Read part I. The Fall of Krak des Chevaliers.
In 1281 the Muslims attacked the mighty fortress of Margat. Like Krak des Chevaliers it was designed scientifically to be almost impregnable. It was also on top of a hill so siege towers were out of question.
The fortress was so large that it had its own household officials and a number of rear-vassals. Reynaud’s son Bertrand sold it to the Hospitallers in 1186 as it was too expensive for the Mazoir family to maintain. After some rebuilding and expansion by the Hospitallers it became their headquarters in Syria. Under Hospitaller control, its fourteen towers were thought to be impregnable.
In 1188, Saladin marched on Margat having left Krak des Chevaliers in search of easier prey. According to Abu’l-Fida, “Recognising that Maqab was impregnable and that he had no hope of capturing it, he passed on to Jabala”. It was one of the few remaining territories left in Christian hands after Saladin’s conquests.
By the beginning of the 13th century the Hospitallers controlled the surrounding land and roads and made a large profit from travellers and pilgrims passing through. Margat was second in size and power only to the other Hospitaller fortress to the south, Krak des Chevaliers.
In September 1281 the Hospitallers of Margat dispatched a contingent of troops to support the Mongol invasion of Syria, which the Mamluk sultan of Egypt Qalawun successfully prevented after defeating the coalition at Homs. To punish the Hospitallers, Qalawun clandestinely raised an army in Damascus and besieged Margat on 17 April 1285.
After a 38-day siege during which sappers and miners managed to dig several tunnels underneath the fortress’s walls, a mine destroyed a salient of the southernmost wall. The defenders panicked and on discovering the numerous tunnels around the fortress, surrendered to the Mamluk commander Fakhr al-Din Mukri on 23 May, with Qalwun entering Margat two days later.
Qalawun allowed the Hospitallers to leave with everything they could carry. Rather than destroy Margat as he did with other fortresses, he repaired its defences and placed a strong garrison there due to its strategic value. (Wikipedia)
With both Hospitaler strongholds, Krak des Chevalier and Margat conquered Lakatia fell the next year and then finally Tripoli fell in 1289. Thus was lost the last Christian crusader state.
Mameluks demolished almost all castles they had taken from the crusaders in order to deter any attempts at recapture and, most of all, to put off any future crusade being planned. Next in line for conquest was mighty city of Acre, long the base of Crusader armies and the most important naval base. Acre was the place of final retreat in times of trouble, and capital of the Latin East. (Ancient.com)
To be continued in part III: The Fall of Acre.
Read more: https://holycrusade.news/2020/12/29/the-perfect-castle-chateau-gaillard/