Templar Castles: Montreal, Jordan

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Templar Castles: Montreal, Jordan

Montreal is a Crusader castle on the eastern side of the Arabah, perched on the side of a rocky, conical mountain, located in the modern town of Shoubak in Jordan. The castle was built in 1115 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem during his expedition to the area where he captured Aqaba on the Red Sea in 1116. 

It was strategically located on a hill on the plain of Edom, along the pilgrimage and caravan routes from Syria to Arabia.

It remained property of the royal family of the Kingdom of Jerusalem until 1142, when it became part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain. It was held by Philip de Milly, and then passed to Raynald of Châtillon when he married Stephanie de Milly. Raynald used the castle to attack the rich caravans that had previously been allowed to pass unharmed.  This was intolerable to the Ayyubid sultan Saladin, who invaded the kingdom in 1187.

After capturing Jerusalem, later in the year he besieged Montreal. During the siege the defenders are said to have sold their wives and children for food, and to have gone blind from “lack of salt.” Because of the hill Saladin was unable to use siege engines, but after almost two years the castle finally fell to his troops in May 1189.

Little remains of the original Crusader fortifications. Although it has never been fully excavated, it is known that there was a set of three walls, which partially remain. The most significant remains of the crusader portions of the crusader castle is the remains of a curtain wall that ran inside the later Muslim additions and two chapels.

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