The earliest initiative for the First Crusade began in 1095 when the Byzantine Emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, requested military support from the Council of Piacenza in the Byzantine Empire’s conflict with the Seljuk-led Turks. This was followed later in the year by the Council of Clermont, during which Pope Urban II supported the Byzantine request for military assistance and also urged faithful Christians to undertake an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
In the year of our Lord 1099 with the help of God the crusaders miraculously captured Jerusalem and much of the coast of Levant.
For 200 years the crusaders protected the holy places. But how did they loose the Holy Land?
The big troubles for the crusaders started when Egyptian Mamluk leader Sultan Baibars (aka Baybars, r. 1270-1277 CE) managed to expand his empire and push the Mongols back to the Euphrates River.
The Christian cities suffered too, with Baibars capturing Caesarea and Arsuf. Antioch fell in 1268 CE and then in 1271 Baibar decided to attack the Knights Hospitaller’s legendary castle of Krak des Chevaliers.
T. E. Lawrence, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, remarked that Krak des Chevaliers was “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world, [a castle which] forms a fitting commentary on any account of the Crusading buildings of Syria”.
Castles in Europe provided lordly accommodation for their owners and were centers of administration; in the Levant the need for defence was paramount and was reflected in castle design. Kennedy suggests that “The castle scientifically designed as a fighting machine surely reached its apogee in great buildings like Margat and Crac des Chevaliers.”
The walls are important but so are the storage facilities.
Mysteriously the castle fell in only one month. Nobody really knows why. This was the beginning of the end for the crusaders.
But the castle is still a legend. Now you can even defend it in a game.