Having been defeated at the Battle of Hattin, the crusaders and Templars now found themselves at the mercy of Saladin. When it came to the Templars and Hospitallers, the muslim leader was in no particular mood to show mercy. The victorious leader declared that the warrior monks were “monstrous orders whose practices are of no use, who will never renounce their hostility and who will render no service as slaves”.
Saladin knew that the Templars would never renounce their faith. He went through the motions of offering conversion or death but all opted to die. In total, something like 230 knights of the Order of the Temple and the Hospital were beheaded by Saladin’s troops. One exception to the mass execution was the Templar Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort who avoided the blade and was imprisoned.
Acre fell to Saladin shortly after followed by Ascalon and then Gaza. De Ridefort appears to have convinced the Templars at Gaza to surrender and in return for this, Saladin set him free. The Grand Master returned to the fray against the Saracens and appears to have been eventually executed by Saladin after being captured yet again.
The insanely unstable Reynald de Chatillon was killed by Saladin in person after the defeat at Hattin. Saladin offered iced water to King Guy of Jerusalem – a gesture of mercy by the muslim leader. But Guy passed the cup to Reynald, an act which angered Saladin who had certainly not intended to offer clemency to Reynald. To reinforce this point, it is claimed Saladin took a scimitar and beheaded him in front of a no doubt horrified Guy.
After Hattin….it was only a matter of time before Jerusalem fell to Saladin.
- Some more movies set in the Middle Ages (thetemplarknight.com)
- Burial place of Templar Grand Masters (thetemplarknight.com)