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Battle of Hattin

Photographer: Atef Safadi


Although Israel has fought seven recognized wars, not to mention two Palestinian intifadas and numerous other armed conflicts since its foundation in 1948, for one living history group it is an historic event from the Middle Ages that galvanizes and inspires them each July. The group, calling themselves ‘Regnum Hierosolimitanum’ (Kingdom of Jerusalem), and bolstered in numbers by visitors from Europe, re-enact the Battle of the Horns of Hattin over a three day period.


Named after the nearby extinct volcano of the same name, the battle between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, a Kurdish Ayyubid, known in the west as Saladin, took place near Tiberias in present-day Israel on July 3 and 4 in the year 1187. The name Horns of Hattin originates from the double hill geographical feature that staged the battlefield that was within sight of the Sea of Galilee.


The 60 strong group of participants marched around 30 kilometers from the archaeological site of Zippori to the site of the battlefield and every effort was injected into the occasion to maintain an air of authenticity – from the carefully crafted shoes and clothing to the re-creations of weapons that reflected the armoury of that period 828 years ago.


Saladin and his Muslim armies scored the greatest military defeat of the crusader forces and thus removed their capability to wage war. As a direct result of this, Islamic forces once again became the supreme military power in the Holy Land. The crusaders had been led by Guy of Lusignan, who was installed as King of Jerusalem one year earlier and whose life was spared by Saladin. However, the French knight Raynald of Chatillon was less fortunate suffering a beheading at the hands of Saladin.