Horns of Hattin

Horns of Hattin

In this battle held in 4th of July of 1187, Saladin (Shalahuddin Al-Ayyubi) got the union of the islamic world.

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Horns of Hattin is the site where it is attributed Jesus preached his famous Sermon on the Mount, and called his disciples to spread out the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God.

This site known as Qurun Hattun or Qurun Hattin is in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, near to the city of Tiberias

Battle of Hattin, according to Google Earth.
This geographic location was very important in the Crusades, especially in the Second Crusade when it took place the unification of the Islamic world under the Ayyubid dynasty, with the figure of Yusuf ibn Ayyub Salah Al-Din or Saladin, or Shalahuddin Al-Ayyubi.
See of Galilee 
(from Picturesque Palestine, 1881)
The vision of the Crusades is that we forged upon different material, mainly of filmic type, where the narrative of what happened is often told by the winner; but if one can have the opportunity to review written material on this big deal topic sourced upon historicians of Middle Ages, one can discover a rich scape of picturesque shades of the different characters involved in the Crusades.   The Third Crusade is one of the most remembered, is the one when Saladin and Richard I Plantagenet of England, Philip II Augustus Capet of France, faced each other. The shadow of the events, the magnitude of stakes, the fact that Islam had called for a holy war or yiddah for the expulsion of Europeans, the great cruelty displayed by both parties, such as the killing of prisoners ordered by Richard at Tell Haiyadiya, his plagiarism in the Austrian castle of Durnstein, his subsequent return and his confrontation with his brother John Lackland: the abandonment did Philip II, all this makes it one of the milestones in the history of the Middle Ages most remembered.  However, before the Third Crusade took place, there were some complex characters in the Holy Land, whose actions ended with the dominion of the Holy Places by the Europeans. One of these complex characters, forms part of the contingent of Europeans and for the Grand Master of the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ, «or Templars Great Master named Girard of Ridefort. This precipitate Flemish became Great Master through the offices of the terrible and inadvisable Patriarch Heraclius of Caesarea, and with the support of course the greedy and violent «Prince Arnat» nickname for the scheming and deceptiveReginald of Chatillon. It somehow yielded upon the tradition of the brave warrior monks stay «arrested» over time as a band of mercenaries even they were not.
The character of Girard of Ridefort is a missing key piece to explain as was the defeat of the europeans in Horns of Hattin, the battle recreated in the movie Kingdom of Heaven. Girard was an ambitious Flemish adventurer to the Holy Land when he entered the service of Count Raymond III of Tripoli. At that time, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was the place of the opportunities in the medieval world, which offered the position to get land and money to people who have no scruples. This goal was not possible in the rigid feudal order prevailing in Europe , which had the endorsement of a religious imperative. That is, the feudal zeitgeist namely strong-stronger – the strongest, based on land ownership and the provision of arms to fight left little room for the gentlemen of the second generation as Girard of Ridefort.
The sociopolitical environment of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem attracted many adventurers who came with the papal permission to carry out its «sacred obligation» to send Muslims into paradise, and in this environment, Girard came onto Jerusalem. His ambition led him to highlight before the count, and in return he had a promise of marriage to a rich heiress. The opportunity came, Lucia Botrun was the name of the heiress, who was also asked by a merchant, but, being a fat woman for whom the merchant paid her weight in gold, the count of Tripoli accepted the cash and a very disappointed Girard swore revenge, and he entered the templar Order of poor knights of Christ to achieve his goal.


Time passed by and Great Master Odo or Eudes of St. Amand died as prisoner in Damascus after the defeat of Marj Ayyoun. Girard was elected in Europe as a tenth Great Master by the undesirable influence of the Patriarch Heraclius of Caesarea, who managed very well in the field of political intrigue than in the field of ecclesiastical devotion. The chroniclers of the time reported that Heraclius had a mistress, named Pasque Rivelli, who was called in mockery, «Madame the patriarchess.»

What was Girard in bigotry and determination to carry out his revenge against his former protector Raymond, unfortunately he was lacking in military experience and knowledge of the complex politics of the Holy Land. Girard is a rushed administrator, bad boss, and thereby hangs the process of the fall of Jerusalem, which is strongly assisted by poitevin Guy of Lusignan.

The King Baldwin IV knew he would not live long, for the disease he suffered. To ensure the balance of power in the kingdom of Jerusalem he got members of his court to swear and to accept that the protector or regent for her son would be appointed by a joint committee of the English king, the French king and the Pope. Everything pointed to their military experience, political knowledge and wealth, the ruler was to be the Count Raymond III of Tripoli.

Dead King Baldwin IV also known as Baldwin the Leper, Girard was the group of conspirators withAgnes de Courtenay, Joscelyn of Courtenay, Sybilla of Courtenay, Guy de Lusignan and Reginald of Chatillon that deceived the Count Raymond, making it rather go to Tiberias instead of Jerusalem where Baldwin once dead. This circumstance was used by the group of conspirators to crown the useless Guy as king of Jerusalem. Usually a king was crowned and assumed the power by the grace of God, and a member of the church was the coronation. Accipe gladium cum tibi hunc collatum … tei benediction. Coronat te Deus you were some of the phrases in the formula for the coronation, which were not such, as the Patriarch Heraclius did not want the princess crown and was Sybil of Courtenay, his wife, who placed the crown, so that his coronation was considered technically invalid.

Guy of Lusignan is an ignorant person, indecisive, but terribly atractive, rises to the power by recommendation, by a series of chance events but not by his owns merits. Thanks to the work of his brother’s court before to the Princess Sybilla of Courtenay sister of King Baldwin IV, Guy start to rise and finally become the lover of princess Sybilla. Storm clouds were spotted on the horizon, because the slow agony of the leper King Baldwin IV drove him unrelentingly to death.

       Sybilla of Courtenay: character by actress Eva Green in movies picture The kingdom of heaven

Fragment of protrait of Sybilla of Courtaney as a queen of Jerusalem
Despite his youth, Baldwin IV managed power with determination and prudence, making coordination and balance between the military forces of Templars and Hospitallers and implement a policy of peace with Muslims, so that his loss will cause a major imbalance of power because his sister Sybilla lacked the political instincts to rule.
Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem surrenders to Saladin after the battle of Hattin in 1187.
Several questionable sources say the painting is of the time, personally it is found difficult considering its style.
This battle marked the final destruction of the aspirations of Christian reconquest of the Holy Places and left the Templars without a job. The shameful behavior of their Grand Master,  who allowed himself to be captured and to pay a ransom for him began the ruin of the order. Courtesy of Luis Felipe Tenorio, from his blog. http://luisftenorio.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/teorias-de-conspiracion-los-templarios-i-introduccion/
Since the Count Raymond III of Tripoli was respected by Saladin for the victory that Templars and royal troops of King Baldwin IV had upon him on Mon Gisors, and because in the islamic world Raymond was known because he honoured what he said, Saladin asked permission to go with a contingent of his troops in the lands of Count Raymond.

This contingent of 5000 mameluke horsemen led by Saladin’s son Al-Afdal began his ride and desafortunatly was found by Girard of Ridefort: along with Roger Desmoulins the Great Master of the hospitallers Order of Saint John and 150 riders were found in the place called Cresson. And Girard did not have any scruples to order the attack although Desmoulins said they were charging to death. Once started the ride and the unequal battle, Girard and his gonfalonier withdrew gradually and there died the rest of participants.

Moreover, the lust for which he was known, prompted Reginald of Chatillon to attack a convoy near the castle of Kerak in the city of Petra, with the aggravating circumstance that in the convoy was the sister of Saladin himself.

And when Saladin requested compensation, Reginald paid no attention; Saladin embassador went to the king Guy and regretely Guy replied that he had no power over Reginald. This led to war and Raymond, very reluctantly, finally had to participate in the arriere-ban the general levy for the decisive battle that took place in the Horns of Hattin.

There was a very hot summer in the month of July 1187, when it was summoned all available military forces in the Holy Land: the royal troops and the best warriors among them, the Templars and Hospitallers, who were the most feared by the Islamists.

Saladin’s troops besieged the nearby town of Tiberias where abide Countess Escheva of Bures and her children. Escheva was the wife of count Raymond so he was the main affected by the siege.

In the council of war that took place, count Raymond, very reluctantly, but a practical warrior, told those present to take his word very seriously because besieged placed was his city and his family was the endangered: his proposal was expected because Saladin’s troops and their horses could not endure long without water and pasture, and he then paid afterwards the ransom of his family. As Girard was in direct opposition, accused Raymond of cowardice and unwillingness to fight for a Christian woman who was being attacked by infidels, an attitude which was seconded by many. Since the decision to be taken was that about to battle, the Patriarch Heraclius proposed to bring the most important relic of Christendom, it was a fragment of the Holy Cross, but unfortunately he could not carry it. Guy was finally convinced by Girard de Ridefort, to come out and attack Saladin´s troops because they did not expect such an attack and that it would help the european troops to victory. Guy got up too late, the troops left very late in the morning and at noon men and horses began to fall victim to intense heat and thirst.

Raymond insisted in reaching Tiberias and the vital water support to allow troops and horses to recover, but Guy said he had to rest there and did it in near the Sea of Galilee or Kinnereth in hebrew, unable to reach the water because there were troops of Saladin.

During the night the troops of european soldiers dehydrated by the heat, were surrounded and harassed to breathe smoke from fires lit by the Islamists. In the morning, the christian army troops realized their disadvantage, Count Raymond with some who accompanied him made a crackdown on Islamic rope and let them pass but the relentless siege closed again. The horses charged over and over again, but desperate because the were unable to drink water, the soldiers were mowed down like corn, and finally, there was a long line of warrior monks who were encouraged by the dervishes to renounce their faith or die, but finally the galant warrior monks inevitably will be beheaded. The inscription in their swords were poetically against them: Etamsiat occideret me in ipso illo sperato . Although it kills me, I still wait in him

The result of the confrontation in the Horns of Hattin was the elimination of the warrior orders in the holy land and the beginning of the expulsion of the Europeans, and this happened on July 4th, 1187.

In that desperate moment, count Balian of Ibelin assumed the defense of Jerusalem.

The results of his negotiations with Saladin succeeded in avoiding the residents of Jerusalem were massacred by islamic soldiers in the same manner that the first cross made with the settlers in 1099.


John J Robinson; Mazmorra Hoguera, Espada. Planeta, 1994.

James Reston Jr. Guerreros de Dios. Plaza Janés,  2003.

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Alejandro Melo-Florián

Writer, Internal Medicine specialist. Bogotá D.C -Colombia
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Last edited: Oct 15, 2011 2:55 PM.

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