At the time of the marriage, Raynald of Châtillon was married to Stephanie of Milly, the mother of the bride-groom. Raynald was made regent in 1177 by Baldwin IV, the half-brother of Isabella I, the bride. For years, Raynald led plundering raids against trading caravans near Kerak Castle. Not only did he plunder the coast of the Red Sea with his five ships, he also threatened the route of Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca in the spring of 1183. Through his actions Raynald had made Kerak Castle a target for Muslim attack. The marriage of Raynald’s step-son seemed a perfect event for a Muslim attack on the castle.
As Humphrey IV and Isabella I were being married at Kerak Castle in the autumn of 1183, Saladin led an assault on the castle. Saladin (An-Nassir Salah ad-Din Ysuf ibn Ayyub) was the first sultan of Syria and Egypt and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. He was a Sunni Muslim of Kurdish origin and led his Muslim armies into the Levant. As Saladin and his armies approached Kerak Castle, Baldwin IV, the half-brother of the bride, reached a deal with Saladin. The attack on the castle could continue as long as the chamber where the wedding was taking place would be unharmed. Saladin agreed and only laid siege on the other areas of the castle.
Christian armies arrived to fend off Saladin and his armies. Eventually a truce was reached and Saladin retreated with his armies. Saladin vowed to make the Kingdom of Jerusalem pay for Raynald’s plundering and terrorizing of the pilgrim routes to Mecca. Raynald took offense to Saladin’s vow and attacked a traveling caravan from Egypt to Syria in late 1186 or early 1187. He claimed that the truce negotiated at the Kerak Castle between the now dead Baldwin IV and the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Saladin did not apply to him personally.
Tired of the tactics of Raynald, Saladin invaded the Kingdom of Jerusalem, in defiance of the truce negotiated in 1183. This time, Saladin invaded with vengeance, annihilating the crusader army in the Battle of Hattin. When Raynald was captured on the battlefield, Saladin stated that he would spare the life of the pillaging Christian if he converted to Islam. When Raynald refused, Saladin took his sword and beheaded Raynald. Saladin again laid siege to the castle in 1187 and finally captured it in 1189. The Mumluk Sultan of the Bahri dynasty expanded the castle with a new tower along the northwest corner in 1263.
The location of Kerak Castle made it a prime target for takeover. In 1834, a rebel leader besieged the castle during the peasants’ revolt in Palestine. Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt captured the castle in 1840, which destroyed most of the fortifications. Situated at the crossroads of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and Greater Syria, Kerak Castle became an important fortification for the Ottoman Empire in the late-19th century. In modern times, the castle was the site of a terrorist attack on December 18, 2016. The attack killed 10 and injured 34, mostly Jordanian security forces and local civilians.