Kingdom of Heaven - A TRAP IS SET

A view of the 1187 battlefield where Muslims and Franks gathered to fight for control of Jerusalem. The view is from the Horns of Hattin, looking toward the Arbel Cliffs and Lake Tiberias (also known as the Sea of Galilee). Click on the image for a full-page view.


There is a place in today’s Israel, just north of the ancient town of Capernaum, called Karnei-Hattin (the Horns of Hattin). It is, on most days, a peaceful place, near the Sea of Galilee (which is also called Lake Tiberias).

It is also the spot where some Biblical scholars believe Jesus preached the Beatitudes (also referred to as the Sermon on the Mount).

The lake is freshwater. During the summer months, when there is no rain and nearby streams and river beds are dry, the lake beckons to all who are thirsty. Saladin knew that in the summer of 1187. He also knew that thirsty soldiers make ineffective fighters.

After the Frankish Templars and Hospitallers were killed at Saffuriyah, Saladin set a trap. With his men, he laid siege to the citadel at Tiberias. Raymond’s wife was inside the surrounded tower. Saladin had his men set fires in the area.

Would the smoke attract Guy and the Kingdom’s army?

Guy and his advisors debated the situation. Ibn al-Athir reports the discussion:

When the Franj [the Franks] learned that Salah al-Din [Saladin] had occupied and set fire to Tiberias, they met in council. Some proposed marching against the Muslims to fight them and prevent them from seizing the citadel. But Raymond intervened:

“Tiberias belongs to me,” he said, “and it is my own wife who is besieged. But I would be ready to allow the citadel to be taken and to let my wife be captured if I could be sure that Saladin’s offensive would stop there; for, in God’s name I have seen many a Muslim army in the past, but none as numerous or as powerful as the one Saladin commands today. Let us therefore avoid a confrontation with him. We can always retake Tiberias later, and ransom our prisoners."

While Raymond’s observations made sense, he was already suspected of friendship with Saladin. It was because of him that the Muslims had been in a position to kill the monk-soldiers at Saffuriya. Ibn al-Athir continues:

But Prince Arnat, lord of Karak [Renaud de Châtillon], said to him, "You are trying to frighten us with this talk of the strength of the Muslim forces simply because you like them and prefer their friendship. Otherwise you would not proffer such words. If you tell me that they are numerous, I answer: the fire is not daunted by the quantity of wood to burn."

The count [Raymond] then said: "I am one of you. I will do as you wish, fight at your side, but you will see what will happen." (Quoted in The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, page 190.)

Guy de Lusignan decided to engage Saladin. A victory, which he thought likely, would help him to unite the Kingdom. With the largest army the Franks had ever raised in Palestine, he would face the Muslim forces.

For Guy, who significantly misjudged the situation, things went badly from the start.


EDITOR'S NOTE.  Some of the images in this story are sourced from a book entitled The First Photographs of the Holy Land.  It was published after Britain gained control of Palestine.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Jul 27, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"A TRAP IS SET" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2005. Jan 28, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips