Siege of Jerusalem (1187)

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Siege of Jerusalem
ChristiansBeforeSaladin.jpg
Saladin and Christians of Jerusalem
Date 20 September to 2 October 1187
Location Jerusalem
Result Decisive Ayyubid victory
Belligerents
Vexillum Regni Hierosolymae.svg Kingdom of Jerusalem Flag of Ayyubid Dynasty.svg Ayyubids
Commanders and leaders
Vexillum Regni Hierosolymae.svg Balian of Ibelin Surrendered
Vexillum Regni Hierosolymae.svg Heraclius of Jerusalem Surrendered
Flag of Ayyubid Dynasty.svg Saladin
Strength
Unknown,

60 impromptu Ibelin knights, plus the city watch of men-at-arms, archers and people recruited into the city`s defence

  • likely strength around 4,000-6,000 men
Unknown,

the army primarily made up of the surviving army from the Battle of Hattin and reinforcements gathered from Syria and Egypt.

  • likely strength around 20,000 men
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Siege of Jerusalem was a siege on the city of Jerusalem that lasted from September 20 to October 2, 1187, when Balian of Ibelin surrendered the city to Saladin. Citizens wishing to leave paid a ransom.[1] The defeat of Jerusalem signaled the end of the first Kingdom of Jerusalem. Europe responded in 1189 by launching the Third Crusade led by Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus, and Frederick Barbarossa separately.[2]

Background[edit]

The Kingdom of Jerusalem, weakened by internal disputes, was defeated at the Battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187. Most of the nobility were taken prisoner, including King Guy. Thousands of Muslim slaves were freed. [3][4][5] By mid-September, Saladin had taken Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, Toron, Sidon, Beirut, and Ascalon. The survivors of the battle and other refugees fled to Tyre, the only city able to hold out against Saladin, due to the fortuitous arrival of Conrad of Montferrat.

Situation in Jerusalem[edit]

In Tyre, Balian of Ibelin had asked Saladin for safe passage to Jerusalem in order to retrieve his wife Maria Comnena, Queen consort of Jerusalem and their family. Saladin granted his request, provided that Balian not take up arms against him and not remain in Jerusalem for more than one day; however, upon arrival in the holy city, Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem, Queen Sibylla, and the rest of the inhabitants begged him to take charge of the defense of the city. Heraclius, who argued that he must stay for the sake of Christianity, offered to absolve him of the oath, and Balian agreed.

He sent word of his decision to Saladin at Ascalon via a deputation of burgesses, who rejected the sultan's proposals for a negotiated surrender of Jerusalem; however, Saladin arranged for an escort to accompany Maria, their children, and all their household to Tripoli, Lebanon. As the highest ranking lord remaining in Jerusalem, according to the chronicler Ibn al-Athir, Balian was seen by the Muslims as holding a rank "more or less equal to that of a king."

Balian found the situation in Jerusalem dire. The city was filled with refugees fleeing Saladin's conquests, with more arriving daily. There were fewer than fourteen knights in the whole city, so he created sixty new knights from the ranks of the squires (knights in training) and burgesses. He prepared for the inevitable siege by storing food and money. The armies of Syria and Egypt assembled under Saladin, and after a brief and unsuccessful siege of Tyre, the sultan arrived outside Jerusalem on September 20.

The siege[edit]

Negotiations were carried out between Saladin and Balian, through the mediation of Yusuf Batit, one of the Eastern Orthodox clergy, who had been largely suppressed under Latin Christian rule and knew that they would have more freedoms if the city were returned to the Muslims. Saladin preferred to take the city without bloodshed and offered generous terms, but those inside refused to leave their holy city, vowing to destroy it in a fight to the death rather than see it handed over peacefully. Thus the siege began.

Saladin's army was facing the Tower of David and the Damascus Gate. His archers continually pelted the ramparts with arrows. Siege towers/belfries were rolled up to the walls, but were pushed back each time. For six days, skirmishes were fought with little result. Saladin's forces suffered heavy casualties after each assault, while the Crusaders lost only a few men. On September 26, Saladin moved his camp to a different part of the city, on the Mount of Olives where there was no major gate from which the crusaders could counter-attack. The walls were constantly pounded by the siege engines, catapults, mangonels, petraries, Greek fire, crossbows, and arrows. A portion of the wall was mined, and it collapsed on September 29. The crusaders were unable to push Saladin's troops back from the breach, but at the same time the Muslims could not gain entrance to the city. Soon there were only a few dozen knights and a handful of remaining men-at-arms capable of bearing arms and defending the wall; no more men could be found even for the promise of an enormous fee.

The civilians were in great despair. According to a passage possibly written by Ernoul, a squire of Balian, in the Old French Continuation of William of Tyre, the clergy organized a barefoot procession around the walls, much as the clergy on the First Crusade had done outside the walls in 1099. At Mount Calvary, women cropped their children's hair, after immersing them chin-deep in basins of cold water. These penances were aimed at turning away God's wrath from the city, but "…Our Lord did not deign to hear the prayers or noise that was made in the city. For the stench of adultery, of disgusting extravagance and of sin against nature would not let their prayers rise to God."[citation needed]

At the end of September, Balian rode out with an envoy to meet with the sultan, offering the surrender that he initially refused. Saladin told him that he had took an oath to take the city by force and would only accept an unconditional surrender. He pointed out to him that his banner had been raised on the city wall. However his army was driven back. Balian then threatened Saladin that his army would destroy the city along with the holy places, slaughter their families and the Muslim slaves who numbered 5000 and burn all the wealth and treasures of the Crusaders. After lengthy negotiations, terms of surrender were agreed since Saladin wanted to take the city by as little bloodshed that he could. The Crusaders were to unconditionally surrender and could leave by paying a ransom of ten dinars for men, five for women and two for a child and those who couldn't pay would be enslaved. Balian then pointed out to him that there were 20,000 of those in the city who could never pay such a sum. Saladin was then willing to accept 100,000 dinars to free all the 20,000 Crusaders who were unable to pay. However Balian told him that the Christian authorities could never raise such an amount of money. It was then proposed that 7,000 of them would be freed for a sum of 30,000 dinars to which Saladin agreed.[6]

Surrender of Jerusalem[edit]

Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490.

On Balian's orders the Crusaders surrendered the city to Saladin's army on October 2. Coincedentally, the surrender of Jerusalem was on the same day when Muhammad had traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night and ascended to heaven (Isra and Mi'raj) in the year 621. The take-over of the city was peaceful especially in contrast to the Crusader siege of the city in 1099. Balian paid 30,000 dinars for freeing 7000 of those unable to pay from the treasury of the city. The large golden Christian cross that had been placed over the Dome of the Rock by the Crusaders was pulled down and all Muslim prisoners of war taken by the Crusaders were released by Saladin who according to the Kurdish scholar and historian Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad, numbered close to 3000. Saladin allowed many of the noble women of the city to leave without paying any ransom. For example, a Byzantine queen living a monastic life in the city was allowed to leave the city with her retinue and associates as also Sibylla, the queen of Jerusalem and wife of the captured King Guy. Saladin also granted her safe passage to visit her captive husband in Nablus. The Native Christians were allowed to remain in the city while those of Crusader origin were allowed to leave Jerusalem for other lands along with their goods through a safe passage via Akko by paying a ransom of 10 dinars. The wealthy including the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Heraclius left with treasure-laden wagons and relics from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Crusaders took the ornaments and treasures of their churches with them. The wealthy and the Crusaders didn't bother to ransom the poor who were unable to pay leaving them to be ransomed into slavery. Saladin's brother, Al-Adil was moved by the sight and asked Saladin 1000 of them as reward of his services. Saladin granted his wish and Al-Adil immediately released them all. Heraclius upon seeing this was delighted to find such a cheap way of doing good and asked Saladin for some slaves to liberate. He was granted 700 while Balian was granted 500 and all of them were freed by them. Steven Runciman reports that some of the Frankish ladies who had ransomed themselves asked Saladin where they should go for their husbands and fathers were killed or taken captive. He then promised to free their husband and gave money and gifts to the widows and orphans of men according to their estates from his personal treasury. All the aged people who could not pay the ransom were immediately freed by orders of Saladin and allowed to leave the city. He then proceeded to free 1000 more captives upon request of Muzaffar al-Din Ibn Ali Kuchuk who claimed they were from his hometown of Urfa. In order to control the departing population he ordered the gates of the city to be closed. At each gate of the city a commander was placed who checked the movement of the Crusaders and made sure only those who paid the ransom left the city. The grand masters of the Templars and Hospitallers were approached to donate money for the release of the poor Crusaders. However they refused and a riot almost erupted after which they were forced to donate the money. Saladin then assigned some of his officers the job to ensure safe arrival of the Crusaders in Christian lands. 15000 of those who could not pay the ransom were ransomed into slavery. According to Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani, 7000 of them were men and 8000 were women and children. Amazed by the amount of treasure carried away by the Crusaders, he reported to Saladin that the value of the whole treasure could not be less than 200,000 dinars.[7][8][9]

The ransomed inhabitants marched away in three columns; the Templars and Hospitallers led the first two, with Balian and the Patriarch leading the third. Balian joined his wife and family in County of Tripoli. Some of the refugees went first to the County of Tripoli, which was under Crusader control. They were denied entrance and robbed of their possessions. Others went on to Antioch, Cilicia, Byzantium and Egypt. Some boarded Italian ships heading for Europe.

Christian pilgrimages were allowed to Jerusalem. To solidify Muslim claims to Jerusalem, many holy sites, including the shrine later known as Al-Aqsa Mosque, were ritually purified with rose water. Christian furnishing were removed from the mosque and it was fitted with oriental carpets. Its walls were illuminated with text from Quran and candelabras. The Orthodox Christians and Jacobites were allowed to remain and to worship as they chose.

The Byzantine emperor, Isaac Angelus sent a message to Saladin congratulating him on taking the city, requesting him to convert all the churches in the city back to the Orthodox church and all Christian ceremonies to be performed according to the Greek Orthodox liturgy. His request was granted however the rights of other sects were preserved. The local Christians were allowed to pray freely in their churches and the control of Christian affairs was handed over to the Byzantine patriarchcity.

Saladin went on to capture a number of other castles that were still holding out against him, including Belvoir, Kerak, and Montreal, and returned to Tyre to besiege it for a second time.

Meanwhile, news of the disastrous defeat at Hattin was brought to Europe by Joscius, Archbishop of Tyre, as well as other pilgrims and travelers, while Saladin was conquering the rest of the kingdom throughout the summer of 1187. Plans were immediately made for a new crusade; on October 29, Pope Gregory VIII issued the bull Audita tremendi, even before hearing of the fall of Jerusalem. In England and France, the Saladin tithe was enacted in order to finance expenses. The Third Crusade did not get underway until 1189, in three separate contingents led by Richard the Lionheart, King of England, Philip Augustus, King of France, and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. London, 1984.
  • "Crusades." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/144695/Crusades>.
  • James A. Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary Survey. Marquette University Press, 1962.
  • Kenneth Setton, ed. A History of the Crusades, vol. I. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1958 (available online).
  • Peter W. Edbury, The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade: Sources in Translation. Ashgate, 1996.
  • P. M. Holt, The Age of the Crusades: The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517. Longman, 1986.
  • R. C. Smail, Crusading Warfare, 1097–1193. Cambridge University Press, 1956.
  • Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East, 1100–1187. Cambridge University Press, 1952.

Coordinates: 31°47′00″N 35°13′00″E / 31.7833°N 35.2167°E / 31.7833; 35.2167