The Battle of Hattin

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The battle took place on July 4, 1187, between the Kingdom of Jerusalem of the Crusaders and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty at Mount Horn of Hattin near Tiberias. The crusaders were defeated by the Muslim armies under the command of Saladin.

Even during the life of the King of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, since he was mortally ill with leprosy, the heir to the throne became his seven-year-old nephew Baldwin V, and regent – Count Raymond of Tripoli. Count of Tripoli, using his power, concluded a truce with Saladin for four years. A year later, the young king unexpectedly died, and the heir to the throne had to choose among the two sisters of Baldwin IV: Sibylla and Isabella.

Even before the death of King Baldwin IV, at a council in Acre, the Jerusalem barons took an oath to the still-living King Baldwin IV that after his death, the throne would only be temporarily left to the regent and Guy of Lusignan would not become king.  The Pope, the monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire, England, and France were supposed to decide who would become the new ruler, Sibylla, or Isabella.

In March 1185, Baldwin IV died. The barons did not wait for an answer from Europe who would become a monarch. They were divided into two opposing parties: the first party was to crown Sibylla and her husband Guy de Lusignan, and it included the Grand Master of the Knights Templar Gerard de Ridfort, the Patriarch of Jerusalem and others.

The second party was to crown Isabella and her husband Onfroy IV, and it included Balian d’Ibelin, Count Raymond of Tripoli. As a result, on July 20, 1186, in Jerusalem, Sibylla and Guy de Lusignan were crowned.

In 1187, a new crusade was discussed at the Council of Barons of the Holy Land in Acre. During this meeting, there was a report that Saladin besieged the city of Tiberias, the stronghold of Count Raymond. A messenger arrived from behind the walls of the besieged fortress from Countess Eshiva of Tripolitan, whose message cried out for help. The count himself knew that the Sultan Salah Ad-Din strictly honored the Saracen code of honor, and therefore did not touch the highly-born lady.

But the great Sultan was cunning. To lure the Franks, to knock them out on a hasty, ill-conceived rescue operation, there could not be a better plan for Salah Ad-Din. Perhaps that is why the messenger rushed without interference to King Guy de Lusignan and the council of barons. The next night, under the pressure of the treacherous grandmaster of the Knights Templar Gerard de Ridfort, the king decided to help the city. The army marched the next morning.


Guy de Lusignan, king of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and his army opposed the Muslims on Friday morning, July 3, 1187, advancing from the Sephurian springs to Lake Tiberias. The distance was small – 20 km, but the caravan of 50 thousandths (according to other sources in the army was a little more than 20 thousand people) army stretched for several kilometers.

The sultry and arid July of Palestine was doing its job, and the Crusader troops, hardly advancing through the scorched area under the scorching sun, did not have time to get to the water by sunset.

Turning back to the springs was too late, and, on the advice of Count Raimund Tripoli, they stopped to rest on a hill called Horn of Hattin. As soon as they pitched the camping tents, Saladin ordered his troops to set fire to a dry shrub that grows in abundance on the slopes of the mountains. Acrid smoke obscured the sky, making breathing difficult, and the suffering of the king’s troops exhausted by the long passage, and the heat of the sun was aggravated by the heat of flame burning around the camp. To top it off, Saladin ordered to place jugs filled with water from Lake Tiberias near the camp, emptying them in front of the thirsty crusaders, and then shell the camp with bows and crossbows.

At a military council assembled by King Guy de Lusignan, a decision was made to attack Saladin’s troops immediately, and Guy de Lusignan’s brother, Amory, began to organize forces for the attack.

Raymond of Tripoli led additional troops, and upon arrival at the camp, he stood with his squad at the forefront. According to the tradition that was in those days, Count of Tripoli, as the lord of the Tiberias lands on which the battle took place, assumed command of the troops, leading the first detachment. Balian d’Ibelin and Joslen of Edes with their knights covered the rear, creating a rear guard.

However, as soon as the detachments were withdrawn to positions and built in battle order, six knights from the troops of the Earl of Tripoli named Balduin de Fortuille, Raymond Bac, and Laodius of Tiberias with three of his comrades, “seized by the devilish spirit fled to Saladin and, suddenly crossing to the Saracens, informed them about all the features of the current situation, intentions and resources of Christians,” urging the Sultan to attack the crusaders quickly and unexpectedly first in order to win. Hearing these words, Saladin ordered his troops to line up in battle order and move forward on the knights.

The infantry of the royal army, seeing the advance of the Saracens, climbed to the top of the mountain and refused to fight, despite the command of the king, the pleading by the bishops, and the demands of the barons.

Raymond of Tripoli with his detachment, came forward to meet the Muslims, but they, having divided, created a passage through which allowed the detachment of knights to go deeper, and then closed their ranks, surrounding the crusaders with a dense ring. Only ten or twelve knights managed to escape, including the Count of Tripoli himself and his four stepsons. Balian d’Ibelin and Joslen of Edessa also escaped from the encirclement.

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On Saturday, July 4, 1187, “the clouds of death opened up, and the light on this day of sorrow, suffering, grief, and destruction dimmed.” The battle, which lasted 7 hours, killed about 17 thousand people, King Guy de Lusignan, his brother Amory (head of the kingdom stables), Gerard de Ridfort, Renault de Chatillon, Honfroix Toronsky and many others were captured. In this battle, the Holy Life-giving Cross of the Lord was also lost.

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The Battle of Hattin

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