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The Battle of Montgisard

Battle Name : The Battle of Montgisard

Date(s) : 25 November 1177

Part of : Second Crusade , Frankish possession of Crusader States 1149-1187 ,

Outcome : A victory for The Kingdom of Jerusalem over Ayyubid Saracens

Type of battle : Land


A massive Saracen army under Saladin invaded the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but was ambushed by a numerically far inferior Frankish force. The result was a stunning and decisive victory for the Crusaders, with the Saracens suffering some 90% casualties.


Montgisard, near Ramla, central Israel (Israel)

More details

In 1177 the Kingdom of Jerusalem was facing a period of instability. The king, Baldwin IV, was only sixteen and a leper, unable to produce an heir. His pregnant sister Sybilla had just become a widow, and the political manoeuvring to find a replacement husband had led to factionalism amongst the Frankish nobility.

Meanwhile, Saladin had completed consolidating his power in Egypt and Syria, and sensed that the opportune moment to strike at the Crusader States had come. He gathered together an army of 26,000 troops in Egypt and pushed into the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Baldwin was only able to muster a fraction of that number, including a mere 375 knights. He marched out to confront the Saracens, but was delayed at Ascalon by a detachment of Saladin's forces, Having overwhelmed these, the Franks linked up with a small force of Templars, who had broken out of their besieged stronghold at Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Saracens had been leading a campaign of destruction and pillage through the Kingdom, but confident in his numerical superiority Saladin had allowed his army to become spread out and disorganised. The sudden arrival of the Frankish army caught them by surprise, and they were unable to organise themselves adequately before the Crusaders attacked.

Although too sick to take tactical command, which was left to Raynald of Chatillon, Baldwin's inspiring leadership, which included personally leading the troops into battle and being in the thick of the action, helped to ensure victory. In the brief but bloody battle which followed, the Saracens were all but annihilated, and the remnants of their army was forced into an humiliating retreat.

The spectacular Crusader victory temporarily neutralised Saladin as a threat, leaving him militarily impotent and forced to reconsolidate his power in Egypt and Syria, which had always been tenuous and was now threatened thanks to his humiliation. The Franks were able to launch a small but successful incursion into Syria. However, by 1179 the Saracens had recovered. Eight years of war followed, culminating in the disastrous Crusader defeat at Hattin and the capture of Jerusalem in 1187, which effectively saw the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Casualty figures

The Kingdom of Jerusalem

Number engaged :

Casualties :

Ayyubid Saracens

Number engaged :

Casualties :
23,400 (90.00%)