Monday, August 10, 2015


Book Link

30 October 1340
Many of the battles fought between Islam and Christianity have been hailed as the decisive encounter between the two religions. Few of them can have been more decisive than the crushing defeat of the wealthy emir of Marinid Morocco, Abu al-Hasan, inflicted by King Alfonso XI of Castile and King Afonso IV of Portugal on a clear October day in 1340 in the far southwest of Spain. The Battle of Salado was blessed by the Papacy as part of a new crusade against the infidel; a relic of the True Cross was held aloft in the battle by a priest dressed in white, seated on a white mule. Abu al-Hasan put round his neck on the morning of the battle a reliquary holding a fragment of the Prophet’s clothing. He was determined to smash Christian power in Spain with a major holy war, or jihad, after decades in which the Muslim hold on southern Spain had been slowly eroded.

Later chronicles speak of an army of 70,000 cavalry and 400,000 to 700,000 foot soldiers massed at the Moroccan port of Ceuta to cross the straits to Algeciras, a port still in Muslim hands. The best estimate today suggests perhaps a total of 60,000. The Christian kings between them could muster 22,000 horse and foot. Contemporary opinion held that in open battle the Moroccans were difficult to defeat, but open battle is exactly what Alfonso XI sought.

The battle at the River Salado was won against many odds, and not just the numbers on the battlefield. For years Alfonso had had to battle his own nobles, who accepted vassalage or rule from Castile with ill grace. He was forced to balance the threat from Morocco with the challenge from the vassal state of Granada, still under an Islamic ruler, Yusuf I; he had to win support from other rulers, notably from Aragon or Portugal, and this was a laborious and frustrating task. When the threat from the Marinid Empire of Morocco became evident in the late 1330s, Alfonso found himself almost entirely isolated. Only fear of a Muslim invasion persuaded Afonso IV of Portugal to reach an alliance with Alfonso, signed on 1 July 1340.

By this time the invasion was already under way. In 1339, one of Abu al-Hasan’s sons, Abu Malik, began raiding Andalusia from his bases in Gibraltar and Algeciras. In a major skirmish in late October with Spanish knights, Abu Malik was killed. Abu al-Hasan was already preparing an expedition, but his son’s death sharpened his desire for a savage revenge against the infidel. A letter claimed to have been found after the battle, allegedly from the Sultan of Babylon (probably an Egyptian title), called on the emir to ‘smash their children against the wall; slit open the wombs of pregnant women; cut off the breasts, arms, noses, and feet of other women… Do not leave until you have destroyed Christendom from sea to sea.’ Though probably a piece of Christian propaganda, it is at least consistent with the fiery threats made by Abu al-Hasan as he prepared his campaign.

Troops began to cross the straits in July and on 4 August 1340, Abu al-Hasan himself arrived at Algeciras. By this time Pope Benedict XII had declared a crusade and sent Alfonso the necessary banner and additional funds. Alfonso’s real difficulty was money, a problem that meant little to the wealthy Marinids. He could bring with him supplies for only a few days of fighting, and in order to pay for what he needed he had to pawn the royal jewels. On 23 September, Abu al-Hasan, now joined by Yusuf I of Granada with 7,000 cavalry, began the siege of Tarifa, the only port overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar still in Christian hands. He hoped Alfonso would rise to the challenge. A few weeks later, on 29 October, the Christian army arrived at La Peña del Ciervo (The Hill of the Deer) about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Tarifa, intent on battle. There were 1,000 knights with the Portuguese king, while Alfonso XI counted on 8,000 knights and 12,000 foot soldiers, mostly recruited from Asturias and the Basque provinces. The number of their Moroccan enemy was much lower than the hundreds of thousands suggested by Christian accounts, but was certainly greater than the crusaders. Alfonso reduced the size of his army even more by sending 1,000 knights and 4,000 foot soldiers round the Muslim lines to reinforce the 1,000 men in Tarifa. This was to prove an inspired move.

Abu al-Hasan drew back from the siege and arrayed his forces along the hills surrounding the port. On the morning of 30 October both sides received blessing from their clergy before moving out to face each other. On the Christian left was Afonso of Portugal, reinforced by 3,000 of Alfonso’s men; on the Portuguese flank were the foot soldiers with lances and crossbows; on the right the bulk of Alfonso’s remaining knights. The Islamic armies were drawn up with Yusuf’s Granadans on the right, the emir’s son Abu ‘Umar on the left, in front of Tarifa, and the centre commanded by Abu al-Hasan himself. Exactly what happened in the battle is not entirely clear. The Christian right began to cross a small bridge over the River Salado where they forced back the Muslim defenders. Then the bulk of Alfonso’s force smashed into the army of Abu ‘Umar, driving it uphill towards the Muslim camp. At some point the 6,000 men in Tarifa stormed out and hit the enemy in the rear, causing a panic which left the emir’s baggage train unprotected.

While the Castilians swarmed up to the camp in pursuit of booty, Alfonso found himself temporarily supported by only a small body of troops. Abu al-Hasan tried to wheel his army around to attack the king, but soon found himself surrounded as the Castilians charged back down the hill and the force from Tarifa hit his flank. Instead of fighting for the faith, he fled with his troops, putting his honour, as one account put it, ‘under his feet’. When he arrived at Ceuta. he told his followers that he had won a great victory, but the sorry remnant of his army that returned could scarcely be concealed.

The victorious Christians pursued the enemy for 8 kilometres (5 miles), slaughtering those they overtook, leaving a field littered with bodies, though how many is uncertain. Muslim women and children, including Abu al-Hasan’s wife, Fatima, were murdered when the camp was overrun and all its occupants killed. Only twelve ships were needed to take the survivors back to Morocco, which suggests either a large-scale massacre or that the Moroccan forces were much smaller than most medieval accounts claimed. Either way the defeat was decisive. Africa never again mounted a major invasion of Spain and Castile extended its domination over the peninsula. Algeciras fell to Alfonso four years later, leaving only Gibraltar as a Muslim outpost. Yusuf was lucky to escape, and Granada survived for a further 150 years. The colossal booty in gold and treasure captured at Salado helped to solve, at least temporarily, Alfonso’s financial embarrassments. So great was the wealth that it temporarily forced down the value of gold and silver on the Paris exchange.

Krak (also Crac) des Chevaliers

Krak (also Crac) des Chevaliers (mod. Qal‘at al-Hişn or Hişn al-Akrãd, Syria) was a castle on a mountain spur on the eastern frontier of the county of Tripoli, overlooking the fertile plains around the Muslim city of Homs (mod. Ḥims, Syriaț).

In 1144 Count Raymond II of Tripoli gave the site and most of the surrounding land to the Order of the Hospital. In the second half of the twelfth century, the Hospitallers built an enclosure castle on the spur. The curtain wall was strengthened by square mural towers, and there were halls for communal living along the inside of the enceinte and a simple early gothic chapel. This castle was strong enough to dissuade Saladin from attacking it in 1180 and again in 1188.

After being damaged by an earthquake in 1202, the castle was substantially rebuilt. An outer line of walls was constructed and the inner enceinte enclosed by new walls and a great sloping glacis. These new walls were defended by large round towers, all constructed in the fine limestone ashlar that is one of the glories of the castle.

The first half of the thirteenth century were the glory days of Krak. The garrison probably numbered about 2,000, of whom only a small number (perhaps 50) were Hospitaller knight brethren. From the safety of the castle, they led raids to extort tribute from the surrounding Muslim areas.

The offensive function of the castle at Crac is perhaps more unexpected. The golden age came in the first half of the thirteenth century, a period when most of the other Crusader enclaves in the Levant were struggling to survive but when Crac had a garrison of 2,000 and lorded it over the surrounding areas. Most of the evidence for this comes from Muslim sources which, naturally, tend to dwell on their own successes and pass over the less encouraging aspects. Reading between the lines, however, it seems clear that the Knights at Crac extracted tribute on a fairly regular basis from the Muslims of Horns and Hama and the neighbouring districts and that this went on as long as the various members of the Ayyubid family who had divided Saladin's domains up amongst themselves were in covert or open rivalry. As early as 1203 raids were being launched on Hama and Montferrand, now under Muslim control. In 1207-8 the Franks of Tripoli and Crac were attacking Horns. In 1230 the Amir of Hama refused to pay his tribute and a combined force of 500 knights and 2,700 footsoldiers, both Hospitallers from Crac and Templars, set out to take it by force. On this occasion they were rebuffed but in 1233 they assembled a punitive expedition including, in addition to their own forces, the Master of the Templars, Walter of Brienne, with a hundred knights from Cyprus, eighty knights from the Kingdom of Jerusalem led by Pierre d'Avalon, John of Ibelin, lord of Beirut (the great lawyer and senior member of the local aristocracy) and Henry, brother of Bohemond V of Antioch, with thirty knights from the principality. It was as great a show of force as the Crusaders of the Levant could manage at this time, testimony to the prestige of the Knights of Crac and the central role of the castle in the Crusader east. They ravaged the lands of Hama unchallenged and after this the prince of Hama agreed to pay his tribute. The Isma'ilis (Assassins) of the Syrian mountains were paying tribute at the time of Joinville's visit in 1250-1, and as late as 1270 they were still complaining to Baybars about the tribute they had to pay to the Franks.

Crac was also visited by many passing Crusaders who, we may presume, left donations. In 1218 King Andrew II of Hungary came there and was received with royal honours by the castellan, Raymond of Pignans. The king was extremely impressed by the work of the Knights in what he called the 'key of the Christian lands [terre clavem christiane]' and endowed them with income from his own properties in Hungary, 60 marks per annum for the Master and 40 for the brothers. A less affluent but equally chivalrous visitor was Geoffroy de Joinville, a baron from one of the leading families of Champagne, who had been given the right to quarter his arms with those of England by Richard Coeur de Lion on account of his knightly prowess. He joined the Fourth Crusade, many of whose members went on to sack Constantinople in 1204, but he broke away from the mob and came to Syria to fulfil his crusading vows. He died at Crac in 1203 or 1204 and was buried in the chapel, and his shield, along presumably with many others, was hung on its frescoed walls. We know about this because his nephew Jean, the biographer of St Louis, went to Crac in the early 1250s in the course of St Louis' stay in the Levant, and took the shield back to France. There it hung in the collegiate church at Joinville until stolen by some German mercenaries in 1544. Geoffroy's bones probably still lie beneath the paving of the austere and dignified chapel with its simple apse and plain vaulted roof to the present day.

Crac is an exceptional castle. It owed its glories to the wealth the Knights acquired from their own rich lands, from extracting tribute from the neighbouring Muslims and from the generosity of visiting Crusaders.

The main hall (palatio) was used to feed 4,000 men daily in the siege of 1220. Naturally, since the castle was occupied by a Military Order, there was a fine chapel of almost octagonal plan, whose vaulted roof was supported by a slender central column. In both the strength of its defences and the extent of its living quarters, Chastel Pelerin was among the most impressive of thirteenth-century Crusader works.

Outside the castle proper a small town was founded with a church and baths and enclosed by an unimpressive wall. In 1220 the castle, defended by no less than 4,000 combatants, faced a major assault by al-Malik al-Mu'azzam who brought with him seven siege engines: his artillery could not even reach the great towers of the inner enceinte, one engine was destroyed by the artillery of the defenders and the attack was a fiasco. He withdrew after a month and the hastily constructed castle had proved its worth.

The good times came to an end after 1250. In 1252 a horde of Turkmans, estimated by the treasurer of the Hospital at Acre as 10,000 in number, ravaged the fertile lands around the castle and after this there are signs that the financial position was deteriorating. In 1254 St Louis finally left the Levant where he had spent so much money strengthening fortifications, and in 1255 Pope Alexander IV replied favourably to a request for exemption from tithes because of the expenses incurred by the Hospitallers in maintaining the castle and a permanent garrison of sixty Knights in the heart of enemy country. In 1268 the Master Hugh Revel complained that the lands on which 10,000 people had lived were now deserted and that no revenues whatever were collected from Hospitallers properties in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

After 1260 the growing power of the Mamlūks meant that tribute gathering became much more difficult.

As long as it could be supplied by sea and was adequately garrisoned it was virtually impregnable: even the mighty Baybars, conqueror of Crac des Chevaliers, left it alone when he sacked the town in 1265. It was never taken by assault and it was not until after the fall of Acre in 1291 that the much reduced garrison was finally forced to abandon it. Apart from some slighting of the defences immediately after the Muslim occupation, the castle seems to have remained largely intact until Ibrahim Pasha used it as a quarry to rebuild the walls of Acre in 1838, since when the fabric has deteriorated rapidly.

Bibliography Deschamps, Paul, Le Crac des Chevaliers (Paris: Geuthner, 1934). Fedden, Robin, and John Thomson, Crusader Castles (London: Murray, 1957). Kennedy, Hugh, Crusader Castles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). King, D. J. Cathcart, “The Taking of Crac des Chevaliers in 1271,” Antiquity 23 (1949), 83–92.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Saga "The Cresent & the Cross"

For those who have been waiting this release it's been a while coming but I finally got my review copy of the English language version of the latest Saga supplement "The Crescent and the Cross" from those lovely guys at Studio Tomahawk and Gripping Beast!

After seeing the fantastic display stand at 'Salute!' this year I have been more than ready to read this "expansion".
Here it is - the Crescent and the Cross for Saga....


Soldiers of God - Wargame Rules

The battle plan and action card system looks interesting, will have to play a game or two to get a feel.
Important stuff – basing is up to you, author recommends 40mm or 50mm squares with 4 foot or 2 horse for 28's. (Rules support any scale).

Uses 6 sided dice – 6 is good, 1 is bad.

Armies have a morale value that can go up and down during the game; when it hits zero – game over. No figure removal until a unit routs.

4 scenarios (types of game) – Small battle (150 points – looks like about 100 figures a side), large battle (300 points), raid and siege.

Cards drive the turn, players draw cards and act on them alternately. Three cards are fixed as described by a battle plan chosen at the start of the game. Four more are used in addition each turn. Cards have a basic action (move, charge etc) and special events. You choose which to use on the four variable cards. Some sophistication around passing a card or trading a card.

Each side receives three battle plan cards. These are based on which one of the eight battle plans the commander chooses to use. For example if a commander chooses "double envelopment" as his strategy, his left and right battles will have a "Charge!" card placed face down behind them and a "March" card is placed face down behind the center battle (each army will have a left, center and right battle). Then each side also receives four randomly drawn action cards to use during their turn. So three of the seven action cards are directly determined by the commander's chosen battle plan. Each battle plan has an initiative rating associated with it, ranging from 0 to 3. On the first turn only, the side with the highest initiative value goes first and plays their first card (in case the initiative values are the same, it goes to the highest die roll). On subsequent turns, the initiative goes to the side with the highest army morale value. The army morale values will fluctuate during the game due to disordered units, routed units, units voluntarily leaving the table, scenario special rules, special events, etc. Each card has an action and a special event printed on it, so you have to state which you are activating when you lay it down on the table. The special event on one of the cards is "Choose a New Battle Plan". The two sides alternate playing their cards until they are finished with their turn (run out of cards).

Movement, shooting, Combat etc is straight forward.

Includes the usual army lists, nice pictures etc

Seige section looks interesting; as does the simple ladder campaign system.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The peace between the Count of Foix and Simon of Montfort was the high-water mark for the year as far as the military conduct of the crusade was concerned. Though they took some time to reach him, in response to the letter he had earlier sent the pope Montfort received two letters from the pontiff promising full support. On 11 November Innocent wrote of his pleasure on hearing of Montfort’s leadership, and notified the chief crusader that he would be sending letters to various crowned heads of Europe, including the King of Aragon, asking for their help, which he later did. In a second letter dated the next day, Innocent confirmed Montfort as Viscount of Carcassonne and Béziers partially because the judgment of God and the acclamation of the army had already given the viscounty to him. Through conquest, God’s verdict, the strong approval of the crusade army and the pope’s backing, Montfort now lacked only the support of the feudal suzerain of the Trencavel lands, Pere II of Aragon.

Initially it appeared that November would bring secular confirmation. On 10 November Raimon-Roger Trencavel died in the dungeons of Carcassonne, removing a large impediment to Montfort’s gaining title to the viscounty. In late November King Pere traveled north again and agreed to meet with Simon of Montfort to negotiate accepting Montfort’s homage, thus giving the authority of secular custom to what the chief crusader had already gained. The two men chose to meet on neutral ground in Narbonne, but by 24 November had traveled together to King Pere’s city of Montpellier. While in Montpellier Montfort received the dowry lands of Raimon-Roger’s widow, Agnes of Montpellier, consisting of the towns of Pénzenas and Tourbes, in exchange for an annuity. Though the king and chief crusader talked for some fifteen days in Montpellier, the king ultimately refused to accept Montfort’s homage for the Trencavel viscounty. Montfort therefore left empty-handed amid reports of defections among his lordships.

Taking advantage of the fact that Montfort now had no more than a miniscule army, knights and lords throughout the region began to withdraw their allegiance to him. A particularly revealing incident demonstrating some of the obstacles Montfort faced in holding on that first fall and winter was the capture of Bouchard of Marly by southerners. Bouchard of Marly was one of Montfort’s loyal lieutenants and cousin to Simon’s wife Alice. Together with another knight, Gaubert d’Essigny, Bouchard of Marly went to Cabaret with a party of fifty men in November 1209. The crusading army had briefly flirted with taking this mountain-top fortress a few months before, but abandoned the effort almost immediately after seeing how hard it would be. As the newly invested lord of Saissac, about seventeen kilometers west of Cabaret, Bouchard had a vested interest in pacifying areas eastward. He therefore went into the region around Cabaret to raid. As his party of fifty drew close to the area they were surrounded and ambushed by men of the garrison, consisting of ninety horse and foot (‘‘que a caval que a petz’’) and fourteen archers (‘‘arquiers’’). Even though they were taken by surprise, for a time Bouchard’s men defended themselves without panicking before many were killed, including Gaubert d’Essigny. The rest managed to get away except for Bouchard of Marly, who remained in dreary captivity for sixteen months at Cabaret.

The man who engineered the ambush was Peire-Roger, lord of Cabaret. Peire-Roger was one of the petty mountain lords of the region whose ostensible loyalty had been to the Trencavel viscounts, and he had served the viscount in at least part of the siege of Carcassonne. Since Simon of Montfort was now viscount, Peire-Roger theoretically owed loyalty to him, though the southerner had never formally given it. Yet he had never obeyed the Trencavels either, basically doing as he pleased. In 1209 Cabaret actually contained three castles called Quertinheux, Surdespine and Cabaret, ranged in a line across a desolate mountain ridge more than 300 meters above sea level. The fact that Peire-Roger believed he made himself safest by building and maintaining castles in this bleak location suggests he was more worried by his enemies than his enemies were by him. On the one hand Cabaret guarded a road, but it was a road easily bypassed around the mountains. On the other hand Cabaret was only fourteen kilometers from Carcassonne, close enough for Peire-Roger’s men to be a potential nuisance, as they proved on several occasions after 1209. The unproductive land surrounding Cabaret could not have furnished Peire-Roger a lavish lifestyle. The castles themselves are so remote and high up from the main road that almost everything edible in them would had to have been carried in by single-file mule teams or on the backs of human porters. Poor but proud, and quite dangerous under certain conditions, Peire-Roger was essentially a gentrified robber-bandit, sympathetic to Catharism but most interested in self-preservation. He struck targets of opportunity, but his goal was to remain independent of any higher authority, not simply that of the crusade. Still, he and Cabaret well represented the kind of men and sites Simon of Montfort was going to have to deal with in order to subdue the country. For the moment Montfort and the crusade could do nothing, so Peire-Roger continued to live as he always had.

While the lord of Cabaret had never given homage to Simon of Montfort and was therefore not guilty of treason, other southern lords who had earlier sworn homage or pledges of loyalty to Montfort now began to withdraw them. Montfort abhorred disloyalty and never forgot those who broke their word to him. After returning to Carcassonne from Montpellier in late November or early December, Montfort learned that two of his knights, Amaury and William of Poissy, were besieged by ‘‘traitors’’ (traditores) and captured in a ‘‘tower’’ (turrem castri) somewhere north of the Aude around Carcassonne. Though the chief crusader desperately tried to reach them in time, autumn floods prevented him from crossing the Aude and rescuing them. As Montfort moved close to Narbonne, he received word that Giraud of Pépieux, lord of a small castrum twenty-six kilometers northeast of Carcassonne who had previously pledged loyalty to Montfort, had broken his word and rebelled. Giraud did so partially because at some earlier point a Frenchman of the crusading army had killed his uncle. Though the Frenchman who committed the murder is not named, apparently he was a fairly prominent knight or noble. Nonetheless, as proof of his willingness to mete out justice fairly, Montfort had this Frenchman buried alive. This was not enough for Giraud of Pépieux, who continued to nurse a grudge. Instead of uttering public defiance and renunciation of loyalty more in accordance with northern feudal custom, he secretly engineered a surprise attack.

To what degree feudalism existed in Occitania has always been a topic of debate among scholars. One might legitimately argue that southern lords like Giraud of Pépieux were not used to the practices of the north and therefore reacted according to their own customs, and perhaps should not have been found culpable when they broke their word. True enough perhaps, but Simon of Montfort responded in the familiar ways of northern France. He envisioned his lordship in a northern French context and saw acts such as Giraud’s as treachery, particularly when they had not been preceded by public declaration or renunciation of loyalty. Each side, then, operated on a different set of assumptions, and it should be no surprise that these misunderstandings only made the punishment of real or imagined transgressions that much more brutal.

Along with some other disloyal knights Giraud of Pépieux traveled to the castrum of Puisserguier about fourteen kilometers west of Béziers. Somehow he managed to trick the Montfortian garrison of two knights and fifty sergeants into admitting him and his men, where he then overwhelmed and imprisoned them. Under oath he promised to spare their lives and allow them to keep their possessions when he and his men left. Montfort soon learned what had happened, and as he was close by he responded quickly to the news. He rushed to Puisserguier, bringing Aimery of Narbonne and the Narbonnais civic militia with him. As soon as they arrived, however, Aimery and his townsmen inexplicably refused to lay the place under siege and abandoned Montfort and his tiny field army. Since it was late in the day and Montfort now had few men with him, instead of blockading the place as he intended, for safety’s sake he took quarters for the night in the nearby town of Capestang, less than five kilometers away to the south.

The fortifications of Puisserguier were not very strong, and the place, located on fairly level ground, was easy to surround. Perhaps not knowing that Montfort had lost the services of the Narbonnais militia, and believing that he would certainly besiege Puisserguier the next morning, Giraud of Pépieux took advantage of this reprieve to flee during the night. The captured garrison posed a problem for him, however. Dragging the prisoners along would only slow him down, especially since he had starved them for the past three days. Equally he was not anxious to allow more than fifty prisoners to go free. Rather than murder them face-to-face, Giraud of Pépieux had the captured sergeants placed in the dry ditch surrounding the fortifications. He and his men then proceeded to stone the prisoners as well as throwing straw and combustibles down to burn them alive. Leaving the sergeants for dead, he then fled to the Cathar stronghold of Minerve, taking with him only his own men and the two knights who commanded the garrison, for whom he planned another fate. The next morning Montfort arrived before Puisserguier only to see the place abandoned, though at least some, perhaps all, of the sergeants had survived their ordeal in the ditch. In a rage Montfort had the citadel of Puisserguier destroyed and proceeded to lay waste Giraud of Pépieux’s lands. The aftermath of the story had ominous overtones briefly worth discussing here. Once safe at Minerve, Giraud had the two captured knights mutilated, their eyes gouged out, and their ears, lips, and noses cut off.

They were then set free to find Montfort in the cold, late autumn weather. One died, but the other eventually made it to Carcassonne.161 Montfort was not an inherently cruel man, but he certainly believed in an-eye-for-an-eye plus raising the ante. He would remember Giraud of Pépieux’s treachery and the mutilation of the knights, and exact payment for it both in the near future and even years later.

The treacheries, seizures, and assassinations against crusaders or crusade sympathizers continued throughout this whole period. An abbot of the Cistercian house of Eaunes, traveling back with three companions from a meeting of the papal legates at Saint-Gilles, was stabbed to death along with a lay brother just outside the city of Carcassonne. The perpetrators let one monk go because they knew him, but when he reached safety he reported that the killers were led by Guilhem of Roquefort, local lord and brother of none other than the Bishop of Carcassonne, Bernard-Raimon. Montfort received word that two important castra in the Albi region, Castres and Lombers, which had granted their loyalty to him only the previous September, now withdrew it and imprisoned the garrisons of sergeants and knights Montfort had left there. At some point the Count of Foix also broke the peace he had agreed with Montfort and took back Preixan. One night he and his men also attempted to take back Fanjeaux, though the garrison managed to repel the attack. Montfort had left a French cleric in charge of the garrison of Montréal, less than eighteen kilometers away from Carcassonne. This unnamed clerk turned Montréal back over to its original lord, Aimeric of Montréal. Aimeric had deserted Montréal during the siege of Carcassonne to come to Montfort’s camp and pledge his loyalty to the crusade, but reneged a few days after leaving. Montfort forgot neither the French clerk nor Aimeric of Montréal, and eventually settled scores with both. Further defections and assassinations took place so that by Christmas 1209 Montfort had lost more than forty castles and castra. He was left with Béziers, Carcassonne, Fanjeaux, Saissac, Limoux, Pamiers, Saverdun, Albi, and the small castrum of Ambialet.

By the end of the year the crusade had accomplished little, although it had already cost many lives on both sides. It had put the inhabitants of Occitania on their guard, yet they had recovered much of their territory. While Béziers, Carcassonne, and Albi constituted the critical population centers of the Trencavel viscounty and remained in crusader hands, these castra could rebel at any time. Hostile lords and towns surrounded all three places. Though Cathars from Béziers to Lombers had lost their lives to the crusade already, the religious movement itself had yet to suffer permanent damage. Thus by Christmas 1209 the military campaign to exterminate Catharism and win control over the region had only just begun.