The Siege of Tripoli
lasted from 1102
until July 12, 1109. It took place in the
aftermath of the First Crusade
to the establishment of the fourth crusader state
, the County of Tripoli
capture of Antioch (June 1098) and the destruction of Ma'arrat
al-Numan (January 13,
1099), the Syrian emirs were
terrified of the advancing crusaders and
quickly handed over their cities to the Franks. On January 14,
Sultan ibn Munqidh, emir of Shaizar, dispatched
an embassy to Raymond IV of
Toulouse, one of the leaders of the crusade, to offer
provisions and food for men and horses, as well as guides to
Jerusalem. In February, the emir of Homs, Janah
ad-Dawla, who had fought bravely at the siege of Antioch, offered
horses to Raymond. The qadi of
al-Mulk, from the Banu Ammar, sent rich gifts and invited the
Franks to send an embassy to his city.
marvelled at the splendors of the city, and an alliance was
concluded. The crusades moved on to Arqa, which they
besieged from February 14 to May 13, before continuing south to Jerusalem; they
did not attack Tripoli or any other possessions of the Banu
Raymond returns to Tripoli
The Siege of Jerusalem
a success and led to the foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
. Most crusaders
returned home afterwards; a second
movement set out, encouraged by the success of the First
Crusade, but it was mostly annihilated by the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia.
Raymond participated in this crusade as well, and returned to Syria
after escaping from his defeat at the hands of Kilij Arslan I
in Anatolia. He had with him
only three hundred men. Fakhr al-Mulk, qadi of Tripoli, was
not as accommodating to Raymond as his predecessor had been, and
called for assistance from Dukak of Damascus and the
governor of Homs.
However, the troops from Damascus and Homs
defected once they reached Tripoli, and the qadi
defeated at the beginning of April, losing seven thousand men.
could not take Tripoli itself, but captured Tortosa, which
became the base of all future operations against
The following year, Raymond, with the aid of Byzantine
engineers, constructed Mons Peregrinus
, "Pilgrim's mountain" or
"Qalaat Saint-Gilles" ("fortress of Saint-Gilles"), in order to
block Tripoli's access inland. With the Genoese Hugh Embriaco, Raymond also seized Gibelet.
After the Battle of Harran
, Fakhr al-Mulk asked Sokman, the former
governor of Jerusalem, to intervene;
Sokman marched into Syria but was forced to return home.
Fakhr al-Mulk then attacked Mons Peregrinus in September, 1104,
killing many of the Franks and burning down one wing of the
fortress. Raymond himself was badly wounded, and died five months
later in February, 1105
. He was replaced as
leader by his nephew William-Jordan,
count of Cerdanya.
On his deathbed, Raymond had reached an
agreement with the qadi
: if he would stop attacking the
fortress, the crusaders would stop impeding Tripolitanian trade and
merchandise. The qadi
In 1108, it became more and more difficult to bring food to the
besieged by land. Many citizens sought to flee to Homs,
The nobles of the city, who had betrayed the city
to the Franks by showing them how it was being resupplied with
food, were executed in the crusader camp. Fakhr al-Mulk, left
to wait for help from the Seljuk sultan Mehmed I, went to Baghdad at the end of March with five hundred troops and
He passed through Damascus, now governed by
after the death of Dukak, and
was welcomed with open arms. In Baghdad, the sultan received him with
great spectacle, but had no time for Tripoli while there was a
succession dispute in Mosul.
al-Mulk returned to Damascus in August, where he learned Tripoli
had been handed over to al-Afdal
Shahanshah, vizier of Egypt, by the
nobles, who were tired of waiting for him to return.
The next year, the Franks gathered in force outside Tripoli, led by
Baldwin I of Jerusalem
Baldwin II of Edessa
Tancred, regent of
, William-Jordan, and Raymond IV's eldest son Bertrand of Toulouse
, who had recently
arrived with fresh Genoan, Pisan and Provencal
troops. Tripoli waited in vain for
reinforcements from Egypt.
A compromise decided in the course of a dispute beneath the walls
of the city, and arbitrated by Baldwin of Jerusalem, allowed the
city to be captured: the County of Tripoli would be divided between
the two claimants, William-Jordan, as a vassal of the Principality of Antioch
Bertrand, as a vassal of Jerusalem.
The city fell on July 12, and was sacked by the crusaders. One
hundred thousand volumes of the Dar-em-Ilm library were deemed
"impious" and burned. The Egyptian fleet arrived eight hours too
late. Most of the inhabitants were enslaved, the others were
deprived of their possessions and expelled. Bertrand, Raymond IV's
illegitimate son, had William-Jordan assassinated in 1110
and claimed two-thirds of the city for himself,
with the other third falling to the Genoans. Thus Tripoli became a
crusader state; the rest of the Mediterranean coast had already fallen to the crusaders or would
pass to them within the next few years, with the capture of
Sidon in 1111 and Tyre in 1124.
- Mills, C. 1844. The History of the Crusades: For the Recovery
and Possession of the Holy Land. Lea & Blanchard, p.
97. No ISBN.
- Michaud, J.F. 1852. History of the Crusades. Translated by
W. Robson, p. 287. No ISBN.
- Archer, T.A., Kingsford, C.L. and H.E. Watts. 1894. The Story of the Crusades. Putnam, pp.
133, 155-158. No ISBN.
- Riley-Smith, J. 1983. "The Motives of the Earliest Crusaders
and the Settlement of Latin Palestine, 1095-1100." The English
Historical Review 98(389):721-736. Available from JSTOR (library access required).