In 1183, a Muslim Military Leader Refused to Attack this Castle For a Very Strange Reason

View of the Upper Court of the Kerak Castle, seen from the keep, al-Karak, Jordan. Wikipedia

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.

Lower Court of Kerak Castle, al-Karak, Jordan. Wikipedia

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.

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  • ebliever

    This is about as anti-historical as you can get. “Crusaders were Christians from Europe, so named because they invaded long-held Muslim regions in the Mediterranean. Their goal was to overtake Muslim-controlled lands as well as the Holy Lands, eventually forcing non-Christians to convert.” Long-held? It was precisely the opposite, as they were focused on regaining lands recently lost by the Byzantine Empire.

    The Crusades were a defensive project against centuries of Muslim aggression as they seized Christian and other lands, enslaving Christians, Jews and everyone else. Most of the people in the areas the Crusaders fought were still Christian, such as Egypt, which under the Muslim commander Saladin was 60% Christian. Islam has always been spread by the sword – the entire “Muslim world” today is under Muslim control because of naked aggression, not missionary work and peaceful preaching.

    Christianity is based on acceptance of the Gospel through preaching. You don’t spread it by force. Either you repent of your sins sincerely or not, but that cannot be forced with a sword the way Muslims, atheists and other religious extremists past and present make a habit of doing.

    • Gary Taylor

      You are willfully ignorant of Christian history.

      • Jeff Simon

        It is the same as Human history. Africans did not need religion to justify enslaving each other. American Indians did not make slaves of defeated rival tribes and captured prisoners because of religion. It is human nature. Certain moral relativists and many atheists merely find it convenient for their narrative to blame it on religion.

    • wamerk

      Islam was entirely spread by the sword as opposed to peace-loving Christians? What a bunch of hogwash. The same can be said with Christianity at the hands of Imperial Britain and the Catholic church. Committing genocide on the Native Americans and other “savages” was justified by their Christian God. Also, don’t sugarcoat the Christian Crusades. Pope Urban issued what we would call today a “fatwah” against Muslims and non Christians, and many Christians murdered, raped, and pillaged their own fellow Christians along the way to rape and pillage the Muslims. Christianity was not just accepted through gospel, it was spread by the sword, by chemical weapons, by coercion, through the threat of death, and by taking babies away from their mothers to convert them.

      • Ed Hoffman

        Don’t just pick on the Brits, look at the slavery & genocide caused by the Conquistadors in the Name of the Papist Spanish Monarchs…

      • Jeff Simon

        wamerk: Although it is not germane to your efforts to absolve Islam through your inevitable claims of moral relativism; I would like to point out that Christianity has outgrown its medieval travails and matured while Islam has remained mired in its origins of tribalism, the subjagatiom of woman and the xenophobic slaughter of the innocent. To pound it in with the hammer that SJWs like you require, Christianity is spread by the willing acceptance of the Spirit of Christ. Islam is a conversion forced by the edge of a blade.

        Apologists for Islam like yourself try to excuse the cruelty of Islam by pointing out Christian barbarism committed during barbaric ages. Or perhaps some child diddling priest in the modern times. You are seeking to cast yourself in a glow of Uber Enlightenment. You are a virtue signaling narcissist. You ride a high horse so you may look down upon others. It is the hallmark of a small man.

        • wamerk

          Moral relativism is exactly what I was responding to Jeff. The OP said that Christianity was spread entirely through gospel, and unless gospel also is synonymous with rape, pillage, and genocide, then I couldn’t agree more. Now you present a whole bunch of false equivalencies between Islam and Christianity. They are not at all the same in scope or scale. Christianity would never have prospered had it not been through gun, germs, and steel of imperial colonialism. As another user suggested, we can’t talk about crimes against humanity without mentioning the Christian conquistadors. Christianity primarily spread throughout Americas and Africa through malice, ultra brutality, and greed. This is part of the foundation of your ‘enlightened’ west that now wants to point fingers at a region where wars are fought at the behest of the same enlightened west.

  • OrlandoAndy

    The story as I have heard it is that when Saladin arrived Humphrey’s mother Stephanie sent food out to him, saying that no lord who attended her son’s wedding would miss the feast. Saladin then asked her where the newlyweds were spending their first night and promised not to interrupt them by bombarding that part of the castle.