Military Strategy in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem: The Crusader Fortification at Caesarea
By Daniel R. Moy
Master’s Thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1999
Abstract: Caesarea was a fortified city along the coast of Palestine, conquered and held by the Crusaders from 1101 to 1265. This study takes the reader to the archaeological remains of the site and provides a thorough examination of the defensive structures constructed throughout the history of the Crusader period. Combining both Christian and Muslim primary source materials with the archaeological evidence, the author reconstructs the history of the fortress and develops the context of the social, political, economic, and military issues shaping the architectural features present at Caesarea.
Moving from specific observation of the case study to general analysis of overall Crusader military strategy, the author lays the foundation for conclusions concerning the vital importance of fortifications in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Introducing the discussion with a brief historiographical essay, the author reveals his approval of recent strides in fortification studies to argue for the centrality of the garrison in medieval warfare. His thesis demonstrates that fortresses like Caesarea served both essential military and non-military functions, enabling the Franks to persist in their occupation of the Latin Kingdom.
As siege warfare dominated the later half of Crusader period, the fortress played an increasingly significant role in the Franks’ attempt to hold territory in the Levant. Outnumbered and overwhelmed by the surrounding Muslim powers, Frankish reliance on fortifications revealed the absence of any true military strategy capable of sustaining European sovereignty in Palestine. It represented the Crusaders’ struggle to use walls of stone to survive in a land they tried to rule but could never adequately control.