One Couple's Stumblings Through Parenthood and Marriage

Monday, October 31, 2005

Crusade History Highlights

In my research surrounding the events that led to the Third Crusade (q.v. Richard the Lionheart, etc.) I have come across some very interesting stories and facts. Here are a few.

1) On the morning of the day before the Battle of Hattin, in which the Christian field army was destroyed by Saladin's Muslim army (July 1187), there were a number of ill-omens that devasted morale among the Christian soldiers. One involved what was described by a French chronicler as a 'half-mad Muslim woman." She began cursing the Christian army. In response several soldiers attempted to set her on fire to stop her ravings. She would not ignite. So, one soldier took matters into his own hands by taking his axe and "cleaving her head in two." Wow. I'm not sure what to make of that. The word 'charity' doesn't come to mind, though.

2) Following the Battle of Hattin, Saladin offered an option to the Templars and Hospitaller knights; convert or die. Most of them (around 230) chose to be beheaded, but the records show that a few Templars did 'convert' on the spot. In face, some 40 years later, a Templar was listed as the head of the garrison in the Muslim city of Damascus (Syria). The thought of converted former Templars serving in the Muslim ranks is very intriguing - good story line possibilities.

3) Every city in the Holy Land eventually capitulated to Saladin in 1187 - save one. Tyre. This large coastal city successfully withstood several sieges, one of which was led by the sultan (Saladin) himself. One of Saladin's secretaries, who was keeping a chronicle of the events, made note that one Christian champion in particular earned the tremendous respect of the sultan. He was described as a Spanish knight who led several sorties out of the city gates to fend off the Muslim attacks. He wore all green and had stag antlers attached to his helmet. I would have loved to have met this guy. What a great image. I wonder what came of him when he went back home?

1 comment:

Alan said...

These stories are great finds!