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Templar Castles in Outremer

Beaufort or Belfort

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Templar Castles in Outremer

Beaufort or Belfort

(Sharif Arnum)


Beaufort, or Belfort is a castle in the mountains of northern Palestine. It occupies the eastern edge of a rocky plateau overlooking the valley of the Litani. The castle was captured by Fulke of Anjou, king of Jerusalem, in 1139 and added to the royal domain. By 1158, however, it formed part of the lordship of Sidon and was the seat of a burgess and justice court. After the battle of Hattin (1187), it endured a year’s siege by Saladin’s forces before surrendering in 1190. It was ceded once more to the Franks in 1240 and returned to Julian, lord of Sidon. In 1260, however, following the sack of Sidon by the Mongols, Julian was forced to sell (or lease) his entire lordship to the Templars. Beaufort fell to the Mameluke sultan Baybars I in 1268. The castle has a roughly triangular plan, measuring some 150 meters (492 ft.) north to south by up to 100 meters (328 ft.) east to west, with a rock-cut ditch on the south and west and a sheer 300-meter (984-ft.) cliff on the east. From the outer gate in the southeast, a path leads up by a zigzag route into the upper bailey, which contains the earliest Frankish feature, a square tower-keep, and the latest, a two-bay ribvaulted hall dating from the 1260s. South of the castle lie the remains of a walled suburb. –Denys Pringle - The Crusades; An Encyclopedia

Although the Crusader States never recovered from Saladin' s campaigns, they did enjoy a limited respite during the rest of the Ayyubid period, when Saladin's successors adopted a less aggressive policy towards the ,European settlers. A system of fluctuating alliances often characterised this period, with one or more Crusader States allying themselves with one or more of the fragmented Ayyubid sultanates. This impacted upon the history of specific castles, like Belfort , which was lost to Saladin. It was then strengthened by his Ayyubid successors before the Sultan of Damascus agreed to hand it back to the Crusaders as part of an alliance agreement in 1240. However, the garrison disagreed , and so the Sultan had to besiege his own fortress in order to hand it over to the Christians. The titular lord of Belfort then died and his successor sold the castle to the Templars, because this wealthy Military Order was better able to defend it. During the few years that the Templars held Belfort they were credited with constructing an outwork, 250m from the main castle, to stop a besieger dominating the fortress from a nearby hill , probably reflecting the inc easing range of stone-throwing siege machines.  ---  Crusader castles in the Holy Land 1192-1302


Beaufort fell to a Mameluke army 0n 18th April 1268 after a bombardment of ten days.

Yet there were already problems. Taqi al Din had tried and failed to seize Tyre
(Sur). Reginald of Sidon, having escaped from Hattin, got there first and took
command as hordes of Latin refugees flocked in from all over the northern part of
the Kingdom. He learned that his great castle of Belfort (AI Shaqif Arnun) still held
out. Even so Reginald seems to have opened negotiations for a peaceful hand-over while Taqi al Din .went inland to besiege the exceptionally strong castle of Toron (Tibnin). ------ From Osprey Campaign #019 - Hattin 1187 Saladin's greatest victory







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