Battle of Montgisard


The Battle of Montgisard was fought between the Ayyubids and the Kingdom of Jerusalem on November 25, 1177. The 16 year old King Baldwin IV, seriously afflicted by leprosy, led an out-numbered Christian force against the army of Saladin.
The leader of the Ayyubids, Saladin, began preparing to attack Jerusalem from his base in Egypt. Moving with 27,000 men, Saladin marched into Palestine. Though he lacked Saladin’s numbers, Baldwin mobilized his forces with the goal of mounting a defense at Ascalon. As he was young and weakened by his disease, Baldwin gave effective command of his forces to Raynald of Chatillon. Marching with 375 knights, 80 Templars under Odo de St Amand, and several thousand infantry, Baldwin arrived at the town and was quickly blockaded by a detachment of Saladin’s army. Confident that Baldwin, with his smaller force, would not attempt to interfere; Saladin moved slowly and looted the villages of Ramla, Lydda, and Arsuf. In doing so, he allowed his army to become dispersed over a large area. At Ascalon, Baldwin and Raynald managed to escape by moving along the coast and marched on Saladin with the goal of intercepting him before he reached Jerusalem. On November 25, they encountered Saladin at Montgisard, near Ramla. Caught by total surprise, Saladin raced to re- concentrate his army for battle.
Anchoring his line on a nearby hill, Saladin’s options were limited as his cavalry was spent by the march from Egypt and subsequent looting. As his army looked upon Saladin’s, Baldwin summoned the Bishop of Bethlehem to ride forward and raise aloft a piece of the True Cross. Forming for battle, Baldwin and Raynald’s men charged the center of the Saladin’s line. Breaking through, they put the Ayyubids to rout, driving them from the field. The victory was so complete that the Crusaders succeeded in capturing Saladin’s entire baggage train.

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