Read part I The Fall of Crak des Chevalier
II The Fall of Margat and Tripoli.
III The Fall of Acre
The Crusaders had lost control of the mainland in 1291 (see Fall of Acre), and the dwindling Kingdom of Jerusalem had been relocated to the island of Cyprus. However, Templars still had one small base of operations in the Holy Land: The castle in Tartus had a keep, which the Templars still owned and controlled.
After the fall of Acre Mameluks attacked that Tartus keep and soon it fell. But not all was lost yet. The Templars retreated from the keep to a garrison on the nearby island of Arwad/Ruad which they held for another decade. The island was only 3 kilometres from the mainland and offered a perfect chance to invade the Holy Land once again.
In late 1300, in an attempt to coordinate military operations with the Mongol leader Ghazan, the Cypriots prepared a land-based force of approximately 600 men: 300 under Amalric of Lusignan, son of Hugh III of Cyprus, and similar contingents from the Templars and Hospitallers. The men and their horses were ferried from Cyprus to a staging area on Ruad, from which they launched raids on Tortosa while awaiting Mongol reinforcements.
When the Mongols failed to arrive, the majority of the Christian forces returned to Cyprus, though a garrison was left on Ruad which was manned by rotating groups of different Cypriot forces. Pope Clement V formally awarded ownership of the island to the Knights Templar, who (in 1302) maintained a garrison with 120 knights, 500 bowmen and 400 Syrian helpers, under the Templar Maréchal (Commander-in-Chief) Barthélemy de Quincy.
In February 1301 the Mongols, accompanied by the Armenian king Hethum II, finally made their promised advance into Syria. General Kutlushka went to Little Armenia to fetch troops and from there moved south past Antioch. The Armenians were also accompanied by Guy of Ibelin, Count of Jaffa, and John of Giblet. While Kutlushka had a force of 60,000, he could do little else than engage in some perfunctory raiding as far as the environs of Aleppo. When Ghazan announced that he had canceled his operations for the year, the Crusaders, after some deliberations, decided to return to Cyprus, leaving only a garrison on Ruad.
Fall of Ruad
The Egyptian Mamluks, who had been systematically re-establishing control over Palestine and Syria, sought to take Ruad as well. A Mamluk fleet landed a force on the island, engaging in combat with the entrenched Templars, and then establishing a lengthy siege, culminating with the Fall of Ruad, and the Crusaders surrendering on September 26, 1302, following a promise of safe conduct. However, the promise was not honored: all the bowmen and Syrian helpers were killed, and the Templar knights were sent to Cairo prisons.
But not all was lost. Templars still had Cyprus and allies in Levant.
To be continued in part V.