St Symeon

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St Symeon (modern name Samandağ or Suadiye[1]) was the medieval port of Antioch, located on the mouth of the Orontes River.[2] It may be named after Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger, who dwelt on a mountain only six miles from St Symeon, or the original Saint Simeon Stylites, who was buried in Antioch. Seleucia Pieria had been the Roman port of Antioch, but silting and an earthquake had rendered it unusable. Control of St Symeon was important to the capture of Antioch by the Crusaders at the end of the eleventh century.

In November 1097, the Crusaders besieging Antioch were heartened by the appearance of reinforcements in a Genoese squadron at St Symeon, which they were then able to capture.[3] The besiegers were very short of food, and supplies from Cyprus to St Symeon were subject to frequent attack on the road from the port to the Crusader camp. On 4 March 1098 a fleet said to be commanded by the exiled claimant to the English throne, Edgar the Ætheling, sailed into St Symeon with siege materials from Constantinople. Another raid by the Turkish defenders of Antioch seized the materials from the Crusaders, but the Crusaders successfully counter-attacked, killing (it was said) as many as fifteen hundred Turks.[4]

At the start of the Crusader period St Symeon was only a local port, but in the second half of the twelfth century Nur ed-Din and later Saladin brought order to Moslem Syria, reviving its prosperity and opening it as a trade route to Iraq and the Far East. St Symeon shared in the prosperity as one of the ports used by the merchants of Aleppo until the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth century resulted in a movement of trade routes to the north. In 1268 a Mameluk army under Baibars captured St Symeon and then went on to destroy Antioch. The city and its port never recovered.[5]

St Symeon gives its name to a Crusader style of pottery.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades: Volume 1, The First Crusade, Cambridge University Press, 1951, p. 216
  2. ^ Tomas J. Rees, Antioch
  3. ^ Runciman, op. cit., p. 219
  4. ^ Runciman, op. cit., pp. 226-227. He stated that the fleet was commanded by Edgar, but Thomas Asbridge considered this unlikely, because in late 1097 he was still embroiled in a dispute over succession to the Scottish throne. Thomas Asbridge, The First Crusade, The Free Press, 2004, p. 188.
  5. ^ Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Volume 3, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades, Cambridge University Press, 1955, pp. 325-326, 354-355
  6. ^ Tasha Vordestrasse, The Iconography of the Wine Drinker in 'Port St Symeon' Ware from the Crusader Era, Eastern Christian Art, Vol 2, 2005, Abstract

Coordinates: 36°05′25″N 35°58′01″E / 36.0904°N 35.9669°E / 36.0904; 35.9669