16 July 1212
Christian forces join with rival armies in a turning point of the Reconquista
01 CRUSADER FORMATION
The Crusaders form up in three sections with heavy cavalry in the front ranks and heavy infantry in the rear ranks. At the back of each section is a reserve led by a king and his retainers. King Sancho VII leads the Navarrese right wing, King Pedro II leads the Aragonese left wing, and King Alfonso VIII leads the Castilian centre. Alfonso’s plan calls for the cavalry to charge first and the heavy infantry to charge second.
02 MUSLIM CONFIGURATION
Caliph Muhammad al-nasir deploys his light infantry at the front of his army. Behind them are deep ranks of Muslim light and medium cavalry. The light cavalry is positioned in the centre and the medium cavalry is stationed on each wing. Al-nasir and his palace horsemen constitute a reserve stationed behind the army. Al-nasir’s plan calls for his swift medium cavalry to envelop the slower Christian heavy cavalry.
03 MISSILE ATTACK
The battle begins when the Muslim light infantry advance against the Crusader cavalry. After moving within range, the slingers, javelin throwers and bowmen fire on the enemy cavalry. Their weapons have little impact on the wellarmoured Crusaders.
04 MOUNTED SHOCK CHARGE
The Crusaders respond to the missile attack by launching a headlong charge. The Muslim foot soldiers try to flee, but quickly become pinned between the enemy cavalry and the friendly cavalry behind them.
05 DEEP PENETRATION
Cavalry of both armies stationed on the wings engage the horsemen opposite them. Although the Muslim horse in the centre attempts to engage the Crusader horsemen, they are unable to launch an effective attack with the Muslim foot soldiers in the way. Pressing their attack, the Castilian knights in the centre drive deep into the Muslim centre.
06 HEAVY INFANTRY CHARGE
The Christian heavy infantry charges into the fight. Their entrance into the battle prevents the Muslim cavalry from enveloping Crusader cavalry. The Crusader foot soldiers furnish a protective screen when needed for the mounted Crusaders to reform for a fresh charge.
07 CRUSADERS DRIVEN BACK
To save his dwindling centre al-nasir commits his reserve force, however, he is unwilling to personally lead the counter-attack. The weight of the attack shifts in favour of the Muslim army, and the Crusaders yield ground. When King Alfonso sees groups of Crusader foot soldiers attempting to flee, he sends mounted detachments from the reserve to ensure that they return to the fight.
08 CRUSADER RESERVE ADVANCES
Alfonso gathers all of the reserve troops together and leads them into the fight. By this time the Muslim troops are severely fatigued. The arrival of fresh troops tips the battle once again in favour of the Crusaders. Pedro and Sancho rally the cavalry on their respective wings, and lead them against the flanks of the Muslim army.
09 ASSAULT ON MUSLIM CAMP
The Crusader cavalry assaults the defensive perimeter surrounding the caliph’s red tent. This barrier consists of pilings driven into the ground connected by chains. Some of the caliph’s servants are chained to the perimeter so that they will be forced to fight to the death for the caliph.
10 PANICKED RETREAT
The Crusaders break through the perimeter surrounding the caliph’s tent and slay his bodyguards. The local Muslim forces, the least dependable of the caliph’s troops, are the first to flee the field. They are soon joined by the caliph. Seeing their commander flee, the rest of the Muslim troops try to escape; however, many are cut down from behind. The victorious Crusaders plunder the caliph’s baggage train.