[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Re: Balantrodoch Temple
I am reading "The Crusades Islamic Perspectives" by Carole Hillenbrand.
This book goes into much detailed explanation about the Moslem architecture
and adds some information about the Crusaders' castles in the Holy Land.
The book looks at everything from the Muslim perspective.
Their buildings were much better built than their opponents because
there were relatively fewer Crusaders compared to their opponents who by the
3rd crusade had pulled themselves together and could field large armies.
"It is clear from the Islamic sources that the most comon form of
Crusader-Muslim confrontation was the siege. These sources coroborate
Marshall's conclusion that sieges decided the fate of the Crusaders and that
'other forms of military activity were largely incidental'. What the
Islamic sources do not reveal--perhaps because it was so self-evident to
them or because such a truth would have undermined the glory of their
victory--is the overwhelming fact of Muslim numerical superiority over the
"Crusader castles were, moreover, garrisoned by very few people--the
Crusaders were, after all, always a beleaguered minority--and, to offset
this disadvantage, the defences of their castles had to be much more subtle
and multi-layered than those of a city wall. The Assassins and Armenian
Christians were also beleaguered minorities who built their strongholds on
high, remote and defendable places as did the Crusaders.
Armenian craftsmen were often employed by the Muslims to build their city
walls, as in Cairo and Edessa....they are of excellent quality and are
technologically superior to most of the Muslim castles in Syria. Because a
few Crusaders could hold off or harrass large numbers of Muslims from their
castles, many of the castles were razed to the ground when they were
captured so that they could never be used again. Much of the building
matericals from the Crusader castles were then incorporated into Muslim
buildings. For instance they took a Corinthian column from a Christian
church and put it into a Muslim building up side down to show their
"Crusader castles have survived because of their magnificent building
techniques. Muslim castles have not fared so well. The Crusaders did not
build on poor existing foundations, preferring instead to construct de novo.
(Yet the author does tell that some Crusader castles were built on old
foundations) They took few short cuts, realising that there was no
substitute for massive squared masonry, although it was so expensive and
above all time-consuming to produce. Large blocks of stone were used to
construct thick walls of ashlar masonry; this task required a large body of
skilled craftsmen and thus an enormous financial input from western Europe."
It isn't that the Muslims did know how to build castles as well, it
just was not their strategy to do so. Their defenses were their city walls.
The Crusader castles were mainly built by prisoners. There are letters sent
from Saladin complaining that the Crusaders hadn't released their captives
as agreed and kept using them for slave labor while Saladin had released his
Crusader captives already. The Muslims concentrated their efforts by
building strong walls around their cities but they often express their
admiration for the Crusader castles. "The Franks arrived in the Levant
possessed of a markedly superior technology in military architecture, but
also becuse their perilous situation in hostile territory made them much
more inventive. There is moreover the possibility that the Franks may have
adopted techniques from what they saw of Byzantine and Islamic defensive
structures; but the extent to which this occurred is a matter of ongoing
When the Franks built Sahyun they excavated a deep ravine on its east
side by revoving some 170,000 tons of solid rock to create a gorge 50-90
fett wide 450 feet long and 60-130 ft. hight. They left a towering needle
rock in the middle to support the drawbridge. T. E. Lawrence expressed his
amazement "most sensational thing in castle-building I have seen'. But in
1188-9 Saladin seized it using Siege machines which are described in this
Le Chastelet had walls ten cubits wide made from 20,000 cut and dressed
stone slabs some seven cubits in size. Lime sealed the stone making it
stronger and firmer.
Note: The citadel at Cairo was built with the help of a large contingent
of Frankish prisoners of war.
I found the description of the Muslim use of pigeons for communication
interesting. Just when the Crusaders would think that the generals were far
away they would try to attack somewhere but men in towers would be quickly
notified of the Crusader readiness activity inside a castle. A pigeon would
be sent with a message to the Muslim general who would immediately send
another pigeon with a message to a military leader nearby and the army would
be on the way very quickly to counter the Crusader offensive.
Well now I have reread your messages below and it seems like your are
talking about Crusader Temples rather than Castles so my info is probably
useless but maybe you will find something of interest in it.
[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, firstname.lastname@example.org
[ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html