Of Outremer’s cities, Jerusalem was the holiest. Regarded as the epicentre of Christianity, its importance was of infinite value to all Christians. Fortifying its control after the episodes of the first and second crusades was paramount; however it could not withstand a third siege by the Muslims of the period. Thus the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 was a grave loss to Christians across the medieval world. A factionalised Christian populace ensured Saladin’s impress military contingent obtained an even greater advantage over any Christian force. Ensured by the death of King Baldwin, a succession crisis added to the complicated political atmosphere of the period. The divergence in views saw the ascendance of two definite parties; the native barons and the Hospitallers, following the rule of Count Raymond of Tripoli. This party was considerate and understanding of their foreign neighbours and unwilling to embark on risky enterprises. On the other hand, the opposing faction was predominantly composed of western soldiers and Templars. This side was significantly more aggressive and militantly Christian1. They found their leadership in Reynald of Châtillon, upon his return from Muslim captivity in 1175. Indeed the polarisation of Byzantium only served to induce the worsening conditions suffered by the Christian settlers in the east. In brief, Christian factionalism was significant in causing the fall of Jerusalem as the constant feuds between the native and newcomer factions deteriorated the city, defensively, socially and most importantly, politically.
Undeniably, the presence of factionalism amongst the nobility of Levantine played a fundamental roll in in causing the fall of Jerusalem in 1187. Politically speaking, Jerusalem’s nobility failed at achieving any cohesion on the appointment of Guy of Lusignan as regent to the King. The decision was forced out of desperation; the King’s leprosy had reached a stage which ensured his ruling capabilities were severely constrained. The decision to appoint Guy of Lusignan came after much deliberation, one source reported the King was in search for a man that would ‘take his place without harming the interest of the kingdom… and not infringe the rights of the crown.’ Tainting the source’s usefulness is the fact it has an unknown author, but the source does give an effective insight to the King’s political requirements. The source indeed successfully highlights the criteria sought by the King in his potential candidate. The account mentions the King often found he was ‘disappointed’ implying there was much distrust in his court. From this account, it is accurate to assume Guy was the epitome of the King’s wishes. Clearly, this is a source of much insight but its reliability is heavily tainted by the ambiguity of the author; all together, the source communicates a sense of neutrality as it does not provide any evidence to suggest it is affiliated or promotes the views of a particular faction of the era. In this case, the content of the source is an accurate representation of the on-going political mishap that was occurring in the period. The lack of confidence in Guy as a ruler meant the disunity in the Kingdom would not cease, rendering Jerusalem vulnerable to attack as the agenda of Saladin and his looming attack was not considered with much weight. S.Painter affirms Guy’s incapacity as ruler stating ‘he was a most incompetent general and an ineffective king.’2 In all, Guy was made a regent in a period where strong political feuds made it significantly difficult for the King to differentiate between friend and foe. Therefore, the burden of a polarised political establishment was placed on an individual who did not have the confidence of the masses making cohesion and unity almost impossible to achieve.
Political skulduggery in the years leading up to 1187 further evidenced the Kingdom’s