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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years

XIX: The Decline and Fall of Jerusalem, 1174-1189,   pp. 590-621 PDF (13.0 MB)

Page 615

advisable to treat these two subjects separately and to turn first to a brief
survey of the Moslem reconquest. 
 The military situation facing the kingdom of Jerusalem, and now also Tripoli
and Antioch, was certainly desperate. Saladin's resounding victory had all
but denuded the kingdom of defenders. Everything had been staked on the Hattin
campaign. It is true that a number of castles and towns still had, or managed
to muster, garrisons capable of stiff resistance. But since these had no
supporting army to relieve them, Saladin's troops were in the end able to
starve out those forts which they could not readily or quickly storm. The
only hope left for the Christians was speedy reinforcement from Europe. But
it was evident that since Europe did not awake to the danger before 1187,
it would be some time before help came in any quantity, if indeed it came
at all. Closely linked with the problem of reinforcements was the control
of the coast; for without adequate facilities for landing troops and supplies,
recovery would have been more difficult. Thus the gathering of the refugees
from the Christian army at Tyre, where the first reinforcements arrived,
was highly significant. 
 Saladin's first efforts after Hattin were directed toward obtaining a maximum
number of important strongholds in a minimum amount of time. Thus, he struck
immediately at the essential ports and paused only long enough to take those
inland castles and towns which offered little resistance. Then after capturing
Jerusalem itself, he moved northward along the coast of Tripoli and Antioch.
 The campaign in the kingdom of Jerusalem proceeded immediately after Hattin.
Indeed, Saladin delayed only a day to secure the capitulation of Tiberias
(July 5) before marching toward Acre. This vital port surrendered on July
9 after a two-day siege. Meanwhile some of his lieutenants moved southward
into Galilee and Samaria and the southern parts of the kingdom. So successful
were these operations that before the siege of Jerusalem, which commenced
in September 1187, all the major ports south of Tripoli, with the exception
of Tyre, were in Moslem hands. These included Beirut, Jaffa, Ascalon, and
Sidon, together with Jubail and alBatrün in the county of Tripoli. In
addition, virtually all the inland towns and castles south of Tiberias, except
Krak de Montréal (ash-Shaubak) and Kerak (Krak des Moabites), capitulated.
These two southern strongholds and other formidable castles such as Belvoir
(Kaukab), Safad, and Belfort (Shaqif Arnün) in the north held out. In
order to hasten his conquest Saladin usually 

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