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Battle of Hattin

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Author Topic: Battle of Hattin  (Read 3097 times)
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« on: September 23, 2007, 04:37:16 am »

Belvoir Castle

One of the few castles from the twelfth century to survive unaltered is Belvoir, perched on the edge of the Jordan valley within sight of the southern end of the Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee). Over 1600 feet below in the valley, cars and lorries on the Israeli side of the river look like toys. Yet every movement for miles in each direction, particularly any activity at the important crossing point on the Jordon could clearly seen from the ramparts.(ABC:82)

For one to get into the castle one has to walk along the side of a deep ditch that has been hewn out of solid rock, to the main gate on the eastern side. The knights favored the bent approach. There is a left angle turn within the gatehouse followed by two to the right the end of a short, covered passage; it meant that if the defendering Hospitallers had second thoughts about your business or if you were a foe, they could fire into the passage through arrow slits or douse you in boiling oil. These arrow slits were called murder holes.(ABC:82)

In the outer ward of the castle one might be surprised to find a steam bath and a huge vaulted cistern to feed it. The water was channelled from the castle roofs. It is even more remarkable when one realises that this area was barracks for the mercenaries. The inner court lies behind a second line of defence that mirrors the outer walls.

Belvior was completely built after 1168. The ambititious building program nearly bankrupted the order. In the 1170's when Belvior appeared above the Jordan with the true concentric caslte designs, european medieval castle builders were pushing up the central keeps all over England and France.

One can surely see that the Hospitallers chose on purpose to keep this concentric design to accommoddate the separate secular and religious function of the castle. The inner courtyard had its own gate house to defend the inner section. As well it was perfect for the order maintaining its Monastery way of life. The courtyard served as a cloister; a refectory; a dormitory fro the brother knights; a chapter house and chapel.

The Hospitaller castle of Belvoir held out for more than a year after the Battle of Hattin, and Saladin was at that time unable to take either Krak des Chevaliers or Margat.(AEX:194)

Malcolm Billings,The Cross & The Crescent, A History of the Crusades, (New York, 1987)
T.S. Boase, Kingdoms and Strongholds of the Crusaders, (London, 1970)
Andrea Hopkins, Knights, (1990)
Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Atlas of the Crusades, (New York, 1991)
Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, (New York, 1995)
Stephen Turnbull, The Book of Medieval Knight, (1985)
Jay Williams, Knight of the Crusades, (New York, 1962)
Terence Wise, Osprey Men-at-Arms Series Armies of the Crusades, (London, 1978)
Terence Wise, Osprey Men-at-Arms Series The Knights of Christ,(London, 1984)
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