THE BATTLE OF HATTIN

 

 

 

12th Century Templar Knight

 

On the, third of July 1187, the armies of Christian and Islamic forces clashed in a battle called, Hattin. What really happened? Who, eventually won is the focus of our concern? The previous questions are answered in the premises for war and the strategic plan of the Emir Saladin. Saladin (1137-93) was the leader of the Islamic cause in 1187. He was not of noble blood but he was a great warrior and a leader of the Jihad. To continue “Reynald of Chatillon”, who had been considered a brutal man for is attack on Cyprus, siege of Medina and the brutal killings of a Muslim caravan that was traveling to Mecca in 1187 had caused Saladin to express extreme hatred towards this man. This caravan had signed a truce with the King of Tripoli for save haven to the passage of  Mecca. In, 1187 Saladin had devised a strategy to defeat the ‘Franks.  

          The army of Saladin would lay siege to the Christian cities. He believed that he could lure the Frankish army out of Jerusalem and into the arid dessert. In 1187, the town of Tiberius is siege. Raymond count of Tripoli wife is inside the city.  Even though it was his own wife trapped in the city, he had tried to convince the King, not to march to Tiberius because of the many downfalls of sending an army to fight in the region.

    During the night the Christian King decided to take the advice of the 

Master templar, Gerard of Ridefort to attack Saladin. The Frankish army departed for Tiberius with very low water supplies and the temperatures also reached 110 degrees. The forces of Saladin were well rested and they, also had planned on cutting of the water routes. Time and again the Muslims’ mounted archers fired, wheeled and turned away to safety taking a grievous toll on the Christian infantry.  At night- fall the Christian camped exhausted by the heat and lacking water. Beha ad-Din summarized: They were closely beset as in a noose, while still marching on as though being driven to a death, that they could see before them, convinced of their doom and destruction and themselves  

aware that the following day they would be visiting their graves’ (Beha ad-Din, tr. Richards, 2001:73). The crusades then tried to make a break for the lake about ten miles away. The Muslim set fire to the ground. frustrated the Christian army, tried to make a rash decision and mount an all out attack due to confusion. The plan worked to perfection and the Muslim moved in for the kill: Phillips, 2002:135). 

     The battle was able to subdue the power of the Templar Knights in the ‘Levant. They were considered the most brutal and cruel of the Christians soldiers in the Levant. However, it made the crusades more aware of battle tactics in the Levant. 

     In, conclusion the battle of Hattin did not have to happen. A very 

important key that many historians tend to overlook is that King Henry the second had offered generous financial support to the Franks, in part as penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett. This money was sometimes not used for war and stolen by Guy of Lusignan, and Gerard of Ridefort who was the master of the templar. In fact when they  

secretly agreed to change tactics and march on Saladin, they may have felt the pressure to produce some positive results or forfeit the generous grants of King Henry.

 

Courtney Duncan

 

 

 

 

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