Muslim Perspectives on the Military Orders during the Crusades



On July 4, 1187, the armies of Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria, surrounded thousands of Crusaders surmounting the Horns of Hattin (fig. 1) near Tiberias in Galilee. Exhausted by heat, thirst, and days of marching and fighting, the Crusaders were forced to surrender. Thousands of the resulting prisoners were sold into slavery, but not all. While King Guy and the Frankish aristocrats who had led their followers to disaster were allowed for the most part to ransom themselves,1 the knights of the Military Orders faced a different fate.2 After his triumphant victory, Saladin singled out the captive Templars and Hospitallers for execution.

Of course, such atrocities by both sides were hardly uncommon during the Crusades; Richard Lionheart’s massacre of 2,700 Arab prisoners—plus their wives and children—following his capture of Acre comes to mind.3 Yet Saladin’s treatment of the Templars and Hospitallers after the battle of Hattin stands in stark contrast to his generous treatment of prisoners captured later that year at Jerusalem, where Saladin paid the ransom for thousands of poor Christians and let them go free.4 What caused the particular enmity between Saladin and the Templars and Hospitallers? To understand this situation one must begin with an examination of Muslim perspectives on monasticism in general.

Muslim Views of Christian Monasticism before the Crusades

Although pre-Islamic Arabia is often viewed, with some justification, as somewhat of a cultural backwater, the Arabs nonetheless had extensive contacts with both the Sassanid Persian and Byzantine empires. Through the contacts with Byzantium, and especially through interaction with the Christianized Arab Ghassanid tribe, pagan Arabs first came into contact with Christian monasticism.5 Arab poets make a few references to Chris­tian monks; one perhaps allegorical allusion describes a bedouin wandering lost in the desert by night, who sees in the distance the flickering light from the lamp of a monk reading in his cell and finds shelter with him.6

But such minor incidental references in poetry are insufficient to give us anything but the vaguest hints about how pre-Islamic Arabs viewed monasticism. For a more complete understanding of how the Muslim view developed, we must turn to the Qur’an, where monasticism is discussed in four passages that laid the foundation for subsequent Muslim attitudes toward monks during the Crusades. On the positive side, the Qur’an describes monks as leading people near—although not fully to—the path of God:

You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful [Muslims] are the Jews and the pagans, and that the nearest in affection to them are those who say: “We are Christians.” That is because there are priests [qassisin] and monks [ruhban] among them; and because they are free from pride. (5:82)7

This positive attitude toward monasticism was further emphasized by the story of the monk Bahira, found in the earliest surviving biography of Muhammad, written by Ibn Ishaq. As a young teenager, Muhammad journeyed with a caravan to Syria:

When the caravan reached Busra in Syria, there was a monk there in his cell by the name of Bahira, who was well versed in the knowledge of Christians. . . . There he gained his knowledge from a book that was in the cell, so they allege, handed on from generation to generation. . . . They allege that while he was in his cell he saw the apostle of God [Muhammad] in the caravan when they approached, with a cloud overshadowing him among the people.8 Then they came and stopped in the shadow of a tree near the monk. . . . When Bahira saw him he stared at him closely, looking at his body and finding traces of his description [in the Christian books]. . . . [H]e began to ask him about what happened in his . . . sleep, and his habits, and his affairs generally, and what the apostle of God told him coincided with what Bahira knew of his description. . . . [The monk Bahira told Muhammad’s uncle and guardian Abu Talib,] “Take your nephew back to his country and guard him carefully against the Jews, for by Allah! if they see him and know about him what I know, they will do him evil; a great future lies before this nephew of yours, so take him home quickly.”9

This passage reveals a number of implicit attitudes about monasticism. First, there is a clear preference in early Islamic sources for hermitic (solitary) monks over coenobitic (communal) monks. The favorably depicted monk in early Islamic sources is generally the lone ascetic devoting his life to prayer and contemplation in the wilderness. In a sense, Muhammad himself pursued this ideal, for his early biographers describe him as a hanif, a nondenominational monotheist who for one month each year withdrew to Mount Hira’ (fig. 2) near Mecca, for tahannuth, devotional prayer and contemplation. This is where he re­ceived his first vision of Gabriel and revelation of the Qur’an.10 There is also, however, an implicit criticism of monks in this passage. The monk Bahira was in possession of an apocryphal book that, when interpreted correctly, prophesied of the coming of Muhammad. Yet unlike Bahira in this story, most of the very monks who were the keepers of this arcane tradition, and who should therefore have clearly seen Muhammad for the prophet he was, refused to accept him.

In addition to this basically positive assessment of monks, however, the Qur’an also outlines three major problems with monasticism. First, monasticism places human intermediaries between God and mankind.

They make of their clerics [qassisin] and monks [ruhban], and of the Messiah, the son of Mary, lords besides God; though they were ordered to serve one God only. (9:31)

Second, monasticism was not ordained by God. However well intended, it is a human invention:

We [God] gave him [Jesus] the Gospel, and put compassion and mercy in the hearts of his followers. As for monasticism [rahbaniya], they invented it themselves (for We [God] had not enjoined it on them), seeking thereby to please God; but they did not observe it faithfully. We rewarded only those who were true believers; for many of them were evil-doers. (57:27)11

Finally, monks are accused in the Qur’an of corruptly using their positions as rulers in society to garner personal wealth and power:

Believers, many are the clerics and the monks who defraud men of their possessions and debar them from the path of God. To those that hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in God’s cause, proclaim a woeful punishment. (9:34)

Yet despite the problems with monasticism enumerated in the Qur’an, monks—and Christians in general—were considered “People of the Book,”12 followers of God who had received an early portion of God’s revelation but not the fullness revealed to Muhammad in the Qur’an. As such they became a tolerated religious minority within Islam. This attitude is reflected in the early Islamic conquests in the seventh century, when the churches and monasteries of the Christians were given special protection in peace treaties. The caliph ‘Umar’s (ruled 634–644) treaty with Jerusalem is typical of many other treaties from the period:

This is the assurance of safety (aman) which the servant of God, ‘Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has granted to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves[,] for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and the healthy of the city, and for all the rituals that belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited [by Muslims] and will not be destroyed. Neither they nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted.13

Thus, since the earliest days of Islam, monasticism was a protected institution of a protected religious minority.

The protected status of Christianity and monasticism in early Islamic society is emphasized by the important roles some Christians played under Islamic rule. Under the caliphs, the literary and scholarly skills of Christian monks were highly prized, with many monks serving as clerks and even high ministers. The most famous is perhaps the great defender of icons, John of Damascus (655–750), who was originally a prominent minister for the Umayyads at Damascus before taking orders and retiring to Mar Saba near Bethlehem, where his cell is still exhibited to visitors.14 Christians such as Hunayn ibn Ishaq (Joannitius) were the leaders of the famous translation academy Bayt al-Hikma (House of wisdom) at Baghdad in the ninth century.15

Somewhat paradoxically, Coptic monasticism in Egypt flourished under Islam and may have reached its height in the tenth century. This was because under earlier Byzantine rule, Coptic monasticism was suppressed as heretical, whereas it was tolerated by the Muslims. Although there were certainly attacks against monks and monasteries by Arabs, these tended to be incidents of brigandage or extortion by corrupt officials rather than formal government policy. Throughout the Middle Ages, relations between the Egyptian government and the Coptic monks generally remained good. For example, the late-thirteenth-century Egyptian Mamluk sultan Baybars I—noted for his pursuit of jihad, or holy war, against the Crusaders—was a guest of the monks at a monastery of Dair Abu Maqar while traveling in Wadi Habib.16

Thus, despite minority status and intermittent persecutions, Orthodox, Syriac, Coptic, and Nestorian monasticism all survived in Islamic lands up to the period of the Crusades.17 Based on the Qur’an, the traditional Islamic interpretation was that monasticism was a well-intentioned human institution, whose advocates did not always live up to its principles. It was not, however, revealed by God. This was the prevailing Arab attitude towards monasticism at the beginning of the Crusades.18

Religious Intruders

The coming of the Crusaders, however, brought three new developments that transformed relations between Muslims and Christian monasticism. First, the monks were now Latin Catholics, who frequently had little or no understanding of Islam. Second, unlike the monks who had submitted to Islamic political authority, the Crusaders came as hostile triumphant conquerors determined to dominate Muslim peoples and holy places. And finally, unlike the ascetic otherworldly monks of Eastern Christianity with whom Muslim rulers were familiar, the Crusades brought the warrior monks of the Military Orders, men who explicitly sought the destruction of Islam. These new developments compelled a radical reevaluation of Muslim attitudes towards monasticism.

In the period 1118–1156, the Military Orders played a relatively minor role in the Holy Land—in fact they are not well documented even in Latin sources. Among the Arabs their existence went completely unnoticed. In 1157, the rising importance of the Orders began to attract the attention of Muslim writers. The first surviving mention of the Orders is found in Ibn al-Qalanisi’s History of Damascus, which mentions the participation of both the Hospitallers and Templars in the battle of Banyas in 1157.19 Here we also find the first use of the Arabic technical terms for Templars and Hospitallers. The latter were called simply the isbitariyya, a straightforward arabized form of the Latin word hospitalis, which means a place of lodging for wayfarers. The Arab term for Templars, however, is the somewhat obscure dawiyya, whose origin and meaning is unknown but which is thought to perhaps have derived from the Latin devotus, one devoted to God’s service.20

Most Arab texts from 1157 to 1180 simply mention the Orders as Frankish military units participating in a conflict or owning a castle, without giving them any particular attention. A very revealing tale, however, comes from Usamah ibn-Munqidh, a Syrian nobleman and lord of Shayzar Castle who served as a mercenary in Fatimid Egypt for a number of years. In his old age, he wrote a delightfully garrulous anecdotal biography in which he describes the following encounter with the Templar knights at the Arab al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:

Everyone who is a fresh emigrant from the Frankish lands is ruder in character than those who have become acclimatized and have held long association with the Moslems. Here is an illustration of their rude character.

Whenever I visited Jerusalem I always entered the Aqsa Mosque, beside which stood a small mosque which the Franks had converted into a church. When I used to enter the Aqsa Mosque, which was occupied by the Templars [al-dawiyya], who were my friends, the Templars would evacuate the little adjoining mosque so that I might pray in it. One day I entered this mosque, repeated the first formula, “Allah is great,” and stood up in the act of praying, upon which one of the Franks rushed on me, got hold of me and turned my face eastward saying, “This is the way thou shouldst pray!” A group of Templars hastened to him, seized him and repelled him from me. I resumed my prayer. The same man, while the others were otherwise busy, rushed once more on me and turned my face eastward, saying, “This is the way thou shouldst pray!” The Templars again came in to him and expelled him. They apologized to me, saying, “This is a stranger who has only recently arrived from the land of the Franks and he has never before seen anyone praying except eastward.” Thereupon I said to myself, “I have had enough prayer.” So I went out and have ever been surprised at the conduct of this devil of a man, at the change in the color of his face, his trembling and his sentiment at the sight of one praying towards the qiblah [the direction of Mecca].21

There are a number of interesting aspects to this story. For one thing, it seems the Templars allowed Muslims to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque after it had been converted into a Christian religious complex. Somewhat paradoxically from the modern perspective, for Usamah the knights Templar are examples of moderate toleration, the voice of reason when compared to the uncomprehending pilgrim from the West. At any rate, Usamah certainly had no animosity towards the Templars, whom he calls his friends. All of this was to change with the rise of the two great countercrusading Sultans, Nur al-Din of Syria (ruled 1146–1174), and Saladin of Egypt and Syria (ruled 1171–1193).

Even so, during the early phases of Nur al-Din’s and Saladin’s rise to power the Military Orders were apparently not viewed as a special threat. In the latter half of the twelfth century, Arab sources recognize the Military Orders as distinct groups among the Franks. These sources demonstrate some understanding of the internal organization of the Military Orders. They correctly note that the warrior monks are called “brothers” (Latin fratres = Arabic ikhwa), live in a monastic house (Latin domus = Arabic bayt), and have a special relationship with the pope. But the Orders are not perceived differently than other Frankish soldiers and nobles.22

The nature of Arab views of the Orders during this period is reflected in the treatment of captive knights, which can be contrasted with Saladin’s later treatment of the knights of the Orders after the battle of Hattin, described at the beginning of this paper. On June 18, 1157, the Grand Master of the Templars Bertrand of Blancfort was captured by Nur al-Din along with eighty-seven knights near Banyas. He and his knights were held to ransom like any other Frankish warriors and were released in May 1159 through intervention of Manuel, emperor of Byzantium.23 Two decades later in 1179, the situation was still much the same. On June 10, 1179, at the battle of Marj Ayun, Saladin captured Odo of Saint-Amand, master of the Templars.24 Here again Saladin treated the Templars no differently than any other members of the Frankish aristocracy. Baldwin of Ibelin was ransomed for 150,000 dinars; Hugh of Galilee for 55,000. Saladin was willing to exchange Grand Master Odo for an influential Muslim prisoner, but according to William of Tyre, “the Grand Master was too proud to admit that anyone could be of equal value to him” and remained in prison where he died a year later.25 For this study, it is important to note that in 1179, a mere eight years before the battle of Hattin, Saladin was still willing to release the Templar grand master for an appropriate ransom.26

In August of that same year, Saladin captured over seven hundred prisoners and the Templars’ newly fortified castle of Chastellet on Jacob’s Ford in the upper Jordan. Whereas Saladin specifically ordered the execution of crossbowmen and Muslim apostates who were in Crusader service, it seems that the Templars themselves were not selected for any special punishment.27 Apparently at this time crossbowmen were viewed as more of a threat to Islam than the knights of the Military Orders.

Saladin’s Jihad against the Military Orders, 1180–1193

In the later decade of Saladin’s life, the countercrusade accelerated rapidly, with Saladin escalating his jihad and triumphing against the Crusaders.28 By the 1180s, the Orders were increasingly viewed as a serious threat to Islam for three reasons: their military prowess, their intransigence in making peace, and their spiritual pollution of Muslim holy places, specifically Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock.

The courage and military prowess of the Templars and Hospitallers were renowned in the West, and Muslims shared these views. Of course the knights of the Orders were not superheroes, as they are sometimes depicted in popular books on the subject. Nonetheless, the Muslims who fought against them perceived them as superb warriors. Ibn al-Athir, one of the great Arab historians of the Crusades, describes two hundred Templar and Hospitaller prisoners as “the backbone of the Frankish armies”29 and the “fiercest of all the Frankish warriors.”30 Here is his explanation of Saladin’s motives for executing the monks of the Military Orders after Hattin:

Then God Most High bestowed victory upon the Muslims [at Hattin], and the Franks were defeated. Many were killed and the rest captured. Among the dead was the commander of the Hospitallers, who was one of the most famous Frankish knights. He had done great harm to the Muslims. The Muslims pillaged the surrounding region, taking booty and prisoners and returning safely to Tiberias. . . . It was a great victory, for the Templars and Hospitallers are the firebrands of the Franks.31

These two groups were especially selected for execution because they had the greatest valor of all the Franks; so [Saladin] saved the [Muslim] people from their evil. He wrote to his deputy in Damascus ordering him to kill all of them who fell into his hands, and it was done.32

But the military prowess of the Orders was only one aspect of their perceived threat to Islam. Many other Frankish knights were also superb warriors, but this alone did not merit their execution upon capture.

The intransigence of the warrior monks was another matter. The legendary Assassins—fierce fanatical Islamic terrorists living in impregnable castles in the mountains of Syria—were renowned for their ability to intimidate and manipulate both Christian and Muslim rulers in the twelfth century by the threat of assassination. But they could not cow the Military Orders, who not only refused to pay the extortion demanded by the Assassins but instead received 2,000 besants a year in tribute from the Assassins.33 The knights of the Military Orders simply refused to be intimidated by the threat of assassination.

The Muslim perspective of the intransigence of the Military Orders is best reflected in the writings of Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Abi Bakr al-Harawi (ca. 1145–1215), a courtier, military theorist, and propagandist in the service of Saladin.34 A noted scholar and traveler, al-Harawi seems to have served as a type of secret agent for Saladin. As a part of ongoing military reforms, Saladin ordered the preparation of at least three manuals on statecraft and warfare, one of which was written by al-Harawi, entitled Al-Harawi’s Discussion on the Stratagems of War.

Al-Harawi’s manual offers some interesting insights into Muslim prejudices concerning the Crusaders. In describing the Latin clergy, al-Harawi wrote:

[The Sultan] should not neglect to write to the clergy [concerning surrender]. . . . For they have little religious sentiment and are capable of treachery and disloyalty; they desire the things of this world and are indifferent to the things of the next; [they are] irresponsible, thoughtless, petty, and covetous, . . . being concerned with rank and status among kings and nobles; [they] have a permissive religious judgment regarding their own [actions].35

On the other hand, al-Harawi’s view of the Hospitallers and Templars is quite different:

[The Sultan] should beware of [the Hospitaller and Templar] monks, . . . for he can not achieve his goals through them; for they have great fervor in religion, paying no attention to the [things of this] world; he can not prevent them from interfering in [political] affairs. I have investigated them extensively, and have found nothing which contradicts this.36

In other words, the Military Orders were a threat not only because of their military strength but because of their absolute spiritual devotion to their cause as well. And that devotion, when it entailed the destruction of Islam, represented an unacceptable threat to Muslims in the age of Saladin.

Finally, added to the military threat and intransigence of the Orders were the spiritual threat to Islam they represented and the blasphemous impurity they were seen to have brought to the Muslim holy places they controlled.37 Although the Crusader capture of Jerusalem in 1099 was viewed by Muslims as a calamity, the recovery of Jerusalem as a Muslim holy place was not a crucial issue in the early decades of the Crusades. Beginning in the 1160s, however, Nur al-Din and later Saladin both made jihad against the Crusaders a fundamental part of their state ideologies and the reconquest of Jerusalem a fundamental part of that jihad.38

From the Muslim perspective, the Templars, with their headquarters on the Temple Mount, had transformed the sacred Haram al-Sharif—the Noble Sanctuary—into a place of blasphemous spiritual impurity. Muslim rhetoric on this issue was often quite harsh. ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani describes some of these attitudes:

As for the Dome of the Rock, the Franks had built on it a church and an altar. . . . They had adorned it with pictures and statues and they had appointed in it places for monks and a place for the Gospel. . . . In it were pictures of grazing animals fixed in marble and I saw among those depictions the likenesses of pigs. . . . The Franks had cut pieces from the Rock and carried some of them to Constantinople and some of them to Sicily. It was said that they had sold them for their weight in gold. . . . [Our] hearts were cut because of its cuts.39

Not only this, but “on an iron door a representation of the Messiah [was placed] in gold encrusted with precious stones,”40 and “bottles of wine for the ceremony of the mass”41 were found in the sacred places. Additionally,

the Aqsa mosque, especially its mihrab [prayer niche indicating the direction to Mecca], was full of pigs and obscene language, replete with the excrement they had dropped in the building, inhabited by those who have professed unbelief, have erred and strayed, acted unjustly and perpetuated offenses, overflowing with impurities.42

For Muslims, the Templars had made a sacred edifice into a place of idolatry. The Qur’an was replaced by copies of the Bible. Drinking of alcohol—forbidden by the Qur’an—was now commonplace in the mass; animal filth and pigs—unclean animals in Islam—defiled the holy site. The Christians regularly defiled holy places by wearing shoes.

The only option was the reconquest and purification of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock, which became the proclaimed goal of both Nur al-Din and Saladin. A panegyric poem about Nur al-Din describes this ideal:

May it, the city of Jerusalem be purified by the shedding of blood
The decision of Nur al-Din is as strong as ever and the iron of
his lance is directed at the Aqsa.43

When Saladin finally retook Jerusalem in 1187, his first act was to restore the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosques (fig. 3) to a state of ritual purity. Saladin “ordered the purification (tathir) of the [Aqsa] mosque and the [Dome of the] Rock of the filths (aqdhar) and impurities (anjas)44 of the Templars. All Christian icons, crosses, and symbols were removed and the mosques thoroughly cleaned. Next “rose-water was poured over the walls and floors of the two buildings which were then perfumed with incense.”45 The great gilded cross which the Templars had placed on top of the Dome of the Rock was thrown to the ground and taken to Baghdad, where it “was buried beneath the Nubian gate [in Baghdad] and thus was trodden upon”46 by all who entered the city. Likewise, when the Khwarazmians (a Turkish people) took Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1244, they purified it “and purified the Haram (Temple Area) and the shrines there from the filthy Franks and the foul Christians.”47

The feelings of the Muslims concerning the expulsion of the Templars and the restoration of the sanctity of Jerusalem are well summarized by Ibn Zaki: “I praise [God] . . . for his cleansing of His Holy House from the filth of polytheism and its pollutions.”48

As described at the beginning of this paper, Saladin, after a decade of campaigning, inflicted a decisive defeat on the Crusaders at the battle of Hattin on July 4, 1187. Imad al-Din described the horrible details of execution of the Military Orders after the battle:

The Sultan [Saladin] sought out the Templars and Hospitallers who had been captured and said: ‘I shall purify the land of these two impure peoples.’ He assigned fifty dinars [gold pieces] to every man who had taken one of them prisoner, and immediately the army brought forward at least a hundred of them. He ordered that they should be beheaded, choosing to have them dead rather than in prison. With him was a whole band of scholars and Sufis [mystics] and a certain number of devout men and ascetics; each begged to be allowed to kill one of them, and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais; the unbelievers showed black despair, the troops were drawn up in their ranks, the amirs [commanders] stood in double file. There were some who slashed and cut cleanly, and were thanked for it; some who refused and failed to act, and were excused; some who made fools of themselves, and others took their places. . . . How many ills did [Saladin] cure by the ills he brought upon a Templar.49

Saladin’s massacre of the knights of the Military Orders must be understood in the context of this triple threat of military prowess, intransigence, and profanation of sacred space. Ibn al-Athir succinctly described Saladin’s policy towards the Military Orders: “It was [Saladin’s] custom to execute the Templars and Hospitallers because of their fierce enmity towards the Muslims and their great courage.”50

Factionalism in the Ayyubid Confederation, 1193–1250

Following Saladin’s great victory at Hattin and his conquest of Jerusalem, Arab relations with the Military Orders again began to change. The knights of the Military Orders had been bested in battle, and their numbers significantly decreased by combat and by execution. Jerusalem and many of the Orders’ castles had been conquered. Most importantly, the Dome of the Rock had been purified and restored to the sanctity of Muslim rule. The Templars and Hospitallers still remained fierce opponents of Islam, but accommodations can be reached even with the fiercest opponents. Their removal from the Temple Mount meant they were no longer profaning Muslim sacred space. Muslims were thus able to begin to make accommodations with the Military Orders.

At the same time, the Orders began to abandon their former intransigence, becoming increasingly willing to make accommodation with the Arabs. Thus, in the decades following the death of Saladin (fig. 4), the Military Orders once again were perceived as just one division of many among the faction-ridden Crusaders. Acting upon this perception, Muslim rulers were frequently willing to make truces, treaties, and even alliances with the Orders. This willingness to reach accommodations with the Military Orders was exacerbated in the early thirteenth century by ongoing struggles for predominance among the Ayyubids—Saladin’s fractious successors. Some Ayyubid princes actually began to ally themselves with the Military Orders in an attempt to gain political advantages over their Muslim rivals. In 1240, al-Salih Ayyub, sultan of Egypt, ceded Ascalon to Frankish barons allied with the Templars, hoping to undermine their alliance with his rival from Damascus, Isma’il.51 This story demonstrates not only an indifference to the ideological threat of the Orders, but at least some degree of understanding of the internal politics of the Crusaders. Fraternization with the enemy was not uncommon; when Sultan Isma’il of Damascus allied with the Orders against Egypt, his general Ibrahim was allowed to stay in the monastic “house of the Templars”52 in Acre during the preparations for battle.

Another event demonstrates the political rivalries. One thousand Arab slaves were engaged in building Safed Castle for the Templars, and a plot was undertaken to free them. But when Sultan Isma’il heard of it, rather than offering assistance to the plotters, he revealed the plan to the Templars to curry their favor. The Templars promptly executed the slaves as a warning to forestall further potential rebellions.53 Thus, Isma’il was willing to acquiesce in the death of a thousand Muslim slaves in order to maintain his alliance with the Templars. For most of the early thirteenth century, the Orders were seen as just one other player in the never-ending Machiavellian struggle for power among the various Christian and Muslim princes of Palestine. For Muslim rulers in this period, the Military Orders were no longer merely menacing enemies to be despised or attacked but were sometimes potential allies to be cultivated.

The Mamluks and the Expulsion of the Military Orders, 1250–1291

The rise of the Mamluk sultans in 1250 initiated the final phase of Arab relations with the Military Orders.54 For centuries Muslim princes had been using slave-soldiers—mamluk in Arabic—as bodyguards. During the Crusades, these guards were slowly transformed into elite regiments numbering in the thousands. In the succession struggles that followed the death of Sultan al-Salih of Egypt in 1250, the leaders of these slave-soldiers managed to seize the throne, inaugurating the era of the Mamluk sultans of Egypt, which lasted until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517.

Founded by rebellious slaves and usurpers, the Mamluk sultanate rested on shaky ideological foundations. The Mamluks justified their usurpation by claiming—perhaps rightly—that they were the only soldiers skilled enough to be able to overcome the double threat of the Crusaders and Mongols, who had invaded the Near East beginning in 1218.55 From the late-thirteenth-century Arab perspective, the Mongols were a far more serious threat to their civilization than the Crusaders.56 While the Crusaders had the capacity to capture a few Arab ports, the Mongols had the capacity to completely destroy Islamic civilization and religion, as the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1256 demonstrated. Thus, the demise of the Crusaders in the late thirteenth century was somewhat delayed by Mamluk preoccupation with the Mongol threat from Mesopotamia.

Delayed, but not forestalled. For under the great warlords Baybars (1260–1277) and Qalawun (1279–1290), the Mamluks of Egypt were able both to prevent the Mongols from conquering Syria and Palestine and to dismember the remnants of the Crusader kingdom. Baybars was the most successful, conquering dozens of Crusader cities and castles, many of which were owned by the Military Orders.57 But, unlike Saladin, Baybars does not seem to have made use of any special anti-Templar or Hospitaller propaganda as justification for his attacks. Numerous treaties were made with the Military Orders, which read like standard military treaties of the period.58 There were apparently no special clauses in the treaties relating to the Orders’ status as warrior monks.

Like Saladin, Baybars massacred Templar and Hospitaller prisoners after his successful siege of the Templar fortress of Safad in Galilee in 1266.59 However, unlike Saladin, his motivation was not primarily ideological. Baybars claimed that the Templars had violated the terms of the peace treaty by attempting to leave the castle with their arms, so they were “beheaded on a hill near Safad in a place where they had been used to behead Muslims.”60 One Templar, who had once eaten with Baybars and therefore had a right to guest-protection, was spared; he converted to Islam and entered the sultan’s service.

On the other hand, when Baybars took the great Hospitaller fortress of Krak de Chevaliers in Syria (fig. 5) a few years later in 1271, he granted the entire garrison a safe-conduct, which he honored.61 After this siege, Baybars sent a letter taunting the Grand Master of the Hospitallers:

This letter is addressed to frère Hugues—may God make him one of those who do not oppose destiny or rebel against Him who has reserved victory and triumph for His army . . . to inform him of the conquest, by God’s grace, of [Krak de Chevaliers], which you fortified and built out and furbished . . . and whose defence you entrusted to your Brethren. They have failed you; by making them live there you destroyed them, for they have lost both the fort and you. These troops of mine are incapable of besieging any fort and leaving it able to resist them.62

There is no evidence here of the ideological animosity found in writings from Saladin’s day. The Hospitallers were simply an enemy like any other.

Likewise, in the final struggle for Acre in 1291, the Templars and Hospitallers were not singled out for special punishment. The knights of the Temple, with many refugee civilians, had shut themselves inside their huge tower.

The Templars [then] begged for their lives, which the Sultan [al-Ashraf] granted them. He sent them a standard which they accepted and raised over the tower. The door was opened and a horde of regulars [soldiers] and others swarmed in. When they came face to face with the defenders some of the soldiers began to pillage and to lay hands on the women and children who were with them, whereupon the Franks shut the door and attacked them, killing a number of Muslims. They hauled down the standard and stiffened their resistance.63

Eventually, a second offer of amnesty was made, but the foundations of the tower had been so severely undermined in the siege that it collapsed as the Mamluks were taking possession. Some members of the Orders who were captured in the siege were executed. But the Arab sources ascribe this action not to a desire to specifically punish the Military Orders but to other reasons of war. For example:

One reason for the Sultan’s wrath against them [the Templars], apart from their other crimes [of attacking Muslims], was that when the amir Kitbugha al-Mansuri had gone up (to receive their surrender) they had seized and killed him. They had also hamstrung their horses and destroyed everything they could, which increased the Sultan’s wrath against them.64

In telling of the final siege of Acre, Arab sources do not describe special ideological animosity towards the Orders. With the holy places of Jerusalem firmly in Muslim hands, the Military Orders no longer represented an ideological threat. For the Mamluks, the Military Orders were simply an enemy to be conquered.

Mamluks and Franciscans in the Fourteenth Century

The expulsion of the Crusaders from the Holy Land in 1291 did not end Arab relations with Western European Christians. Western monks—most notably the Franciscans—continued to live among the Muslims in the Holy Land.65 The nature of the relations of the Franciscans with the Mamluks serves as an interesting counterpoint to earlier Arab views on the Military Orders.

Franciscan tradition maintains that in 1219 St. Francis himself obtained permission from the Sultan Al-Salih Isma‘il (1245–1249) for the Franciscans to be allowed to worship unmolested in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.66 Franciscans are also said to have been used by the sultan as ambassadors to Pope Innocent IV (1243–1254).67 Throughout the late thirteenth century, as the Mamluks were driving the Crusaders from the Holy Land, Franciscans apparently remained on relatively good terms with the Arabs and were afforded special treatment by the sultans.68

After the fall of Acre in 1291, Pope Nicholas IV (1288–1292), a Franciscan, begged permission from the Sultan al-Ashraf for Latin monks to be allowed to remain in Jerusalem: “The sultan granted this request of the pope and bade him send some clergy, monks, and men of peace to Jerusalem. . . . So the pope chose some discreet, learned, and faithful friars from his own order.”69 With the help of a judicious payment in 1300 of 32,000 ducats from Rupert of Sicily, the Franciscans were given the Cenacle (also known as the Upper Room) on Mount Zion as their headquarters, as well as chapels in other holy places in Jerusalem.70 This presence of the Franciscans in Jerusalem was thus permitted by the Mamluks before it was officially authorized by Pope Clement VI in 1342, when he established the Franciscans as “Caretakers of the Holy Land” (Terrae Sanctae Custodis), a position they still maintain.

Thus, within a few decades of the fall of the Crusader kingdom and the expulsion of the Military Orders, the Mamluks were permitting Western monks to visit, worship, and remain in the Holy Land. But, of course, the Templars and Hospitallers were not included in this new policy of toleration. Arab opposition to the Military Orders was thus clearly not simply antagonism towards Christianity or monasticism. Rather, their fourteenth-century patronage of the Franciscans—described as “men of peace,” perhaps in specific distinction to the military functions of the Templars and Hospitallers—indicates that the Arabs were willing to accommodate peaceful Western monastic activities in the Holy Land.

Of course, the Mamluk permission for Franciscan presence in the holy places was not by any means entirely or even largely altruistic. There were many advantages that Mamluk sultans hoped to obtain from the revitalization of the Franciscan presence. In the late thirteenth century, the Mamluks continued to fear a potential alliance between the Franks and Mongols, and their accommodation with Nicholas IV over a Franciscan presence in the Holy Land may have been in part an attempt to forestall such a coalition. Granting the Franciscans control over the holy places of Palestine was also perhaps partially a mechanism to forestall future potential claims of the Military Orders to those same holy places—better a Franciscan in Jerusalem than a Templar. And, if the holy places were accessible to Western pilgrims, they might feel less inclination to attempt to retake those places by force in a new crusade. The Franciscan presence would also encourage pilgrimage from the West, which would, not incidentally, bring a nice flow of European silver into the Mamluk kingdom. Tourism, in its medieval as well as modern forms, is big business. (In this light, we should not forget the 32,000 ducats paid by Rupert of Sicily.) Finally, the Franciscans could in a sense be held hostage for future good behavior of Franks in Outremer. Saber rattling from the West could be countered with threats to close Christian holy places and expel or even execute the Franciscans. Indeed, this is precisely what happened in 1365, when Peter of Cyprus (1359–1369) attacked Alexandria. The Egyptian sultan al-Ashraf Sha’ban (1363–1376) arrested and executed the Franciscans of Jerusalem. New monks were allowed to return only after peace was restored.71

Nonetheless, in light of the preceding two centuries of invasions and warfare and the Mamluk fear of a possible renewal of crusades in the early fourteenth century, the overall Mamluk policy toward a continued Western monastic presence in the Holy Land was remarkably enlightened. Some contemporaneous European policies showed much less tolerance towards Jews and Muslims in Spain and other parts of Europe.72

Fundamentally, however, following the expulsion of the Crusaders, the Arabs simply ceased to pay further attention to the Military Orders. The destruction of the Templars in France from 1307 to 131273 went basically unnoticed among the Arabs, although they must have received information on these events from the frequent visits of Venetian merchants to Alexandria. It seems that when the Templars were driven from the Levant, they were also driven from the historical consciousness of the Arabs.74


Muslims during the Crusades had enough intercultural understanding to be able to distinguish both between Eastern and Western Christians and between the various monastic orders of the West. Although the fundamental Islamic principle of tolerance for Christianity and monasticism was severely strained by two centuries of crusades, it was not entirely shattered. As the military threat of the Crusades waned and Muslim control of the holy places was restored, Muslims were able to maintain a clear distinction between ordinary Christian monks, such as the Franciscans, and the knights of the Military Orders. The latter were to be driven from the Holy Land; the former could be tolerated and even cultivated. Thus, in the ­struggle between toleration and conflict, toleration ultimately prevailed.

If the revival of Muslim toleration for Christian monks after the Crusades can serve as any type of model for the current Arab-Israeli conflict, then the hope for an eventual peace between Arabs and Jews may not be entirely vain. However, during the Crusades, Arab generosity and tolerance bore fruit only after Saladin’s victories had secured the holy places of Jerusalem. Now, as then, the struggle for control of the sacred Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), or Temple Mount, is a fundamental key to resolving this tragic con­flict.75 But, unfortunately, neither side seems able to abandon claims to this holy site without abandoning a part of their soul.

About the author(s)

William J. Hamblin is Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He received a B.A. in history from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Near East History from the University of Michigan. This article was originally presented as an invited lecture for the Malta Study Center at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, on March 23, 2001.


1. The exception was Reynald de Chatillon, who was executed by Saladin for his barbarous attacks on Muslim pilgrims. See Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951–54), 2:459–60; see also Malcolm Cameron Lyons and D. E. P. Jackson, Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 264. For general background on the Islamic Near East during this period, see P. M. Holt, The Age of the Crusades: The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517 (New York: Longman, 1986).

2. The Military Orders were monks who, while living according to standard medieval monastic rules, were also “knights of Christ,” dedicated to fighting those who were perceived as enemies of God and of the Roman Catholic Church. The literature on the Military Orders is immense. For an introduction, see Alan Forey, The Military Orders: From the Twelfth to the Early Fourteenth Centuries (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992). The two most important Military Orders in the Holy Land were the Templars and the Hospitallers, who are the focus of this essay. On the Templars, see Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). For a lavishly illustrated general history of the Hospitallers, with additional bibliography, see H. J. A. Sire, The Knights of Malta (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).

3. Described by Runciman, Crusades, 3:53, with references to primary sources.

4. Runciman, Crusades, 2:465–67.

5. On the relations between the Byzantines and pre-Islamic Arabs, see bibliography and discussion in Irfan A. Shahid, Alexander P. Kazhdan, and Anthony Cutler, “Arabs,” in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. Alexander P. Kazhdan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 1:149–51.

6. See references in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, ed. A. J. Wensinck, C. E. Bosworth, and others, 2d ed. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1954–), 8:396–97, s.v. “Rahbaniyya” and “Rahib”; see also Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, ed. H. A. R. Gibb and J. H. Kramers (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1953), 466–67, s.v. “Rahbaniya” and “Rahib.”

7. The Koran, 5th ed., trans. N. J. Dawood (London: Penguin, 1990); references to the Qur’an are by sura and verse.

8. This is presumably a cloud protecting Muhammad from the heat of the sun on a desert journey.

9. Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. A. Guillaume (Lahore: Pakistan Branch, Oxford University Press, 1967), 79–81.

10. Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, 105–6.

11. I have slightly altered this verse. The Arabic verb translated as “invented” here is abtad’uha, related to bida’, the technical term in later Islamic theology for “innovation” or “heresy.” See Wensinck, Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. “Rahbaniyya,” 8:396, for a discussion of the two differing traditions of interpretation of this passage. I here follow the interpretation that was most common during the Crusades, though it may not be the original.

12. Among the numerous passages in the Qur’an, see 2:109, 3:113, and 57:29 and sections beginning with 4:153 and 5:15.

13. Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. 12, The Battle of al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine, trans. Yohanan Friedmann (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 191. Other similar treaties are recounted therein. Likewise, Khalid ibn al-Walid’s treaty with Damascus states: “This is what Khalid b. Walid gave to the inhabitants of Damascus. He gave them security for their persons, property, churches, and the wall of their city. None of their houses shall be destroyed or confiscated. On these terms they have alliance with God, and the protection of His Prophet, the caliphs, and the believers. Nothing but good shall befall them if they pay tribute.” A. S. Tritton, The Caliphs and Their Non-Muslim Subjects: A Critical Study of the Covenant of ‘Umar (London: Frank Cass, 1970), 9, quoting Ibn al-Athir.

14. For general background and bibliography, see F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. “John of Damascus” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 735–36.

15. Dimitri Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ‘Abbasid Society (Second–Fourth/Eighth–Tenth Centuries) (London: Routledge, 1998).

16. For general background on Egyptian monasticism, see Otto F. A. Meinardus, Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Deserts, rev. ed. (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1989); the story of Baybars I appears on p. 84.

17. On the various branches of Near Eastern Christianity, see Samuel Hugh Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, vol. 1: Beginnings to 1500 (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992).

18. Some of the beliefs and practices of monasticism may also have influenced ideas in early Sufism (Islamic mysticism). For general introduction to Sufism, see Alexander Knysh, Islamic Mysticism: A Short History (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000); Julian Baldick, Mystical Islam: An Introduction to Sufism (London: I. B. Tauris, 1989).

19. Ibn al-Qalanisi, Dhayl ta’rikh Dimashq, ed. H. Amerdroz (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1908), 339.

20. On the History of Damascus as the first reference and on the philology of the Arab names for the Orders, see R. Stephen Humphreys, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Supple­mental Volume (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981), s.v. “Dawiyya and Isbitariyya.”

21. Usamah ibn-Munqidh, An Arab-Syrian, Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades: Memoirs of Usamah ibn-Munquidh, trans. Philip Hitti (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 163–64.

22. The major references are summarized in Humphreys, “Dawiyya and Isbitariyya,” 205.

23. Barber, New Knighthood, 95.

24. Barber, New Knighthood, 86; Lyons and Jackson, Saladin, 139–41; William, Archbishop of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done beyond the Sea, trans. Emily Atwater Babcock and A. C. Krey, 2 vols. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943), 2:442–43.

25. Runciman, Crusades, 2:420; William of Tyre, History of Deeds, 2:443.

26. It was not uncommon for captured lords to be held for years if a suitable ransom could not be agreed upon. Reynald de Chatillon was captured and remained unransomed for sixteen years. Runciman, Crusades, 2:357.

27. Barber, Knighthood, 86 and nn. 67 and 68; Lyons and Jackson, Saladin, 141–43.

28. For a recent summary of the differing phases and aspects of jihad during the Crusades, see Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2000), 89–255, with a bibliography on earlier studies.

29. Ibn al-Athir, quoted in Gabrielli, Arab Historians, 118.

30. Ibn al-Athir, quoted in Gabrielli, Arab Historians, 124.

31. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh (Beirut: Dar Sader, Dar Beyrouth, 1966), 11:531; translation by author.

32. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil, 11:538; translation by author.

33. Barber, New Knighthood, 100–103; Farhad Daftary, The Isma‘ilis: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 397–98, 420–21. For general studies on the Assassins, see Bernard Lewis, The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam (New York: Basic Books, 1968).

34. For a more detailed discussion of al-Harawi and a related bibliography, see William J. Hamblin, “Saladin and Muslim Military Theory,” in The Horns of Hattin, ed. B. Z. Kedar (London: Variorum; Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi and Israel Exploration Society, 1992), 228–38.

35. Al-Harawi, Al-Tadhkirat al-Harawiyya fi al-Hayl al-Harbiyya, ed. M. al-Murabit (Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafah, 1972), 104; translation by author.

36. Al-Harawi, Al-Tadhkirat, 104–5; translation by author.

37. In this section I follow the analysis of Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 282–322.

38. See the summary of the evidence and studies in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 89–255.

39. ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani, Kitab al-Fath al-qussi fi’l-fath al-qudsi, ed. C. Landberg (Leiden: n.p., 1888); ed M. M. Subh (Cairo, 1965), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 290.

40. ‘Ali al-Harawi, Kitab al-Ziyarat, trans. J. Sourdel-Thomine as Guide des lieux de pèlerinage (Damascus, 1957), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 290.

41. Ibn Wasil, Mufarrij al-kurub, ed. J. al-Shayyal (Cairo, 1953–57), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 291.

42. Abu Shama, Kitab al-rawdatayan, 2 vols. (Cairo, 1954), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 301.

43. Ibn al-Qaysarani, quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 151.

44. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi’l-tarikh, ed. C. J. Tornberg, 12 vols. (Leiden and Uppsala, 1851–76), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 300.

45. Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 299.

46. Al-Maqrizi, Kitab al-suluk, trans. R. J. C. Broadhurst as History of Ayyubids and Mamluks (Boston: n.p., 1980); trans. E. Quatremère as Historie des sultans mamlouks de l’Egypte (Paris, 1837–45), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 305.

47. Ursula Lyons and Malcolm Cameron Lyons, trans., and J. S. C. Riley-Smith, Ayyubids, Mamlukes and Crusaders: Selections from the Tarikh al-Duwal wa’ l-Muluk of Ibn al-Furat, vol. 2, The Translation (Cambridge: W. Heffer and Sons, 1971), 3.

48. Ibn Zaki, quoted in Ibn Khallikan, Wafayat al-a‘yan, 4 vols., trans. W. M. de Slane as Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary (Paris, 1843–71), quoted in Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 301.

49. ‘Imad al-Din, al-Fath al-Qussi fi al-Fath al-Qudsi, in Arab Historians of the Crusades, trans. Francesco Gabrieli (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), 138.

50. Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil, 12:22.

51. R. Stephen Humphreys, From Saladin to the Mongols: The Ayyubids of Damascus, 1193–1260 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977), 268–69.

52. Lyons and Lyons, Ayyubids, 5.

53. Humphreys, Damascus, 267–68.

54. Robert Irwin, The Middle East in the Middle Ages: The Early Mamluk Sultanate, 1250–1382 (London: Croon Helm, 1986).

55. David Morgan, The Mongols (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990).

56. On these issues, see Reuven Amitai-Preiss, Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260–1281 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

57. Peter Thorau, The Lion of Egypt: Sultan Baybars I and the Near East in the Thirteenth Century, trans. P. M. Holt (New York: Longman, 1992).

58. Some of these can be found in Gabrieli, Arab Historians, 323–33; see also Ibn al-Furat, Ayyubids.

59. Lyons and Lyons, Ayyubids, 95–96.

60. Lyons and Lyons, Ayyubids, 95.

61. Lyons and Lyons, Ayyubids, 145–46.

62. Ibn al-Furat, in Gabrieli, Arab Historians, 318–19.

63. Abu l-Mahasin, in Gabrieli, Arab Historians, 348.

64. Abu l-Mahasin, in Gabrieli, Arab Historians, 348.

65. For general background on the Franciscans in the Holy Land, see Sabino De Sandoli, The Peaceful Liberation of the Holy Places in the Fourteenth Century: The Third Return of the Frankish or Latin Clergy to the Custody and Service of the Holy Places through Official Negotiations in 1333 (Cairo: Franciscan Center of Christian Oriental Studies, 1990); and, more generally, John Moorman, A History of the Franciscan Order from Its Origins to the Year 1517 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968).

66. Elzear Horn, Ichnographiae Monumentorum Terrae Sanctae (1724–1744), trans. E. Hoade (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1962), quoted in F. E. Peters, Jerusalem: The Holy City in the Eyes of Chroniclers, Visitors, Pilgrims, and Prophets from the Days of Abraham to the Beginnings of Modern Times (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 369.

67. Horn, quoted in Peters, Jerusalem, 369.

68. Horn, quoted in Peters, Jerusalem, 369.

69. Felix Fabri, The Book of the Wanderings of Felix Fabri, trans. A. Stewart, 2 vols. (New York: AMS Press, 1971), quoted in Peters, Jerusalem, 421.

70. Fabri, quoted in Peters, Jerusalem, 422; Horn, quoted in Peters, Jerusalem, 370.

71. Peter W. Edbury, The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191–1374 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 161–71.

72. For a general history of the relationship between Christian Europe and the Jews, see James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, a History (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001).

73. Barber, New Knighthood, 280–313.

74. I have not searched all contemporary histories for possible references, but the major historians do not mention the fall of the Templars. Of course, the specific targeting of the Military Orders as special enemies of Islam continued after the Crusades in the policies of the Ottoman sultans. While numerous accommodations were made with Greek, Armenian, Georgian, and Syrian Christians and monks in conquered Byzantine provinces, the Hospitallers of Rhodes and later Malta were continually targeted as special enemies of Islam, culminating in the great sieges of Rhodes in 1480 and 1522 and of Malta in 1565. For a general discussion and bibliography on the great sieges, see Sire, Knights of Malta, 51–72.

75. Gershom Gorenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount (New York: Free Press, 2000).

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