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Medieval Sourcebook:
Roger of Hoveden:
The Fall of Jerusalem, 1187


Hoveden provided a political narrative explaining the loss of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187

1186

In the same year, Constance, the countess of Brittany, daughter of earl Conan, whom Geoffrey, earl of Brittany, her husband, had left pregnant at the time of his decease, was delivered of her eldest son on the holy night of Easter, and his name was called Arthur. . In the same year, Baldwin, the boy-kin- of Jerusalem, son of William le Marchis, departed this life, and was succeeded in the kingdom by his mother Sibylla, by hereditary right; but before she was crowned, a divorce was effected between her and Guido de Lusignan, her husband, by the Patriarch Heraclius and the Templars and Hospitallers, who wished her to marry Walran, earl of Tripolis, or some nobleman of the principal people of the land of Jerusalem; she, however, by a wonderful piece of cunning, deceived them, saying: " If a divorce takes place between me and my husband, I wish you to make me sure, by your promises and oaths, that whomsoever I shall make choice of you will choose for your head and lord."

Accordingly, after they had go done, they led her into the Temple, and the before-named- Patriarch crowned her; shortly after which, when all were offering up their prayers that God the Lord Almighty would provide a fitting king for that land, the before-named queen took the royal crown in her hands, and placed it on the head of Guido de Lusignan her husband, saying, " I make choice of thee as king, and as my lord, and as lord. of the land of Jerusalem, for those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

At these words all stood in amazement, but on account of the oath which they had made, no one dared oppose her, and the Patriarch, approaching, anointed him king; and then, Divine service having been celebrated, the Templars escorted the king and queen to their abode, and provided for them a sumptuous entertainment. The earl of Tripolis, however, vexed and sorrowful that the queen had rejected him, went to Saladin, king of Babylon, and, entering into an alliance with him, devised many evils for the destruction of the king and queen. Saladin, however, requested that the truce before-mentioned, which he had made until the ensuing Easter, should be prolonged for the three years next ensuing; to which proposition king Guido, by the advice of the Templars, assented, although it was evident to him that there would shortly come a vast number of pilgrims, both from England and other kingdoms, in consequence of the preaching of the Patriarch. Accordingly, after Easter, there came to Jerusalem an immense multitude of men-at-arms and other pilgrims; but as the truce had been prolonged, -very few of them chose to remain. However, Roger de Mowbray and Hugh de Beauchamp remained there in the service of God.

……

1187

In the same year, Saladin, king of Babylon, with an immense multitude of his Turks, on pretext of the disunion which existed between the king and the earl of Tripolis, entered the land of Jerusalem; on which the brethren of the Temple and of the Hospital went forth against him with a great multitude of people, and on an engagement taking place between them, the army of the Pagans prevailed against the Christians, on which the latter betook themselves to flight, and many of them were slain and many taken prisoners. On the same day also, being the calends of May, sixty brethren of the Temple, and the Grand Master of the Hospital, together with sixty brethren of his house, were slain.

Saladin, on gaining this great victory, attacked and took a considerable number of the castles, cities, and fortresses of the Christians; after which, returning to his own country, he levied a great army, and, by the advice, it is said, of the earl of Tripolis, who was an enemy to the king entered the territory of Jerusalem, on the Friday after the feast of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, with eight hundred thousand men or more; on which he took Tiberias, with the exception of the keep of the castle, to which place the lady of the castle had retreated, together with a few knights. On king Guido being informed of this, by the advice of the earl of Tripolis, who had lately, with fraudulent intent, entered into a treaty of peace, the king proceeded one day's march towards Tiberias, when the earl of Tripolis, who was the leader and guide in the march, halted the whole army on an elevated and craggy -pot. Being there threatened with an attack of the enemy on every side, the king, urged by necessity, and compelled by the advice of his barons, thought proper to engage, and, at their entreaty, gave the honor of striking the first blow to the Master and knights of the Temple.

Upon this, the brotherhood of the Temple, rushing upon the foe with the bravery of lions, put some to the sword, and forced others to take to flight. The rest, however, neglecting the king's commands, did not join the battle, or give them any succour whatever; in consequence of which, the knights of the Temple were hemmed in and slaughtered. After this, the troops of Saladin surrounded the army of the Christians, worn out with the fatigues of the march, exhausted by the intense beat of the climate, and utterly destitute of water,- and, in a great measure, of food as well. At this conjunction, six of the king's knights, namely, Baldwin de Fortune, Raymond Buck, and Laodicius de Tiberias, with three companions, being seized with a diabolical spirit, fled to Saladin, and spontaneously became Saracens, informing him of every particular as to the present state, intentions, and resources of the Christians. On this, Saladin, who before was in anxious doubt as to the result of the warfare, took courage, and with trumpets sounding, made an attack with an infinite multitude of warriors on the Christians, who, in consequence of the rocky and inaccessible nature of the spot, were unable to fight ; and so, assailing them with every possible method of attack, he utterly routed the Christians. At last, Thekedin, the nephew of Saladiia, took Guido, king of Jerusalem, while flying, and the wood of the Cross of our Lord, after slaying Rufinus, bishop of Acre, who was carrying it. And this was done through the righteous judgment of God; for, contrary to the usage of his predecessors, having greater faith in worldly arms than in heavenly ones, he went forth to battle equipped in a coat, of mail, and shortly after he perished, being pierced by an arrow. Nearly all the others, being utterly routed, were taken prisoners and either slain or loaded with chains, the Persians, oh, great disgrace' remaining masters of the camp.

The earl of Tripolis alone, who was the designer of this treachery, escaped with his men unhurt. Immediately after the battle, Saladin ordered the knights of the Temple and of the Hospital to be separated from the rest, and to be decapitated in his presence, he himself with his own hand slaying Raymond. de Castiglione, their chief. After this he took the city of Acre and the places adjacent, with nearly all the fortified spots in those parts.

In the meantime, Conrad le Marchis, brother of the above mentioned William, earl of Joppa, having been guilty of murder in the city of Constantinople, took to flight, deserting his wife, the niece of Isaac, emperor of Constantinople; and on the very same day on which Saladin gained this victory over the Christians, Conrad came to Tyre and found it deserted, for nearly all the citizens of the place were slain in the before mentioned battle. On Saladin coming thither, expecting to have free ingress, Conrad offered a stout resistance, and refused him permission to enter; on which, Saladin, seeing that he could effect nothing by staying there, took his departure, and captured the city of Beyrout, and both the cities which are called Gibelet, with Sidon, and the city of Caesarea, as also Joppa, Saint George, Saint Abraham, Bethlehem, the New Castle of Caiaphas, Saphet, Jaunay, Mount Tabor, Faba, and Caffarmundel, the Cave of the Temple, Calenzun, Marle of the Temple, the Castle on the Plain, Ramah, Bethurun of the Knights, Castle Arnald, Castle Bourgoing, Tarentum, Blanchewarde, Galatia, Gasseres, Darun, [*A great portion of these names are most probably incorrect] Rouge Cisterne, the Castle of Saint Peter, Saint Lazarus of Bethany, Saint Mary-of Mount Sion, and the City of Jerusalem.

On this, the queen, the wife of Guido, betook herself, with her two daughters and her household, to the city of Ascalon, and fortified it with provisions and soldiers; these, however, in the second year after, she surrendered to Saladin for the ransom of her. husband Guido, and thus liberated him from the custody of Saladin. All those, however, who had fled to Acre, and a multitude of Christians who had taken to flight, betook themselves to Tyre, and made Conrad their ruler and protector; Antioch also, and Margat, with nearly all the lands of the prince thereof, stoutly fortified themselves against Saladin.

While the earl of Tripolis was endeavouring to wean his nation from the worship of God, and to betray his country to Saladin, he was found dead in his bed just as though fast asleep; on which his wife, with all her people, surrendered herself and the city of Tripolis to Raymond, prince of Antioch, and he appointed his son Jocelyn lord thereof.

Now when pope Urban heard that in his time the king of Jerusalem had been taken prisoner, as also the Cross of our Lord, and the Holy City of Jerusalem, he was greatly afflicted, and fell ill and died on the thirteenth day before the kalends of November, at Ferrara; being succeeded in the papacy by Albert his chancellor, who was called pope Gregory the Eighth. On this, the cardinals, with the sanction of our lord the pope, strictly pledged themselves to each other, disregarding all wealth and luxuries, to preach the cross of Christ, and that not in word only but by deed and example, and to be the first, assuming the cross, to go begging for succours, and to precede the rest to the land of Jerusalem. They also, with the consent of our lord the pope, established a most strict truce between all the princes of Christendom, to last for a period of seven years; on the understanding that whoever in the meantime should commence war against a Christian, should be subject to the curse of God, and of our lord the pope, and the excommunication of all the prelates of the Universal Church. They also solemnly promised each other, that from thenceforth they would receive presents from no one who had a cause to try in the court, but would only receive as much as should be given, or sent to supply their necessities and for their sustenance -, as also that they would not mount a horse so long as the land on which the feet of the Lord had stood should remain under the feet of the enemy.

It is also worthy of observation, and to be ascribed to the Divine Providence, that at the time when the city of Jerusalem and Antioch had been rescued from the power of the Pagans, on the expedition headed by Audemar, bishop of Puy, and many other bishops and religious men, as also Hugh, brother of Philip, king of France, Godfrey, duke of Lorraine, Stephen, count of Chartres, Robert, duke of Normandy, brother of William the Second, the king of England, then reigning, (which Robert conquered in battle, Colbrand, the chief of the knighthood of the Pagans), Robert, earl of Flanders, Eustace, earl of Boulogne, and Baldwin, the two brothers of duke Godfrey, Raymond, earl of Saint Gilles, Boamund, son of Robert Guiscard, and many other noblemen, the pope who was then living was named Urban, the Patriarch of Jerusalem was called Heraclius, and the emperor of Rome was called Frederic; and so now, when the land of Jerusalem was taken from the hands of the Christians by the people of Saladin, the pope was called Urban, the patriarch of Jerusalem Heraclius, and. the Roman emperor Frederic. It also deserves to be known, that between the time when Jerusalem was rescued from the hands of the Pagans by the warriors before-named; and the time when king Guido was deprived of it, a space of eighty- seven years intervened.

Hoveden includes in his account a letter by the Master of the Temple explaining the loss.

The Letter of Terricius, Master of the, Temple, on the
Capture of the Land of Jerusalem

The brother Terricius, So called Grand Master of the most impoverished house of the Temple, and of all the brethren himself the most impoverished, and that brotherhood all but annihilated, to all commanders and brethren of the Temple to whom these presents Shall come, greeting, and may they lift up their sighs to Him at whom the sun and moon are astounded. With how many and how great calamities, our sins so requiring it, the anger of God has lately permitted us to be scourged, we are unable, O sad fate! either in writing or in the language of tears to express. For the Turks, assembling together an immense multitude of their nations, began with bitter hostility to invade the territories of us Christians; and accordingly, uniting the forces of our nation against them, we ventured, before the octave of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, to attack them; and for that purpose ventured to direct our march towards Tiberias, which, leaving their camp unprotected, they had taken by storm. After repulsing us among some most dangerous rocks, they attacked us with such vehemence, that after they had captured the Holy Cross and our king, and a whole multitude of us had been slain, and after two hundred and thirty of our brethren, as we verily believe, had been taken by them and beheaded, (besides those sixty who had been slain on the first of May), with great difficulty, the lord the earl of Tripolis, the lord Reginald of Sidon, the- lord Ballovius, and ourselves, were enabled to make our escape from that dreadful field. After this, the Pagans, revelling in the blood of us Christians, did not delay to press on with all their hosts towards the city of Tyre; and, taking it by storm, spread themselves over nearly the whole of the land, Jerasalem, 'I'yre, Ascalon, and Berytus being alone now left to us and to Christendom. These cities also, as nearly all the citizens have been slain, we shall not be at all able to retain in our hands, unless we speedily receive the Divine assistance, and aid from yourselves. For at the present moment they are besieging Tyre with all their might, and cease not to assault it either night or day, while so vast are their numbers, that they have covered the whole face of the land from Tyre, as far as Jerusalem and Gaza, just like swarms of ants. Deign, therefore, with all possible speed, to bring succour to ourselves and to Christianity, all but ruined in the East, that so through the aid of God and the exalted merits of your brotherhood, supported by your assistance, we may be enabled to save the remainder of those cities. Farewell."

In response to the loss Pope Gregory VIII called for a new crusade - the Third Crusade. Hoveden includes two letters of the pope. Only the peoration of the first, longer, letter is given here. It enumerates the crusade privileges.

Letter of Pope Gregory VIII

…Wherefore, to those who with a contrite heart and humble spirit shall undertake the labour of this expedition, and shall die 'm- repentance for their sins and in the true faith, we do promise plenary indulgence for their offences, and eternal life. And whether they shall survive or whether die, they are to know that they will have, by the mercy of Almighty God and of the authority of the Apostles Saint- Peter and Saint Paul, and of ourselves, remission of penance imposed for all sins of which they shall have made due confession. The property also of such persons, from the time that they shall have assumed the cross, together with their families, are- to be under the protection of the Holy Church of Rome, and of the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates of the Church of God, and no person is to make any claim against the property of which, on assuming the cross, they were in quite possession, until it is known for certain as to their return or death, but their property is to remain in the meantime untouched, and in their quiet possession; they are also not to pay interest to any person, if they have so bound themselves ; nor yet are they to go in costly apparel, or with dogs or hawks, which seem rather to minister to ostentation s ; but they ought to be seen with plain apparel and equipments, by which they may appear rather to be acting in penitence than affecting an empty pomp. Given at Ferrara, on the fourth day before the calends of November, in the sixth year of the indiction.

The Letter of pope Gregory VIII to all the Faithful,
upon the same subject
.

Gregory, the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to all the faithful in Christ, to whom these presents shall come, health and the Apostolic benediction. Never is the wrath of the Supreme Judge more successfully appeased, than when, at His command, carnal desires are extinguished within us. Wherefore, inasmuch as we do not doubt that the disasters of the land of Jerusalem, which have lately happened through the irruption of the Saracens have been expressly caused by the sins of the inhabitants of the land and of the whole people of Christendom, we, by the common consent of our brethren-, and with the approval of many of the bishops, have enacted that all persons shall, for the next five years, on every sixth day of the week at 'the very least, fast upon Lenten fare, and that, wherever mass is performed, it shall be chaunted at the ninth hour: and this we order to be observed from the Advent of our Lord until the Nativity of our Lord. Also, on the fourth day of the week, and on Saturdays, all persons without distinction, who are in good health are, to abstain from eating flesh. We and our brethren do also forbid to ourselves and to our households the use of flesh on the second day of the week as well, unless it shall so happen that illness or some great calamity or other evident cause shall seem to prevent the same; trusting that by re doing God will pardon us and leave His blessing behind Him. This therefore we do enact to be observer and whosoever shall be guilty of transgressing the same, is to be considered as a breaker of the fast in Lent. Given at Ferrara, on the fourth day before the calends of November."

The result was the Third Crusade, perhaps the most dramatic in terms of involvement by kings, emperors and high princes.

Upon this, the princes of the earth, hearing the mandates of the Supreme Pontiff, exerted themselves with all their might for the liberation of the land of Jerusalem; and accordingly,- Frederick the emperor of the Romans, and the archbishops, bishops, dukes, earls, and barons of his empire, assumed the sign of the cross. In like manner, after their example, great numbers of the chief men of all the nations of Christendom prepared to succour the land of Jerusalem.

From Roger of Hoveden: The Annals, comprising The History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from AD 732 to AD 1201., trans. Henry T. Riley, 2 Vols. (London: H.G. Bohn, 1853; rep. New York AMS, 1968), Vol 2, pp. 62-63, 65-70, 74-75


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© Paul Halsall July 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu