Shaubak Castle (Montreal)

Date of Submission: 18/06/2001
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Department of Antiquities.
Coordinates: Utm East:746500 - Utm North:3380900 UTM Zone:36
Ref.: 1552


The site is situated to the south of Kerak, and about 25 km .north of Petra.The castle of Shaubak was built on a summit of a conical hill by Crusader king Baldwin the First in AD.1115 with the dual purpose of extending the area of Frankish settlement east of the Dead sea and of controlling the desert road , by which caravans moved between Syria in the north and the Red Sea and Egypt in the . The first crusader castle to occupy the site took only eighteen days to build and to commemorate the king’s personal involvement in its constructions .It was given the name “Mount Royal” Baldwin was implementing here a deliberate policy of settling Franks of all classes , knights, sergeants and paid villeins’ as the old French translation of William of Tyre puts it , in newly won territory . It is no surprise therefore to find Montreal at a later date processing its own court of burgesses. Besides Frankish settlers Shaubak in the Crusader period was also home to a significant population of indigenous Christians and possibly some Muslims. The pilgrim Thietmar found there in 1217a mixed population of Muslims and Christians , including a French widow . The twelfth – century Frankish castle has been greatly added to by the Muslim Ayyubids and Mamluks. Thorough survey and consolidation is being carried out recently . The lands around Shaubak were noted in middle ages for their agricultural products, which included corn, olives, vines ,sugar and apricots . In September and November AD.1171 the castle was besieged unsuccessfully by Saladin .but in may 1182 and in 1187 Saladin again devastated the surrounding lands . After the battle of Hattin (4 Jul 1187) , when the lord of Transjordan Reynald of Chatillon, also lost his life the garrison on Montreal held out for almost another two years until , in the spring of 1189 , they surrendered to al – Malik al Adil and accepted a safe conduct to Antioch. The castle of Montreal, however, contains the remains of two ecclesiastical buildings. The first, sited in the inner ward is a three –aisled building with the character more of a parish church than a castle chapel. The second in the outer ward or barbican ,is similar to the castle chapels of al-Wu’aira in Petra and however, the precise functions and dating of the two buildings are not entirely certain. The ruins of the larger church at Shaubak have attracted the attention of visitors for over a century and a half. The church is sited on the eastern side of the inner ward, its east end jutting out beyond the line of the enclosure wall and forming, in effect, and outwork overlooking the approaches to the outer castle gate. Because it is constructed on sloping ground, the church’s east end is founded on a massive artificial substructure, which encloses a barrel-vaulted passage running below the east bay. Most of the east end and the first bay , however, have long since collapsed.