66). St. Justinus' was influenced by St. Caster at Coblenz and churches Michaelstadt and Seligenstadt (Fegusson & Spiers p. 220). The columns and roofs are of cultural interest and the massive Gothic choir and its original seating still exist. The great hall and cloister had ribbed architecture, while friezes, bosses, and capitals softened the facade of the central courtyard (Harrison 42). According to Billings, "the Castellan of the Order had his splendid gothic chamber, delicately carved and decorated, in the south-west tower; and in the courtyard below, you can still enter the Romanesque chapel and the refectory where crowned heads of Europe on crusade would have been entertained" (83). In other words, Krak de Chevaliers had stylish charm and Gothic spirit as well as structural strength.
St. Justinus' has undergone changes over the years. In 1298 the relics of St. Justinus' were transferred to the mother church St. Margaret who in turn dedicated the church. In 1419 the Antoniter order made numerous altercations to the church including the building of the gothic chancel. In the early 18th century the church added an organ that is mostly intact today (The American Organist). In the 1930s and the 1980s St. Justinus' underwent restoration; today the church belongs to the parish of St. Josef in the Frankfurt district of Roman Catholic Diocese of Limburg (Baedekers Frankfurt).
4. Krak des Chevaliers, Syria (AD 1144 -- 1250) -- 950 words
The Krak des Chevaliers was a famous crusader castle located in Syria. The word Krak is derived from the Syrian word karak, meaning fortress (Lepage). The fortress is strategically located in the east of Tartus, Syria in the Homs Gap atop a massive hill. The positioning of Krak des Chevaliers was significant because it was placed along the only route from Antioch to Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea. The location allowed the Hospitallers to exhibit influence over Lake Homs and to control the fishing industry as well as a watch tower against Muslim armies gathering in Syria.
Located on the site of a former Kurdish or Arab fortress, Krak de Chevaliers was built on an elevation 700 meters above the countryside to control access to the Orontes valley. Stierlin describes its origins: "during the Crusades, in 1142, Raymond II, Count of Tripoli, donated this site, which controlled access to the plain of Bekaa, to the Knights Hospitaller" (Stierlin 6). The small fortress was in an important location and seemed to the builders and warriors to be in a good defensive position overseeing the plain (Tyerman 198). The Knights Hospitaller immediately set about doubling the thickness of the limestone walls (to 80 feet) and installing defensive machicolations to repel Muslim invaders. Who, other than the knights themselves, contributed to its building is unclear, however. Lawrence hypothesizes several building stages: "in the inner ward the wall from the tower of entry L. To the tower with buttress-machicoulis P, including the chapel M, appears earlier than the rest of the inner ward. Of the outer ward the whole south front is Arab, and the western side so far as tower D" (94).
4.2. Design and 4.3. Construction
This great stronghold was undoubtedly a military advancement. Claster speaks of impregnable walls, interior accommodations for 2,000 knights, and a well-supplied source of water and a cavernous undercroft for storage of a five-year supply of food (263). Its strategically designed position atop steep-sided slopes was enhanced with surrounding double walls, a moat with a drawbridge, and semi-circular towers. The towers were connected by a long vaulted passage "that enabled mounted knights to ride straight up into the impregnable heart of the fortress" (Billings 83). All of this is expected from what historians know of the requirements of Crusader castle architecture. Stylistically it is a Gothic fortress. Yet it is important for another advance: the covered box machicolation. The master builder chose for the first time to employ this architectural feature. From these covered overhanging floor slots, missiles (stones) could be fired downward against scaling attempts. This is important, as Lawrence says, for "assailants could never get underneath the fire of the defenders on the fighting platform" (97). The machicolation was an innovative advance in military building and design. Combined with the other typical and accentuated features of the massive stone fortress, its architecture perfectly exemplifies the castle-constructing mastery of the Crusader builders.
In addition to the imposing exterior there was a pleasant interior. Harrison speaks of a fusion of religious and military architecture, by which he means fortifications guided by religious design, construction, and function (4). He says, "what is not usually appreciated is that the inner enceinte contains a monastic core of knights' hall, dormitory, cloister and chapel; here the warrior monk was totally isolated from the outside ...
Throughout history many invading armies attempted to overthrow and besiege the Krak des Chevaliers, and because of this changes occurred over time. In 1217, during the Fifth Crusade, King Andrew II of Hungary upgraded the outer walls and poured money into the guarding troops (Lepage). The fortress was eventually captured by Mamluk Sultan Baibars with some trickery by using a falsified letter ordering the castle surrendered to him. Baibars also strengthened the castle and used it as a base against Tripoli (Lepage).
Historians have described Krak des Chevaliers as an amazing fortress; T.E. Lawrence stated that it was "perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world" (Albright p. 167). In 1935, Krak des Chevaliers was purchased by the French government. Pierre Coupel immediately began a process of restoration similar to previous works on the Tower of Lions and two castles at Sidon (Albright p. 167). The Krak des Chevaliers in one of the few sites in which Crusader art has been preserved over time and the castle and old fortress was a made a World Heritage Site in 2006 (UNESCO).
5. Al Karak, Jordan (AD 1140 -- 1152)
Al Karak is a famous crusader castle located in Jordan, and is one of the largest castles in the area (Kennedy, p. 147). At one time Karak was a great kingdom and a crusader stronghold. The town is built on a triangular plateau and Al Karak sits on the narrow southernmost tip (Kennedy, p. 147). The castle is 140 kilometers to the south of Amman, and it is strategically placed on a hilltop 1000 meters above sea level surrounded by a valley on three of the sides (Kennedy, p. 147). Karak has a magnificent view of the Dead Sea from atop its high perch. Al Karak had a city of 20,000 people surrounding the castle, and to this day has buildings around it from the 19th century Ottoman period (Kennedy, p. 147).
The Iron Age is the first time individual began inhabiting the fortress (Holt). Karak was an important city for Moabites who called it Qir of Moab (Holt). The Bible mentions Al Karak and the city of Karak in the Book of Kings (16:9) and Book of Amos (1:5, 9:7). The Syrians settled geographically north of Palestine, and Tiglath-Pileser III sent prisoners there after the conquering of Damascus. In 105 AD the Romans had conquered the castle (Holt).
Historians believe the Al-Ghassasneh tribe to be the first tribal people to call home to Al Karak (Gubser p. 29). The Al- Ghassasneh consisted of the Adaileh, Dmour, Karakiyeen, Mbaydeen, Soub, and Suheimat families (Gubser p. 29). Late in the Hellenistic period, Al Karak was very important and under Roman leadership the city was known as Areopolis. During the Byzantine Empire Al-Karak was a bishopric seat and similar to the Church of Nazareth. From this point on Al-Karak remained Christian under Arab rule (Gubser p. 29).
5.2. Design and 5.3. Construction
The construction of Al-Karak had begun in the 1140s by Pagan the butler of Fulk of Jerusalem (Canton & Harik p. 125). The crusaders nicknamed it Crac des Moabites or Karak in Moab (Kennedy, p. 147). The castle is an example of Crusader architecture combining a mixture of European, Byzantine, and Arab designs (Kennedy, p. 147). The walls have been reinforced with rectangular projecting towers and long stone vaulted galleries and lighting provided only by arrow slits. Al-Karak has a deep moat that separates it from the rest of the hill on the western side. Moats are stereotypical features from Crusader castles (Canton & Harik p. 125). The high slopes of the spur are uniquely covered by a glacis. Al-Karak is a well built castle, but its design is much less complicated than Krak des Chevaliers and its masonry is a lesser version (Kennedy, p. 147). Al-Karak's lower court of the castle is home to the Karak Archaeological Museum that celebrates local history and archaeology of the Karak region from the prehistoric period until the Islamic era (Gubser p.…
The great hall and cloister had ribbed architecture, while friezes, bosses, and capitals softened the facade of the central courtyard (Harrison 42). According to Billings, "the Castellan of the Order had his splendid gothic chamber, delicately carved and decorated, in the south-west tower; and in the courtyard below, you can still enter the Romanesque chapel and the refectory where crowned heads of Europe on crusade would have been entertained" (83). In other words, Krak de Chevaliers had stylish charm and Gothic spirit as well as structural strength.
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