Apollonia (Arsuf): In the 1st Crusade, Godfrey de Bouillon attempted to capture the city, but failed. King Baldwin I took it in 1102, after a siege by land and sea. The Crusaders rebuilt the city’s walls and created the Lordship of Arsur in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1187 Arsuf was captured by the Saladin.
During the 3rd Crusade, after the conquest of Acre, King Richard the Lion Heart decided to march on the city of Yaffo. Control of the port of Yaffo was essential before he could attempt an attack on Jerusalem.
On 7 September 1191 Saladin attacked Richard‘s army at Arsuf, 50 km north of Yaffo. Richard maintained his army’s defensive formation, till the Hospitallers broke ranks to charge the right wing of Saladin‘s forces. Richard then ordered a general counterattack, which won the battle.
Arsuf was an important victory. The defeat was considered shameful by the Muslims and boosted the morale of the Crusaders. The battle dented Saladin‘s reputation as an invincible warrior and proved Richard‘s courage as a soldier and a skillful commander. Richard was able to conquer, defend, and hold Jaffa, a strategically move towards the liberation of Jerusalem. By blocking the Mediterranean coast from the Muslims, Richard seriously threatened Saladin’s hold on Jerusalem.
John of Ibelin, Lord of Beirut became Lord of Arsuf in 1207 when he married Melisende of Arsuf. Their son John of Arsuf inherited the title. The title then passed to his eldest son Balian of Arsuf. He built new walls, a big fortress and a new harbor in 1241. In 1251 King Louis IX of France re-erected its ramparts. From 1261, the city was controlled by the Knights Hospitaller.
In 1265, Baibars, the Mamluk warlord, captured Arsuf, after 40 days of siege. The inhabitants were killed or sold as slaves and the town completely razed.
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