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The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099 during the First Crusade. The Crusaders stormed and captured the city from Fatimid Egyptmarker.

Background

After the successful siege of Antioch in June of 1098, the crusaders remained in the area for the rest of the year. The papal legate Adhemar of Le Puy had died, and Bohemund of Taranto had claimed Antiochmarker for himself. Baldwin of Boulogne remained in Edessamarker, captured earlier in 1098. There was dissent among the princes over what to do next; Raymond of Toulouse, frustrated, left Antioch to capture the fortress at Ma'arrat al-Numanmarker in the Siege of Maarat. By the end of the year the minor knights and infantry were threatening to march to Jerusalemmarker without them.

The siege of Arqa

At the end of December or early in January, Robert of Normandy and Bohemond's nephew Tancred agreed to become vassals of Raymond, who was wealthy enough to compensate them for their service. Godfrey of Bouillon, however, who now had revenue from his brother's territory in Edessa, refused to do the same. On January 5, Raymond dismantled the walls of Ma'arrat, and on January 13 began the march south, barefoot and dressed as a pilgrim, followed by Robert and Tancred. Proceeding down the coast of the Mediterraneanmarker, they encountered little resistance, as local Muslim rulers preferred to make peace and give supplies rather than fight. The local Sunnis may have also preferred Crusader control to Shi'ite Fatimid rule.

Raymond planned to take Tripolimarker for himself to set up a state equivalent to Bohemund's Antioch. First however, he besieged nearby Arqamarker. Meanwhile, Godfrey, along with Robert of Flanders, who had also refused to become Raymond's vassal, joined together with the remaining crusaders at Latakiamarker and marched south in February. Bohemond marched out with them but quickly returned to Antioch. At this time Tancred left Raymond's service and joined with Godfrey, due to some unknown quarrel. Another separate force, though linked to Godfrey's, was led by Gaston IV of Béarn.

Godfrey, Robert, Tancred, and Gaston arrived at Arqa in March, but the siege continued. The situation was tense not only among the military leaders, but also among the clergy; since Adhemar's death there had been no real leader, and ever since the discovery of the Holy Lance by Peter Bartholomew in Antioch, there had been accusations of fraud among different clerical factions. Finally, in April, Arnulf of Chocques challenged Peter to an ordeal by fire. Peter underwent the ordeal and died of his wounds, thus discrediting the holy lance as a fake and one of Raymonds holds on his ultimate authority over the Crusade.

The siege of Jerusalem

Arrival at the Holy City

The siege of Arqa lasted until May 13 when the crusaders left having captured nothing. The Fatimids had attempted to make peace, on the condition that the crusaders not continue towards Jerusalem, but this was of course ignored; Iftikhar ad-Daula, the Fatimid governor of Jerusalem, was aware of the Crusaders' intentions. Therefore, he expelled all of Jerusalem's Christian inhabitants. He also poisoned most of the wells in the area. On the 13th the Crusaders came to Tripoli where the ruler of the city gave them money and horses. According to the anonymous chronicle Gesta Francorum, he also vowed to convert to Christianity if the crusaders succeeded in capturing Jerusalem from his Fatimid enemies. Continuing south along the coast, the crusaders passed Beirutmarker on May 19, Tyremarker on May 23, and turning inland at Jaffamarker, reached Ramlahmarker on June 3, which had already been abandoned by its inhabitants. The bishopric of Ramlah-Lydda was established there at the church of St. George (a popular crusader hero) before they continued on to Jerusalem. On June 6, Godfrey sent Tancred and Gaston to capture Bethlehemmarker, where Tancred flew his banner from the Church of the Nativitymarker. On June 7 the crusaders reached Jerusalem itself. Many cried upon seeing the city they had journeyed so long to reach.

As with Antioch the crusaders put the city to a siege, in which the crusaders themselves probably suffered more than the citizens of the city, due to the lack of food and water around Jerusalem. The city was well-prepared for the siege, and the Fatimid governor Iftikhar ad-Daula had expelled most of the Christians. Of the estimated 5,000 knights who took part in the Princes' Crusade, only about 1,500 remained, along with another 12,000 healthy foot-soldiers (out of perhaps as many as 30,000). Godfrey, Robert of Flanders, and Robert of Normandy (who had now also left Raymond to join Godfrey) besieged the north walls as far south as the Tower of Davidmarker, while Raymond set up his camp on the western side, from the Tower of David to Mount Zionmarker. A direct assault on the walls on June 13 was a failure. Without water or food, both men and animals were quickly dying of thirst and starvation and the crusaders knew time was not on their side. Coincidentally, soon after the first assault, 2 Genoese galleys sailed into the port at Jaffa, and the crusaders were able to re-supply themselves for a short time. The crusaders also began to gather wood from Samariamarker in order to build siege engines. They were still short on food and water, and by the end of June there was news that a Fatimid army was marching north from Egyptmarker.

The barefoot procession

Faced with a seemingly impossible task, their spirits were raised when a priest by the name of Peter Desiderius claimed to have a divine vision in which the ghost of Adhemar instructed them to fast for three days and then march in a barefoot procession around the city walls, after which the city would fall in nine days, following the Biblical example of Joshua at the siege of Jerichomarker. Although they were already starving, they fasted, and on July 8 they made the procession, with the clergy blowing trumpets and singing psalms, being mocked by the defenders of Jerusalem all the while. The procession stopped on the Mount of Olivesmarker and sermons were delivered by Peter the Hermit, Arnulf of Chocques, and Raymond of Aguilers.

The final assault

Throughout the siege, attacks were made on the walls, but each one was repulsed. The Genoese troops, led by commander Guglielmo Embriaco, had previously dismantled the ships in which the Genoeses came to the Holy Land; Embriaco, using the ship's wood, made some siege towers. These were rolled up to the walls on the night of July 14 much to the surprise and concern of the garrison. On the morning of July 15, Godfrey's tower reached his section of the walls near the northeast corner gate, and according to the Gesta two Flemish knights from Tournaimarker named Lethalde and Engelbert were the first to cross into the city, followed by Godfrey, his brother Eustace, Tancred, and their men. Raymond's tower was at first stopped by a ditch, but as the other crusaders had already entered, the Muslim guarding the gate surrendered to Raymond.

Massacre

Muslims

Many Muslims sought shelter in the Al-Aqsa Mosquemarker, the Dome of the Rockmarker, and the Temple Mountmarker area generally. According to the Gesta Francorum, speaking only of the Temple Mount area, "...[our men] were killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles..." According to Raymond of Aguilers, also writing solely of the Temple Mount area, " in the Temple and porch of Solomon men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins." However, this imagery should not be taken literally; it was taken directly from biblical passage Apocalypse 14:20. Writing about the Temple Mount area alone Fulcher of Chartres, who was not an eyewitness to the Jerusalem siege because he had stayed with Baldwin in Edessa at the time, says: "In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared".Fulcher of Chartres, "The Siege of the City of Jerusalem", Gesta Francorum Jerusalem Expugnantium. The slaughter of large numbers of Muslims on the Temple Mount is sometimes dubiously projected into the entire city, with some modern commentators claiming that all or almost all of the inhabitants of the city were killed. There is no eyewitness evidence for such a wholesale slaughter outside the Temple Mount area.

The eyewitness Gesta Francorum states that some people managed to escape the siege unharmed. Its anonymous author wrote, "When the pagans had been overcome, our men seized great numbers, both men and women, either killing them or keeping them captive, as they wished." Later the same source writes, "[Our leaders] also ordered all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses; and so the living Saracens dragged the dead before the exits of the gates and arranged them in heaps, as if they were houses. No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids, and no one knows their number except God alone."

Another eyewitness source, Raymond of Aguilers, suggests that some Muslims survived. After recounting the slaughter on the Temple Mount he reports of some who "took refuge in the Tower of David, and, petitioning Count Raymond for protection, surrendered the Tower into his hands." These Muslims left with the Fatimid governor for Ascalon. A version of this tradition is also known to the later Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir (10, 193-95), who recounts that after the city was taken and pillaged: "A band of Muslims barricaded themselves into the Oratory of David (Mihrab Dawud) and fought on for several days. They were granted their lives in return for surrendering. The Franks honoured their word, and the group left by night for Ascalon." One Cairo Geniza letter also refers to some Jewish residents who left with the Fatimid governor.

Tancred claimed the Temple quartermarker for himself and offered protection to some of the Muslims there, but he was unable to prevent their deaths at the hands of his fellow Crusaders. The eyewitness Gesta Francorum states that some people managed to escape the siege unharmed. Its anonymous author wrote, "When the pagans had been overcome, our men seized great numbers, both men and women, either killing them or keeping them captive, as they wished." Later the same source says, "[Our leaders] also ordered all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses; and so the living Saracens dragged the dead before the exits of the gates and arranged them in heaps, as if they were houses. No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids, and no one knows their number except God alone. But Raymond caused the Emir and the others who were with him to be conducted to Ascalon, whole and unhurt." The other eyewitness source, Raymond of Aguilers, also reports that Raymond allowed some Muslims to leave unharmed: "[they] took refuge in the Tower of David, and, petitioning Count Raymond for protection, surrendered the Tower into his hands." A version of this tradition is also known to the later Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir (10, 193-95), who recounts that after the city was taken and pillaged: "A band of Muslims barricaded themselves into the Oratory of David (Mihrab Dawud) and fought on for several days. They were granted their lives in return for surrendering. The Franks honoured their word, and the group left by night for Ascalon."

Although the Crusaders killed many of the Muslim and Jewish residents, eyewitness accounts (Gesta Francorum, Raymond of Aguilers, and the Cairo Geniza documents) demonstrate that some Muslim and Jewish residents were allowed to live, as long as they left Jerusalem. All modern estimates of the numbers actually killed in Jerusalem after the Crusader siege are entirely speculative; the primary sources from the period simply do not allow a reliable estimate to be made.

Jews

The chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi states the Jewish defenders sought refuge in their synagogue, but the "Franks burned it over their heads", killing everyone inside. Although one popular modern account alleges that the Crusaders circled the flaming building while singing "Christ, We Adore Thee!, Thee are our light, our direction, our love" no eyewitness source makes such an allegation. There is no question that there was a massacre of some Jerusalem Jews, for contemporary letters from the Cairo Geniza seeking aid for Jews who escaped Jerusalem at the time of the Crusader siege refers to such killings. However, the same letters also clearly reveal that there were some Jewish survivors as well.

Eastern Christians

Contrary to what is sometimes alleged, no eyewitness source refers to Crusaders killing Eastern Christians in Jerusalem, and early Eastern Christian sources (Matthew of Edessa, Anna Comnena, Michael the Syrian, etc.) make no such allegation about the Crusaders in Jerusalem. According to the Syriac Chronicle to 1234 Christians had already been expelled from Jerusalem before the Crusaders arrived. Presumably this would have been done by the Fatimid governor to prevent their possible collusion with the Crusaders.

The Gesta Francorum claims that on Wednesday August 9, two and a half weeks after the siege, Peter the Hermit encouraged all the "Greek and Latin priests and clerics" to make a thanksgiving procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This indicates that some Eastern Christian clergy remained in or near Jerusalem during the siege. In November 1100, when Fulcher of Chartres personally accompanied Baldwin on a visit to Jerusalem, they were greeted by both Greek and Syrian clerics and laity (Book II, 3), indicating an Eastern Christian presence in the city a year later.

Aftermath

Following the massacre, Godfrey of Bouillon was made Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri (Protector of the Holy Sepulchremarker) on July 22, refusing to be named king in the city where Christ had died, saying that he refused to wear a crown of gold in the city where Christ wore a crown of thorns. Raymond had refused any title at all, and Godfrey convinced him to give up the Tower of David as well. Raymond then went on a pilgrimage, and in his absence Arnulf of Chocques, whom Raymond had opposed due to his own support for Peter Bartholomew, was elected the first Latin Patriarch on August 1 (the claims of the Greek Patriarch were ignored). On August 5, Arnulf, after consulting the surviving inhabitants of the city, discovered the relic of the True Cross.

On August 12, Godfrey led an army, with the True Cross carried in the vanguard, against the Fatimid army at the Battle of Ascalon on August 12. The crusaders were successful, but following the victory, the majority of them considered their crusading vows to have been fulfilled, and all but a few hundred knights returned home. Nevertheless, their victory paved the way for the establishment of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The siege quickly became legendary and in the 12th century it was the subject of the Chanson de Jérusalem, a major chanson de geste in the Crusade cycle.

See also



References

  1. Thomas F. Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades at 33 (Rowman & Littlefield Pub., Inc., 2005). The Syriac Chronicle to 1234 is one source claiming that Christians were expelled from Jerusalem before the crusaders' arrival. "The First and Second Crusades from an Anonymous Syriac Chronicle." Trans. A.S. Tritton. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1933, p. 73. Presumabaly this was done to prevent their collusion with the crusaders.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Jean Rchards "The Crusades 1071-1291" p 65
  4. This point was first made by scholars John and Laurita Hill. Kedar, Benjamin Z. "The Jerusalem Massacre of July 1099 in the Western Historiography of the Crusades." in The Crusades ( Vol. 3). ed. Benjamin Z. Kedar and Jonathan S.C. Riley-Smith. Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2004 (ISBN 075464099X), p. 65
  5. Medieval Sourcebook: Gesta Francorum
  6. Medieval Sourcebook: Gesta Francorum
  7. Medieval Sourcebook: Raymond of Aguilers
  8. Crusaders, Greeks, and Muslims by Sanderson Beck
  9. Francesco Gabrieli, Arab historians of the Crusades, University of California, 1969, p.11.
  10. Edward Peters, The First Crusade,2nd. edition, University of Pennsylvania, 1998, p.265.
  11. Medieval Sourcebook: Gesta Francorum
  12. Medieval Sourcebook: Raymond
  13. Francesco Gabrieli, "Arab historians of the Crusades, Ch. 1. From Godefry to Saladin," University of California, 1969; 1984, p. 11
  14. See also Thomas F. Madden, New Concise History at 34
  15. Gibb, H. A. R. The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades: Extracted and Translated from the Chronicle of Ibn Al-Qalanisi. Dover Publications, 2003 (ISBN 0486425193)
  16. Rausch, David. Legacy of Hatred: Why Christians Must Not Forget the Holocaust. Baker Pub Group, 1990 (ISBN 0801077583)
  17. Edward Peters, ed. The First Crusade. 2nd ed. University of Pennsylvania, 1998, p. 264-272.
  18. "The First and Second Crusades from an Anonymous Syriac Chronicle," trans. A.S. Tritton. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1933, p. 73.
  19. Gesta Francorum. Bk. 10.39, ed. R. Hill. London, 1962, p. 94.


Sources




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