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Battle Of Hattin Essay

1656 words - 7 pages

In 1187, 88 years after the fall of the Jerusalem to the Crusaders, the Franks were defeated in a disastrous battle at Hattin. This battle pitted bitter rivals in Saladin and his Muslim army and the Frankish army under King Guy of Jerusalem. After several days of skirmishes and a day of intense fighting Saladin would emerge victorious. Almost all of Guy’s army of around 20,000 Christians would be killed or captured including Guy himself, though he would be released later. What caused this terrible defeat? Some historians believe that Count Raymond of Tripoli, a prominent Christian leader, was at fault for the Frankish defeat at Hattin, but King Guy of Jerusalem’s numerous mistakes were the ...view middle of the document...

In 1187, Raymond provided that when he captured a Muslim pilgrim caravan on its way to Mecca and held them hostage. Saladin was infuriated by this and was even quoted as saying “The taking of that caravan was the ruin of Jerusalem.”
While Reynald of Chatillon’s impudence was a large cause of Hattin, it wasn’t the only one. Saladin was too smart of a general to attack a united and strong Frankish kingdom. However that wasn’t what he found, the kingdom was split bitterly with Raymond of Tripoli and King Guy on the verge of war. The boy king, Baldwin V, was dead and the court was split over who should replace him. Sybylla, wife of Guy of Lusignan, was put on the throne on the condition that she divorce her husband. She agreed, but as soon as she was coronated she remarried her husband and handed the crown to him. Raymond protested against this and tried to set up a rival king. Eventually this failed and Guy retreated to his wife’s town of Tiberias. Things became hostile between the two, with Guy openly preparing to invade Tiberias. During this time Raymond and Saladin became allies and Raymond was forced to rely on Saladin’s help should Guy invade. This invasion was averted thanks to some diplomacy, and in the spring of 1187 Guy sent an envoy to patch up relations. This envoy came at a most inopportune time however, Saladin had just asked for and received safe passage for an armed party to pass through Raymond’s lands. When the envoy, led by Gerard of Ridefort, heard of this he immediately raised a force of 130 knights and some 400 infantry attacked. They were massacred by the much larger Muslim party. This was not only important because of the provocation of Saladin but because about 10% of the Kingdom’s knights were killed or captured during this battle. The strife between Raymond and Guy weakened the Christians in two ways, by sowing mistrust among the ranks, and by the loss of an important part of the Frankish army at Cresson.
After the disaster at Cresson, Saladin invaded the Latin Kingdom. The ensuing battle was filled by mistakes by all the Christian leaders, and resulted in a resounding defeat for the Frankish forces. The first mistake was in ever engaging with Saladin in the first place. The Christian army was camped in a strong position at Saforie, while Saladin was in a relatively weak position between two Christian forces at Lake Tiberias. He realized this and in a ploy to draw the Christians out he attacked Tiberias, a one time stronghold for Raymond against Guy. Upon hearing this, Guy called a meeting to discuss their course of action. Raymond lobbied heavily in favor of staying at Saforie, despite the presence of his wife and children inside the besieged castle. Raynald of Chatillon and Gerard of Ridefort both were in favor of attacking immediately. For a time, Raymond’s advice won out . However, during the night Guy reversed his decision. Raynald and Gerard had lobbied heavily throughout the night, reminding Guy of Raymond’s...

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