Battle of Ramleh, 25 November 1177

Battle that ended an early attempt by Saladin to crush the crusader states and capture Jerusalem. The relationship between the crusaders and Byzantium had just collapsed, while many of the crusaders were themselves absent campaigning in the north. On 18 November Saladin crossed the Egyptian border, intent on dashing up the coast towards Jerusalem. The Knights Templars rushed to defend Gaza, but Saladin ignored them and marched on past. King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem gathered together a small force of five hundred and managed to reach Ascalon before Saladin. Once again, Saladin chose to ignore the crusaders and march on towards Jerusalem, leaving a small force to pin down Baldwin in Ascalon.

Saladin now made a rare mistake. Knowing that there were no more crusader armies between him and Jerusalem, he allowed his army to relax, and spread out as it marched towards apparent glory. However, Baldwin managed to get a message to the Templars at Gaza. They joined him at Ascalon, and the united force broke out and raced to intercept Saladin. The crusaders came across Saladin and most of his army crossing a ravine near Ramleh. Their attack came as a complete surprise. Much of Saladin's army fled in the face of the attack, while Saladin was himself saved by his Mamluk guards, and was able to escape to Egypt. That part of his army that stood and fought was annihilated, while those who survived the battle were harassed all the way back to Egypt by the Bedouins of the Sinai.

For a brief moment, Saladin's empire was vulnerable to attack, either in Egypt or against Damascus, but the crusaders were in no position to take advantage of the moment, and the sole result of the battle was the give the crusader kingdoms another ten years of life.

Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem, Stanley Lane-Poole. Originally published in 1898, but relying mainly on Arabic sources written by Saladin’s contemporaries, supported by accounts of the Third Crusade for the later part of the book. Provides a very readable account of Saladin’s career, from his unexpected promotion to ruler of Egypt, through his conquest of Syria and on to the defeat of the Crusaders at Hattin, the conquest of Jerusalem and the successful defence of the city against the forces of the Third Crusade. Generally favourable towards Saladin, although without becoming overly biased, and largely accurate due to the reliance on the main contemporary sources(Read Full Review)
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Saladin - Hero of Islam, Geoffrey Hindley. An invaluable, evenly-paced, full length biography of Saladin that spends as much time looking at his activities within the Islamic world as at his better known campaigns against the Crusader Kingdoms and the conquest of Jerusalem. A valuable look at the life of a leader who was respected on both sides of the religious divide in the Holy Land [read full review]
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Crusades Subject Index - Books on the Middle Ages

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 December 2001), Battle of Ramleh, 25 November 1177, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_ramleh.html

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