Friday, October 2, 2020

The Fall of Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem

      October 2 marks the anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem in 1187.  Jerusalem had been captured by the Crusader forces in 1099 at the culmination of the First Crusade.

After the catastrophic loss of the Battle of Hattin the defense of the crusader kingdom failed.  As observed by Christopher Tyerman in God’s War: A New History of the Crusades at 372, “The army destroyed at Hattin had demanded had denuded the rest of the kingdom’s defenses.”  With the exception of a few castles and Tyre, the cities and fortresses of the kingdom quickly fell until Jerusalem was invested on September 20.

      For those of you who saw the movie Kingdom of Heaven, well, lets just saw the script writers did not feel themselves bound by the historic record. The movie failed to acknowledge Balian’s wife and children.  Also ignored was the fact that Balian not only fought at the Battle of Hattin but was as well captured; the movie has him staying behind in Jerusalem, coming to the battlefield only after the Crusader army had been destroyed.  At least that part is true; the Crusader army was destroyed, and the Templars were especially hit; all the captive Templers were executed.  Also, the city wall fell not from trebuchet bombardment but rather from being undermined (September 29).  As near as I can tell Balian never visited France.  He should have been in his mid- to late-40’s at the time of the fall of Jerusalem.  And just to show how far the movie departed from reality, he and Sybilla were enemies.

The loss of Jerusalem would precipitate the Third Crusade and there the exploits of Richard the Lionheart.

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