Tiberias – from where crusaders should have stopped the Templar massacre at Jacob’s Ford

This year I went to Tiberias in modern Israel – which was a crusader stronghold in the twelfth century, part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In the 1170s, Saladin – ruler and unifier of a fractious Islamic world – declared war on the crusaders with the declared intent of getting Jerusalem back.

But he was beaten at Montgisard and slunk back to Egypt. However, Saladin was not to be so easily put back in his box. Facing internal revolts, he nevertheless made renewed preparations to attack Jerusalem – provoked by the news that the Knights Templar were building a huge new fort at Jacob’s Ford. This would prevent the Saracens getting a safe passage across the river Jordan and so Saladin had halt construction in its tracks.

He tried bribery at first but the leper king of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, was unmoved. So Saladin marshaled his forces and made for Jacob’s Ford. Baldwin should have been able to counter this march as he had soldiers at Tiberias – just half a day’s march from Jacob’s Ford. But as we know, things did not work out and the Templars were well and truly massacred. The castle was demolished and Saladin got his way.

So…here are some pictures from medieval Tiberias that I took three weeks ago.


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