saladin made camp in the low ground between some hills then sent out a force of skirmishers to raid and scout the surrounding area. Baldwin arrived on the hills overlooking Saladin's camp in the distance. Baldwin marched off the hills down to the plains below, still some distance from Saladin's camp. Baldwins infantry had struggled to keep up with the mounted troops and needed to rest on the plain when they finally arrived sometime after the cavalry. Saladin's scouting force now returned and were attacked by Baldwin's Knights and cavalry. The Ayyubids were routed with many killed, some Knights chased after the fleeing Muslims. The Christian army was now in disorder with the mounted troops scattered after their fight and the infantry exhausted and resting on the plains. Saladin's main army arrived, some of the fleeing skirmishes now rallied and the Ayyubids charged into the disordered ranks of Baldwin's army. The Christian forces had no time to re-group but managed to hold out until more Muslims arrived and overwhelmed them. The Muslim force was just too big and the Christians broke. Many Christians were killed during the battle but many more were slaughtered running away. The lucky ones including King Baldwin escaped to Beaufort castle. It's not known how many men Baldwin lost, but this defeat had a knock on effect as no offensive operations took place for a while afterwards.

Banias 1179

Latani River 1179

Siege at Jacobs Ford 1179

Quneitra 1179

Naval raid by Reynald de Chatillon to Red sea 1182

Siege of Christian Habis Jaldak in the  Latin Principality of Galilee 1182

Conquest of Mesopotamian hinterland 1182

Ayyubids raid in force attacking Zir’in, Forbelet, Mount Tabor 1183

Al-Fule 1183

siege of Christian Kerak 1183

Reynald de Chattlion attacks several Muslim caravans 1185

Cresson Springs May 1st 1187
Saladin had sent an army of 700 ahead of his main army to ravage the lands of Jerusalem (some sources claim 7000, but this seems too high a number for a raiding force). Raymond III of Tripoli was hoping to ally himself with Saladin against Guy De Lusignan, so allowed the Ayyubids to pass through Tiberius unmolested. Raymond did however get word out about the Ayyubid presence. Arrangements were made for the crusaders to gather a force and intercept the Ayyubids. Knights possibly from Qaqun, Al-Fulah and Nazareth were gathered by Gerard De Ridefort, Grand Master of the Templers. Not many Knights were available in the region and only 90 Templers a handful of Hospitallers plus 40 secular Knights were mustered. An unknown number of Turcopoles, possibly 100 and 400 foot soldiers both spearmen and crossbowmen. Also present was Roger de Moulins Grand Master of the Hospitallers. Word had also reached Balian d'Ibelin and Reginald of Sidon, both whom were on the way but never arrived. Balian had stopped at Sebastea for a celebration feast and was a day behind. When he finally arrived at the camp of Gerard De Ridefort it was too late and learned of the disaster from a few survivors returning to the camp.

The Muslim force was led by  one of Saladin's 17 sons Al-Afdal. 700 cavalry; probably a mix of un-armoured horse archers and armoured lances. The Ayyubids were resting at the springs and watering their horses. The area was quite green and wooded with a fresh water spring. Gerard De Ridefort goaded his Knights wanting them to immediately charge. Roger de Moulins advised against such a rash action as it would take them away from their infantry support and put them at a great disadvantage. Gerard had the last word and the Knights charged, leaving their infantry behind they crashed into the Ayyubid force. The Ayyubids stood firm and fought back despite being surprised. Gokbori and Qaymaz al Najmi, two Ayyubid leaders gathered troops and led a counter attack. It's possible this is the point that Roger de Moulins, Grand Master of the Hospitallers was killed after being run through with a lance. The Knights were now surrounded in the woods and being attacked on all sides with spears and swords. It wasn't long before the Knights were overwhelmed and many killed. Just 2 Templers escaped along with Gerard De Ridefort himself, all the other Templers and Hospitallers were killed as they were rarely taken prisoner. It's thought most of the secular Knights were captured not killed. The Ayyubids then attacked the Christian infantry, killing and capturing some and scattering the rest. The Muslims went on to pillage the surrounding area before heading back through Tiberius to join Saladin and the main Ayyubid army.

Battle of the Horns of Hattin 1st July 1187:

Saladin with an army of 60,000 men crossed in to Jordan and met the army of Jerusalem at the hills of Hattin.
The army of Jerusalem was led by King Guy de Lusignan and contained about 20,000 men. The army included about 300 Templers, 250 Hospitallers and detachments from the Orders of Montjoie and St Lazarus.

The Crusader army was encircled and massacred with as few as 3000 escaping with their lives.

The Battle of Hattin, 1187

[Adapted from Brundage] Amid mutual hatred and distrust within their own ranks, the Latin barons faced the renewed Moslem attack. Raymond III of Tripoli and his friends stood opposed to the Latin King and his coterie. Raymond had, in fact, made an alliance with Saladin in order to protect the county of Tripoli against the possibility of Moslem invasion. Yet in this extremity, under grave pressure from the other Latin princes, Raymond and his party yielded and prepared to join the Christian army in defense of the Holy Land. Such a belated reunion, however, could not erase the distrust and bitterness engendered by recent events within the Latin states. By late June, 1187 the armies of the Latin King had assembled to face Saladin's onslaught.

In the year of the Lord's incarnation 1187, the King of Syria [Saladin] gathered together an army as numerous as the sands of the seashore in order to wage war on the land of Juda. He came up to the Jaulan, across the [Jordan] River, and there made camp.

The King of Jerusalem [Guy de Lusignan]t also gathered his army from all of Judea and Samaria. They assembled and pitched camp near the springs at Saffuriyah. The Templars and Hospitallers also assembled many people from all their castles and came to the camp. The Count of Tripoli [Raymond III of Tripoli] likewise rose up with all his people, whom he collected from Tripoli and Galilee and came into the encampment. Prince Reginald of Montreal [Reginlad de Chatillon] also came with his people, as did Balian of Naples [Balian d'Ibelin] with his, Reginald of Sidon [Reginlald Garnier] with his, and the lord of Caesarea in Palestinel [Walter Garnier] with his. Not a man fit for war remained in the cities, towns, or castles without being urged to leave by the King's order. Nor was this host sufficient. Indeed, the King of England's treasure [note: King Henry II of England had a few years earlier donated a considerable sum of money for the defence of the Holy Land. His treasury, which had been placed at the disposal of the military order, was now broken open and used to hire mercenaries to help throw back Saladin's attack.] was opened up and they gave a fee to everyone who could bear a lance or bow into battle. The army was quite large: 1,200 knights, innumerable Turcopoles, and 18,000 or more infantry. They gloried in their multitude of men, the trappings of their horses, in their breastplates, helmets, lances, and golden shields, but they did not believe in God, nor did they hope in the salvation of him who is the protector and savior of Israel. Rather, they were taken up with their own thoughts and became vain.

They sent to Jerusalem to ask the Patriarch to bring the Holy Cross with him to the camp . . . so that they might become bearers and keepers of the Lord's cross…..

Meanwhile, the Syrians crossed the Jordan. They overran and laid waste the area around the springs of Cresson, from Tiberias to Bethany . . . up to Nazareth and around Mount Tabor. Since they found the region deserted by men, who had fled out of fear of them, they set fire to the threshing floors and put everything they found into the flames. The whole region flamed in front of them like a ball of fire. Not satisfied even with this, they ascended the holy mount to the sacred spot on which our Saviour, after the appearance of Moses and Elias, showed his disciples Peter, James, and John the glory of the future resurrection in his transfiguration. The Saracens defiled this place....

After these advance parties had wrought their destruction, Saladin and his whole army crossed the river. Saladin ordered his forces to push on to Tiberias and besiege it. On Thursday, July 2, the city was surrounded by archers and the battle was joined. The Countess [Eschiva, wife of Raymond III of Tripoli] and the Galileans, since the city was not fortified, sent messengers to the Count and King with the news: "The Turks have surrounded the city. In the fighting, they have pierced the walls and are just now entering against us. Send help at once or we shall be taken and made captive."

The Syrians fought and won. When the Galileans saw they could not hold out, they yielded the ramparts and the city. They fled before the pagans into the castle, though the city was taken and burned. But since the King of Egypt [Saladin] heard that the Christian army was approaching against him, he was unable to besiege the castle. He said: "So be it! They are my prisoners."

Toward evening on Thursday, July 2, the King of Jerusalem, after he bad heard the Galileans' letter, called together all the leaders of the army so that they might give council concerning the action to be taken. They all advised that at dawn they should march out, accompanied by the Lord's cross, ready to fight the enemy, with all the men armed and arrayed in battle formation. Thus arrayed they would relieve the city of Tiberias. The Count of Tripoli, when he heard this, spoke: "Tiberias is my city and my wife is there. None of you is so fiercely attached, save to Christianity, as I am to the city. None of you is so desirous as I am to succour or aid Tiberias. We and the King, however, should not move away from water, food, and other necessities to lead such a multitude of men to death from solitude, hunger, thirst, and scorching heat. You are well aware that since the heat is searing and the number of people is large, they could not survive half a day without an abundance of water. Furthermore, they could not reach the enemy without suffering a great shortage of water, accompanied by the destruction of men and of beasts. Stay, therefore, at this midway point, close to food and water, for certainly the Saracens have risen to such heights of pride that when they have taken the city, they will not turn aside to left or right, but will head straight through the vast solitude to us and challenge us to battle. Then our men, refreshed and filled with bread and water, will cheerfully set out from camp for the fray. We and our horses will be fresh; we will be aided and protected by the Lord's cross. Thus we will fight mightily against an unbelieving people who will be wearied by thirst and who will have no place to refresh themselves. Thus you see that if, in truth, the grace of Jesus Christ remains with us, the enemies of Christ's cross, before they can get to the sea or return to the river, will be taken captive or else killed by sword, by lance, or by thirst. But if, which God forbid, things were perchance to go against us, we have our ramparts here to which we could flee. . . ."But the saying of wisdom: "Woe to the land whose King is a child and whose citizens dine in the morning "' [Eccles. 10:6] was fulfilled in them. For our young King followed youthful counsel, while our citizens, in hatred and jealousy, ate their neighbour’s meat. They departed from the advice which would have saved them and others. Because of their foolishness and simple ­mindedness they lost land, people, and selves.

On Friday, July 3, therefore, they marched out by troops, leaving behind the necessities of life. The Count of Tripoli was in the first rank, as befitted his dignity. The others followed on his left or right, according to the custom of the realm. The royal battalion and the battalion of the Holy Cross followed and, because of the lay of the land, the Templars came last, for they were the army's rear guard.

They marched to Saffuriyah so that, as was said before, they could go on to Tiberias. Three miles from the city they came to a hamlet called Marescallia. At this place they were so constrained by enemy attacks and by thirst that they wished to go no further.

They were going to pass through a confined, rocky area in order to reach the Sea of Galilee, which was a mile away. For this reason the Count sent word to the King: "We must hurry and pass through this area, so that we and our men may be safe near the water. Otherwise we will be in danger of making camp at a waterless spot." The King replied: "We will pass through at once.

The Turks were meanwhile attacking the army's rear, so that the Templars and the others in the rear were barely able to struggle on. Suddenly the King (a punishment for sin) ordered the tents to be pitched. Thus were we betrayed to our death. The Count, when he looked back and saw the tents pitched, exclaimed: "Alas, Lord God, the battle is over! We have been betrayed unto death. The Kingdom is finished!"

And so, in sorrow and anguish, they camped on a dry site where, during the night, there flowed more blood than water The sons of Esau [the Muslim army] surrounded the people of God [Crusaders] and set fire to the desert [brush] round about them. Throughout the night the hungry and thirsty men were harassed further by arrows and by the fire's heat and flames. . . . That night God indeed gave them the bread of tears to eat and the wine of compunction to


At length . . . after the clouds of death bad opened, light dawned on a day of sorrow and tribulation, of grief and destruction. When day bad dawned, the King of Syria forsook the city of Tiberias and with his whole army came up to the camping ground to give battle to the Christians. He now prepared to attack our men.

Our men formed their battle lines and hurried to pass through this region in the hope that when they had regained a watering place and had refreshed themselves, they could attack and fight the foe more vigorously. The Count moved out to take the spot which the Turks had already begun to approach.

When our men were arrayed and grouped in battle formation the infantry were ordered to take positions facing the enemy's arrows, so that the infantry would be protected from an enemy charge by the knights' lances. Thus, with each providing protection for the other, they would both be safe.

By this time the Saracens had already arrived. The infantry, banded together in a single wedged­shaped formation, clambered at full speed to the very summit of a high mountain, leaving the army to its fate. The King, the Bishop, and others sent word, begging them to return to defend the Lord's cross, the heritage of the Crucified, the Lord's army, and themselves. They replied: "We are not coming because we are dying of thirst and we will not fight." Again the command was given, and again they persisted in their refusal.

The Templars, Hospitallers, and Turcopoles, meanwhile, were engaged in a fierce rear guard action. They could not win, however, because enemies sprang up on every side, shooting arrows and wounding Christians. When they had gone on for a little bit, they shouted to the King, asking for some help. The King and the others saw that the infantry were not going to return and that they themselves could not hold out against the Turkish arrows without the sergeants. Accordingly, by the grace of the Lord's cross, they ordered the tents to be put up, in order to block the Saracen charges and so that they could hold out more easily. The battle formations were, therefore, broken up. The units gathered around the Holy Cross, where they were confused and intermixed here and there. The men who were with the Count of Tripoli in the first group saw that the King, the Hospitallers, the Templars, and everyone else were jumbled together and mingled with the Turks. They also saw that there was a multitude of the barbarians between themselves and the King, so that they could not get through to return to the Lord's cross. They cried out: "Those who can get through may go, since the battle is not going in our favour. We have now lost even the chance to flee." Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of Syrians were charging at the Christians, shooting arrows and killing them.

In the meantime, the Bishop of Acre, the bearer of the Lord's cross, was mortally wounded. He passed on the task of bearing the cross to the Bishop of Lydda. A large group of pagans charged on the infantry and pitched them from the top of the steep mountain to whose summit they had previously fled. They destroyed the rest, taking some captive and killing others. . . .

Upon seeing this the Count and his men, who had been riding onward, together with Balian of Naples, Reginald of Sidon, and the other half castes, turned back. The speed of their horses in this confined space trampled down the Christians and made a kind of bridge, giving the riders a level path. In this manner they got out of that narrow place by fleeing over their own men, over the Turks, and over the cross. Thus it was that they escaped with only their lives.

The Saracens gathered around the Lord's wooden cross, the King, and the rest, and destroyed the church. What more can be said? The Saracens triumphed over the Christians and did with them as they pleased. . . . What can I say? It would be more fitting to weep and wail than to say anything. Alas! Should I describe with impure lips how the precious wood of the Lord, our redeemer, was seized by the damnable hands of the damned? Woe to me that in the days of my miserable life I should be forced to see such things....

The next day Prince Reginald of Montreal was killed. The Templars and Hospitallers were ransomed from the other Turks and were killed. Saladin gave orders that the Countess and the men who were in the citadel of Tiberias might leave the fort and that, having accepted the security of life, they might go in peace where they wished. Thus it was done. The city was relinquished. Saladin moved in. After the citadel had been fortified, he went to Saffuriyah. On the site where the Christian army had formerly camped, the King of Syria ordered his tents to be pitched.... He remained there for several days, gleefully celebrating the victory. He divided the heritage of the Crucified, not among the heirs, but rather among his execrable emirs and leaders, giving to each his proper portion.


De Expugatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum, [The Capture of the Holy Land by Saladin], ed. Joseph Stevenson, Rolls Series, (London: Longmans, 1875), translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 153-159

Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for use of his translations.

Siege of Christian Jerusalem 1187:

Saladin lays siege and captures all the remaining Christian land except Tyre 1187

Siege of  Christian Tyre 1187

Siege of Muslim Acre 1189

Great battle of Acre 1189

Acre 1190

Sack of Massina 1190

Battle of Cyprus 1191

Siege of Muslim Acre

Arsouf 1191

Siege of Muslim Ascalon

Skirmish at Muslim Darum

Siege of Muslim Darum 1192

Skirmish near Jerusalem

Battle for the caravans 1192

Siege of Christian Jaffa 1192

Jaffa 1192