To the east of the Dead Sea, again, lay a second strip of territory, in which the great fortress was Krak (Kerak) of the Desert, planted somewhere about 1140 by the royal butler, Paganus, in the reign of Fulk of Jerusalem.
But the strength of the kingdom lay less perhaps in the army than in the magnificent fortresses which the nobility, and especially the two orders, had built; and the most visible relic of the crusades to-day is the towering ruins of a fortress like Krak (Kerak) des Chevaliers, the fortress of the Knights of St John in the principality of Tripoli.
To Nur-ed-din he was invariably submissive, but from the vigour which he employed in adding to the fortifications of Cairo and the haste with which he retreated from an attack on Montreal (1171) and Kerak (1173) it is clear that he feared his lord's jealousy.
May be said to have been two - his sister Sibylla and the fiery Raynald of Chatillon, once prince of Antioch through marriage to Constance (1153-1159), then a captive for many years in the hand of the Mahommedans, and since 1176 lord of Krak (Kerak), to the east of the Dead Sea.
Kerak, at the south end of the lake, is an important site on a peninsula surrounded by the water of the lake, by the Jordan, and by a broad water ditch, while on the north-west a narrow neck of land remains.
The ruin of Kerak answers to the description given by Josephus of the city of Taricheae, which lay 30 stadia from Tiberias, the hot baths being between the two cities.
Taricheae was situated, as is Kerak, on the shore below the cliffs, and partly surrounded by water, while before the city was a plain (the Ghor).
At his death (May 8th, 1238) at Damascus, his son Abfl Bakr was appointed to succeed with the title Malik al-AdilSaif al-din; but his elder brother Malik al-Salil~t Najm al-dIn Ayyub, having got possession of Damascus, immediately started for Egypt, with the view of adding that country to his dominions: meanwhile his uncle Ismail, prince of Hamath, with the prince of Horns, seized Damascus, upon hearing which the troops of Najm al-din deserted him at Nablus, when he fell into the hands of Malik al-N~ir, prince of Kerak, who carried him off to that city and kept him a prisoner there for a time; after which he was released and allowed to return to Nablus.
After his murder the deposed sultan Malik al-Nglir, who had been living in retirement at Kerak, was recalled by the army and reinstated as sultan in Cairo (February 7th, 1299), though still only fourteen years of age, so that public affairs were administered not by him, but by Salr the viceroy, and Bibars Jashengir, prefect of the palace.
The amirs Salr and Bibars having usurped the whole of the sultans authority, he, after some futile attempts to free himself of them, under the pretext of pilgrimage to Mecca, retired in March 1309 to Kerak, whence he sent his abdication to Cairo; in consequence of which, on the 5th of April 1309, Bibars Jashengir was proclaimed sultan, with the title Malik al-Mozajar.
This persons authority was, however, soon overthrown by a party formed by the Syrian prefects, and on the 11th of January Malik al-N~ir A~zmad, an elder son of the former sultan of the same title, was installed in his place, though he did not actually arrive in Cairo till the 6th of November, being unwilling to leave Kerak, where he had been living in retirement.
This sultan was mainly occupied during his short reign with besieging and taking Kerak, whither Abmad had taken refuge, and himself died on the 3rd of August I345, when another son of Malik al-Nlir, named Shabn, was placed on the throne.
Haul was restored, when on the 1st of June 1389 Cairo was taken by Yelbogha, governor of Damascus, and Barkuk expelled; I~Ijji reigned at first under the guardianship of Yelbogha, who was then overthrown by Mintash; Barkak, who had been relegated to Kerak, succeeded in again.
The other towns of above Io,000 inhabitants are Jaffa (45,000), Gaza (35,000), Safed (30,000), Nablus (25,000), Kerak (20,000), Hebron (18,500), Es-Salt (15,000), Acre (11,000), Nazareth (11,000).