Battle of Montgisard

Article

November 30, 2021

The Battle of Montgisard is an important battle fought between Saladin and Baldwin IV of Jerusalem on November 25, 1177. Baldwin IV, during this battle, succeeds with reduced numbers in crushing Saladin, who seeks to invade the kingdom of Jerusalem.

Context

In 1177, Philippe of Alsace, Count of Flanders, arrived in the Holy Land with an army. At this time, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Byzantine Empire planned to join forces to organize a joint campaign against Egypt, ruled by Saladin. A Byzantine squadron landed shortly after at Saint-Jean-d'Acre, but Baldwin, seriously suffering from leprosy, could not take the lead of the kingdom's army and offered to take the command of Philippe d'Alsace. He refuses, claiming that he came to Jerusalem to do his devotions and defend the kingdom and not to carry war on neighboring states. His refusal causes the expedition to fail and the Byzantines return home. Philippe d'Alsace left Jerusalem, and went to Tripoli in October 1177, where he helped Count Raymond III to unsuccessfully besiege the fortress of Hama at the beginning of September 1177. He then went to Antioch and, with the prince Bohemond III of Antioch, he besieged the fortress of Harenc at the end of November.

The battle

Baldwin IV had also sent troops to the siege of Hama, stripping the kingdom, because there were only five hundred knights left in Jerusalem, including the garrisons of the Templars and the Hospitallers. Upon learning of the Franco-Byzantine attack plan, Saladin had left Damascus for Egypt, in order to organize the country's defense and resistance. Later, his spies informed him of the abandonment of this expedition, then of the siege of Hama, which occupied most of the Frankish army. Between September 18 and 23, he entered the kingdom of Jerusalem with his army of thirty thousand soldiers, avoided the fortress of Gaza whose garrison the Templars had reinforced and marched on Ascalon. As soon as he hears the news, the king sets out with all the troops he could find to meet Saladin and arrives in Ascalon shortly before Saladin. Before leaving, Baudouin had summoned the backbench of the kingdom, but he was captured by Saladin's army before arriving in Ascalon. Saladin sieges in front of Ascalon, Baudouin tries an exit but must retreat immediately. Saladin realizes that the kingdom is defenseless, lifts the siege of Ascalon and continues on his way to Ramla, which he takes without any harm, the city having been evacuated, and the fire, then besieges Mirabel and Lydda. Thinking that the defense of the kingdom is totally paralyzed, Saladin authorizes his soldiers to disperse to plunder the region and, not wanting to encumber himself with prisoners, actually slaughter a number of them. In Ascalon, Baudouin IV decides to try everything for everything, despite his numerical inferiority. He asks Eudes de Saint-Amand, master of the order of the Temple, entrenched with eighty Templars in Gaza to come and join him. With the few lords who are with him, Renaud de Châtillon, the lord of Outre-Jourdain, Baudouin d'Ibelin, lord of Ramla, his brother Balian d'Ibelin, lord of Mirabel, Renaud Granier, count of Sidon, and Josselin III de Courtenay, the king's uncle, he has an army of five hundred knights and a few thousand soldiers. He leaves Ascalon, follows an arcuate road to bypass Saladin's army, and meets him at a place called Mons Gisardus (Tell el-Jezer), near Ramla. He attacks the enemy army from the north while Saladin still believes him from the southwest. Benefiting from the effect of surprise and wanting at all costs to avenge the massacre of the prisoners, the Frankish army charges that of Saladin, weakened and weighed down by the booty. T

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