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Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Battle of Nicosia - July 14, 1229

 In 1229, the rapaciousness of the Emperor’s baillies provoked a response they apparently had not anticipated. In less than three months, they were facing not resistance or insurgency but a full-scale challenge to their authority in the shape of an invasion. Whereas, with their mercenaries, they had held a monopoly on force of arms up to this point, in early July 1229 they were confronted by an army led by two barons with hundreds of knights.


In the most comprehensive modern history of the Kingdom of Cyprus, Prof. Peter Edbury writes that “spurred on by the news of the sequestration of their fiefs and plight of their womenfolk,”[i] a force of men raised by the Lord of Beirut set sail from Acre and landed at the Templar fort of Gastria to the north of Famagusta. The size of that force is unrecorded, but it must have included several hundred knights. The Five Ballies Frederich II had left in control of Cyprus (See: The Emperor’s Men) controlled not only the feudal resources of the Kingdom of Cyprus, of which they were the effective regents, they had also been supplied with a large force of mercenaries by Emperor Frederick. Although the exact size of this force is likewise unrecorded, all sources agree that it heavily outnumbered the men brought to Cyprus by the Lord of Beirut and his brother-in-law the Lord of Caesarea.

The Ibelins chose to land at a Templar port, possibly in the hope of landing unopposed. The Templars were at this point bitter enemies of Emperor Frederick, who had tried to seize from them their castle at Athlit and then laid siege to their headquarters at Acre. While the Templars had effectively repelled both of these attacks, the Emperor had the last laugh by confiscating their properties across the Holy Roman Empire and in his Kingdom of Sicily as soon as he arrived back in the West. Meanwhile, however, the Templars chose to remain scrupulously neutral in the secular conflict on Cyprus.

According to Novare, “the five baillies strongly resisted the capture of the port; nonetheless, it was taken by force.”[ii] Given the fact that the return of the Ibelins was hardly expected, it seems unlikely that all five baillies got down to Gastria to defend the port. More probable is simply that they had mercenaries stationed at all the ports of the kingdom, and these forces, representing the five baillies put up a fight but were overwhelmed.

The Imperial forces (whoever they were) withdrew from the coast all the way to the capital of the kingdom, Nicosia, and King Henry was sent under guard to the most luxurious yet still unassailable mountain fortresses of St. Hilarion. Meanwhile, the Lord of Beirut advanced “warily” toward Nicosia, sending “friendly words to the king and even the five baillies, saying that they came from the service to God, that they desired to return to their homes and their fiefs, and that they were prepared both to do right and to exact their rights.”[iii] The baillies, according to Novare, “never deigned to answer.”[iv] 

Instead, they called up the feudal army including the commons. This included all the tenants-in-chief of the king, their rear-vassals and knights, the turcopoles or light cavalry supplied by the local elites, and the foot-soldiers and archers of the commons. They also pulled together the mercenaries left behind by Frederick II, who Novare identifies as German, Flemish, and Langobard (south Italian), in short forces from the Holy Roman Empire. They were presumably cross-bowmen for the most part, as that was the preferred weapon of mercenaries in this era. They may also have engaged local mercenaries. Their total force would have numbered in the thousands, with several hundred knights.

When the Ibelin force approached Nicosia, the five baillies took their army and marched out to meet them on the outskirts of the city. Despite efforts by the clergy to broker a reconciliation between the parties, there was really no readiness for compromise nor interest in peace by the point. The baillies had taken oaths to prevent the Ibelins from returning and knew that the Emperor would not look favorably upon them if they failed to expel Beirut. Since they held their positions at the Emperor’s pleasure, they really had no choice but to attempt to defeat Beirut so soundly that he never dare return.

Indeed, the sources claim that the baillies took the precaution of detailing 25 of their best knights with the task of killing Beirut. This was hardly chivalrous, to say the least, but the reasoning was undoubtedly that the elimination of Beirut would end their troubles. Whether they also tasked knights to kill his brother-in-law the former Constable of Cyprus is not recorded, but in light of the outcome, this is not impossible.

It was Saturday, July 14, 1229. The two armies drew up across a plowed field. “The captains of the squadrons surveyed each other and reconnoitered on the one hand and on the other; each placed himself opposite to him whom he most hated…”[v] When the sides clashed, it was (as in all civil wars) with a fury and passion unknown between strangers. Soon the dust of the field had been churned up by the hundreds of hooves and was blown about by a strong west wind. Vision was severely impaired. 

Beirut soon found himself cut off from his sons and squires. He was confronted by an attacker without a visor and with a sword-thrust to his mouth cut his head in two, but the collision of the horses forced his own horse into a ditch. Unhorsed, he found himself surrounded by some fifteen enemy knights and none of his own. Fortunately, he had an unnamed number of loyal “sergeants” with him. They took refuge together in the called enclosure of a church and here defended themselves against the attempts of the fifteen imperial knights to break in and slay them. His situation was apparently desperate, when Sir Anseau de Brie, a loyal supporter of the Ibelins, rode to the rescue, taking on all fifteen knights so vigorously that he broke his lance, his sword, and even his dagger. Novare records that “he received so many blows that he could hardly use his hands.”[vi] 

Meanwhile, the Lord of Beirut's’ eldest son and heir, a young man only about 22-years-old at this time, had succeeded in setting a portion of the enemy army under Sir Hugh de Gibelet to flight.  Having chased them off the field, he turned back and re-entered the fray with his still large and intact contingent of knights. This charge appears to have been decisive. Novara describes it like this:

“…as soon as his enemies saw and recognized his standards they were afraid and fled towards the city of Nicosia. Sir Balian, who came in advance of all the others, encountered them most eagerly and struck their standard bearer so hard that he himself fell to the ground, he and his horse falling together; there were many taken and killed, but many escaped due to the fall of Sir Balian.”[vii]

When the dust finally cleared, a bloody field revealed an exceptionally large number of human and equine corpses. The dead included two prominent noblemen: Walter, Lord of Caesarea and former Constable of Cyprus, and Sir Gerard de Montaigu, who had the distinction of being the nephew of both the Master of both the Temple and the Hospital, as well as a nephew of the Archbishop of Nicosia. It was not recorded how Caesarea died, but Montaigu was pinned beneath his horse and evidently crushed. 

The dead did not include any of the baillies. All had managed to escape the field. Sir Gauvain de Cheneché took refuge in Kantara, Sir Hugh de Gibelet and the two Amaurys (Barlais and Bethsan) all made it to St. Hilarion where they held the king captive. Sir William Rivet appears to have made it to the port of Kyrenia and from there to have taken ship for Armenia to try to get word to and help from the Emperor. He failed in both as he died in Armenia, possibly of wounds incurred at the battle.

The Ibelins had won a great victory and in so doing had re-established themselves on Cyprus, rewarded their followers with the return of their fiefs, and also rescued the women and children who had been frightened into seeking sanctuary with the Knights of Saint John. But they had by no means won the war. Their first task was to drive the four remaining baillies out of their impregnable fortresses — and free King Henry of Cyprus.

The sieges of St. Hilarion and Kantara will be the subject of a separate entry. Meanwhile, the Battle of Nicosia is a major episode in:

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Dr. Helena P. Schrader holds a PhD in History.
She is the Chief Editor of the Real Crusades History Blog.
She is an award-winning novelist and author of numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. Her three-part biography of Balian d'Ibelin won a total of 14 literary accolades. Her most recent release is a novel about the founding of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus. You can find out more at:

[i] Edbury, Peter. The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374. Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 60.

[ii] Novare, Philip. The Wars of Frederick II against the Ibelins in Syria and Cyprus. Columbia University Press, 1936, p. 100.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Ibid.
[vi] Ibid, p. 102.
[vii] Ibid.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Muslims in the Crusader States

One of the most popular misconceptions about the crusader kingdoms is that the crusaders were a tiny Christian elite ruling over an oppressed Muslim population. This picture is incorrect in two regards: Muslims did not form the majority of the population and they were far from oppressed. Indeed, they lived significantly better than Christians did under Muslim rule.

Looking first at the population structure, when the first crusaders arrived in the Levant at the end of the 11th century, the Holy Land was still at least half Christian. There were also still significant Jewish and Samaritan communities, making the Muslims the minority even before the large influx of Christian and Jewish immigrants from the West during the period of Frankish rule. Research has further demonstrated that the Muslim residents were concentrated in specific areas (e.g. around Tyre, in Samaria), while other parts of the crusader states such as Antioch, Tripoli, Beirut, and the area around Jerusalem itself were predominantly Christian.  Notably, the vast majority of the Muslims living in the Crusader States were not converts but immigrants, settlers from other parts of the Middle East, who had come to the Holy Land in search of a better life. (For more on this see: Feudalism in Outremer

After the establishment of the crusader states in the early 12th century, the Muslim population was made up predominantly of peasants and nomads because the Islamic elite had been killed or (more often) allowed to emigrate on surrender. In short, whether they had come with Abbasids, Fatimids or Seljuks, the wealthy and educated Muslims who had formed the ruling-class during the four hundred years of Muslim dominance were pushed out of the Holy Land by the Christian invaders. They returned to territories still controlled by Muslims. Left behind were the poor, the poorly educated, the non-political, those who had no place to go and no expectations of being powerful somewhere else since they had never had power.

These simple people were, based on Arab accounts, treated no worse -- and possibly better -- by their Christian overlords and landlords than they had been treated by their Turkish ones. For example, Ibn Jubair, who visited the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1183 from Grenada, noted that the Muslim peasants he saw in Galilee were living "in a state of contentment with the Franks." (Christie, Niall, Muslims and Crusaders. Routledge, 2014. p. 69) Significantly, Ibn Jubair reports that they received "justice" from their Frankish overlords compared to "tyranny" from Muslim lords in neighboring countries. Clearly, they did not feel unjustly discriminated against. 

Strikingly, the Muslims in the crusader states were treated markedly better than Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule -- the obvious point of comparison.  To be sure, like dhimmis (Christians and Jews in Muslim states), Muslims in the crusader states paid an extra tax.  They were not, however, forced to wear distinctive clothing as Christians and Jews were forced to do in Muslim-controlled states. Furthermore, Muslims could travel freely about the kingdom, engage in trade and be both patients and doctors at the establishments of the Hospitallers. 
The Hospitaller Complex in Acre

Most important, however, was the freedom to practice of religion.  In Muslim controlled regions, Christians were prohibited from building churches, worshiping in public, or speaking Christian texts out loud -- even in a private place.  The Franks, on the other hand, allowed Muslims to practice Islam and worship publicly. Given their own treatment of Christians, Muslim sources noted with surprise that mosques were allowed to function in the crusader states and Muslim subjects were allowed to visit not only the Dome of the Rock but other sites of importance to Islam as well as participate in the haj. Furthermore, where mosques were converted into churches, special areas remained set aside for Muslim worship.  

This mosque in Acre post-dates the Crusades but I have no pictures of crusader-era mosques in my possession.

Behind this astonishing tolerance lay the fundamental fact, that as Andrew Jotischky notes, “the First Crusade was a war of liberation and conquest; it was not a war for the extermination or conversion of Muslims.” (Jotischky, Andrew. Crusading and the Crusader States. Pearson Longman, 2004, p. 127) Far from being forced to convert, the Muslim villagers were allowed to live largely as they always had before, governed at the local level by their own elders and religious leaders. Thus there was a council of elders who in turn appointed a “rayse” to represent the community to the Christian lord, while all spiritual and social matters were regulated by the imams in the community in accordance with Sharia law.

Arguably even more important, in cases of conflict between parties of different faiths, a special court, the Cour de la Fonde, had jurisdiction. Again, this is in sharp contrast to the situation of Christians and Jews under Muslim rule, who were always brought before the Qadi, or Islamic judge, in cases involving a Muslim.

Other factors contributing to a sense of well-being among the Muslim population were the exemption from military service and overall economic prosperity. The Franks did not trust their Muslim subjects sufficiently to trust them in battle against their fellow Muslims. This meant that Muslim peasants in Christian territory (unlike their Christian neighbors) were free from conscription, while Muslim farmers living on the other side of the border were obliged to serve as the infantry for the armies of Islam. 

Finally, the Franks brought a number of innovations to farming and invested extensively in infrastructure from roads to irrigation and mills. This combined with the revival of the ports made the Frankish territories substantially more prosperous during the crusader period than they had been before or were afterward. The Muslim population in the crusader states benefited from the increased prosperity of the region, particularly the increased trading opportunities, no less than the native Christian population did.

Perhaps it was the religious freedom, perhaps the higher standards of living, but whatever the cause the Muslim population was not rebellious. There is not one recorded instance of a Muslim revolt or riots.  Indeed, even during Saracen invasions of Christian territory, there is no evidence of widespread cooperation and collaboration on the part of the Muslim inhabitants of the crusader states with the Saracen invaders.  

Furthermore, the archaeological evidence of isolated farms and manors, as well as the towns and villages built without any kind of fortification, is evidence that the Christian elites did not fear the Muslims living inside their territories. The construction of defenses can be clearly dated to periods of external threat rather than related to a fear of the local population. 

Hard as it is for people to believe, the Franks lived in evident harmony with their Muslim subjects.

Crusader society is depicted as accurately as possible in all of my novels set in Outremer: 

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Friday, March 15, 2019

"The Wolflings" - The Sons of the "Old" Lord of Beirut

In the midst of the struggle between the Holy Roman Emperor and the barons of Outremer, Philip de Novare wrote a political satire about the conflict.  He adapted an already popular fable featuring a deceitful and misanthropic fox, Reynard, who torments an upright wolf, Ysengrim, and is eventually brought to justice by the (lion) king. In Novare’s version of the Roman de Reynard, Novare transforms the opponents of the Ibelins into the fox and his cronies, and the Lord of Beirut is cast in the role of the noble Ysengrim. Novare added, however, the characters of “the wolflings” to do justice to the Lord of Beirut’s five sons. 
Today I want to briefly introduce the sons of Beirut.

John d’Ibelin, Lord of Beirut, was married first to a lady by the name of Helvis of Nephin, by whom he had five sons, all of whom died as infants, the last taking his mother with him to the grave. Sometime around 1205, Beirut remarried (although the date is not known), this time the widow and heiress to the lordship of Arsur, Melisende. By her he had six children who survived to adulthood; if there were children who died young, they are not recorded.

The eldest child of this marriage was a boy, named for John’s beloved and famous father, Balian. The date of his birth is not recorded, but he and his next younger brother Baldwin were both knighted in 1224, which suggests they were born in or about 1206 or 1207 respectively, as it was unusual for youths to be knighted much before 18. Since both boys were knighted at the same time, it is presumed that they were very close in age, possibly only eleven or twelve months apart. They were followed by another boy, Hugh, who appears to have been only marginally younger than his elder brothers as he was already knighted by 1228. The next child was a daughter, named for her father’s royal half-sister Isabella. There followed two more boys, John and Guy. 

When Frederick II arrived in the Holy Land in the summer of 1228, the three eldest boys of Beirut were already knighted and so deemed adults, although by our standards they were still young, at most 21, 20 and 19 respectively. The fourth son, John, on the other hand, is explicitly described as a squire in 1228/1229, when he served the Holy Roman Emperor during the latter’s stay in Syria. Four years later he is referred to as “Sir John,” however, suggesting he was born in or about 1214. Guy must have been only a year or two younger as he is also engaged in military operations in 1232.

With the exception of Sir Hugh who died young, all the sons of Beirut rose to prominence in the history of the crusader states. Below is a summary of their key historical contributions; a more detailed biography of Balian of Beirut will follow in the future.

Balian II or Balian of Beirut

Unsurprisingly, Balian was an ardent and prominent supporter of his father throughout the latter’s struggle with the Holy Roman Emperor. He stood hostage for his father in 1228, suffering significant maltreatment at the hands of the Emperor’s supporters. Later, his father repeatedly entrusted him with command of the vanguard, or the leading troops in engagements.  He played a decisive role in the Battle of Nicosia, took an active part in the siege of St. Hilarion, and distinguished himself again at the Battle of Argidi. Beirut also entrusted his heir with a diplomatic mission to obtain the support of the Prince of Antioch in early 1232, but the Emperor’s purse proved more enticing that whatever Balian could offer.

While his relationship with his father was generally good, it could also be stormy. Notably, in 1232, Balian categorically refused to set aside the lady he had taken to wife, Eschiva de Montbèliard, the widow of Gerard de Montaigu, despite a ban of excommunication issued against the couple by the pope. Beirut, in consequence, sent him to the rear of the host on the eve of the Battle of Argidi. However, Balian disobeyed his father and led a troop of just five knights up a dangerous defile to fall on the enemy unexpectedly from the side. He stood by his lady until the pope lifted the excommunication and issued a dispensation for marriage sometime before 1239.

In 1236, at his father’s death, Balian succeeded his father as Lord of Beirut. He assumed leadership of the baronial opposition to Hohenstaufen rule in Jerusalem. At the same time, he was named Constable of Cyprus by King Henry I. In 1239, he surrendered that position to take part in the “Baron’s Crusade” under Thibaut King of Navarre/Count of Champagne and Richard of Cornwall (1239-1240). Notably, Simon de Montfort, the famous leader of the English baronial revolt two decades later, also took part in this crusade, and the men must have come to know each other well because Balian was willing to recognize Montfort, a brother-in-law of Emperor Frederick, as regent of Jerusalem. (Simon de Montfort’s wife Eleanor Plantagenet was a sister the Emperor’s third wife, Isabella Plantagenet.)

In 1243, Balian commanded the troops that captured the last imperial bastion in Outremer, Tyre. From 1246-1247 he was “baillie” or regent of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He died in 1247 of unknown causes, roughly 40 years old. He was succeeded by his son John. His grand-daughter Isabella married into the royal house of Cyprus and her son was King Hugh IV. 

Baldwin d’Ibelin

The Lord of Beirut’s second son lived in the shadow of his more prominent father and brother, but we know that he shared Balian’s fate as a hostage of Emperor Frederick in 1228. He took part in the Battle of Nicosia and in the siege of St. Hilarion (1229-1230). He was also one of the three Ibelins surprised by the enemy at Casal Imbert in 1232, an Ibelin debacle caused by poor leadership and hubris. Sir Baldwin was wounded in the engagement, yet had recovered enough to command a division at the Battle of Argidi.

Thereafter, he appears to have remained on Cyprus, while his elder brother assumed the senior title of Lord of Beirut. For the astonishing stretch of 21 years, from 1246 until 1267, he served as Seneschal of Cyprus, an important and powerful royal official. He took part in King Louis’ crusade, where he was taken captive at the Battle of Mansoura.  Jean de Joinville reveals in his account of this crusade that Baldwin understood Arabic well ("was well acquainted with their language.")[i] He was ransomed along with Joinville, his brother Guy, and his cousin Philip de Montfort.  He married Alice, the sister of one of his family’s bitterest enemies, Amaury de Bethsan. They had many children, one of whom, Philip, is mentioned as Constable of Cyprus in 1302.

Hugh d’Ibelin

Hugh died without heirs sometime in 1239 and did not attain any prominence in his short life. Nevertheless, he is recorded taking part in the siege of St. Hilarion (1229-1230) along with his elder brothers Balian and Baldwin. He too was surprised at Casal Imbert and had his horse killed under him. He was discovered, separated from the host, with a lone companion defending a small house in the town. At the Battle of Argidi, Sir Hugh was given the honor denied elder brother Balian because of the latter’s excommunication: command of the leading division. Sir Hugh was also prominent in the siege of Kyrenia in the following winter. According to Prof. Peter Edbury, Hugh was granted estates on Cyprus rather than in Syria at his father’s death. He was probably just about 30 years old at his death. It is unknown why he did not marry.

John d’Ibelin, Lord of “Foggia” and Arsur

John is first mentioned in Novare’s account as a squire sent to serve in the Emperor’s household during the latter’s sojourn in Syria from September 1228 to May 1229. Prof. Peter Edbury believes that like his elder brother Balian he was effectively a hostage for his father’s good behavior. However, young John (who was probably no more than thirteen or fourteen at this time) appears to have known how to ingratiate himself with the Hohenstaufen. Novare claims that Frederick liked him so much “he said he would give him Foggia which is in Apulia, and because of this he was called John of Foggia.”[ii] Since John never went to Apulia and was never invested with Foggia, but rather remained a loyal partisan of his House, Edbury suggests he was called “of Foggia” only by his brothers in jest.

John is next mentioned in connection with the Ibelin efforts to lift the Imperial siege of the citadel at Beirut. Having taken the city of Beirut, the Imperial forces invested the citadel, which continued to hold for Ibelin.  The citadel was well-stocked with food and had ample supplies of water, but was desperately short of troops because the Lord of Beirut had taken every man he thought he could spare to Cyprus to defend himself against the Emperor there.  Beirut returned to Syria in early 1232 with the support of the King of Cyprus but rapidly recognized that he did not have sufficient force the Imperial forces out of the city of Beirut.  His next priority, therefore, was to smuggle more fighting men into the citadel so that it could continue to resist. Since the Imperial forces had established a land and sea blockade of the citadel, the only way to get troops into the castle was for them to swim under the galleys forming the blockade at the back of the castle, swim ashore and the climb up the cliff to a postern high overhead. Not many men could get in this way, so Beirut decided to risk sending a boat loaded with a hundred fighting men (knights, sergeants, and squires) to slip between the galleys in the dark of night. To command this daring and risky operation, Beirut chose John, who had apparently only just recently been knighted. John’s elder brothers, particularly Balian, were outraged at their father’s choice of their young brother, but Beirut insisted he had “other” tasks for them.

John successfully took the boat in and scaled to the castle where he and his men were received with great joy.  According to Novare, thereafter the garrison “defended themselves more vigorously, made a countermine against the miners…recaptured the fosse by force…[and] made many brave sallies and gained somewhat over those without, and burned several engines.”[iii] Whether all that can be attributed to the inspiration and leadership of a youth hardly more than 16 or 17 seems doubtful, but he certainly did not disgrace himself.

On the other hand, he does not rate a mention for his deeds at the subsequent Battle of Argidi or the siege of Kyrenia, and it is not until his father’s death in 1236 that he again finds mention in the chronicles of the age. He succeeded to his mother’s lordship of Arsur, with the explicit consent of his brothers, which suggests that Balian, Baldwin, and Hugh believed they were adequately endowed with properties and power, Balian in Beirut, of course, but Baldwin and Hugh on Cyprus. The latter fact is an enticing indication of just how plentiful (and rich!) the Ibelin estates on Cyprus were, although they remain largely invisible to us because they did not bestow titles with them.

In 1240, John took part in the Baron’s Crusade, getting involved in a rout near Gaza, but escaping capture along with both his cousins Balian de Sidon and Philip de Montfort. In 1241 he commenced fortification of his castle at Arsur, and two years later was involved in the capture of Tyre from the Imperial forces.

In 1246, he was apparently named Constable of Jerusalem and certainly baillie of Acre. He stepped down on the arrival of King Louis of France, possibly to take part in King Louis’ crusade, but was persuaded to take up the position again roughly a year later. Significantly, he succeeded in convincing the warring Pisans and Genoese to agree to a truce.  He was less successful in the next intra-Italian war, siding for whatever reason with the Genoese, who lost to the greater might of Venice — but not before the war between the two merchant cities had done much damage to Acre and the Holy Land generally. Nevertheless, John retained the respect of his peers and died in 1258, once again in the position of baillie of Acre.

John married Alice of Caiphas and had a number of children including his son and heir Balian. 

Guy, the Youngest Son

Guy's first appearance in the historical record is hardly auspicious. He was one of the three sons of Beirut caught (almost literally) with their pants down during a night attack on Casal Imbert in early 1232. The Ibelin forces had been, even according to the pro-Ibelin Novare, “badly camped, one here, one there, and nothing did they fear”[iv] when the Imperial forces struck. King Henry of Cyprus was put on a fast horse “practically naked” and sent to Acre to get aid from the Lord of Beirut, while the surprised “wolflings” put up a wild and uncoordinated fight. According to Novare, through great deeds of arms they managed to hold their camp during the hours of darkness, but when dawn came, they were overwhelmed by men from the Imperial galleys. They fled to a hilltop but lost nearly all their horses, their tents, and all their equipment. Guy’s role in the debacle, however, could hardly have been great. He was possibly still a squire, given his tender age of at most 16, and even if newly knighted, he was certainly not in command — an honor that belonged to Sir Anseau de Brie.

Guy is not recorded, however, at the subsequent battle of Argidi or the siege of Kyrenia, suggesting that he was indeed very young and, after the debacle at Casal Imbert, his father felt he needed more training not more responsibility. 
At his father’s death in 1236, like his elder brother Baldwin and Hugh, he was given properties on Cyprus rather than in Syria. He does not appear to have participated in the Barons’ crusade of 1239-1240, being mentioned specifically on Cyprus. By 1247, he was Constable there.  This explains why he commanded a force of no less than 120 knights in St. Louis’ crusade. In 1250 he was taken captive along with St. Louis. One of his fellow prisoners, Jean de Joinville, called him “one of the most accomplished knights I have ever known” -- and more significantly in my opinion "and one who most loved the islanders in his care."[v]
Joinville also tells another incident. After the Mamlukes had murdered the Ayyubid Sultan and cut his heart from his still warm body to thrust at King Louis, the Christian prisoners expected to be slaughtered. Indeed, Baldwin d'Ibelin translated what the Mamlukes were saying and confirmed they were indeed discussing whether to cut off the heads of the captive crusaders. There was only one priest aboard Joinville's galley, and he was overwhelmed with men seeking to confess, so Joinville says:

Guy d'Ibelin knelt down beside me, and confessed himself to me. "I absolve you," I said, "with such power as God has given me." However, when I rose to my feet, I could not remember a word of what he told me." [vi]

The Mamlukes, however, decided the ransoms were too large to throw away and entered into negotiations instead. Guy d'Ibelin was one of the noblemen who witnessed the negotiations. King Louis and the Mamlukes came to terms, and after many delays and some chicanery were eventually set free. Guy returned to Cyprus.

Long before this crusade, Guy married Philippa Barlais, the daughter of the Ibelin’s arch-enemy during the civil war. Edbury notes that Barlais’ estates were forfeit to the crown for his treason against King Henry in 1232, but by this marriage, the Ibelin’s may have obtained those lands while also giving Barlais’ daughter, who could not be held responsible for her father’s treason, her home back. The couple appears to have been contented with as they had a total of ten children. One of their daughters, Isabella, married Hugh de Lusignan, who would reign Cyprus as Hugh III. 

[i] Joinville, Jean de."The Life of St. Louis," Chronicles of the Crusades. Penguin Classics,  1963, p. 252
[ii]Novare, Philip de. The Wars of Frederick II against the Ibelins in Syria and Cyprus. Columbia Univ. Press, 1936, p. 87.

[iii] Ibid, p. 133.

[iv] Ibid, p. 139

[v] Joinville, p.248.
[vi] Ibid, p. 253.
The sons of the Lord of Beirut are all characters in my new series, starting with:

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Dr. Helena P. Schrader holds a PhD in History.
She is the Chief Editor of the Real Crusades History Blog.
She is an award-winning novelist and author of numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. Her three-part biography of Balian d'Ibelin won a total of 14 literary accolades. Her most recent release is a novel about the founding of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus. You can find out more at: