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Zardana (Arabic: زردنا, also spelled Zerdana or Zirdana) is a village in northwestern Syria, administratively part of Idlib Governorate. The village lies in a relatively flat plain. Nearby localities include Taftanaz to the southeast, al-Fu'ah and Binnish to the south, Maarrat Misrin and Kafriya to the southwest, Kafr Yahmul to the west, Hizano to the northwest, Ibbin to the north, Kafr Nouran to the northeast and Maarra to the east. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) Zardana had a population of 5,767 in the 2004 census.
In the 12th century, during the Crusades, Zardana was a significant fortress town which changed hands several times between the Crusaders and various Muslim powers. In modern times, the residents of the village are mostly employed in the civil service or in agriculture, with the main crops being wheat, barley and olives. The cultivation of the latter is a relatively recent development. Zardana's total land area roughly consists of 2,000 hectares. The health center provides medical care for the residents of Zardana and the surrounding villages. Zardana contains two primary schools and two secondary schools.
In 1100 Zardana was briefly under the control of the Principality of Antioch, a Crusader state based in Antioch near the Mediterranean coast. In June of that year, Bohemond I of Antioch defeated the Muslim leader Ridwan of Aleppo with the help of Crusader forces based in Zardana. Zardana, which was a strategic fortress between Antioch and Aleppo, was apparently reoccupied by the Muslims soon after. However, in 1110, Tancred easily captured the town from the Muslims after the successful siege he laid against nearby Atarib. The two towns subsequently marked the eastern frontier of the Principality of Antioch. A few years later both towns suffered severe damage as a result of an earthquake. From the time of its conquest by the Crusaders, Robert fitz-Fulk, served as the lord of Zardana, and due to the town's strategic value, became a powerful figure in the Principality of Antioch.
In early August 1119, the combined Muslim forces of Il-ghazi, the Artukid ruler of Mardin, and Toghtekin, the Buyid ruler of Damascus, marched on Zardana after capturing Atarib. The Crusader garrison in the town put up resistance against Il-ghazi's army until surrendering on 12 August. The capture of Atarib and Zardana was a decisive Muslim victory, known as the "Field of Blood," and strengthened the defense of Aleppo. Robert was captured by the Muslim army as he approached Zardana and was later executed in Aleppo. Baldwin II of Jerusalem managed to capture Zardana from the Muslims in the early-1120s and by the time Bohemond II became ruler of Antioch in 1126. Baldwin's success was largely attributed to weakened Muslim control in the area as a result of political upheavals in Aleppo. Zardana was given to Robert's son, William fitz-Fulk.
The Muslim ruler of Aleppo, Aq Sunqur, led an unsuccessful attempt to recapture Zardana in the summer of 1125. The town was attacked by Sawar, an emir ("commander") of Zangi, the new Muslim ruler of Aleppo, during a plunder campaign against Crusader fortress towns between Antioch and Aleppo in 1133-34.
In the early-mid 20th-century Zardana's houses were constructed of mud brick and wood, unlike most of the villages in the vicinity. The inhabitants largely depended on cultivating wheat and barley and raising livestock. During the French Mandate period, a resident of Zardana attacked a French military vehicle, prompting a French army operation to search for weapons being stored in the village. During the operation, the western part of the village was burned down and several men were detained. Most were pardoned upon the orders of an outside unit commander, but two residents were made to be executed by firing squad. One was killed, while the other was pardoned as a result of the intervention of an elder from nearby Saraqib.
- Asbridge, p. 50.
- General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Idlib Governorate. (Arabic) Archived March 13, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- Asi, Ahmed. Zardana: The Village That Burned During the French Occupation. E-Idleb. E-Syria. 2009-04-27. (Arabic)
- Asbridge, p. 51.
- Asbridge, p. 65.
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- Asbridge, p. 159.
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- Asbridge, p. 87.
- Gibb, p. 992.
- le Strange, 1890, p. 555.
- Asbridge, Thomas S. (2000). The Creation of the Principality of Antioch 1098-1130. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85115-661-3.
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- le Strange, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17.