Happy July 4th to US readers!
I’ve been…less than flattering in past writing about the Crusaders, and the truth is Hattin was actually one of their biggest blunders. It’s a battle that didn’t need to be fought in a place where no Crusader army should have found itself. The success of the First Crusade in capturing Jerusalem (1099) had been followed by the utter comedy of errors of the Second Crusade (1145-1149), whose only military success was in liberating Lisbon (yes, the one in Portugal). By 1187, the political situation in Egypt and the Levant, which thanks to Fatimid weakness had been so fractured a century earlier (this is a major reason why the First Crusade actually succeeded despite its own deep problems), had completely changed, as Saladin took control of Egypt and then reunited it with the former Fatimid lands in the Levant under his authority.