- Oct 2011
- Italy, Lago Maggiore
The Christian and Muslim sources mentioned by Runciman [The "Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi" [pages from 248 to 278], with confrontation with Beha Ed-Din, pages from 275 to 295, Abu Sham II [pages from 33 to 40]] leaves actually a bad impression about the military functioning of the Knights of the Hospital on the battle field.Richard's march to Jaffa from Acre, is rather correctly as RC Smail puts it, a pinnacle of crusader tactics in the success of the defensive march.
Richard did rather well to react to sudden changes and committ to them ultimately successful. The blame does lie with The Hospitallers who broke to early, minimising the effectiveness of the cavalry, whci hRichard still managed to make up for rather well. Yet placing the Templars in the van and the Hospitallers in the rear was to be fiar a rather sensible decision. The 2 military orders were the most experienced and most professional and most familiar with the topogrpahy and the enemy. Objectively it was a good choice. But such things dont always work out as planed though I guess.
While the Knights of the temple followed the orders until the end, the Hospitallers lost their equilibrium. The worse detail is that while the Grand Master was near to the King, it was the Marshal of the order, supported by a not so known Knight to launch the charge.
The glorious successes of the military history of the Order were still to come [one above all the others: the siege of Malta when they broke another myth of invincibility, the one of Ottomans].
Also the choice made by Sa El Din to attack the side where there were the Hospitallers indicates that they hadn't the terrible fame of the Templars.
So, I don't agree totally with your opinion that to deploy the Hospitallers there was the most correct decision.
They were a good force, but probably not at the level of the Templars [at least in that context].
The question is if during the march there was a possibility that this "lack of internal equilibrium" in the lines of the Hospitallers was visible in some way. In this case it would have been better to put the Hospitallers in the middle and the local lords in substitution.
But here I'm discussing impressions.