Could someone explain the battle of Hattin to me?

I was reading up on it and I don’t quite get why or how it started. Also, if someone could explain the rest of the crusades at that time, it would be great. Battle of Hattin more specifically.


  1. The battle was fought in July 1187, between Outremer (the Christian Crusader Kingdoms which had been founded in the Holy land after the 1st Crusade) – and the Ayyubid dynasty (a Muslim kingdom based in Egypt, ruled by Turkish & Kurdish nobility).

    Before 1187, there had been a truce in effect between the Christian kingdoms of Outremer and the Ayyubid-led Muslim forces.

    The foremost of the Christian kingdoms, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, was without a King, and was fiercely divided over who should rule.
    Count Raymond of Tripoli had been acting as Regent, but Sir Guy of Lusignan was married to the former Queen.
    Although Raymond was regarded as a much stronger leader than Guy, the Queen, Sibylla had a lot of support, and Guy became King.

    Raymond approached the leader of the Ayyubids, the famous Saladin, and began negotiating an alliance against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Although this came to nothing, it persuaded Saladin that the Crusaders were divided and the time was right to raise his army against them.

    In 1186, Prince Reynald de Chatillon, ruler of the Christian kingdom of Transjordan, attacked a Muslim trading caravan crossing his lands, breaking the truce. This was the excuse Saladin needed for war.
    He waited until the date of the truce was passed, then invaded the Christian lands.

    The first Muslim attacks were small-scale raids, but at the Battle of Cresson, the Christians lost some of their elite fighters when the 140 Knights Templar were wiped out. They had been on a mission to negotiate peace between Guy & Raymond.

    Once Saladin’s army was assembled, he was on a time limit. He couldn’t keep a large army together very long – they would run out of supplies, and men would start to desert. So he had to provoke the Crusaders to come out and fight.

    To achieve this he laid siege to the fortified city of Tiberias, where Raymond’s wife was sheltering.

    The Crusaders massed their armies at the springs of Sapphoria. It was the last sizeable water source between them and Saladin, over 20 miles of rough country away. The Crusaders argued, some for pressing on, some for waiting. But news arrived that Tiberias’ outer walls had fallen to the Muslims, so the crusaders pressed on.

    The march was hard, & both men & horses suffered from heat & thirst. Muslim raiders harassed the column with arrows all the way. Saladin sent cavalry around behind the crusaders to seize springs as they passed, cutting them off from retreat & water. He also sent heavy cavalry to charge the column & slow it down. Eventually the column came to a standstill & the crusaders made camp for the night, still without water.

    The next morning, 4th July, the crusaders made several attacks on Saladin’s army. Some of the crusaders – including Count Raymond – broke through, but the Muslims blocked their way back. They could do nothing more, & eventually left the field. The rest of the mounted crusaders tried repeatedly to charge the Muslims, while those on foot retreated to the Horns of Hattin, a hill formed by the rim of a long-dead volcano. After repeatedly being beaten back, the surviving mounted crusaders joined them there, where they were overrun by the Muslim army.

    The entire leadership of the Christian kingdoms was captured & held for ransom.
    The Knights of the Holy Orders – Knights Templar & Knights Hospitaller – were executed to the last man.
    The common soldiers were sold as slaves.

    The way was now clear for Saladin to capture Jerusalem, which he did in October that year.

    Hope that helps!

  2. The battle of Hattin happened because Saladin wanted to crush the Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem and make it part of his own Muslim empire. (This had been his stated intention for a long time, and he had made several unsuccessful invasions in previous years.)

    So he invaded, and his first objective was the town and castle of Tiberias on the shore of Lake Galilee, defended by the Countess of Tripoli. He took the town and besieged the castle, but made sure the Countess was able to send messengers to her king and his Council asking for help. Her husband Count Raymond of Tripoli was at the Council and said that this was exactly what Saladin wanted, that it was a trap and even though his own wife was in danger he reckoned it was a mistake to go; that there wasn’t enough water for an army on the route from Acre to Tiberias. But due to machinating and mistrust among the barons – especially by the Grand Master of the Knights Templar who hated Raymond – the army marches and was cut off on a thirsty hillside and cut to bits, just as Raymond had predicted.

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