The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

What Caused and Happened to Christian Crusaders?

How Pope Urban II Opened Artery of Faith For Genesis of the Crusader Kingdoms and Holy War

The Pope of 1095 opened the artery of faith across Europe and caused a great flow of people across the continent. The Holy War of the middle Ages lasted for almost two hundred years and caused a transformation in the Middle East for both Christian and Islamic cultures. Two of the world’s greatest religions came into bloody conflict and thousands upon thousands of people would perish during these violent and fanatical wars. Christian Crusaders would evolve into societies of warrior casts that would wage war upon all non-believers of Christian religion, while the Muslims would have Jihadi warriors of the same magnitude. During these Holy Wars, Christians would set up and create Christian Crusader states governed by Christian Kings, Dukes and Barons – all the ranks of European society would be enforced upon the Christian Crusader ruled provinces of the Middle East.
These Crusader Kingdoms and states would reach their height after the first hundred years until the retaking of Jerusalem by Saladin the Great of the Islamic rulers. But first the Latin Christian soldiers would push their Christian Crusader states forward carving a huge area of land out for themselves in the Middle East – mainly in the countries of today’s Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and parts of today’s Turkey, Syria and fringes of Egyptian territory too.
After the fall of Jerusalem, back to Islam, there were more crusades, but Jerusalem was never retaken. The Crusaders built strong castle fortifications of their own and were able to maintain rule over smaller areas of land along the coast. More crusades would come about, but eventually the Crusader kingdoms would become less influential.
During the high times of the Crusades, when all European Christians believed in the great religious odyssey, many kingdoms or principalities were formed in these heathen lands, colonised by Latin Christian Crusaders. These European invaders held devout conviction in their faithful vanity and what they were attempting seemed very just indeed. The kingdoms that arose and fell were as follows:
1.    Edessa – a large area of land which was short lived in the First Crusade; lasting form 1098 – 1149. It was a large landlocked area east of the Euphrates.
2.    Antioch – Principality of, lasted from 1098 -1268. This land was smaller than Edessa but lasted longer. This Crusader kingdom generated vast wealth. It was mainly controlled by Italian nobles who set up kingdom here during the First Crusade.
3.    Jerusalem – the Kingdom of, the absolute jewel in the crown of the Crusader states. It lasted from 1099 – 1291, but went through a transformation during its almost two hundred years existence. The capitol Jerusalem fell in 1187 to Saladin the Great of the Ayyubid Islamic rulers and much of the Kingdom of Jerusalem came back under Islamic control until King Richard I of England reclaimed much back during the Third Crusade. Though the city of Jerusalem remained under Islamic control. The new capitol became Arce until 1291.
4.    Tripoli – County of, lasted from 1109 – 1289. During the final days of this Crusader nation’s existence, they sent Crusaders to ally with invading Mongols. Because of this; the Islamic forces battling the Mongols, attacked and destroyed the County of Tripoli, ending the existence of Crusader rule that had been for one hundred and seventy years.  

Pope Urban II Dynamic Speech and the Genesis of the Crusades
In the year of 1095, Pope Urban II (Head of the Holy Roman Empire) went to Clermont in France to stand before the council and the multitude of God fearing people who had flocked to see his holiness the Pope. This was at a time when Europe was divided by many feuding Lords and the Holy Roman church was in conflict with the German Empire. Also, there was the division between the eastern Christian factions of the Byzantine Empire competing against Holy Rome’s Latin western bloc of the Holy Roman Empire. All of this made Europe an unstable place to live compared to the advanced cultures in the Middle East and Asia. The one binding thing that Europe did have was its Christian religion that formed the backbone of all cultural ways – the one binding element of this clashing and fragmented society.
Pope Urban II was able to tap into the one thing that could unite all of these quarrelling factions and bring everyone together on a gargantuan quest. The speech, Pope Urban made, would send shock waves throughout all of Christian Europe and bring masses of people from all walks of life to answer the divine call of God. All Europeans believed such a monumental instruction to be from the Almighty, who spoke to them through the divine Pope Urban II. Everyone had been taught this from birth.
The peoples of Europe had been raised to believe that they were imperfect and that they had to lead a life of devotion to be considered by God in judgement when they died – everlasting paradise in Heaven if they lived well and devoted lives or eternal damnation and torment in the fires of Hell if they did not heed such instruction – depending on how they spent their mortal life was everything to all God fearing Christians. To abide by the Pope’s request was a way of achieving divine absolution and the promise of Heaven, doing God’s work as he spoke to the multitude through a human vassal upon Earth – His Holiness the Pope.
Before attending the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II had received a delegation in the northern Italian town of Piacenza. This delegation was from the Eastern Christian faction of the Byzantine Empire and was led by Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Komnenos and they brought news of Muslim Turks who were over running Byzantine territory and defiling all things Christian. The continuous conquest of Byzantine territory would spread into south Eastern Europe and perhaps extend onwards into the devoutly Christian continent. The one thing that all the feuding Lords had in common was absolute faith in their saviour and God. All heathens were to be resisted and crushed.
Under such belief and devotion one might imagine the small people of Europe gathering excitedly to see such an Iconic figure of a Pope – a man championed by Almighty God, standing before them in the flesh. Anything the Pope said would be true, to these people. If Pope Urban II could offer some form of salvation of their souls before God on judgement day; anyone would be eager to do what ever they could before God. Pope Urban II would not disappoint the crowd as he began to address the masses before him. Part of what he said, is as follows:

Most beloved brethren: Urged by necessity, I, Urban, by the permission of God chief bishop and prelate over the whole world, have come into these parts as an ambassador with a divine admonition to you, the servants of God. I hoped to find you as faithful and as zealous in the service of God as I had supposed you to be. But if there is in you any deformity or crookedness contrary to God's law, with divine help I will do my best to remove it. For God has put you as stewards over his family to minister to it. Happy indeed will you be if he finds you faithful in your stewardship. You are called shepherds; see that you do not act as hirelings. But be true shepherds, with your crooks always in your hands. Do not go to sleep, but guard on all sides the flock committed to you. For if through your carelessness or negligence a wolf carries away one of your sheep, you will surely lose the reward laid up for you with God. And after you have been bitterly scourged with remorse for your faults-, you will be fiercely overwhelmed in hell, the abode of death. For according to the gospel you are the salt of the earth [Matt. 5:13]. But if you fall short in your duty, how, it may be asked, can it be salted? O how great the need of salting! It is indeed necessary for you to correct with the salt of wisdom this foolish people which is so devoted to the pleasures of this -world, lest the Lord, when He may wish to speak to them, find them putrefied by their sins unsalted and stinking. For if He, shall find worms, that is, sins, in them, because you have been negligent in your duty, He will command them as worthless to be thrown into the abyss of unclean things. And because you cannot restore to Him His great loss, He will surely condemn you and drive you from His loving presence. But the man who applies this salt should be prudent, provident, modest, learned, peaceable, watchful, pious, just, equitable, and pure. For how can the ignorant teach others? How can the licentious make others modest? And how can the impure make others pure? If anyone hates peace, how can he make others peaceable? Or if anyone has soiled his hands with baseness, how can he cleanse the impurities of another? We read also that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch [Matt. 15:14]. But first correct yourselves, in order that, free from blame, you may be able to correct those who are subject to you. If you wish to be the friends of God, gladly do the things which you know will please Him. You must especially let all matters that pertain to the church be controlled by the law of the church. And be careful that simony does not take root among you, lest both those who buy and those who sell [church offices] be beaten with the scourges of the Lord through narrow streets and driven into the place of destruction and confusion. Keep the church and the clergy in all its grades entirely free from the secular power. See that the tithes that belong to God are faithfully paid from all the produce of the land; let them not be sold or withheld. If anyone seizes a bishop let him be treated as an outlaw. If anyone seizes or robs monks, or clergymen, or nuns, or their servants, or pilgrims, or merchants, let him be anathema [that is, cursed]. Let robbers and incendiaries and all their accomplices be expelled from the church and anthematized. If a man who does not give a part of his goods as alms is punished with the damnation of hell, how should he be punished who robs another of his goods? For thus it happened to the rich man in the gospel [Luke 16:19]; he was not punished because he had stolen the goods of another, but because he had not used well the things which were his.

Christian Europe gathers for the Grand Religious Quest
There was, of course, a great deal more to the long speech that captivated the crowd. The word spread and peoples from all parts of Europe flocked to do God’s work upon a grand adventure in the Holy Land where their saviour Jesus Christ had been born and lived – the very place where he was martyred by the Roman overlords and Jewish religious leaders.
In 1096, Lords and Barons across Europe sold their land and possessions to form armies complete with squires and other ranks. All this to fund their campaign in the Holy land. Peasants of all social ranks packed up and marched alongside the grand processions of knights and soldiers and they left towns all over Europe amid cheering crowds who formed to give all a rapturous send of. Men, women and children marched across Europe in scattered processions bound for the Holy Land. Many so poor they could not afford the cost of ship passage across sea. So they walked down through main Europe and towards the Balkans into Greece and finally, the City of Constantinople – the edge of the known Christian world and capitol of the Byzantine Empire. Upon the way they attacked Jewish communities killing and burning property while charged up with religious zeal and fanaticism.
All of these scattered new Christian Crusader armies began to meet at the great Byzantine city and numbered over 100,000 people ready to do the Christian work of God, in whom they all devoutly believed. Of course not all of these travelling people were knights or soldiers. They came from various walks of life and some very humble in social standing. All shared in the belief of doing God’s will in the Holy Land. This was against an enemy believing in the Islamic work of God in whom all Muslim people devoutly believed. Two of the greatest religions in the world believing in God, but with different ways of worship. And then there was the Hebrews too, who also believed in God without prophets. It might be said that the Middle East was already a place of confusion without the arrival of fanatical Christian Crusaders. But then we can look at things today from a liberal perspective. Such a view was beyond these masses of indoctrinated peoples – gathered in their multitude of thousands upon thousands and with more to come in the future – a mass exodus of Christian Europeans flooding into the Middle East to claim their Holy Land above all and to detriment of all else.
The Byzantine Emperor must have looked upon the Latin Christian Exodus, outside of Constantinople’s walls, with great trepidation for he had, in the past, come into conflict with Latin Christians who were not always consolatory to the orthodox Christianity of the Byzantine. Now, in 1097, he had 30,000 plus Christian Crusader soldiers with all manner of others making up the 100,000 camped outside of Constantinople and in need of food and supplies. Emperor Alexios had a serpent by the tail and wanted to be rid of it. He needed a substantial army to fight the Muslim Turks who threatened the Byzantine Empire and the multitude of Latin zealots would do nicely, but he did not want to lead this Crusade of Latin Christian forces that were flocked outside his great city. He needed to ferry them across the Bosporus into Asia Minor and basically let them lose upon the Muslim Turks. In exchange for food and supplies he wanted assurances from the Crusader knights that Byzantine territories, won back from Islamic rule, would be returned into the Byzantine Empire. This was agreed and the efforts of ferrying the multitude across the Bosporus began for control of the Latin Crusaders was getting more difficult as Constantinople’s citizens were becoming vexed and intolerant of the western Crusader immigrants.
When the multitude of Crusaders landed upon the Asia Minor side of the Bosporus, they began their march into the Holy Land with two of Emperor Alexios’ Generals and some Byzantine soldiers. These combined forces of Crusaders and Byzantines marched upon the city of Nicaea – a stronghold that was formally Byzantine but was now (in 1097) under Islamic control. The Muslim king Kilij Arslan I was not present at the time for he was campaigning against another Islamic kingdom and paid little heed to the Crusaders. This Muslim king underestimated the potential of the Crusader invasion force.
The first Crusaders began to arrive before the walls of Nicaea in early May of 1097 and by 16th they put the city under siege. Forces were stationed all around the city walls but Nicaea was by a lake and the inhabitants could receive supplies this way. Many of the Crusaders lacked food and provisions and requests were sent back to Constantinople for replenishment. By this time many of the Crusaders were falling to sickness and malnutrition while before them stood the first of many quests – a vast stronghold with over 200 towers. Among the Crusaders were Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, Raymond IV of Toulouse, Robert II of Flanders and a strange priest from Amiens called Peter the Hermit. This also included the two Byzantine Generals and their forces. Nicaea was once in the Byzantine Empire and Emperor Alexios wanted the city back.
An army of Turks rod out of the city to engage the Crusader and Byzantine forces but were driven back with severe losses. The Islamic defenders then sent word to their absent king, Kilij Arslan to return with all haste to Nicaea. When King Kilij Arslan realised the extent of the Christian Crusader forces capability; he hastily returned to attack the enemy. He was met by the Crusaders and defeated in a pitched battle that lasted for some time. Many soldiers were killed on both sides but the Crusaders came away from the confrontation victorious.
Nicaea was left to face the Crusader blockade. A huge siege tower was built by the Crusaders and moved forward to take one of the city’s defence towers. The castle tower was damaged but the Muslim defenders held firm. The Byzantine Emperor Alexios I arrived behind the Crusaders with boats that had been rolled across land. These were put into the lake and were able to obstruct Nicaea from receiving supplies. By this time it was mid-June and the siege had been going on for six weeks and almost seven since the first invading forces arrived.
Secretly, and without Crusader knowledge, Emperor Alexios sent his Byzantine emissaries to Nicaea to parley with the Muslim defenders, persuading them that it would be better to surrender to the Byzantines then the Crusaders. This was done and efforts were made by the Crusaders to attack the city walls. When they breached them alongside Byzantine soldiers they found the city was already surrendered to Byzantine Emperor Alexios I. The Crusaders were not allowed into the city for fear of them taking revenge and causing mass slaughter. Only small accompanied Crusader groups went in on a few occasions. In short, the Crusaders were thanked by the Byzantine Empire and sent on their merry way into the Holy land to take what they wanted in the name of Latin Christian Crusaders and their view of God.
The first Crusaders lacked the later dress code of others that became established in later years, but this first exodus had to endure terrible hardship. After leaving Nicaesa, the Crusader army and its, by now, wretched followers split in two. The Norman led contingent with some of the French knights led one expedition. These two groups (Norman and French) agreed to meet at a place called Dorylaeum. They marched eastwards deeper into today’s Syria.
Finding the Crusader State County of Edessa
The Norman contingent went out first and began to march towards Dorylaeum across harsh terrain. They lacked the water and food needed for the quest. Many of the animals brought along had perished unable to tolerate the type of climate and conditions of the Middle East. A large number of the Knights had lost their mounts because they had died on journey and many of the followers – men, women and children had passed away too. Families that had sought a new life in the Holy Land had fallen to the harsh reality of the immense undertaking of the Crusade. By this time, the Crusaders had become a rag-taggle mob under the guidance of Lords and Barons that had given up land and wealth in Europe to go upon the demanding quest. However, these Crusaders that remained still held true to the one binding thing they had left – their devout belief in the Christian way of worshipping God and that nothing came without harsh penance. The more they might endure, the greater the redemption before God.
The new test before this Norman and French crusade, moving east, would be another Turkish army led by Kilij Arslan who had gathered more Jihadi warriors since his defeat trying to break the Siege of Nicaea. He had gained allies and was able to unleash fine Turkish horse bowmen who could ride swiftly and unleash arrows into the Crusader column as they tried to travel towards Doryleaum. Many hundreds were killed among the Crusaders and eventually, the Norman led Knights were forced to form defencive formations to hold off the Turks, while word was sent back to the French Crusader contingent to make haste and come to their aid.
All of the less well armed Christian foot soldiers and none-fighting citizens (women and children) were able to get inside the shielded Crusader knight formations. The Turkish horsemen galloped in close and unleashed arrows before retiring and coming back to do the same manoeuvre.  Because of the Norman defencive arrangement of shield walls was needed to protect the rank and file; the Crusaders were unable to counter attack. The quick hit and run of the Turkish horsemen also made it difficult to inflict casualties upon the Jihadi warriors too. It was developing into a stalemate because the Turks were unable to do much damage to the fighting knights, though they did inflict casualties upon Christian foot soldiers and other Christian civilian migrants – also horses. This type of fighting went on for many hours with Turks galloping in at close range and unleashing arrows then galloping off before the Crusaders could counter attack. The Crusaders would not break ranks and held firm in the blistering heat stubbornly defending their ranks to the best of their ability.
During the day groups of French Crusader knights galloped through the Turkish ranks to reinforce the defencive formation of Norman Crusaders. The relief column was on its way, but small groups galloped ahead in support of their Norman allies and fellow Christian Crusader brethren. Many of the reinforcements were unhorsed and killed by the Turks who tried to prevent the small scattered groups from breaking through towards the besieged Norman defence.
Realising that more Crusaders would be coming to aid the surrounded Crusader army, the Turks became more aggressive and began to push the Crusader Norman defence back into marshes.
While the Turkish Jihadi warriors devoted their efforts to this, the French Crusader contingent arrived in force and attacked the flank of the Muslim horseman. This allowed the Norman contingent to rally while the Turks went into confusion. The Turks did manage to reorganise themselves but only temporarily as another group of Crusaders led by a papal envoy attacked their encampment and put it to the torch.
The Turkish forces retired from the field leaving the Crusaders with victory. The will of the Kilij Arslan and his Muslim soldiers was broken by this staunch Crusader defiance, though the fighting effectiveness of Kilij Arslan and the Turkish horsemen remained.
The Crusaders continued their journey through Anatolia but Kilij Arslan had adopted a scorched earth policy, which caused further hardship upon the Crusaders as they made towards Armenian lands in the Euphrates and a city called Edessa. Among this Crusader force was a man called Baldwin of Boulogne. Through his late wife he had lost all that he owned in Europe and there remained nothing for him to return home to. He decided to acquire a fiefdom for himself in the lands of Armenia. He gained influence among the nobility of Edessa and inherited rule after the mysterious death of the unpopular orthodox ruler. Thus the County of Edessa came about – a Crusader Kingdom principality – others would follow.
The Crusader State Principality of Antioch 
A second force that left Nicaea marched south towards the great city of Antioch. This Crusader force was led mainly by Italian nobles though there were Crusaders from other lands too. Because so many of the knights had lost horses, the Christian knights were using all sorts of beasts to carry them – mules, donkeys and ox. The people of Antioch must have thought the Crusaders rather wretched. The city was so vast that the Crusaders could not possibly surround the great walls completely. Therefore it was relatively easy for the city to be resupplied, especially by sea.
For eight months the siege went on and the Christian forces outside of Antioch were suffering from lack of food and water, yet still they remained – hoping for something to come their way – something divine perhaps. During this time, the Crusaders were forced to defeat two Islamic armies sent to relieve Antioch. In these two confrontations the Crusaders were victorious and then in March of 1098, a Crusader fleet arrived with supplies for the Christian troops outside the walls of Antioch.
In the following May, a third Muslim force was moving towards Antioch to relive the people of the great city. They were made up of combined Muslim factions and were led by a man called Kerbogha. However one of the Crusader’s Italian nobles, Bohemund of Taranto, had won over an Armenian orthodox Christian within the ranks of the Muslim defenders inside the City of Antioch. This traitor allowed a small force of Crusaders to climb the walls and dispatch the guards upon the battlements. They then got to the city gates and opened them, allowing the waiting Crusader horde to enter the city during the night. With swords drawn the fanatical Christian zealots charged into the streets of Antioch in their thousands intent on bloody murder of all Muslim and Jews – women and children of the none Christian inhabitants were to be given no quarter either. 
What followed was nothing short of vile murder and mayhem as the Christian Crusaders screamed, “God wills it, God wills it.” All that came before them were hideously butchered as the killing and slaughter went on for days. Almost all of the inhabitants perished in the bloody murder and mayhem that ensued.
Then after a few days of taking the city, the Crusaders found themselves under siege by the arrival of Kerbogha and his Islamic army. The Crusaders were now in a dire situation. They had butchered almost everyone and could not negotiate terms. The Muslims wanted to put them to the sword the way, their brethren of Antioch had perished – they wanted bloody revenge upon the Christians Crusaders for what had been done.
Visionary or Charlatan
Among the Christian Crusaders in Antioch was a soldier/mystic/layman named Peter of Bartholomew who claimed to have had visions in his dreams. This Frenchman told of Saint Andrew taking him to the church of Saint Peter in Antioch where the lance that had stabbed Christ upon the cross was buried. Many were sceptical of the mystic’s vision but he and a group of people began to dig within the church of Saint Peter until word came of an incredible find – a spear head that fitted such a vision, though many including a papal envoy, believed Peter Bartholomew had planted the spearhead himself.
In desperation the Crusaders came out of the city of Antioch bearing this Holy relic and they met the Muslim forces of Kerbogha in open battle. Against the odds, the Crusaders won the battle and drove the Muslim army off in disarray. Many historians believe that the Muslims forces were not as united as seemed and that there were different warlords in charge of different factions. These were easily fragmented during the battle and maybe the find of the Holy lance might have spurred the Crusaders on causing a placebo effect and belief in their divine ability. Whatever the reason, another great victory had been won and the Crusaders believed this to be God’s will.
The papal envoy still doubted the authenticity of Peter Bartholomew’s vision and find. In desperation, the Frenchman called for a trial by ordeal – a medieval trail by ordeal. A great bonfire was built and Peter Bartholomew fasted for days leading up to the event. On the night of the trial by ordeal, the bonfire cauldron was lit and Peter Bartholomew entered the gauntlet of flames carrying the lance. There are different points of view written from eye witness accounts; some who believed in Peter Bartholomew and those who did not.
He emerged from the other side of the flaming gauntlet on fire and blistering. He fell to the floor alive but badly burnt and injured from the flaming ordeal. His believers viewed it as a sign of success, even though he died a martyr several days later from his injuries. Of course his doubters needed to say no more. He was a charlatan in their eyes.
Bohemund of Taranto kept Antioch for himself – a fiefdom of his own taken by somewhat dubious means. Perhaps God helped those who helped themselves. Thus the Crusader Principality of Antioch was created with Bohemund as its first Prince.
 The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
Many stayed at Antioch and the remaining Crusader who pushed on towards the prize goal of all, found little resistance along the way. Many towns surrendered on terms rather than fight the Crusaders. They were fed at these places as the pushed on towards Jerusalem, the most holy of all cities.
The depleted forces that arrived in summer 1099 were too few in numbers to surround and lay siege to the large city. The numbers, by now, were just 12,000. Of the original Crusade only one in ten remained. Many had perished, some had gone to Edessa with Baldwin of Boulogne, others remained at Antioch with Bohemund and a great many had perished in the battles and from illness. Those that remained were probably the most fanatical and resilient of all however, and the Fatimid of Egypt, who ruled Jerusalem, would not surrender to the Christian zealots who had marched across the Middle East to stand before the walls of the great ancient city. The Fatimid rulers knew the Crusader’s numbers were reduced and perhaps the fire of faith was less fierce now with so few numbers?
Despite all of this the Crusaders began to stubbornly assault the walls of the great city but were easily repulsed. Engineers arrived with timber to build siege engines, and a holy priest was present too. He told of a vision in which all should walk around the city of Jerusalem in bare feet and wait for the walls to fall down. The way of such a happening to the city of Jericho - a biblical event. The ceremony was performed and ended with an argument concerning such an act in the first place. Then news came of a Fatimid relief force making way from Egypt.
In the mid-July, Jerusalem was attacked again by the Crusaders – one force at the gates while another force tried to scale the walls. By now the Christian forces were getting desperate, knowing that the Fatimid Caliphate had sent this new army to relieve the Muslim defenders of Jerusalem. The desperate struggle went on for two days until a force of Crusaders captured a rampart of one of the city walls. Across Jerusalem, the defenders abandoned the walls and retreated into the city streets and dwellings. This allowed the Crusaders to gain access in many parts of the ancient and holy city of Jerusalem.  
What followed was a slaughter that reverberated throughout history to this very day. It is believed by most, that the massacre was extremely violent and even Muslims that were talked into surrender were killed the following day. They were offered protection if they surrendered when a Crusader stopped the killings at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The terrified Muslims agreed to this, but all were subsequently murdered on the following day.
Jews were burnt alive in a synagogue, killed in the streets and their dwellings and where ever the wretched and terrified people of Jerusalem walked or ran; the Crusaders could kill indiscriminately with no fear of retribution. This went on for almost two days and those Muslims and Jews, who remained alive, were taken prisoner and ransomed.
From this violent capturing of Jerusalem by the Christian Crusaders; the new Christian Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem came about. There was some argument about how a leader might be chosen. It came to a man called Godfrey after Raymond of Toulouse turned down the offer. He was not called king at first but soon became known as the King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The first test came within weeks as the Fatimid Army from Egypt consisting of 30,000 Jihadi warriors marched towards Jerusalem. The Crusader Kingdom might perish before it could get started. All attempts at brokering a peace were rejected by the Fatimid Vizier, al-Afdal Shahanshah, who led the Islamic forces.
As the Fatimid Army of Jihadi warriors camped close to the city of Ascalon, they were unaware they had been observed by Crusader spies. Godfrey of Boullion had left Jerusalem to confront the Muslim army with 1,200 knights and 9,000 foot soldiers. His Crusader army came upon the Islamic forces and took them by surprise. The Battle of Ascalon was quick and the Muslim forces were quickly routed though many escaped into the city walls of Ascalon. The Vizier, al-Afdal Shahanshah, escaped back to Egypt aboard a boat.
The Crusaders plundered the abandoned came and returned to Jerusalem, from where they prepared to defend their new and coveted Kingdom of Jerusalem ruled over by their grand Crusader Godfrey – King of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
For many of the rank and file foot soldiers that had endured the long and testing quest; they must have finally felt complete before God in Heaven. They had done right according to their Christian doctrines and fore filled Pope Urban II’s great request – the supreme message from God. Many of these laymen would return to Europe sure in the knowledge that God in Heaven would grant them redemption. Many would become Lay priests – not daring to go out into society and become corrupted by wrong. They had achieved their spiritual goal and might maintain it throughout mortal life with further devotion in monasteries, for Crusaders would be respected in all European Christendom’s for many centuries to come. These men that had done bloody murder in the name of Christian God, were pure and would surely go to Heaven for doing such Godly work in the Holy Land.
It is quite frightening when we take a step back and look at things from a liberal point of view. It is an indulgence in this day and age, but we can do this, none the less. Many of these Crusader men thought they were pious and right before God and firmly believed they were doing just things. Many must have been good men, yet they had slaughtered and killed civilian people in faraway cities because they believed them evil and ungodly – entire masses of people indoctrinated to do such things begs belief, yet the achievements of these driven Crusaders was frighteningly immense.
It is all gone now – what remains is dust in the desert wind.

The appeal by the Byzantine Emperor to Pope Urban II brought about the beginning of the Holy War and the invasion of the European Christian Crusaders. The Holy Land was to become a place where anyone from Christian Europe could emigrate and cleanse themselves of sin by doing God's work against the heathen Muslims. All across Europe, Christians of all classes went upon, what they believed, was a glorious quest. This grand undertaking had a marked impact on all Europeans who retained a warped view of the Holy Wars, even to this day.

When I was a child of 10 years, I was in school assembly. I remember our headmistress asking us children if anyone knew why we went on the crusades. Several hands went up. We all believed that the Muslims were Turks and they were not Christian and very wicked. Our headmistress chose a boy called Ian Brogan and he stood up and gave the answer we all believed to be true.

He said that the Crusaders went to the Holy land to fight the heathens because Turks were going into churches and cathedrals and destroying everything Christian. We all believed this and were most proud of our own Richard the Lion heart. This first Crusade was well before the time of King Richard I, but our infant belief did not know or cater for this.

We had no idea that the Holy War was an atrocious campaign that spanned centuries. We thought it was a war of a few years that King Richard the Lion heart won. None of us would believe that we eventually lost this long quest.

Our kindly old headmistress, who was a decent lady, nodded her approval at Ian Brogan, and told us all this was so. The year was 1971 and I think British people have a more enlightened view of the Crusades nowadays. It is a topic of great interest, but the acceptance that we were narrow minded too, is genuinely realised as well, though only very recently.

The Holy Crusade was a collection of wars that lasted over two hundred years and saw the Crusader Kingdoms rise rapidly one by one and then gradually decline and fall one by one.

Why Saladin the Great Opposed the Strange Leper King of Jerusalem

This blog is about Saladin the Great’s defeat, before his great victory that echoes throughout eternity. It is not derogatory of the great warrior Sultan, but tells the story of a gigantic incident that might have conditioned him better for future conflict. Many people of Europe know of the Crusades, but we fantasise and glory only in the victories and regard the Islamic forces in a dark and sinister light. However, it appears upon greater reflection, that the Crusaders and their Christian Holy war caused great mayhem and slaughter of life. There were heroes and antiheroes on both sides of the Crusader wars and much is viewed from bigoted perspectives on both sides. Let us pretend that all men are good and can be corrupted and amid such turmoil and confusion some people try hard to be good before God in whom, they believe. This could be said of many in the Crusader wars on either side of the colossal conflict that Islam eventually won.

Saladin the Great is a monument of Chivalry in Middle age history among many Europeans, even though he was an enemy of Europe’s Christian Crusader Kingdom. This is with good reason, of course as the Fatimid Caliphate that governed Jerusalem fell to the European Crusader Christians in 1099. This event drove a wedge through an Islamic territory of the Fatimid Egyptian ruled Caliphate that stretched across North Africa into Egypt, up through areas of Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and parts of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It should be noted that over 70,000 Muslims and Jews were massacred by the Christian Crusaders and the violence of the fall of Jerusalem in 1099 AD was horrendous. Many of these wicked slayings were blamed upon Christian Franks.

Perhaps, for this reason – 88 years later, Saladin would not free the Franks that he captured when he retook Jerusalem in 1187, despite the pleas of Balian of Ibelin and the Patriarch of the defeated Crusader Christians. All others were given safe conduct to the ports, while the Franks went into slavery. These are of course things that happened before and after the first of Saladin’s conflicts, as Sultan, with the Crusader Kingdom’s celebrated leper King.

For many centuries, before the Western European Christian Crusaders came; there had been wars with the Byzantine Empire and Western Muslim Caliphates and Eastern Muslim Caliphates. All were wrestling for over dominance of the Holy land territories. Everything was mixed and confused within the Middle East – in other words; business as usual in the Holy Land.

When Saladin the Great was born in 1137 or 1138, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem had existed for around 39 years – a rule of European immigrant Christians. This new born Islamic boy noble would one day become a great man and his name was Yusuf. The Muslim land of his birth bordered this conquered land where Christian Crusaders ruled and continuously tried to expand its Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Young Yusuf (Saladin the Great) grew up among a virtuous Islamic family of the eastern Caliphate ruled by Ayyubids. His birth place was Tikirt in Iraq. He would go through a great many periods of learning as a youngster and also was involved in political turmoil before he became Sultan of Egypt and Syria in 1174 aged about 36 or 37. This growing up and coming of age period was full of many notable events in the life of Saladin the Great. He would have been used to all the finery of a Royal Muslim within the finest and highest courts of the world of Islam – resplendent and gloried with fine architecture throughout the lands of the Middle East.

By the same example – yet in Christian courts, another young man was crowned King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1174 and this Christian King would become an arch enemy, yet a respected foe. This strange young leper king would prove a worthy opponent of Saladin the Great as the new Sultan had to constructively come to terms with the difficulty that the Christian Crusader Kingdom presented to the new Ayyubid Caliphate. From the perspective of the Islamic Caliphate; the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was an extremely aggressive and temperamental unwanted neighbour that had stolen territory.

At this time of 1174 AD the young Crusader Christian King of Jerusalem was just 13 years of age. He had been born in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but was a European Christian coloniser begot by Christian Crusader parents. His name was Baldwin and the young King was crowned King Baldwin IV. Many of the Crusader Christians of Jerusalem were extremely radical and fanatic in their Christian belief and found it difficult to compromise with any credence outside of their own. Part of their doctrines believed in humility and humbleness before God, which led to all sorts of twisted ways of regarding people – sometimes for good and sometimes for bad, depending on which perspective these Holy fighters choose to look at a circumstance.

Therefore it is possible that this 13 year old boy, who was very well educated, could be revered by zealot Christian warriors in a Holy way. These people who believed in the poverty and humbleness of their divine Jesus Christ looked at this blighted young 13 year old boy and regarded him as something special within the kingdom of Jerusalem. He was not expected to reign for long, but then many of the Holy men of Christendom had died young and supporting great Christian beliefs. The Crusaders looked at their 13 year old king stricken with leprosy and thought him divine before God and their Holy war and somehow fitting in the new Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Thus the confrontation was set, between the Islamic Sultan of Egypt and Syria – Saladin the Great and the young Crusader Christian King Baldwin IV (The Leper King). The new name that the Sultan was given ‘Saladin’ was an epithet bestowed upon him for his own rightness and devotion to God. His Islamic warriors and people looked upon the Christian leper king’s blight in a very different way to the Crusader Christians. To many of them it was a terrible judgement bestowed upon the Crusader kingdom through their young king.

For some time there were tensions and cross border raids, this was usual – even a planned naval attack with allied forces of the Byzantine Empire against Saladin in Egypt but nothing came of this. It was all just theory, plan and speculation. Then in 1177 word came to the court of the now 16 year old King Baldwin that Saladin was to launch an invasion from Egypt.

King Baldwin set out to meet Saladin suffering from the aggressive stages of leprosy that slowly ate away at his limbs and flesh, leaving hideous disfiguring deformities. Much of this unsightly blight was hidden beneath a knight’s attire of armour. It is also believed that he wore an elaborate mask too. He had a small number of devoted Templar knights and the leadership of his forces by the unhinged and testing Templar knight, Raynald of Châtillon who had just been released from 16 years of captivity in Syria. This man was supposed to be a fearsome monster of a Crusader warrior and is portrayed in a more cruel light in this day and age, though he was respected and revered by some Crusaders. To others – Crusader and Muslim alike; he was un-chivalrous, cruel and without charity of any kind. However, he was a fearsome opponent as many Muslims warriors had found out to great cost and just the man for the type of challenge that lay before the army of Jerusalem’s Crusader Kingdom.

Saladin the Great would not have earned the ‘Great’ part of his name at this time and his ill-deserved confidence on this occasion did little to show such promise of the great nemesis of the Crusaders, he would one day become. The Sultan led his army towards Jerusalem attacking various places on route. He knew of the young leper king and the small Crusader army of Templars that had been mustered, but he paid scant attention to the possibility of threat because his army was vast and overwhelmingly outnumbered the Templar knights. He did not suppose they would pursue nor have the audacity to attack him. Saladin allowed his army to spread out over a wide area and this was to prove a very big mistake indeed. It is often known that great men learn by their mistakes and become tempered by such things. Perhaps this makes them better prepared for future trials and tribulations and maybe this was so of Saladin when he came upon the young Crusader leper king and his Templar knights at the Battle of Montgisard.

Saladin was unaware of the rapid pursuit of the Crusaders along the coast. He had spread his army out into small groups to pillage and attack scattered locations and the small force he thought he needed to confront the leper king Baldwin IV was inadequate. At a place, sometimes known as Mons Gisardi, the Battle of Montgidard took place.

Saladin’s force was spread out and not in proper formation when the leper king’s Crusader army formed before them under a giant relic of a cross. In the desert heat and by the rolling sea of the coast, the Muslim army began to panic and hurriedly tried to form into battle order.

Among the Templar army of the Christian crusaders, the sick leper king, Baldwin IV was helped down from his horse where he knelt before the relic of the true cross and prayed for a victory. The 16 year old king’s leprosy was in aggressive and advanced stages, but he was seen by his Templar knights and put back on his mount. He ordered and rode with the charge upon the disorderly Ayyubids army of Saladin.

It is believed that the Templar army numbered around 500 knights with several thousand foot soldiers, while Saladin's army was 26,000. This might not have been the entire amount that was present at Montgisard, because many had been dispersed over a wider area and would been raiding and pillaging elsewhere. The Crusaders fell upon the Muslim host with fierce violence and hacked and killed a great many. Amid the turmoil and confusion the young leper king fought fiercely with his bodyguards about him. His limbs were bandaged to hide the wounds and sores eating away at his blighted flesh and his armour would hide the disfigurement of his confounded condition.

Saladin began to see his bodyguards dwindling as they were systematically dispatched by the fanatical Crusaders. He only avoided capture with moments to spare when he managed to escape by swiftly retreating. The whole affair was a disaster for Saladin and his great Islamic army. His losses were estimated at 23,000. If this is all from the entire battle of Montgisard or perhaps including the mopping up of scattered raiding parties later, one can’t say for sure. However, it is believed that Saladin returned to Egypt with only 10% of his invasion force because 90% perished and most of these would have fallen at Montgisard.

The young Leper King Baldwin IV was propelled to divine status among the Templars of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was the darling boy king, stricken by leprosy yet still able to win victories and do God’s work in the eyes of all Christians that flocked to the Holy land on, what they believed, a sacred cause. This was the leper king’s glorifying moment in eternity and he would come up against Saladin again in the remaining eight years he had to live, for he would die from his illness in 1185. With his passing the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem would meet its demise in two years’ time when Saladin – wiser and cautious would reverse the tables and become the nemesis of the Crusader’s at the fall of Jerusalem in 1187.

Saladin would, prior to attacking Jerusalem, kill his arch enemy; Raynald of Châtillon after capturing the man at the Battle of Hattin. Saladin’s chivalry was highly regarded among many knights – Christian and Muslim alike, but he could be fierce and unmerciful to those who he decided were unworthy -   Raynald of Châtillon was one such person.

Eventually Saladin's monument over shadowed that of the strange leper king – champion of the extinct Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. Even in Western Europe where today, Saladin is widely known yet the leper king is like the vanquished Crusader kingdom - dust in the desert winds. Baldwin IV the leper king is probably better known among Muslims of the Middle East then he is by Europeans.   

Raynald of Châtillon 1125 - 1187 - Why Wolf of Kerak was a Mad Holy Land Crusader

Raynald of Châtillon is a very controversial crusader knight of the middle ages. He was born in France in 1125, but his origins are vague. He was a man of middle class ranking in Middle age French society and his father was said to be a Lord of Châtillon. However history seems unsure if Raynald came from Châtillon Sur/on Marne or Châtillon on Loing - each Châtillon is on a river.

This young man seems to have been a reckless and rebellious character and was sent away on the second crusade at age 22 years in 1147. He entered the service of Constance of Antioch - a noble born lady who would be widowed in 1149. Raynald of Châtillon was to spend the next 40 years in the Holy Land until the end of his life aged 62.

Raynald of Châtillon must have made some impression upon Constance of Antioch - perhaps the lady was taken by the brash young chancer - there would have been an obvious element of danger about the young man. It is also possible that the young noble lady of Antioch was manipulated in some way for she was used as a commodity of power from a young age. Her mother, Alice of Antioch, had tried to marry her to a Muslim Prince to gain control over Antioch as a regent. This was when Constance was an infant. Alice of Antioch was banished for this deed, and when she was allowed to return, she tried to broker a marriage alliance with  for herself with a Christian Crusader called Raymond of Poitiers. Through this marriage they could both rule Antioch, by her young daughter, as regents. Again Alice was foiled by Raymond of Poitiers for he married her 9 year old daughter in secret and Alice was forced into humiliated exile. This was in the year of 1136.
In the Holy Land, lower ranked individuals could rise in social standing, far easier than in Europe, doing service for the Holy Roman Empire in the Holy Land. Here, the new Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem had been founded in 1099 AD. Areas all about the Middle East were being colonised by christian invaders and small vassal kingdoms were being set up in various surrounding cities. The Crusader state of Antioch was one such place and now, through devious means, a low rank knight had won control of a small kingdom state within the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

A situation had developed in the Holy Land where wealthy men were pedalling the religion of Christianity as a material business. Anyone could jump on the band waggon and all were deluding themselves that they were doing God's work. Some may have believed this, but many that were intelligent enough to grasp the situation of ambition and acquisition, easily manipulated more pious and devoted men, of lower rank, to naively support hidden and unscrupulous causes. The example of Raymond of Poitiers and Alice of Antioch is such an example. The 9 year old wife could hardly have known what was going on.

Then at the age of 20, Constance of Antioch sees a young knight from France come into her service, though more likely under the command of her husband. This is Raynald of Châtillon's first appearance in the Holy Land. Did he quickly grasp the situation coupled with his rebellious streak?

Raynald of Châtillon would have witnesed Muslims and Hebrews being subjugated to Christian rulers - immigrents who believed their prophet Jesus Christ should have Christian people rule the area. He may have been indifferent to them and probably the lower ranks of his own kind. It is hard to put oneself in the mind of such men when they could do underhand things and pedal forgiveness and penance so easily through their church. Imagine - suddenly there is a land of milk and honey to plunder and there is a God given right to do what you want, provided you rule as a believer of the Christian religion - or say you do, if you are of an unscurulous and cunning mind.

In 1149, two years after Raynald of Châtillon arrived at Anticoh, his Lord and master was killed at the Battle of Inab. Raymond of Poitiers - husband of Constance of Antioch, was beheaded by his Muslim enemy when captured during the battle. His head was sent to the Caliph of Baghdad as a gift. Why young Raynald of Châtillon was not on this expedition is not known for he was in the service of Constance and Raymond the co-rulers of Antioch.

Four years passed for the widow Constance of Antioch, then one day in 1153, she secretly married Raynald of Châtillon. How this secret marriage came about is not well known but it was not approved by King Baldwin III of Jerusalem. Together Raynald and Constance would have two daughters. The marriage of Constance to a man of such low birth was not permitted, but this was the Holy Land where men could better themselves in the service of God. Raynald had got his foot on the ladder of ambition and climbed up a few steps.

From the start, the rebellious and reckless young man caused controversy, often raiding and plundering neighbouring Muslim states in the name of God and the Holy Church of Rome, becoming a difficult person to control within his Crusader state of Antioch.

Raynald of Châtillon became very angry and resentful towards the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I, who Raynald believed, owed him a vast a sum of money. As a form of revenge and punishment, Raynald wanted to invade the island of Cyprus which was ruled by the Byzantine Emperor. For this, Raynald requested that the Patriarch of Antioch (Bishop) grant him the funds necessary to finance such an invasion. When the Patriarch refused this, Raynald had the Patriarch stripped naked and covered in honey. He was then put out in the hot sun for a great length of time, until the exhausted holy man was forced to relent and grant the funds required.
Raynald of Châtillon led his Crusader forces against the Byzantine state of Cyprus, the way he attacked Muslim states in the Holy Land. The island was ravaged and plundered by his knights much to the consternation of the King Baldwin III of Jerusalem and the Byzantine Emperor. The shock waves caused Emperor Manuel I to raise an army and move towards the Holy Land.

Raynald of Châtillon was forced to grovel before the Byzantine Emperor in bare feet and dressed in rags. Later the Emperor went to Raynald's Crusader state of Antioch where he was recieved with pomp and ceromony by Raynald, and then; in full view of his subject, Raynald of Châtillon, had to be seen leading the Byzantine Emperor's horse through the streets. This was always a mark of humility in the Middle East. Also Antioch was forced to accept a new Patriarch - an orthodox Greek Bishop. The last thing wanted by Rome and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was to upset the Eastern Christian Church. This political unrest with neighbouring Byzantine lands was put to rest in 1159.

If 1159 was a bad year for Raynald of Châtillon, then 1160 was to be the beginning of 16 years of trouble and strife. He led an expedition raid against a Muslim Kingdom called Marash and got himself captured. He was taken to the large city of Aleppo in Syria and remained a prisoner for 16 years. He was released in 1176 aged 51. When captured he was 35 years of age and now after a 16 year prison sentence and aged 51, one might think the old ruler of Antioch was mellowed. This was not to be so. Perhaps, as a high ranked official of Antioch, Raynald of Châtillon's confinement might have been better accommodation then most might expect. The Crusader Knight does not seem to have been humbled or integrated with an understanding of the Muslims where he had lived over the years as a prisoner. His wife, Constance of Antioch, had died in 1163 and all rule of Antioch was passed from him.

In 1176, after his years of confinement, Raynald of Châtillon was released from the Islamic prison and sent back to the Holy Land, where he was married to a Princess called Stephanie of Milly. She had been widowed twice and had children. She would have two more by Raynald of Châtillon and was the heiress to Oultrejordain and owned the castle of Kerak.

Raynald was back and into his old habit of attacking Muslim caravans as they travelled through the Kingdom of Jerusalem and her other Crusader states. The signed truces had allowed for this, but Raynald of Châtillon would not abide by these things still - despite all of the trouble this impulsive and disorderly conduct had brought upon him, in the past. History seems to portray him as a very driven pantomime villain, for he would not conform in any way. He even made threats upon the Islamic Holy Temple of Mecca and this brought Saladin the Great upon his castle at Kerak during the year of 1183. At the time there was an arranged marriage ceremony going on between Leper King Baldwin IV's half sister and Stephanie's son.

The antics of Raynald of Châtillon were a constant cause for concern and when the Leper King Baldwin IV died, the reckless knight supported Queen Sibylla (Baldwin IV's sister) and her husband Guy of Lusignan. This led to a fatal confrontation with Saladin's invading army at Hattin. Raynald of Châtillon continued to attack Muslim pilgrimages and caravans - one had Saladin's sister travelling within. This final outrage brought Saladin the Great into the Holy Land to sort the problem of rouge Christian attacks out, once and for all.

The confrontation at Hattin was a huge defeat for the Crusaders and many prisoners were taken - among them Raynald of Châtillon and Guy of Lusignan (ruler of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.) It was 40 years since 1147 when 22 year old Raynald of Châtillon arrived in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and by this time in 1187, the 62 year old Crusader's luck had run dry. Some say Saladin himself plunged a dagger into the unruly Crusader's neck before he was dragged among his Muslim soldiers and beheaded. It was also said to have been done before Guy of Lusignan's eyes. Whatever happened; the problem of Raynald of Châtillon - the mad christian crusader was put to rest. He died as violently and terribly as he had lived, receiving no mercy for his rank and social standing. In the eyes of Saladin and his Muslim soldiers, Raynald of Châtillon (often called the wolf of Kerak) had shown no such protocol to Muslims - why should he receive such respect for his social standing in return. While convulsively chocking from his stab wound in the neck, he was beheaded and probably not to quickly. It is difficult to imagine a person choking for life and standing still so that an executioner can swiftly behead. It was probably a very messy affair.
He died a martyr by some Crusaders, but history is less sympathetic to the man in this day and age. For 40 years he lived out in the Holy Land, spending 16 years as a prisoner, mid way through this time. His monument among the Muslims is that of a terrible land pirate or plunderer known as The Wolf of Kerak. Among Christians and the western world he is remembered not. Only historians with a special interest in the Crusader wars would know of this man. He was also portrayed in the Ridley Scott movie 'Kingdom of Heaven.' 

How Balian of Ibelin Commanded During the Fall of Jerusalem - Capital of the Crusader Kingdom 1187

There is a historical movie by Ridley Scott, called 'The Kingdom of Heaven.' This film is very enjoyable and portrays the events that led to the fall of Jerusalem. Of course the romance of Hollywood film directors added social diversions within the movie that were not so. Mainly concerning the historical characters of Balian of Ibelin and that of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem's sister, Sibylla, who would later become Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem. This romantic story with stunning special effects for the backdrop of the fall of Jerusalem, in the year 1187, is untrue where Balian and Sibylla are concerned, though their paths did cross. I mention this because the film was most entertaining, but the love interest of the two mentioned (Balian and Sibylla) is untrue. Also the happy ever after ending in France was a big no, no as well.

In the movie 'Kingdom of Heaven,' we are presented with a young Balian who is 20 something years of age, and a humble blacksmith working in a remote French village. He is recently a widower and is the bastard son of a titled man who fights in the crusades in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Again this aspect of Balian is not true. 

In reality, Balian was the third son of Barisan of Ibelin with two elder brothers, Hugh and Baldwin. Ibelin was a castle in a province ruled by the Christian crusaders. Concerning Balian's brother Baldwin; it is important to know that King Baldwin of Jerusalem (the king suffering from leprosy) and brother Baldwin are two different people with the same name. This bit of info is to avoid confusion as I continue the blog.

When Barisan of Ibelin died, his eldest son Hugh became the Lord of Castle Ibelin, and when he passed away the castle went to Baldwin who was already the Lord of Rama. He gave Ibelin castle to Balian, hence we have Balian of Ibelin. At this time Balian would have been around 44 to 46 years of age.

The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem had come about in 1099 when the city fell to the Christian crusaders. It has to be visualised from a certain perspective in western points of view when calling it the 'Crusader Kingdom.'

Imagine, if you will, the American continent when it was first discovered by European nations. They carved out chunks of land for themselves, like Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina etc. Well in the middle ages, the christian crusaders tried to do this with the middle east, believing that it was their Holy Land where their prophet was born. Untitled christian men could win renown for themselves and find improved social standing beyond their dreams. Far greater then if they remained in Europe. In the long run; the Muslims would win this long and turbulent struggle for the Holy Land, but it would take many generations to displace the invading Christian Kingdom builders.

Many of Europe's nobility gave themselves regal titles within this Crusader Kingdom under the endorsement of the Popes. From their point of view it was legal and the Muslims and Hebrews no longer had a viable standing concerning the matter. In this time, the Muslim nations tried to battle the European Christian invaders, but for a long period of time; the Christians occupied the Holy Land (The Crusader Kingdom of)
Over the years there had been battles, defeats and victories for the Christian Crusaders, but they also began to argue among themselves concerning lands within the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and when Balian was charged with the overseeing of castle Ibelin he may have been away from the squabbling fractions at the court of Jerusalem. Here King Baldwin IV was in the advancing stages of Leprosy and he was concerned as to who would take control of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. He wanted to marry his sister, Princess Sibylla, to a worthy consort and the person his sister married was Guy of Lusignan. 

In 1183, Balian and his elder brother Baldwin championed their support for a noble called Raymond III of Tripoli against Guy of Lusignan who was acting as a regent for Baldwin IV King of Jerusalem. The king was rapidly dying from leprosy that was eating away at him. Balian's brother Baldwin had not long returned from Muslim captivity after being captured in a battle.

In 1185, King Baldwin IV died aged 24 and the young son of Sibylla was crowned king at just five years of age. The sickly child died a year later as Sibylla became Queen of Jerusalem in 1186 with her husband Guy of Lusignan as her consort. Balian reluctantly accepted the new consort, even though he did not support the man, while his elder brother exiled himself in Antioch. Brother Baldwin is believed to have died here in 1187.

Meanwhile, Consort Guy then went with an army of Crusaders to challenge the Muslim Sultan Saladin who had mobilised his Islamic army because of brutal raids against Muslim caravans that had permission to pass over the Christian held territories. This culminated in the Battle of Hattin in which the Muslim forces defeated the Christian Crusaders. Guy Of Lusignan was captured by Saladin and imprisoned in Damascus.

Balian was in Jerusalem when Saladin led his Muslim army to recapture the city and make Islam the dominant power of the Holy Land and vanquish the Crusader Kingdom of. The siege lasted for several months and though Saladin's forces managed to puncture holes in the walls of Jerusalem; his Muslim forces could not enter the city because the Christian crusaders put up formidable defences against the besiegers.

Balian was able to evacuate his wife and four children to Tripoli unmolested because Saladin observed strict Muslim laws, and Balian was recognised as the highest ranking official defending the besieged city. He had honour status and thus his family had this right and privilege to vacate Jerusalem unmolested. It should be noted that Christian crusaders did not always afford or observe the same protocols towards Muslim nobility.

During Balian's valiant defence of Jerusalem, he made sixty men knights because there was under twelve knights to defend the Holy city when he first began to prepare defences against Saladin's army.

The siege lasted through September and when Sultan Saladin asked to speak with Balian outside the walls, a peace treaty was thrashed out after Balian promised to destroy everything of value in the city before any of the Christian Crusaders would give up.

Eventually Balian agreed to surrender the city of Jerusalem to Saladin for the Christian defenders to go free. However, there was a material price in bezants (gold coin) for this mass release of Christians. It was 30,000 bezants per man or two women or ten children. Any who could not meet the price would be sold into Islamic slavery. There were many who could not pay, but many of these were released by Saladin after and allowed safe escort from the city. There remained some Christian Frankish citizens who were not freed. Balian and Patriarch Eraclus offered themselves as high ranking hostages for their freedom, but on this issue Saladin would not give way. The Frankish inhabitants went into slavery.

Queen Sibylla was also allowed to leave with her daughters. She went to Cyprus and died of an epidemic three years later in 1190 at the age of 30. Her daughters also perished of this illness too.

Balian was reunited with his wife and four children and would have some involvement in the third Crusade, in which England's Richard the Lionheart was involved. He was at the Battle of Jaffa and took part in the peace negotiations that was known as the Treaty of Ramala. King Richard the Lionheart left for England while Sultan Saladin gave Balian castle Caymont as a Christian Vassal. Balian died in 1193 at about 53 years of age, six years after the fall of Jerusalem. 

Why Baibars of the Mumluks Rise Caused Fall of the Crusader Kingdoms.

1.       The Number of Crusades

Historically listed Crusades usually run from 1st to 9th. However, there were other more minor expeditions that historians don’t always count – the reason being that a sub expedition could have formed from one main crusade. Also a small undertaking, of crusader origin, may have gone upon a quest during the time of the 1st to the 9th official Crusades. An example might be seen from the 1st Crusade when the Crusader army split in two after capturing Nicaea for the Byzantine Empire. One group went east into the Euphrates and claimed much of today’s Armenia, while another group went to Antioch and on to Jerusalem. I suppose one might say the First Crusade had two expeditions, but they were all really part of the first. It depends how certain historians report things. Generally, there were nine crusades with many minor ones within, on different quests, over the almost 200 year period of the Christian Crusader Kingdoms existence.
Sometimes the 5th and 6th Crusades by Frederick II are counted as one and the 8th by Louis IX and Prince Edward’s march to Antioch of the same time counts as the 9th. Sometimes 8th and 9th are labelled as one too.
2.       Division Among the Crusaders and Gradual Decline of influence.

By the 1260s, the Christian Crusader States were beginning to lose influence. Many of the pilgrims that came to the Holy land on quests to do God’s work (as they believed) would return home after completing their pilgrimage. The new comers were often very indiscriminate when killing. (That’s not to say the coloniser Christians were not) Often the visiting Crusaders left behind captured lands that could not be held. They could not always grasp this reality and did not consider the Christian Europeans that settled in the Holy Land. Some were born and raised in the Crusader Kingdoms and never saw Europe. These Middle Eastern-born Caucasian settlers realised that some of the pilgrims from Europe, who sought to do Christian God’s work, could not comprehend the reality of holding some of the possessions gained upon Crusade quests.
The settled Crusader colonists that lived in the Middle East began to develop an understanding of the ways of Muslims and Jews culturally. They even dressed like them and had the same diet. They had become people of the Middle East and to a degree, assimilated themselves to certain understandings. They had developed, where as visiting Crusader pilgrims had not because the newly arrived perspective of the traveller was defined in much more basic ways of Medieval Christian Good and Evil in the European point of view. Their world was narrow and clearly defined. Over decades of time, there would have developed factions among settled Christians. Visiting Crusader Christians were trying to cleanse their sins by doing religious quests before returning to Europe as new pious people – respected and revered by the populations of Europe – even if they had done bloody murder in the name of God.
During the 3rd Crusade; Richard the Lionheart had this problem when he marched upon Jerusalem in the hope of retaking the city captured by Saladin the Great at the end of the 2nd Crusade. He was caught by the divisions of Christian colonists and the Crusader pilgrims who were more enthusiastic to take the Holy city of Jerusalem. The settled Christians argued they could not keep hold of Jerusalem when the Crusader tourists went home upon completion of their religious undertaking. The permanent Christian habitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem wanted to consolidate the gains of the seaport cities like Acre and Jaffa. They were confident of holding the narrow strip by the sea.  After two failed moves upon Jerusalem, Richard the Lionheart gave up on the idea of retaking the holy city. He returned to Jaffa and then marched back towards Acre – the Kingdom of Jerusalem’s new Capitol.
Saladin the Great did try to take an initiative. He came out of the city of Jerusalem with his Muslim soldiers and attacked Jaffa to retake the sea port stronghold. Perhaps he thought the Lionheart had lost his enthusiasm. Such was not so for Richard – a touring Crusader. The English king turned and sped back from Acre at the head of an army and defeated the Muslims forces of Saladin at Jaffa. A volatile peace came about and Richard returned home to England – his Crusade complete – his sins gone before God by decree of the Pope. King Richard the Lionheart, would perish fighting in France while Saladin passed away six months after the treaty – his Islamic forces remaining in control of Jerusalem.
The narrow strip of land containing The County of Armenia, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and the Kingdom Jerusalem would carry on in existence into the 13th century. There would be other Crusades and more trials and tribulations, but during the 1270s other events would come about that Muslims or Christian Crusaders could not have foreseen.
3.  The Great Failure of the 7th Crusade

During the7th Crusade led by King Louis IX of France the campaign met with a terrible disaster, after some initial success. They attacked Egypt and tried to overthrow ruling Ayyubid Caliphate that had a vast army of slave soldiers called Mumluks. The Crusaders wanted to destroy the effectiveness of the Ayyubid dynasty – removing a source of Muslim aid in the Crusader Kingdoms. This unusual Crusade came about because, in the past, whenever Crusader ventures began to get too successful; the ruling Sultan of the Ayyubid Caliphate would send an Islamic Army to thwart Christian Crusader ambitions.
If Egypt – the richest Islamic land in the Middle East could be destroyed, future Crusades might be much more ambitious and achieve greater gains.  A grand plan was derived by the Christian nobles of Europe. King Louis IX of France mortgaged his entire kingdom to go upon this great Crusade to destroy the Caliphate in Egypt. The cost of such a venture was estimated at the equivalent of £2 million in the year 1248. During this time France’s national yearly income was equivalent of £250,000 per year. This 7th Crusade cost eight years of yearly national French income.
The idea of this grand plan, to attack Egypt instead of driving deeper towards Iraq or Syria seemed sound in theory. Also, the cost of the Crusade could be reimbursed by the riches the Ayyubid Caliphate of Egypt would yield when conquered and made into a Crusader Kingdom. For the Crusades; the Ayyubid Caliphate, which ruled from Egypt to Syria, had always been the stumbling block that countered the success of the Crusades. Under Saladin the Great, the Islamic peoples had become united against Christian Crusaders, even retaking Jerusalem in 1187 AD. The Crusader Kingdoms needed to reignite the Crusade quests as interest from Europe began to wane.
This 7th Crusade became a monumental disaster which resulted in a terrible defeat for the Crusaders. The invasion of Egypt went well preliminary, but as the Crusaders tried to march upon Cairo, they met with disaster. The Ayyubid Sultan passed away during this time, but the Egyptian forces had a great army comprised of slave soldiers. They were known as Mumluks and among them was a young soldier that would win renown. He was called Baibars and he led an army that defeated and captured King Louis IX of France at the Battle of Fariskur in 1250. The French king was in a wretched state, suffering from dysentery. His ransom was a vast amount of money and although his Crusade was a failure he was made into a Saint by Rome.  
4.       Rise of the Mumluks

The Mumluk Slave soldier society had seized the Caliphate away from the Ayyubids for themselves upon the death of the last Ayyubid Sultan and Baibars was a high ranking soldier within the Mumluk Society. He had been captured by the Mongols as a youngster upon the steppes in Crimea. He was fair skinned and blue eyed. He was sold into slavery at a young age and had risen within the soldier ranks of the Mumluks.
Baibars is hardly known in the West, which is unusual, for this Mumluk would one day become Sultan of the entire Caliphate. The Mumluks had seized power during a time when new unfolding consequences were happening – a new fighting power was invading from the east. The Crusader Kingdom States would be relegated to minor prominence during the new emergency of the Middle East.
The Mongols wanted control of the Middle East and were ambitious enough to attack the new Caliphate of the Mumluks. The Mongols tried to broker peace alliances with the Crusader Kingdoms and so too did the Mumluks. Even though, the Crusader Kingdoms were constantly fighting the Islamic nations, they saw the new Mongol threat as being more serious. They tried to stay out of the fray, allowing the Mumluks to travel through Crusader lands to fight the Mongols. This resulted in the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. Despite heavy losses on the side of the Mumluks; they managed to completely defeat and destroy the Mongol army. This was a gigantic victory and thwarted Mongol ambitions of conquering Egypt.
This prestigious victory by Sultan ad-Din Qutuz also called time on the Christian Crusader Kingdoms. Baibars became Sultan soon after the defeat of the Mongols when Sultan ad-Din Qutuz died in mysterious circumstances while hunting. Baibars became the new Sultan and turned his attention to Acre the Crusader Capitol of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
5.       Beginning of the End for the Crusader States.

In 1263, Baibars attacked Acre, the capitol of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but was unable to take it. Instead, he moved north to confront a new Mongol army, but the intended invasion never came. Baibars had this vast army at his disposal so he decided to put it to another use – rid the Middle East of all Crusader Kingdoms. The Crusader County of Armenia was closest, and thus in 1266 Baibars decided to invade. He took the Christian fiefdom for Islam.

Many of the Christians captured were put to death. Baibars then moved upon the Principality of Antioch in 1268. He took the great city but despite assurance of fair treatment; he put vast numbers of the stronghold's inhabitants to death. From here he went to the kingdom of Tripoli and tried to do the same in 1271. This siege was brought to a halt when Baibars had to seek a truce to stop the Crusaders allying with the Mongols. He had caused a 9th Crusade by trying to systematically destroy the Crusader Kingdoms. Christian forces from Europe landed in Acre to combat the Mumluk slaughter in the Crusader Kingdoms. This new truce only protected what was left of the Crusader Kingdoms. This truce would only buy a little more time for the Crusader lands.
 These were the last and final bloody times of the Crusader Kingdoms. After Baibars burned and slaughtered his way north to south along the Christian Crusaders coastal strip of Christian colony lands - showing no mercy to anyone that stood in the way of the Mumluk Caliphate; the Crusaders became no more than a declining third party of power. The two big heavy weights were the Mumluk Caliphate and the Mongol Empire.
Tripoli fell in 1289 for showing interest in siding with the Mongols. Islam exacted revenge and stormed the Crusader stronghold ending Christian rule there. Acre, the capitol of the Kingdom of Jerusalem went the same way in 1291. From this time onwards, Christian Crusader rule was virtually none existent – fading away into obscurity throughout the Middle East.

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