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Templar Fortified Towns in Outremer

Jerusalem

Jerusalem
Jerusalem had been part of the Roman Empire since 63 BC, governed from Rome. When the Roman Empire was divided by ? in ? into Eastern and Western Parts, Jerusalem became part of the Eastern Roman, later Byzantine, Empire ruled from Constantinople. Jerusalem was lost to Christianity in 638, when it fell peaceably to the armies of Islam and was incorporated into the Muslim Empire.

The Templars’ most important possession, and their headquarters, was on the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem – the site of the Temple of Solomon, from which they took their name. This stood at the south-eastern corner of the walled city of Jerusalem. A recently cleared tunnel near the south-eastern corner of the Haram al-Sharif was perhaps a ‘secret’ entrance to the Templars’ fortified headquarters, used during emergencies.  From Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1097 - 1192


The Templars’ most important possession, and their headquarters, was on the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem – the site of the Temple of Solomon, from which they took their name. This stood at the south-eastern corner of the walled city of Jerusalem. A recently cleared tunnel near the south-eastern corner of the Haram al-Sharif was perhaps a ‘secret’ entrance to the Templars’ fortified headquarters, used during emergencies.  From Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1097 - 1192


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""Fall of Jerusalem 118?


Not surprisingly the morale of Saladin's army was high as it marched to Jerusalem.
Discipline only wavered once when the fortified abbey of Bethany (AI Azariyah)
was sacked, perhaps in reaction to a successful sortie by Jerusalem's garrison which
killed an amir who, according to Ibn al Athir, had been advancing without proper
caution. Despite the disasters suffered by the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Christian
garrison still had plenty of fight left and scoured the region for supplies before
Saladin arrived. The Patriarch Heraclius was in charge but he was no soldier.
An eclipse of the sun had also increased the sense of impending doom. Then Balian


d'Ibelin arrived. He had been in Tyre when Saladin gave him safe conduct to fetch his
family from Jerusalem. On reaching the Holy City, however, Balian was surrounded by
people urging him to take command of their defences. Heraclius even absolved him
from his promise to Saladin. Torn between honour and his religious duty, Balian wrote
a letter to the Sultan explaining that he had no choice but to take command and bid
defiance to the man who had given him safe conduct. Saladin in turn seems to have
accepted this from a man he regarded as a friend - though still an enemy. Balian
d'Ibelin now reorganized the city's defences with typical efficiency and churches were
stripped of their treasures to pay fighting men. Jerusalem was also full of refugees eager
to fight. Nevertheless trained soldiers were few.
Having arrived before Jerusalem on 20 September, Saladin and his engineers
studied the walls while the army made camp. At dawn the following day Saladin's
troops attacked the north-western corner of the city between the Bab Yafa (David
Gate) and the Bab Dimashq (St Stephen Gate). Both sides yelled their battle cries and
arrows poured down on the defenders. All surgeons in the city were employed
plucking them from the bodies of the wounded. The anonymous author of De
Expugnationae Terrae Sanctae records that he himself was struck on the bridge of

his nose and that 'the metal tip has remained there to this day'. Mangonels of various
kinds bombarded the walls, towers and gates while the Christians' own engines on
the Towers of David and Tancred kept up a counter-barrage. The defenders fought
with fanatical fury and made several effective sorties, damaging Saladin's siege
engines and driving his troops back to their protected camps. Parts of the defences
were damaged by powerful stone-throwing engines but not enough to force a breach.
For five days both sides kept this up. The morning sun would be in the attackers'
eyes, giving an advantage to the defence, while in the afternoon the opposite was the
case. Muslim engineers even loaded their mangonels with dust which, driven by the
prevailing wind, blew into the eyes of the defenders while assault parties tried to win
the walls. Muslim losses were heavy and included senior men such as the amir Izz al
Din Isa, whose father held the beautiful castle of Jabar overlooking the Euphrates in
northern Syria.
By 25 September Saladin realized that his men were making no headway against
the western walls so the attack was called off. The mangonels were dismantled, the
tents pulled down and the troops marched out of sight behind the hills. For a while
the defenders thought that the siege was over, but the following day, 26 September,
the Muslims reappeared to the north of Jerusalem. Even by the Christians' own
admission this caught the defence off guard and the Muslims quickly erected zaribas
cut from olive trees to protect themselves as they established a new siege position.
From there they attacked the northern walls as well as the northern sector of the
eastern wall. Their main effort was focused east of the Bab Dimashq, a notoriously
weak sector of the defences, but a part of which had a doubled wall which seems to
have extended east beyond the small Bab al Sahirah (Postern of St Mary Magdalen).
There was also a small postern in the north-eastern stretch of the walls through
which a sortie could be made, but it was difficult to use because of the doubled wall.
Up to 40 mangonels were said to have been erected and these hurled rocks and
naft (Greek fire). At least one was probably a new and powerful counterweight
trebuchet and according to Balian d'Ibelin's squire, Ernoul, it struck the wall of the
city three times on the very day that the Muslims renewed their siege. Next day
Saladin sent forward three selected battalions of armoured engineers who advanced
beneath large shields while archers gave covering fire. Having reached the ditch they
began demolishing the base of the outer wall. Elaborate devices were erected, some
covered with sturdy wooden roofs, beneath which Muslim miners cut away at the
foundations. One tunnel, dug in two days, ran for 30 metres and was supported by
wooden props which, when burned away, brought down a wide swathe of the wall
on 29 September. To guard against sorties from the Bab Dimashq Saladin kept a
large force of armoured cavalry on standby. The defenders also found the covering
fire so intense that they were unable to shoot at the sappers while the rain of rocks
from Saladin's siege machines hindered their countermining efforts. It is worth
noting that the so-called Solomon's Quarry lies beneath the northern wall between
Bab Dimashq and Bab al Sahirah. If the Muslim miners could have reached these
tunnels extending beneath the city they could have worked with virtual impunity.


A desperate sortie by every man in Jerusalem who had horse and weapons was
made through the Bab Ariha (Jehosaphat Gate) but why they chose this gate is
unclear for it led directly down a steep slope into the Kidron valley. Perhaps they
hoped to cross the valley and attack Saladin's headquarters on the Mount of Olives
opposite. Perhaps they tried to follow a narrow path beneath the city wall and come
around the Laqlaq Tower to catch the Muslims in their flank. The attempt was,
however, crushed by Saladin's cavalry.


With about 60,000 people inside the walls, refugees as well as the Latin,
Syriac-Jacobite and Orthodox Christian inhabitants, opinions varied on what
should now be done. The Patriarch Heraclius and other barons promised to pay
5,000 'bezants' - an enormous sum - and distribute weapons to any 50 sergeants
who would guard the newly made breach for a single night. They were not found for
it was clear that Saladin's final assault was due. On the other hand other leading
citizens proposed a suicidal night sortie, seeking death in battle rather than slaughter
within the walls. Heraclius, however, dissuaded them by pointing out that they might
win Paradise but they would leave women and children to lose their souls by
abandoning Christianity.
On 30 September Balian d'Ibelin, as a personal friend of the Sultan, was sent to
the Muslim camp where Saladin was already in contact with the non-Latin Christian
communities within Jerusalem. Relations between the Latins and the SyriacJacobites
had always been bad but now relations with the Orthodox were also at a
low ebb. Joseph Batit, one of Saladin's closest aides and an Orthodox Christian born
in Jerusalem, was actually negotiating with his co-religionists to open a gate in the
north-eastern quarter of Jerusalem where most of them lived. Balian's negotiations
were hard but not long. Twice he was refused an audience while an attempt by
Saladin's troops to seize the breach was driven back. Next day Balian returned to
Saladin's camp to learn that the Sultan had been discussing the matter with his amirs
and religious advisers. Should the Holy City be taken by storm and the defenders
slaughtered as they had slaughtered the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants in 1099?
Saladin reminded Balian how the offer of honourable surrender made to Jerusalem's
delegation outside Ascalon had been scornfully rejected. He also pointed out that he
had sworn to take Jerusalem by storm and was known as a man of his word.
Perhaps believing that any sign of weakness would make matters worse, Balian
threatened that if necessary the garrison would kill its own families, its own animals
and the 5,000 Muslim prisoners still in its hands, destroy its own treasures, demolish
the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque - among the holiest buildings in Islam
- then march out to meet Saladin's troops, ' ...thus we shall die gloriously or conquer
like gentlemen'. Whether this threat showed that the fanaticism of the First
Crusaders was still alive in Jerusalem, or whether it was a last desperate gamble, no
one knows. But neither Saladin nor his officers seemed prepared to risk a holocaust
worse than that of 1099. Instead a peaceful surrender was agreed for 2 October, on
which day Saladin's banners were raised over Jerusalem and trusted amirs posted
at each gate.
The non-Latin Christians could remain but the invading Crusaders must go.
Every man was to pay ten dinars, with five for every woman, one for each child. A
lump sum of 30,000 bezants would pay for 7,000 poor people who could not afford
their own ransoms. Saladin allowed 40 days for the money to be paid. Now it was
time for haggling over ransoms, though most of the quarrelling was within the
Christian ranks. The Military Orders seemed unhappy about using their accumulated
treasure to help those poor who could not pay ransoms and there is doubt about how

hard Heraclius tried to help those unable to pay. The Latins could take any property
they could move, but much was sold in the suq al-'askar which always followed
Saladin's army. When the 40 days was up there were still many poor trapped without
means of paying for their freedom. So while the Christian rich struggled down the
road to the coast laden with what valuables they could carry, Saladin himself paid the
ransoms of many poor people. So disgusted were Saladin's amirs at the lack of
Christian charity that they urged their Sultan to confiscate the wealth flowing out of
the Bab Yafa (Jaffa Gate). Saladin refused to break his agreement, but even so there
were up to 15,000 still in Jerusalem when the deadline came.
Some of the leading ladies of the Kingdom were also found in the city. King Guy's
wife Sibylla was taken to see her husband now imprisoned in the citadel of Neapolis
(Nablus) and the Lady Stephanie, widow of Reynald de Chiitillon, was given her son,
captured at Hattin, in return for ordering the garrisons of Krak and Montreal to
surrender. When they refused, the Lady sent her son back to Saladin who was so struck
by this honourable gesture that he soon let the young man go again. Even before the
last ransoms were paid, the Muslims re-entered the Holy City to reclaim it for Islam.
Their first task was to cleanse various buildings, making them fit for worship once
more. On 9 October 1187 Saladin and many senior religious figures entered Jerusalem
to make their salat (prayers) in the restored Al Aqsa Mosque. New buildings were
commissioned while a palace once used by Patriarch Heraclius was given to sufis
(Muslim mystics) as a convent. The headquarters of the Hospitallers became a religious
college while most of the Latin churches were handed over to other Christian sects.
The fall of Jerusalem did not mean the end of the struggle. -------------------- From Osprey Campaign #019 - Hattin 1187 Saladin's greatest victory

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JERUSALEM, SIEGES OF, 1099, 1187, 1244
Jerusalem was besieged during the First Crusade from 7 June. The city had recently
fallen to the Egyptian Fatimids. Its governor was Iftiqah ad-Dawla. The crusaders were
under Godfrey de Bouillon, Raymond de St Gilles, Robert Curthose, Robert of Flanders
and Tancred. The Muslims removed all animals from outside the city and poisoned the
wells. The crusaders attacked from the north-west. Ships’ timbers from the fleet at Jaffa
were made into siege engines and towers because of the lack of trees. Jerusalem fell on
15 July and the crusaders carried out a sack and massacre, wading up to their ankles in
blood. There were too many corpses to clear and a great stench arose. Iftiqah and a few
others were allowed to leave, after surrendering to Raymond de St Gilles. Jerusalem
became the capital of the new crusading kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1187 Saladin took
Jerusalem from the Christians after Hattin. The defence was under the recently arrived
Balian of Ibelin, who knighted young nobles and other residents to boost morale. The
siege began on 20 September. Balian negotiated the surrender on 2 October. Many were
ransomed. In 1244 Jerusalem was taken by the Khorezsmian Turks. The city fell but the
garrison held out until 23 August when it surrendered. This ended the compromise that
allowed Christians a place in the city. - Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare

 

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