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A king may move a man, a father may claim a son. That man can also move himself. And only then does that man truly begin his own game.
— Baldwin IV, Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Baldwin IV, also known as Baldwin the Leper, was the eighth king of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, who reigned from 1174 to his death in 1185. Baldwin was born in 1161 to King Amalric I of Jerusalem and Queen Agnes of Edessa. He was educated in his youth by the historian William of Tyre, who discovered that Baldwin was afflicted with leprosy.

Despite this, Baldwin was crowned King of Jerusalem when he came of age, as his father had already died. Along with the crown, Baldwin also inherited his father's war against Jerusalem's many enemies, most notably Saladin, Sultan of Syria and Egypt.

Even at such a young age, Baldwin proved himself a capable military leader. He lead attacks on Muslim forces at Damascus and Andujar, both of which were successful. His most important victory was the Battle of Montgisard, in which Baldwin's vastly outnumbered army defeated Saladin's forces, inflicting massive casualties. Saladin himself only barely escaped alive. Even with his severe leprosy, the young king led his army from the front, fighting alongside his men.

Aside from his military exploits, Baldwin was a very successful and well-respected king, reigning for much longer than was expected. However, his leprosy continued to worsen until he died in 1185.

Battle vs. Timur (by Elgb333)[]

In a small patch of desert in the borders of the Middle East and Central Asia, a lone fort stood guard as a great battle commenced. Outside, Mongolian warriors lead by the brutal Tamerlane surrounded and besieged the castle. The Mongols set up their trebuchets and sheilds; surrounding and entrapping the fort like a cornered prey.

Inside were European knights under the great Baldwin IV, who were readying themselves for an impending siege. They set up their springald and put forth the ammo needed. They ready the saddles of their horses, their steel weapons sharp, their armor tightly fit and every drop of bravery in their hearts. Baldwin knew the odds were against him. Every news that he heard of these Oriental monsters were horrifying beyond human comprehension. They said that this Emir, Tamerlane he was called, made horrible atrocities to every civilization he came across. And if these stories were true, and that this Tamerlane person is the Devil himself, then Baldwin knew the fate that awaits them if they lose.

"How many men do we have?" Baldwin calmly asked his correspondent inside his quarters.

His nervous war correspondent replied with tension, "God help us sir. So far this was a wrong place to put an isolated fort. We only have 50 men and 30 horses, and a food ration for only three days. Reinforcements on the other hand are still two days away."

Upon hearing this, a moment of silence gripped Baldwin which worried his correspondent. Any warrior would have lost their souls after hearing odds like these against them. But to the surprise of his correspondent, Baldwin suddenly just laughed at the challenge he was in. He pats the young men on the shoulders and said, "Have no fear scribe. I've always been in these disadvantages. Always been the unlucky one. And God always loved to put me in these unwinnable situations. Now let's see if I can impress God once again."

On the outskirts of the castle, the Mongolian warriors were getting ready. Tamerlane, who was being carried by his men in a litter, set out a messenger to offer a conversation to the Christian king. The Mongolians seem to have already encircled the camp, all eager to finally pull it down like the walls of Jericho. But Tameralne, though feared for his dark reputation, still employed diplomacy in the hopes of finishing the battle more quickly.

The messenger came back with news that King Badlwin was ready to talk. He points to Tamerlane the walls of the castle where the masked leporous king stood visibile overlooking him. Tamerlane orders his men to move his makeshift throne litter forward, and now both he and the Christian king eyed each other. Two warriors, separated leagues apart from differend ends of the world, from the east and the west, now see each other for the first time. 

"Greetings Emir," Baldwin shouted. "May I ask what you are doing uninvited in my domain?"

Tamerlane just laughed at the courage this king had for asking him such a trivial question. "Well my reasons for this incursion is simple. I only want the land of my people, the place where the Prophet Muhammad was born, back in Muslim hands," he said before making his large army salute as a show of force. "As you can see, my forces have surrounded your tiny castle. There is no way for you to escape or win. Give up now and you and your men will be spared."

"I've heard stories of you Emir. I'm actually suprised you haven't taken our heads yet," Badlwin laughed.

Tamerlane also laughed in return. "Well if you have heard of me then consider yourself lucky. Now give me what I ask. You should know what happens to anyone who refuse my generous offer. And pray dear king, I'm never usually this generous to people."

Baldwin shooked his head laughing. "Oh you silly little big-mouthed man. You really want my castle eh? Do you really want it? Well it's yours. All you have to do is walk here and take it. Come on I dare you," Baldwin taunted as he turns his back and returns to his men.

Tamerlane's eyes blazed with fury at what he had heard. "Leporous... boastful idiot!" he cursed at King Baldwin. "I'll show you what Hell you have wrought. I will burn that fort down and have your head!" he continued as his men took him back to the camp.

Upon returning, Timur calls for his war council to prepare an attack. But it seems that things weren't going greatly for the Mongols as well. They may have the upper hand but several obstacles suddenly popped up.

"Great Emir, my men carried bad news from our reinforcements in the East," one of his commanders said.

'What is it?" Tamerlane said disappointed and annoyed.

"The reinfrocement forces you have called... won't be here for the next few days. They had to deal with several rebel factions on their way here from India to Afghanistan that caused the delay. And so far we only have 50 men to sieze that castle."

Tamerlane, visibly angered by what he heard, still tried to keep a cool head. He scoffs at his war council, "You have been with me and yet you still don't believe in my brilliance. Tell me, does a little cripple man still not impress you? Do you still lack faith in me after everyhting I have accomplished?!"

Those words echoed through the tent and sent shivers to the spines of every men inside. The war council, shaken at what Tamerlane said, pleaded that it was just a misunderstanding. They knew how horrible things go when he gets angry. But Tamerlane, though irritated, reassured their lack of faith saying, "I will take that castle the same way I did with others. Use the trebuchets to knock off the walls if it must. And tell my cavalry to encircle around and find a way to get through. If I need to starve them I will."

And with that, the Mongol forces started their attack. Heavy objects were hurled by their trebuchet from a distance. Some just bounced harmlessly on the walls, but soon the trebuchet found its mark and hit the vulnerable top parts, killing several of the knights stationed there. The trebuchet kept firing and firing till the momentum started rocking the walls like a storm blowing a small tree. It got worse when the Mongols started tossing incendiary devices on the fort which exploded and burned graneries, towers, houses and knights as they hit. These were enough to scare the knights into submission, and they panicked and hid themselves behind various covers. And with the defenders temporarily neutralized, the Mongols started charging the fort with their shields and horses.

The knights started to scramble as Hell rained and came a knocking. But then King Baldwin, with a sword in his hand, managed to rally them back into action. He then orders the knight back into the walls, and with their crossbows they shot the approaching Mongolians. The latter started firing back with their own recurve bows, and the tiny skirmish only left small casualties between the two. But as the Mongolians were already getting near to scale the walls, the knights suddenly unleash their springalds and shot incendiaries filled with greek fire at them. The Mongolian shields, which was enough to stop crossbow bolts, were useless against the springalds. And the knights burned a great deal of Mongols and sent them back to their camps like wusses. The Mongols fled and the knights cheered. But Tamerlane retaliated by sending back projectiles from his trebuchet, and thus the knights fell back again to take cover.

"Is there anyway to take out those damn things?" Baldwin said pointing to the trebcuhets.

"Nothin' sire," one of his knights hastily replied. "Our bows and springalds don't have the range to take it from afar."

"Well then," Baldwin said confidently. "It seems the only way is to take it out up close." Baldwin then went back to his quarters and gathered some of his knights to think of a plan. 

On the Mongolian camp, things were not going well as many casualties poured in. Tamerlane himself was getting impatient. While his trebuchet was pounding the castle, none of his men have still breached the damn fort. Calling his war council yet again during the open battle, he said in an irritated voice, "Listen, take as many archers as you can and fire on those bastards. But keep the catapults firing. If we can't take them by brute force will just have to force them into submission."

And with that, the Mongols kept their distance for a while as the trebuchet did its work. Rocks, debris and bombs were catapulted into the poor fortress. With Hell raining upon them from the sky, it felt like Armageddon for the defenceless knights inside. The rocks smashed through every piece of cover they try to hide, many of them crushed, flattened and killed in the process. The bombs blew and burned many of them as well, creating a big inferno of the castle which was visible to Tamerlane's devious and maniacal eyes. For a couple of hours, the Mongols just sit there and watch as the fortress crumbled and burned from a distance. Tamerlane laughed and enjoyed himself watching the show from his tent. He didn't care anymore of taking that castle; he just want those knights and their plagued king dead.

And then, a chance appeared in the eyes of the crippled conqueror. The frontal walls have started to crack and crumble, but still standing nonethless. And as Tamerlane can see, the flames were left to burn undisturbed and there were no signs of the defenders anymore. The trebuchet did its work, and the excited Tamerlane finally gives the orders to finally take the castle. "Be careful all of you. If you need to tear that crumbling wall down then do it. If anyone is left standing, which I doubt so, kill them. And bring me the head of their king."

Upon hearing the orders, the Mongols mount their horses and charged. Carrying their hooks and ladders, they were ready to finish this battle once and for all. They rode closely around the walls to check if there were still signs of resistance left. Then they finally started throwing their hooks and setting up the ladders to take the castle. A final coup de grace to finally end this great but utterly short battle of the desert.

As they were ready to scale however, the knights suddenly sprang out of nowhere and chucked them all with their crossbows and springald. Though battered, burned and bruised, the knights managed to endure the trebuchet's attacked.  They shot the Mongols with arrow and springald bolts, piercing through their shields, armor and horses with ease. The Mongolians were surprised by the sudden resiliency and many of them fell upon the ambush. The battle reignited yet again with the small band of surviving knights against the larger army of invading Mongols. 

Tamerlane erupted with fury  and cursed every insult and deragotory at what was happening. And so he ragefully ordered his men to reset the trebcuhet and fire. The Mongols then hastefully set up the trebuchet but most of their initial shots missed, hitting their fellow Mongols instead who were fighting outside the walls. Tamerlane crused them for their clumsiness, and he told them that he was just an inch from executing them for their stupidity.

"You insolent fools. Keep those things firing! No one will eat, sleep or shit until that fortress is mine!" Tamerlane said.

But then unexpectedly, out of nowhere, King Baldwin and his knights crashed into the Mongolian camp. The unprepared Mongols were caught off guard as the knights on their horses invaded. The ambush scared Tamerlane and many of his surprised and defencless soldiers were killed in the initial attack. The knights didn't spare anyone; they stormed the tables, tents and quarters of the shocked Mongols, killing them all, before attacking and burning the trebuchets and putting them out of action.

Tamerlane himself dropped from his litter cowering as his Mongol warriors try to protect him. But King Baldwin, masked and on horseback, points his sword at him and boasted, "Why aren't you one angry little man. I'll tell you Emir, you look a lot smaller now that I see you up close."

Timur can only do nothing as Baldwin and his knights butchered the Mongols. Their weapons such as their longswords and halberds, made mincemeat of the Mongols and their inferior sabers and glaives. Their armor also proved its worth agaisnt the lightly armored Mongols. And King Baldwin himself, even though plagued with leprosy, butchered a great number of them like he was the angel of death. His lepered face and his conviction to win, made him look like "Al Shatan" on horseback in the eyes of the scared Mongols, and many of them fell on his sword.

The remaining Mongols fled and King Baldwin ordered his knights to pursue them all. But the fleeing Mongols left Baldwin a prize; they left their leader Tamerlane wimpering alone. Tamerlane tried to hide beneath a table and cowered with his hands on his head. But Baldwin saw him and he flips the table, revealing the small defenceless man shaking underneath.

"Please! King please! Mercy!" Tamerlane begged. But King Baldwin just thrust his sword on his gut and disemboweled him. Tamerlane cried as he grabbed his guts that spewed from his belly. "I'm a sensible man Monseour Lame. But even I have my limits. Why should I give you, a monster who's killed so many, including women and children, be given mercy?" King Baldwin gloated.

"No! God no! I can't end like this!" Tamerlane yelled. "Great Allah please. Heal me and save me from this demon. Smite him with you hands!"

Baldwin just shook his head at this feeble attempt at cowardice. "No mercy will be given to you Monseour Lame. For you have not given anyone in return. Your conquest ends here. Dead as a coward and a fiend. May God have mercy on your soul." King Baldwin said. And with that he chops Tamerlane's head, who still had his pleading and cowardly face. King Baldwin then takes Timur's head and straps it on his horse for all the remaining Mongols to see.

He calls upon his knights and said, "Now, let us go back and help our brothers." And with that the knights cheered and rode back to the castle. And the defenders themselves were also having a triumph pushing their enemies away as well.

Winner: King Balwin IV

Expert's Opinion[]

The votes were very neck-to-neck, with the author having to end the battle in a tie-breaker. While Timur was a great tactician and brutal conqueror, most experts believe that Baldwin just have the better weapons, armor and the actual fighting experience to win.

To see the original battle, weapons and votes, click here.