Inner Bailey Graphic

Sources of Military Strength in Palestine

T here were four main sources of military manpower available to the secular lords of the Holy Land.

T he top guns of the era were provided by the Military Orders of the Temple and the Hospital. The significance of these is reflected in the huge amount of responsibility placed on the Orders in the form of frontier castles. Already in 1137 King Fulk gave the Hospitallers the castle of Baht Gibrin to have and to hold. In 1142 the Count of Tripoli issued to the same Order two castles and the right to have their own military relations with the Turks. In 1147, the Templars were instrumental in the armed march of Louis VII across Asia Minor. By the end of the 12th century, either Order was knee-deep in any major action to be taken in the Holy Land.

T he second important source of fighters were the mercenaries. These appeared in European theatres of war in the 10th and 11th century and have not left since. By the end of the 12th century, mercenaries saw extensive action all over Palestine. The first recorded mercenary was Tancred, who was paid to hold a certain bridge in the siege of Antioch in 1098. The kings of France and England sent much money over to Palestine for the purpose of hiring soldiers; they even imposed taxes to collect the revenues. Indeed, at the battle of Hattin, 1187, a part of the army were mercenaries supplied by King Henry II of England.

A nother group of useful people were the potentates and other well-to-do people of Europe, arriving for a pilgrimage. Often hosting a large and well-armed personal guard, these people were often made offers they couldn't refuse to assist kings and lords on small to extensive campaigns in defence of the Holy Land. The unmarried menfolk on these contingents also proved valuable breeding stock for such princesses of the Holy Land that could not find grooms otherwise. This way the army often could be made to stay for a very extended visit.

A nd last but not least, there were the ordinary folk on pilgrimages. Arriving in Eastertime like a flock of migrating birds, they took part in campaigns as part of their pilgrimage, surely feeling that they did their utmost part in keeping Palestine safe for good Christians. Needless to say, these people often sported very low-lethality weapons, and consequently, their mortality rate was somewhat high. The basic people have no songs sung about them, but no major offensive would have been that big with just the knights and the mercenaries. Someone had to take the role of the fall guy.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

Portcullis | Quick Tour | Search the Preceptory