The Leper King Decisively Defeats Saladin At Montgisard

Today on November 25, 1177, King Baldwin IV supported by the Knights Templar defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard.

King Baldwin IV ruled over the Christian held Kingdom of Jerusalem. The First Crusaders had taken control of the region in 1099. The Battle of Montgisard was Baldwin’s most important and well-known victory. He was only 16 years old at the time and had been seriously afflicted by leprosy. Baldwin had previously formed an alliance with the Byzantine Empire to support his invasion of Egypt. However, his plan stalled and never came to fruition. Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty discovered their plan. So he instead opted to attack them first. At the end of a massive army, he launched an invasion of the crusader kingdom.

According to estimates, Saladin had assembled over 26,000 soldiers. Upon hearing of the invasion, Baldwin immediately left Jerusalem with the support of Knights Templar to intercept and stop Saladin. However, his army was severely outnumbered, with apparently only 500 knights. It’s estimated Baldwin likely had a few thousand supporting infantry as well. Saladin allowed his army to fan out and raid villages as they marched towards the capital city. This proved to be a critical mistake.

Saladin assumed Baldwin would never attack him with so few troops; he was wrong. The Christians finally caught up with Saladin’s main force and attacked them in the early morning. Saladin’s lines were hastily assembled and his soldiers were quickly cut down by the highly skilled knights. Baldwin himself, covered in sores and bandages, was in the thick of the fighting. Saladin eventually fled the field and escaped to Egypt with only a tenth of his army.

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