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  • Baybars' siege of 1271

When Sultan Baybars approached the Krak des Chevaliers in February 1271, he rode at the head of a vast combined army of his own troops and forces loyal to the lords of Hamah, Saone, and the Ismaili provinces of Jabal Bahra.

He captured the town at the foot of the castle before launching a series of assaults. He also erected siege machines and began to pummel the walls from March onwards. The taking of the "blacksmith's" barbican was celebrated with the distribution of robes of honour, which suggests this was regarded as a moment of great importance.

A corps of Aleppine miners and sappers joined the fray and dug mines under towers on the south, north, and east faces. One of the towers collapsed on 30 March, opening a breach and the troops infiltrated the lower ward. The Hospitallers who did not have time to take refuge in the higher castle were executed immediately, mercenaries from the mountains were imprisoned, and the peasants were released to continue farming the land. Building on their success, they put mangonels in the lower ward to continue the siege. Aware of the difficulty of the task at hand, Baybars resorted to subterfuge. He forged a letter signed by the Count of Tripoli ordering the Krak garrison to surrender. After a harrowing month-long siege, and with no hope of relief, the Hospitallers complied with the order and, on 8 April 1271, requested aman, which was granted by the Sultan.

Damage caused by the siege

The southern face was worst hit by the projectiles. The violence of the attack was so great that it had to be completely refaced. The northern postern (Nicolas Lorgne's barbican) and the east gate sectors also suffered considerable damage during the siege and were rebuilt.