An Analysis of the Turkish and Christian Factors That Instigated the Battle of Hattin 1187

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An Analysis of the Turkish and Christian Factors that Instigated the Battle of Hattin 1187

Islam in Europe 3258

Professor Aitana Guia

Submitted by: Sunaina Mannan 209 334 574

York University

To account for the many factors that gave birth to the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, one must consider many interrelated and yet parallel factors that shaped The Battle of Hattin; as this was a historic battle for both the Turks and Crusaders. Respectively it justified Saladin’s struggle to unify his people under his leadership, and it also marked the steep fall for the Crusades as they were stripped of their castles and cities (Housley, 1987). This fall not only encouraged the Third Crusade, but a crusade with a defined goal, aiming towards taking back the Holy City once and for all. Due to its immense significance in the era of the Second Crusades, it is vital to uncover the factors that instigated such a battle. Therefore, in this essay, I suggest three major factors that gave birth to the Battle of Hattin, being the religious fervour that was a characteristic in the Muslims and more so in the Christians, the internal disunity among Muslims and in Christendom as well as the greed for power within the hearts of the rival leaders. Before such arguments are put forth, the significance of Jerusalem and the First Crusade will help the audience to understand the roots of the Battle of Hattin. Furthermore, throughout this paper, the award winning film Kingdom of Heaven (Scott, 2005) will be used only as a reference; as it depicts the Battle of Hattin and the three respective arguments of this paper.

Significance of Jerusalem

The Holy Kingdom of Jerusalem was a precious medal for the three monotheistic faiths. The Jewish viewed this as the site of the great temples of Heaven. For Christians, Jerusalem was the most significant point of salvation. Finally, in Islam it is believed that Muhammad descended to Heaven where the Dome of the Rock stands today (Madden, 1999). In other words, accordance to the People of the Book, it is evident that Jerusalem is considered a Holy City – one which would not only bring ‘salvation’ but would bring power and political authority to whoever seized it (Prawer, 1964).

The First Crusades (1096-1099)

Jerusalem was forcibly seized from Rome by the Muslims in the 7th century. Though the People of the Book lived peacefully as one in this city, 400 years later Christians vowed to take it back from the ‘infidel Muslims’- in the ‘name of Christ.’ This journey to attain the Kingdom of Jerusalem meant a series of battles and essentially a war which lasted 200 years known as The Crusades (Madden, 1999). Consequently, The Four Crusader States were carved out after The First Crusades: Edessa, Principality of Antioch and County of Tripoli (Prawer, 1964).

In 1099, Christian warriors set forth towards Europe in what is recalled as the First Crusade (1096 – 1099). After three years, the Crusaders reached Jerusalem and countless Jews, Muslims and even Christians were massacred (Madden, 1999). This conquest was enough reason for the Muslims to strike back - as temples were burned, promises to spare Muslim women and children were not kept, and holy shrines were molested. Among these holy sites was the Dome of the Rock where Islamic symbols were taken down and substituted for the Cross to symbolize Christian defeat (Madden, 1999). In essence, the violence that did take place was done ‘in the name of Christianity’ (Prawer, 1964).

Religious Fervour

Eleventh century Western Europe was deeply concerned with matters of religion. In this contemporary and secular age, this idea is difficult to grasp. However in the Middle Ages, people were socialized to believe that poverty and the possibility of sins lurked in every corner. The church lacked the strength to...
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