A modern portrayal of the Battle of Montgisard by Mariusz Kozik
|A Medieval depiction of a Crusading Host|
|The Citadel of David as it appears today.|
The Templars were not vassals of the King of Jerusalem and not obliged to do as he asked. But Saint Amand did not hesitate to join the King. He sortied out of Gaza with his entire mobile force of just 84 knights, plus an unknown number of sergeants and Turcopoles.
Together this mounted force started to shadow Saladin’s now dispersed and no longer disciplined army. Frankish tactics, however, required a combination of cavalry and infantry, so King Baldwin could not engage the enemy until he had sufficient infantry as well. He issued the arrière ban, a general call to arms that obligated every Christian to rally to the royal standard in defense of the realm. Infantry started streaming to join him.
The Sultan, as he later admitted to Saracen chroniclers, was caught off-guard. Before he could properly deploy his troops, the main force of Christian knights, probably led by Templars, smashed into Saladin’s still disorganized troops, apparently while some were still crossing or watering their horses in a stream.
|Modern Depiction of Montgisard by Zvonimir (copyright Medieval World) with the the Templars and the Ibelins at the forefront of the Frankish cavalry.|
For the bulk of his army there was no escape. Those who were not slaughtered immediately on the field, found themselves scattered and virtually defenseless in enemy territory. Although they abandoned their plunder, it was still a long way home — and the rains had set in. Cold, wet, slowed down by the mud, no longer benefiting from the strength of numbers, they were easy prey for the residents and settlers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The latter, after the sack of Lydda, Ramla and other lesser places, had good reason to crave revenge. Furthermore, even after escaping Christian territory, the Sultan’s troops still found no refuge because once in the desert the Bedouins took advantage of the situation to enslave as many men as they could catch in order to enrich themselves. Very few men of the Sultan’s army made it home to safety in Egypt.