The road down from the remains of the crusader castle Belvoir situated above the northern end of the Jordan River Valley. The Sea of Galilee was in the upper left corner of the picture As this was late February; there was much grass in this place, not the same in August. The crusaders occupied the area after there were complaints that Christians going to the Holy Land were being murdered by the Moslems. During the Fatimid reign of Hakim the Mad, a Shiite ruler of Egypt, churches were destroyed, Christians were persecuted, and pilgrims from Europe were unable to visit Jerusalem. In 1099 Jerusalem was conquered by the Crusaders.
In 1102 Saewulf wrote an account of the attacks on Christians traveling to Jerusalem. "We went up from Joppa to the city of Jerusalem, a journey of two days, by a mountainous road, very rough, and dangerous on account of the Saracens, who lie in wait in the caves of the mountains to surprise the Christians, watching both day and night to surprise those less capable of resisting by the smallness of their company, or the weary who might lag behind their companions . . . numbers of bodies lie scattered in the way, and by the way-side, torn to pieces by wild animals." Saewulf also wrote about those who died along the way of hunger or thirst, but more often from drinking too much.
The Crusaders occupied Israel until 1291 when Acco (Acre) fell to Moslems opposed to the Europeans. Some of the Crusader efforts were unjust and persecuted people who were not attacking the Crusaders. It got worse; during one crusade the Christian capitol of Constantinople was attacked by the European Crusaders in their quest for power and plunder.
A view from the castle towards the Jordan Valley (Sept. 2003). The meandering river hardly visible in the left portion of the window opening.