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Crusader states

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Map of the states of the eastern Mediterranean in 1135
Map of the eastern Mediterranean in 1135. The Frankish crusader states are indicated with a red cross . The Principality of Armenian Cilicia was under Armenian rule. The remnant of the Byzantine Empire is visible in the west; the Seljuk Empire and Fatimid Egypt are shown in green.

The Crusader states were four Roman Catholic polities created by the Crusaders as a result of the First Crusade.

In 1098 the armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem passed through Syria. The crusader Baldwin of Boulogne took the place of the Greek Orthodox ruler of Edessa after a Coup d'état and Bohemond of Taranto remained as the ruling prince in the captured Antioch. In 1099, Jerusalem was taken after a siege. Territorial consolidation followed including the taking of Tripoli. At the states' largest extent territory covered the coastal areas of southern modern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. These holdings later became known to historians by the term Outremer from the French phrase outre-mer or "the land beyond the sea". Edessa fell to a Turkish warlord in 1144, but the other realms endured into the 13th century before falling to the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Antioch was captured in 1268, Tripoli in 1289. When Acre, the capital of the rump kingdom of Jerusalem fell in 1291 the last territories were quickly lost with the survivors fleeing to Cyprus.

The study of the crusader states in their own right, as opposed to being a sub-topic of the Crusades, began in 19th century France as an analogy to the French colonial experience in the Levant. This was rejected by the 20th century historians where the consensus view was that the Franks, as the western European were known, lived as a minority society that was largely urban, isolated from the indigenous peoples, with separate legal and religious systems. The indigenous peoples were from Christian and Islamic traditions speaking Arabic, Greek and Syriac.

The crusader states were founded in the distant borderlands between the Byzantine and Seljuk Empires during a period when the regional polities were fragmented, the rulers were inexperienced, the Great Seljuk sultanate was both disinterested and declining. The confusion and division meant the Islamic world disregarded the world beyond; this made it vulnerable to, and surprised by, first contact with the Franks giving the Franks opportunities to consolidate.


The first encounters between Muslims and western European Christians occurred during the 8th-century Umayyad conquest of Hispania. Relationship between the two groups remained hostile along the common borders. The Franks' stubborn resistance to the Muslim invasion of Gaul astonished most Muslim observers, because the Christians of the Umayyad Caliphate had acquiesced in their status of dhimmi as second-class "protected" citizens.[1] European Christians regarded the regular Muslim raids as signs of the wrath of God, but did not express more animosity towards Muslim corsairs than towards Viking pirates or Magyar raiders.[2]


Early Muslim conquests
  Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
  Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632–661
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750

In the mid-11th century the Muslim world, or Dar al-Islam, included more than 10,000,000 km2 (3,900,000 sq mi) of land in southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It was a highly urbanised society, organised into regional networks of cities and interdependent villages. State administration followed the pre-Islamic concept of "Circle of Equity": a monarch could maintain good governance only with the support of the army and only good governance provide the economic basis of military expenditure. The military finance was through the iqta' system in which the ruler authorised the officers to collect taxes in the village, region or province assigned to them. As the ruler could withdrew this authorisation, the exploitation of the local population was not alien to iqta' holders. Foot soldiers, armed with spears, swords and bows, and lightly armoured mounted archers made up the bulk of Islamic armies. Most of the archers were ghilman or mamlukTurkic, European or African slaves who were mostly freed after conversion to Islam. For they had limited local connections, the Muslim rulers readily employed them as provincial governors or military commanders.[3] Religious fervour inspired thousands of Muslims to pursue the jihād—Islamic holy war—along the caliphate's borders as volunteers, known as ghazi or mujahidun.[4]

Debates over the succession to the Islamic prophet Muhammad led to splits in the ummah, or Islamic community. Most Muslims were Sunnis who accepted the caliphs' claim to lead the Muslim world. The first caliphs were elected by Muhammad's companions, but the title became hereditary, held by the Umayyads from 661 and by the Abbasids from 750. The Shi'ites maintained that only descendants of Muhammad's cousin Ali by Muhammad's daughter Fatimah could guide the Muslims as imams.[5][6] Competing claims to the imamate caused schism among the Shi'ites. The Isma'ili seceded from mainstream Twelver Shi'ites in the 7th century.[7][8] New Isma'ili groups arose in the 11th century—the Druze in the 1020s, and the Nizaris in the 1090s. The Nizaris established themselves in a remote Iranian fortress, Alamut, but were eager to gain a foothold in Syria. Unable to compete in military terms they created what was popularly known as the Order of Assassins to kill key opponents.[9][10]

The Caliphate was home to significant Christian communities, but these were disunited by centuries-old theological and political debates. The Orthodox Christians maintained ties with the state church of the Byzantine Empire—the greatest Christian power of the Levant. In contrast, in 431 the Nestorians split from the official church in response to the outcomes of the Council of Ephesus. Twenty years later the Armenians, Egyptian Copts and Syrian Jacobites broke away after the Council of Chalcedon. The Lebanese Maronites' early history is unknown, but they separated from the Byzantine church after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century.[11]

Map of Anatolia in 1097 prior to the Siege of Nicaea
Anatolia on the eve of the First Crusade (1097)

The Muslim world did not form a united polity.[8] Ambitious mamluk governors usurped power and established dynasties that lasted decades, ruling large territories independent of the Abbasid caliphate. Examples include the Tulunids and Ikhshidids in Egypt, and the Ghaznavids in Greater Khorasan. In the 10th century, the leaders of a militant Isma'ili faction, the Fatimids, assumed the title of caliph, conquering Egypt, western Arabia and parts of Syria. The Byzantines were the first to benefit from disunity in Dar al-Islam. In 969 they conquered Antioch—which had been under Muslim rule for more than three centuries—in Syria. When they annexed Greater Armenia, masses of Armenians opted for emigration, many to join the diaspora in Cilicia, rather than the rule of the Orthodox Byzantine emperors.[12]

The migration of nomadic Turkic tribes from the Central Asian steppes introduced a new dynamic in Near Eastern politics in the 1040s. Led by the Seljuk clan, they had converted to Sunni Islam and destroyed the Shi'ite Buyids' powerbase in Iraq and Iran. The Abbasid caliph rewarded their chief, Tughril, with the title of sultan and in 1055 Tughril assumed almost full control of the administration of the caliphate. The Seljuk Empire was not a unified polity with a single ruler, junior members held provinces as appanages and with the title malik, the Arabic for king. An institutional position of atabeg was adopted for the most powerful military commander in an appanage. In theory, the atabegs were the guardians of underage Seljuk princes but an ambitious atabeg could control the appanage even after the ward reached the age of majority.[13][14]

Westward Turkic migration and regular raiding into Byzantine territory continued. In 1071, Tughril's successor, Alp Arslan, defeated the Byzantines at Manzikert prompting the collapse of the Empire's defences and Byzantine civil war. Prolonged conflict in Iran and Syria prevented Alp Arslan and his son, Malik-Shah I, from invading Anatolia. A rebellious Seljuk prince, Suleiman ibn Qutulmish, took the opportunity and seized Byzantine territories in Anatolia where he established the Sultanate of Rum with its capital in Nicaea. Turkic chieftain Danishmend Gazi founded another border state in central Anatolia.[15][16] Suleiman ibn Qutulmish captured Antioch from the Byzantines, but died fighting Malik-Shah's brother, Tutush I. The Seljuks ended the Fatimids' rule in Syria, but could not fully control the territory. In this power vacuum, autonomous polities emerged, centered around major towns and headed by a Seljuk malik, a Turkic atabeg, an Arab chief or an Armenian warlord.[17]


Europe (c. 1100)

Visitors from the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world regarded Europe as backward region—a supplier of slaves, fur, timber and other raw materials. However, Latin Europe transformed and expanded stably from the 10th century. Moderate growth in population increased the demand for food and new land was brought into cultivation. New channels of trade and communication were developed with distant regions. Kings and aristocrats waged war for new territory in borderlands from Spain to Saxony. The clergy were eager to evangelise and peasants eager for achieve personal freedom and lower taxes as colonists in newly conquered lands. Norman adventurers seized Byzantine territories in southern Italy. They also captured Sicily that was once held by the Byzantines, taking advantage of power struggles between the local Muslim rulers. Levantine commerce intensified and Italian merchants benefitted of the lucrative business. Venice, Pisa and Genoa developed into maritime powers. The Byzantines depended on Venetian naval support and rewarded Venetian merchants with extensive trading privileges. The Pisans and Genoese jointly expelled the Muslims from Sardinia and they also sacked Mahdia in northern Africa.[18][19]

Medieval Catholic clerics likened an ideal society to human body, consisting of individual parts, each having their own functions within a strict hierarchy. Vassalage was an essential element of most Western European societies. Vassals committed themselves to provide military service to their lords in exchange for a grant of land or other stable source of revenue. The estates held in fief—in return for the vassals' allegiance—quickly transformed into hereditary property, establishing the economic foundation for a noble and knightly military caste. Central authority was weak and warfare constant.[20] Clerics claimed the highest status for their purported role in the salvation of the laity.[21] Salvation was a principal concern in the medieval mind and Christians made penitential journeys or pilgrimages to shrines in order to earn absolution of their sins. At the beginning of the 11th  century Byzantine reconquest of Crete and Cyprus combined with the Hungarians' conversion to Christianity opened safer routes to the Holy Land known from the New Testament as the venue of Jesus' life and crucifixion. The devoution of these Christians meant they were not discouraged by the hardships of the journey.[22][23][24]

In the mid-11th century, reformist clerics challenged secular influence in the church with the idea of libertas ecclesiae, or liberty of the Church. This movement emphasised the popes' position as the supreme leader of the church hierarchy.[24] Orthodox Christians disagreed, maintaining that the pope was only one of five patriarchs who led the universal church. Theological and political debate culminated in 1054 with the mutual excommunication of the other by the papal legate and the patriarch of Constantinople. However, the East–West Schism did not fully end communion between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.[25] The popes needed military power if they were to enforce supreme authority. The dependence on the secular underpined the ideology of Christian holy war as the popes began granting spiritual rewards to their supporters.[22]

First Crusade[edit]

From Late Antiquity the Byzantine army utilised mercenaries. Traditionally these were hired Turkic and western European troops, but conflict with the neighbouring Turkic peoples increased the importance of the use of European soldiery. Emperor Alexios I Komnenos appealed to Pope Urban II, seeking his support in raising troops to fight against the Turks. On 27 November 1095 at the Council of Clermont, the Pope responded with a proclamation of the First Crusade, offering absolution of the participants' sins.[26][27] The enterprise was probably modelled on a pilgrimage with Urban's speech addressing the poor as well as knights.[28] This prompted a ground-swell of popular enthusiasm among poor Christians leading to what is known as the People's Crusade. These crusaders were ambushed by the Turks and annihilated at Civetot in October 1096. They were followed by feudal armies under the command of western European nobles: Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse; Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine; Robert, Duke of Normandy; Robert II, Count of Flanders; Stephen, Count of Blois; Hugh, Count of Vermandois and Bohemond, Prince of Taranto.[29]

Some of the crusader leaders obviously departed with an intention of establishing their own holdings in the Levant. Godfrey had distributed his Lotharingian patrimony. The Norman Bohemond who ruled a small southern Italian principality could achieve a higher status through conquest.[30] Alexios welcomed cautiously the crusader leaders to Constantinople extracting promises from them to return to him recovered Byzantine territory. With the Byzantines Nicea was recaptured and in July 1097 the crusade was victorious over a united Seljuk and Danishmendid army in the Battle of Dorylaeum.[31][32]



The Byzantine commander Tatikios guided the crusade south through Anatolia after victory at Dorylaeum opened the path to Antioch. This large city controlled the road south to Jerusalem. The crusaders common purpose did not hide competition between leaders such as Bohemond's nephew, Tancred, and Godfrey's brother, Baldwin. They expelled Turkic garrisons from Cilician towns, before quarrelling over who would retain them. This led to armed conflict between the two sets of retainers. Antioch's governor Yağısıyan expelled all Christian men from the city and approached the Muslim rulers of Syria and Iraq for support. In October 1097 Baldwin left the crusade for the area on the west bank of the Euphrates, probably to join one side of an Armenian feud. The Armenians of two small northern Syrian towns, Turbessel and Rawandan, took advantage of his advance to expel the Turkish garrisons. The main army reached Antioch and with native Christian allies captured nearby fortifications. An English fleet secured the possession of the port of Saint Symeon. In February 1098 Tatikios left the crusade. The Franks defeated an army led by Ridwan of Aleppo.[33][34][35]

Thoros ruled Edessa, a Christian city that in terms of size and wealth matched Aleppo and Antioch. He hoped to hire Baldwin and his men as mercenaries and asked Baldwin for military support. Thoros's intention was to use them against the Turks and likely also against his Christian subjects in a city wracked with factional conflict. Matthew of Edessa reported that the Edessan population received Baldwin with enthusiasm. The local Armenian and Jacobite Christians regarded the Orthodox Thoros as a Byzantine representative and rebelled against him. In March 1098 and a month after Baldwin's arrival, a Christian mob killed Thoros. The mob accredited Baldwin with the Byzantine title used by Thoros, doux. Baldwin's position was personal rather than instituitional and the Armenian governance of the city remained in place. From an Edessan perspective this was replacing one strongman with vague Byzantine relationships with a similar one. Baldwin's territory consisted of small pockets surrounded by Turkish and Armenian warlords. The city of Edessa probably provided him a substantial income through its status as an important trading centre. The Euphrates river as well as the Armenian lords Abu'l-Garib and Kogh Vasil separated Edessa from Baldwin's other holdings in the nascent County of Edessa, Turbessel, Rawandan and Samosata.[36][37]

A miniature depicting archers on the walls of a town and a crowned man in a tower besieging the town
Godfrey of Bouillon during the siege of Jerusalem (from the 14th-century Roman de Godefroi de Bouillon)

Stephen of Blois deserted the crusade at Antioch, and while returning to Europe told Emperor Alexios its defeat was imminent. In response to what he had been told, Alexios withdrew to the west rather than join the siege. Some crusaders, most notably Bohemond, claimed this and Tatikios departure were treacherous acts that freed them from their sworn oaths to the Byzantines. On 2 June, an Armenian commander helped Bohemond enter Antioch, taking the city but not the citadel. Hours later Kerbogha arrived, too late to save the city and the atabeg of Mosul besieged the crusaders. On 28 June the Franks destroyed Kerbogha's army, overcame the mujahidun who had assembled at the walls of Antioch and the citadel surrendered.[38][39] The crusaders remained in the region for months, capturing Syrian towns such as Bara and Ma'arra. The local Muslims were terrified by the resultant massacre of thousands of people. The Muslim Banu Munqidh family, rulers of Shaizar, resupplied the Franks and provided safe passage to avoid being invaded.[40][41] The delay leaving northern Syria outraged the common pilgrims who announced their determination to fight for Jerusalem with or without noble leadership. This left the leadership no other choice than to proceed. Bohemond's acquisition of Antioch was unsuccessfully challenged by Raymond challenged but the crusade leadership confirmed his possession. In early 1099, he and Baldwin lingered in their new domains when the crusade eventually departed for Jerusalem.[42]

The crusaders marched along the Mediterranean coast to Jerusalem. The Fatimids had regained the city from the Seljuks in the second destructive siege the city had suffered in recent decades less than a year before.[43] On 15 July 1099 the city was taken after a short siege barely longer than a month. Thousands of Muslims and Jews were killed and the survivors were sold into slavery. Proposals to govern the city as an ecclesiastical state were rejected. Raymond refused the royal title claiming only Christ could wear a crown in Jerusalem. This may have been a ruse to dissuade his popular rival Godfrey from assuming the throne, but cleverly Godfrey adopted the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, that is Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre, when he was proclaimed the first Frankish ruler of Jerusalem.[44][45] In Western Europe at that time an advocate, or advocatus, was a layman responsible for the protection and administration of Church estates.[46]

The establishment of the crusader states did not represent a radical change in the Levantine power structure.[47] Canon law allowed Christians to conclude treaties with Muslims and they were quickly integrated into the Levantine politics.[48] The Franks, Armenians and Turks were also led by equestrian warrior aristocrats.[49] The crusader leaders perceived the similarities between their and their Turkic peers' moral and legal ideas. The early chronicle of the First Crusade called Gesta Francorum asserted that the Turks had descended from the Franks, claiming chivalric virtues were reserved to these two peoples alone.[50] The Armenians eagerly adopted European customs and theological debates did not prevent marriage alliances between Franks and Armenians.[51]

Consolidation (1099 to 1126)[edit]

In Egypt power rested with the chief minister or vizier, Al-Afdal Shahanshah. Godfrey defeated the counterattack he organised at Ascalon.[52] Godfrey's authority was challenged by Tancred and papal legate Daimbert of Pisa. Tancred seized Galilee and besieged Haifa. Daimbert was elected the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, extracting oaths of fealty from Godfrey and Bohemond. When Godfrey died, his followers enabled the succession of his brother Baldwin of Boulogne, preventing Daimbert or Tancred from seizing Jerusalem. Before leaving Edessa to assert his claim to Jerusalem, Baldwin ceded the county to his cousin, Baldwin of Bourcq. On Christmas Day 1100, Baldwin of Boulogne was crowned king of Jerusalem in Bethlehem. In March Bohemond was captured by the Danishmendids and Tancred went to Antioch to act as regent.[53]

Raymond laid the foundation of the fourth crusader state, the County of Tripoli between Antioch and Jerusalem before he died in 1105. He captured Tartus, Gibelet and besieged to Tripoli. The siege was continued by his cousin William II Jordan. In 1109, it was completed when Raymond's son Bertrand arrived to claim his domain. Baldwin I brokered a deal sharing the territory between Bertrand and William Jordan until William Jordan's sudden death enabled Bertrand to unite the county. The unification reduced Antioch's influence in favour of Jerusalem. William Jordan had been Tancred's vassal, but Bertrand acknowledged King Baldwin I's suzerainty.[54]

The Franks took advantage of fragmented Muslim politics to consolidate their position.[55] The Syrian Sunnis approached the Seljuk sultan, Barkiyaruq, for assistance in 1097 or 1098, but he was engaged in a power struggle with his brother Muhammad Tapar.[56][57] The Damascene jurist Ali ibn Tahir al-Sulami was most likely the first scholar to call for the jihād against the crusaders. In his Book of Holy War, he introduced the First Crusade in the wider context of Frankish expansion and reminded his co-religionists that disunity had enabled the Franks to seize territories in Spain, Sicily and the Levant.[58] The fall of Tripoli was the earliest shock inducing Sultan Muhammad to mobilize the armies of his empire's western provinces against the invaders.[59] The crusader states, or Outremer ("land beyond the sea")[citation needed], took a special position among the countries on the fringes of Latin Christendom. Their rulers' role in protecting the Holy Land legitimised requests for military assistance from the European kings and popes. So, the First Crusade was followed by similar expeditions. The Crusade of 1101 was destroyed at Merzifon by an alliance of Turkish princes. Few crusaders survived the massacre and reached Syria and Palestine. Crusades could cause serious problems in the Outremer, their leadership did not always pay due regard to the opinions of Frankish rulers. The vast majority of the armed pilgrims quickly returned to their homeland, but their temporary presence could destroy lasting alliances between Frankish and Muslim rulers.[60][53]

A photograph of the ruins of a large stone castle built on a hill
Montréal—a castle built by Baldwin I to control the movement of caravans in the lands over the Jordan River

The Fatimid Caliphate repeatedly invaded the new kingdom of Jerusalem in 1101, 1102 and 1105, on the last occasion in alliance with the Sunni Damascene atabeg Toghtekin. These invasions were repulsed by Baldwin I and he conquered the towns on the Palestinian coast with the support of Genoese, Venetian and Norwegian fleets. Only Tyre and Ascalon remained in Muslim hands. The Franks dominated the caravan route between Syria and Egypt through building castles in Oultrejordain.[61] Control of Antioch remained contested between the Byzantine Emperors and Bohemond I. In 1108, Bohemond launched a failed campaign against the Byzantine Empire from his Italian territory. The Byzantines and their Venetian allies forced Bohemond to accept the terms of the Treaty of Devol in which he acknowledged Byzantine suzerainty over the principality. Tancred who acted as regent in Antioch during Bohemond's absence rejected these terms.[62] Edessa was threatened by the Seljuk invasions to the east while both Bohemond and Tancred claimed suzerainty.[63] Unexpected coalitions were formed, such as in 1108 when the alliance between Tancred and Ridwan defeated Jawali and Baldwin in Turbessel. This resulted from Tancred's conflict with Baldwin of Bourcq, then Count of Edessa, and Ridwan of Aleppo's suspicion of the new atabeg of Mosul, Jawali Saqawa.[64] In 1112 Tancred died and his nephew, Roger of Salerno, assumed the regency of Antioch on behalf of Bohemond II of Antioch. Roger extracted tribute from Aleppo which was weakened by Ridwan's death and a resulting power vacuum.[65] Edessa rivalled Mosul in northern Mesopotamia and Jawali's successor Mawdud launched a series of attack on the town.[66] Mawdud's campaigns caused much destruction and Turbessel replaced the impoverished Edessa as the counts' preferred seat.[67]

Baldwin of Bourcq succeeded Baldwin I in Jerusalem in 1118. He ceded Edessa to Joscelin of Courtenay. Baldwin II remained involved in the defence of the Syrian crusader states, but the resulting repeated absences caused antagonism with the Jerusalemite nobility.[68][69] In 1119 the Artuqid Turk defeated and killed Roger at the Battle of Ager Sanguinis on the plain that became known as the "Field of Blood". Antioch survived, but only due to Baldwin II's prompt intervention. From then on, Antioch's frontiers were defended by Jerusalemite assistance.[70][71] In 1123, when Baldwin II was kidnapped in north Syria for sixteen months a group of barons attempted to depose him and offered the throne to the Flemish count, Charles the Good. Charles declined, and in 1125 the freed Baldwin II returned.[72] Bertrand's son, Pons stabilised Tripoli's position He enhanced relationships with Antioch by marrying Tancred's widow, Cecile of France.[73] Baldwin II enforced suzerainty despite Pons challenge.[74] In the 1120s the crusader states were effectively united under Baldwin II. Pons of Tripoli and Joscelin I of Edessa were his vassals and he was the regent in Antioch during the minority of Bohemond II. Baldwin II besieged Aleppo but instead in 1125 the city surrendered to Aqsunqur al-Bursuqi, the atabeg of Mosul. In 1126 Al-Bursuqi was assassinated, most likely by Nizari, weakening the union of Mosul and Aleppo.[75]

Opposition of Zengi, Nur ad-Din and Saladin (1127 to 1187)[edit]

In 1127, Seljuk sultan Mahmud appointed Imad al-Din Zengi Mosul's atabeg. The next year Zengi extended his rule to Aleppo. The Burid dynasty of Damascus were Zengi's principal Muslim rivals in Syria. Toghtekin tolerated a Nizari presence, but they were suppressed by the Damascenes after his death. Those that survived fled to the Nusayriyah Mountains and established a new base in the region.[76] Baldwin II had four daughters but no male heir. In 1126, Bohemond II of Antioch reached the age of majority and married Baldwin II's second daughter, Alice. Baldwin's heiress was his eldest daughter Melisende. Baldwin II married her to Count Fulk of Anjou. Jerusalem raised an imposing force for an offensive on Damascus including the leaders of the other crusader states; Bohemond II, Pons and Joscelin I. Fulk provided a significant Angevin contingent and the Templars had recruited forces in Europe. The campaign was abandoned after Atabeg Taj al-Muluk Buri destroyed the Franks foraging parties and bad weather made the roads impassable.[77] In 1130 Bohemond II was killed raiding in Cilicia. Baldwin was forced to Antioch, where he assumed the regency when Alice sought Zengi's help in taking control on behalf of her and Bohemond's daughter Constance.[78][79]

In 1131, Baldwin named Fulk, Melisende and their infant son, Baldwin as his co-heirs on his deathbed. Fulk ignored his father-in-law's will, attempting to rule independently. Between 1130 and 1135, Alice made repeated attempts to gain independent power in Antioch, including an alliance with Pons of Tripoli and the new Count of Edessa, Joscelin II. Fulk defeated Pons in a fierce battle and asserted control.[80] Melisende's kinsman, Hugh II of Jaffa was also unsuccessful resisting Fulk when he revolted. In 1136, Alice's struggle for power was ended when the anti-Byzantine Antiochene nobility asked Fulk to propose a husband for Constance and he selected Raymond of Poitiers. In response, John II Komnenos reasserted Byzantine claims of suzerainty in Cilicia and Antioch. He invaded Cilicia, expelled Antiochene and Armenian garrisons from Cilician towns, besieged Antioch and forced Raymond to become his vassal. Raymond promised that he would surrender Antioch in return for Aleppo and Shaizar when they were captured, but this was never achieved.[81][82][83] Zengi rarely intervened Frankish conflicts, but there were regular Turkic raiding against Tripoli and Edessa.[84] In 1137, Tripoli lost its eastern territories to Damascus, Pons was killed and Raymond II captured by Zengi.[85][86] The effective ruler of Damascus, Mu'in ad-Din Unur, sought Fulk's protection from Zengi and agreed payment of a tribute.[87] Fulk built new frontier castles at Ibelin, Blanche Garde and Kerak during a period of peace.[88][89]

Miniature depicting two crowned young men arriving at the walls of a city accompanied by soldiers and bishops, a crowned woman and man receiving the visitors
Kings Louis VIII and Conrad III meet with Queen Melisende and King Baldwin III at Acre during the Second Crusade from a 13th-century codex

In 1143 both the Emperor and Fulk died and the focus of the new Byzantine Emperor, Manuel I moved to other theatres: internal Byzantine conflict, in 1146 the passage through the Empire of the Second Crusade and war with the Normans in Sicily between 1146 and 1157.[90] Zengi and the Turkic Artuqids competed for control of northern Mesopotamia. Joscelin allied with the Artuqids, provoking Zengi's march to Edessa. On 24 December 1144 he captured the poorly defended town and then conquered the county west of the Euphrates.[91] In response, Pope Eugenius III declared another crusade in late 1145.[92]

In September 1146 Zengi was assassinated by his mamluk retainers or one of his Frankish slaves. His first son, Sayf al-Din Ghazi I, succeeded in Mosul, and his second, Nur ad-Din, in Aleppo.[93] Joscelin unsuccessfuly attacked Edessa and Nur ad-Din destroyed the town.[94] From then on, a military campaign for Edessa was futile. Louis VIII of France did not recognise the Byzantine claim to Antioch and rejected Raymond's proposal to attack Aleppo and Shaizar. In June 1148 the French, Germans, Melisende and Baldwin III agreed an attack on Damascus at a conference in Acre. This was a failure and the crusade undertook no further military action.[95] The action brought temporary rapprochement between Damascus and Nur ad-Din. In 1149 there was a new Burid ruler, Mujir ad-Din Abaq, who revived the Damascene–Jerusalemite partnership.[96] Raymond of Antioch was killed fighting Nur ad-Din at Inab. The next year Joscelin was captured. Beatrice of Saone, his wife, sold the remains of the County of Edessa to the Byzantines. In 1150, Joscelin was captured, blinded and died in captivity. Next year, Baldwin III and Melisende's disagreements led to armed conflict and her abdication. This prevented him providing effective support to the Syrian crusader states. In 1153, he captured Ascalon and also sanctioned the marriage of Constance and Raynald of Châtillon during the siege.[97][98]

Mujir ad-Din Abaq's willingness to free Frankish slaves and to pay the tribute to Jerusalem outraged the Damascene, enabling Nur ad-Din to capture Damascus without resistance in 1154. He rejected an anti-Frankish alliance proposed by Tala'i ibn Ruzzik, Egypt's vizier, and continued to pay the tribute to the Franks.[99] Reynald was acutely short of money. When the Emperor delayed promised payment for the suppression of raiding by the Armenian Thoros II he launched a piratical attack on Byzantine Cyprus. The arrival of Thierry, Count of Flanders provided the military strength for a new campaign. Thierry, Baldwin, Raynald and the young Count of Tripoli, Raymond III attacked Shaizar. After initial success Baldwin granted the city to Thierry. Raynald demanded that Thierry give him homage for it, but Thierry refused and the siege was abandoned. Baldwin married Manuel's niece, Theodora. In 1158 Manuel invaded Cilicia and Antioch to reassert this authority. Reynald begged the Emperor for forgiveness and became his vassal.[100]

In 1162 Shawar, captured and executed Tala'i ibn Ruzzik's son and successor, Ruzzik ibn Tala'i. The following year Dirgham forced Shawar into exile. Amalric invaded Egypt when Dirgham refused to pay tribute, but was forced to retreat when the Egyptians flooded the Nile Delta. Shawar fled to Damascus and sought Nur ad-Din's support. Nur ad-Din sent the Kurdish general Shirkuh with Shawar to Egypt. In 1164, he captured Cairo and Shawar was restored as vizier. Shawar approached Amalric for military assistance when he was unable to repay Nur ad-Din. For years both Shirkuh and Amalric repeatedly invaded Egypt but avoided direct confrontation.[101][102] In October 1168, Amalric assaulted Cairo. Shirkuh hurried to Egypt to answer an appeal for support from caliph Al-Adid. In January Amalric withdrew, Shawar was murdered, possibly by Saladin and a mamluk emir or alternatively through their political manoeuvring that forced Shirkuh to execute him. Al-Adid made Shirkuh vizier.[103] Within months, Saladin succeeded his dead uncle Shirkuh. in December, an invasion by Amalric with Byzantine naval support was abandoned at Damietta when the attackers ran out of provisions.[104] Nur al-Din demanded that Saladin brought Egypt into Abbasid Caliphate by removing of the Shi’ite Fatimids. Saladin was helped in this by the death through illness of al-Adid. A week later, the Fatimid regime was ended and the Friday khutbah was proclaimed in the name of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mustadi without dissent.[103] The Ayyubid family determined to resist any attempts by Nur ad-Din to assert authority in Egypt, but to adopt a conciliatory public tone. In March 1171, Amalric undertook a surprising visit to Manuel in Constantinople. His aim was that in the absence of support from the west he would get Byzantine military support for an attack on Egypt. In return, John Kinnamos reports he agreed to "his subjection" to the Romans.[105]

In 1174 Nur ad-Din and Amalric both died. Nur ad-Din left an eleven year old son, As-Salih Ismail al-Malik. As-Salih moved from Damascus to Aleppo and the city surrendered to Saladin without resistance. Saladin's determination to reunite Nur ad-Din's empire led to twelve years of warfare with the Zengid rulers of Syria and Iraq. Amalric's 13-year-old son, Baldwin IV was a leper and expected to die young. He became king and Miles of Plancy took control of the government. He was Seneschal of Jerusalem, lord of Transjordan through marriage to Stephanie of Milly and as a member of the Montlhéry family related to Baldwin II and his descendants. Raymond III of Tripoli appealed to the high court on the grounds he was Baldwin's closest relative and was granted the role of bailli and the rule of the kingdom. He married the richest heiress of the kingdom, Eschiva of Bures giving him Galilee and making him the most powerful of the barons.[106]

In 1176, Sybilla was married to William of Montferrat. Sybylla was Baldwin's heir. William was the cousin of both Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Louis VII of France. Baldwin reached the age of majority and revisted his father’s plans for a Byzantine alliance and a joint invasion of Egypt. In September 1177, Fulk's grandson, Philip I, Count of Flanders arrived in the Holy Land with a large force of Flemish crusaders. In September, a senior embassy from the Byzantine Emperor, led by the Sicilian Alexander of Gravina arrived in the kingdom. He brought with him a fleet of seventy galleys plus support ships. Phillip wanted to remain free to return to Flanders and rejected an attack on Egypt. Instead he joined with Tripoli and Antioch in unsuccessful attacks on Hama and Harim. Phillip suspected if an attack on Egypt failed he would be blamed but if it succeeded Baldwin or the Byzantines would take the spoils. In November, with most of the Frankish forces in North, Saladin invaded from the South, but was defeated by Baldwin at Montgisard.[107] William of Montferrat's death re-opened negotiations about Sybilla's marriage and animosity between Baldwin's paternal and maternal relatives grew. Raymond III of Tripoli and Bohemond III of Antioch rode to Jerusalem unexpectedly on Easter 1180. Fearing of a coup, Baldwin panicked and married off Sybilla to Guy of Lusignan (who was his Angevin relatives' vassal) and banned Raymond from the kingdom. Baldwin and Saladin signed a two-year truce, but Baldwin's recalcitrant vassal, Raynald of Châtillon, ignored it. Raynald had spent 16 years in Muslim captivity and married Stephanie of Milly, the heiress of Oultrejordain, after his release. He ambushed an Egyptian caravan and refused to pay compensation. In 1183, he built a fleet and pillaged the northern ports of the Red Sea, threatening Muslim pilgrims in the Hejaz.[108][109]

A drawing depicting mounted warriors fughting each other
Saladin and King Guy in the Battle of Hattin (from a 13th-century manuscript of Matthew Paris's chronicle)

In the summer of 1183, Saladin invaded Galilee. Guy assembled the field army and Saladin had to withdraw, but prominent Jerusalemite barons—the Ibelins and Reginald of Sidon—were unwilling to cooperate with Guy. The leper King lost confidence in his brother-in-law and had Guy's 5-year-old stepson, Baldwin V, crowned king as his co-ruler and heir. Before he died in 1185, Baldwin IV appointed Raymond as regent, and his maternal uncle, Joscelin of Courtenay, as the child king's guardian. The King also decreed that in case of his successor's premature dead, the pope, the Holy Roman Emperor and the kings of France and England were to decide whether Sybill or her half-sister, Isabella, had stronger claim to the throne. Baldwin's last will displays that power struggles between the baronial fractions had reached a stalemate and the dying King distrust his relatives. Baldwin V died a year later. Sybilla's supporters seized the capital, but Raymond staged a plot in favor of Isabella and her husband, Humphrey IV of Toron. Sybilla was crowned queen and she made Guy her co-ruler. Humphrey hurried to Jerusalem and swore fealty to them. After his desertion, only Raymond and Baldwin of Ibelin refused to pay homage to Sybilla and Guy. Raymond sought Saladin's assistance against Guy and admitted Saladin's troops to Tiberias.[110][111] Saladin took the opportunity presented by this strife. He seized Aleppo and three years later forced Izz al-Din Mas'ud, Zengid ruler of Mosul, into fealty. The Byzantine Empire had weakened and Emperor Manuel's successors were unwilling to wage war for the crusader states.[112][113] Ruben III who had succeeded Thoros in Cilicia quickly defeated his pro-Byzantine Armenian rival, Hetoum of Lampron. Bohemond III repudiated his Byzantine wife, Theodora, and married a noble woman, Sybilla. Ruben gave asylum to the Antiochene aristocrats who opposed Bohemond's new marriage. Bohemond captured Ruben and released him only for the transfer of Cilician towns, but the Armenians recaptured them with ease.[114][115]

The Franks appealed to the European rulers for protection, but no substantial support arrived. The crusaders who came to Palestine could not attack Saladin's realm after a two-year truce was signed in 1186. Raynald of Châtillon was the sole Frankish aristocrat to pursue an offensive policy. His assault on a caravan broke the truce and Saladin invaded the kingdom in 1187. Public indignation at Raymond's alliance with Saladin forced him to expel Saladin's troops from Tiberias. He marched to Saffuriya where the Jerusalemite troops were assembling. Reinforcements came also from Tripoli and Antioch. After Saladin laid siege to Tiberias, King Guy adopted Raynald's offensive tactic, ignoring Raymond's warnings. The Franks crossed the arid Galilean plain and the long march exhausted them. Saladin's troops surrounded and routed them at the Hattin. Raymond fled from the battlefield; Guy and other Frankish commanders surrendered on 4 July 1187. Raynald and the warrior monks of the military orders were executed, but Saladin spared the captives' lives.[116][117]

After the destruction of the kingdom's field army, Saladin continued the invasion with ease. He occupied almost the entire kingdom in two months. Jerusalem surrendered on 2 October 1187. Tyre was the only town to resist successfully. Its defence was commanded by William of Montferrat's brother, Conrad. He had arrived at the town days after the Battle of Hattin. Genoese merchants were the first to spread the news about the fall of Jerusalem in Europe. Conrad sent Joscius, Archbishop of Tyre to Europe to call for a new crusade.[118][119] Raymond died late in 1187. He willed Tripoli to Bohemond's eldest son and heir, Raymond (who was his godson), but Bohemond appointed his younger son, also called Bohemond, to assume power in Tripoli. Saladin's troops invaded both crusader states in the spring of 1188. They seized most places. Only the two capitals, Antioch and Tripoli, and the fortresses of Margat and Krak des Chevaliers could resist the siege.[120]

Third Crusade[edit]

map of The crusader states after Saladin's conquests and before the Third Crusade, around 1190 CE
The crusader states after Saladin's conquests and before the Third Crusade, around 1190 CE

In October 1187 Pope Gregory VIII called for a new crusade. King William II of Sicily dispatched a fleet of 50 ships supporting the Franks of Tyre, Tripoli and Antioch. Within months, Frisian, Danish, Flemish, Breton and Italian crusaders sailed for the Holy Land. In June 1190, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa drowned on route in Cilicia's Saleph River. His son, Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia, was only able to hold fragments of the German army together when many Germans abandoned the crusade.[121][122] Guy of Lusignan was released by Saladin and reunited with his wife in Tripoli. Conrad of Montferrat contested Guy's kingship and denied him access to Tyre. On 26 August 1189, Guy besieged Acre with army of recently arrived crusaders and a Pisan fleet. Saladin recalled the troops he had sent to complete the conquest of Antioch and Tripoli. Both parties avoided a field battle and stalemate ensued. Almohad caliph, Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur refused Saladin naval support. During the siege, Guy's wife Queen Sybilla and daughters died. In October 1190 Frederick, in April 1191 Philip II of France and two months later Richard I of England arrived. On 12 July Acre's garrison surrendered the city to the crusaders. The conflict between Guy and Conrad now resumed. Guy had ruled by the right of his now dead wife. Conrad had married Isabella, Sybilla's half-sister and heiress, even though Isabella's marriage with Humphrey of Toron had been dubiously annulled and his first wife was still alive.[123][124]

Conrad was supported by Philip and most of the Jerusalemite baronage, Guy by Richard. An unstable compromise was agreed. Guy remained king for life but the lands and revenues were divided between the two men. Conrad, Isabella and their descedants were also confirmed as Guy's heirs. This collapsed when Conrad threatened an alliance with Saladin. Richard was forced to accept Conrad's kingship, with Gut compensated with the purchase of Cyprus. On the 28 April, Conrad was assassinated and Isabella rapidly remarried to a new king-consort Henry, Count of Champagne. Philip and most of the French army left for Europe. Led by Richard the crusade defeated Saladin at Arsuf and captured Jaffa, Ascalon and Darum. Richard was in ill-health and his lands in England were threatened. Saladin's support and finances were exhausted. On 2 September 1192 it suited both men to agree a three-year truce. The coastal towns from Jaffa to Tyre remained in Frankish possession and Christian pilgrims were allowed to visit the Holy Sepulchre. On 9 October, Richard left the Holy Land.[125]


The Third Crusade assured the survival of the crusader states. The Franks lost most rural land, but their hold of the recaptured coastal towns was secure. Noblemen who had lost their estates in the mainland received land grants in Cyprus from the island's first Frankish rulers, Guy of Lusignan and his brother, Aimery.[126] In 1193, Saladin died and the ensuing power struggle between his kinsmen, the Ayyubids, hindered new Muslim invasions of the Outremer.[127] In fact, the Ayyubids were ready to make territorial concessions to the Franks to avoid armed conflicts and renew truces. They also enhanced trade contacts with the Italian city-states.[128] Armenian Cilicia emerged as a regional power during the reign of Ruben's brother, Leo. His relationship with Bohemond III of Antioch had grown tense, especially after Bohemond failed to repay a loan to him. In 1191, Leo seized Bagras, an Antiochene fortress that the Knights Templar had lost to Saladin. As Bohemond supported the Knights' claim to Bagras, Leo ambushed him in 1194. Many Antiochene nobles were eager to surrender Antioch to Leo, but the Greek and Frankish townspeople resisted. They set up a commune and swore fealty to Bohemond's son, Raymond. Raymond's younger brother, Bohemond led reinforcements from Tripoli to the city and Henry of Champagne hurried to Cilicia to mediate a reconciliation. Bohemond III abandoned his claim to suzerainty over Cilicia and also renounced Bagras in return for his release. To seal the reconciliation between the two Christian states, Raymond married Leo's niece, Alice, who was presumed to succeed Leo in Cilicia.[129][130]

An old photograph of the ruins of a large stone building
Ruins of the cathedral in Tyre—Queen Mary of Jerusalem and John of Brienne were crowned here in 1210 (a photo taken by Johann Nepomuk Sepp, published in 1879)

Barbarossa's son and successor, Emperor Henry VI took the cross in 1195. Henry had seized the Kingdom of Sicily and the crusade was an opportunity to demonstrate his power. Aimery of Cyprus and Leo of Cilicia offered fealty to him, both in return for his grant of a royal crown.[131] Raymond predeceased his father in Antioch. The Antiochene barons acknowledged his posthumous son, Raymond-Roupen, as Bohemond III's heir, but the townspeople feared that the child's Cilician relatives could assume power in his name.[132] The first German crusaders landed at Acre in the summer of 1197. Their incautious military actions caused much trouble to Henry of Champagne, but he died falling out the window of the royal palace in Acre in September.[133] The same month Emperor Henry also died unexpectedly in Sicily, but news of his death did not reach the Outremer for months. In the meantime the Germans and the Franks captured Beirut and Sidon and Bohemond III seized two defenseless towns, Lattakia and Jubail.[134] In January 1198, the widowed Queen Isabella married Aimery of Cyprus, but he made no attempt to forge a lasting union between the two kingdoms. On learning of the Emperor's fate, the Germans abandoned the crusade and King Aimery quickly signed a three-year truce with Saladin's brother, Al-Adil I, in July.[135][136] Next month the newly elected Pope Innocent III called for a new crusade, conventionally known as the Fourth Crusade, but preparations advanced slowly.[137]

Bohemond III died in 1201. His son, Bohemond IV seized Antioch, but King Leo of Cilicia was eager to assert Raymond-Roupen's claim to the principality by force.[132][138] During the following years, Leo mounted a series of attacks against Antioch, but Bohemond always repulsed him, mainly with support from Saladin's son, Az-Zahir Ghazi of Aleppo.[139][140] Az-Zahir was Saladin's only son still resisting Al-Adil who had re-united Egypt and Damascus.[141] In spring 1202, the leaders of the Fourth Crusade concluded a treaty with the Venetians, specifying Egypt as their principal target and Venice as the crusaders' main port of departure. Significant crusader groups ignored the treaty and departed for the Holy Land from other ports.[142] French crusaders who reached Syria participated in individual campaigns: some of them supported the Knights Hospitaller against the Ayyubid ruler of Homs, others made raids against the Egyptian port of Damietta.[143] The main crusader army never reached Egypt. In April 1204, the crusaders captured and sacked Constantinople and their commanders elected Baldwin of Flanders emperor. The Franks regarded the Latin Empire of Constantinople as the lawful successor of the Byzantine Empire and Bohemond IV acknowledged Emperor Baldwin's suzerainty over Antioch. However, the new rulers of Constantinople could never support the Franks of the Outremer.[144][145]

Al-Adil signed a six-year truce with Aimery in September 1204, ceding Lydda, Ramla, and Jaffa to the Franks. Next year, Aimery died, and Isabella did not long survive. Her underage daughter by Conrad, Maria of Montferrat, succeeded her and Isabella's half-brother, John of Ibelin, assumed the regency for the underage Queen.[146] In 1207, Al-Adil invaded the County of Tripoli and forced the Franks to release their Muslim prisoners and to pay a yearly tribute to him.[143] The Jerusalemite nobles sent a delegation to France, requesting King Philip to appoint Queen Mary's husband. He chose a baron from Champagne, John of Brienne. In 1210 John married the Queen and they were crowned in Tyre. A Jerusalemite fleet pillaged Damietta, but John and Al-Adil signed a new truce for five years. After Mary died in childbirth in 1212, John ruled the kingdom in the name of their infant daughter, Isabella II.[147][148]

In 1213 Pope Innocent proclaimed the Fifth Crusade—the first crusade to be preached not only in Europe, but also in the Outremer. John of Brienne and Bohemond IV were quick to take the cross.[149] Emperor Henry VI's son, Frederick II, also pledged to join the crusade, but difficulties in his German and Sicilian realms prevented him from departing for the Outremer.[150] News of the crusade brought about a reconciliation between Al-Adil and his kinsmen and Bohemond IV could no more rely on Az-Zahir's support. Moreover, Bohemond's conflicts with the Latin patriarchs of Antioch had cost him the goodwill of the Catholic clergy. In contrast, Leo of Cilicia had come to terms with the papacy through persuading the Armenian bishops to acknowledge papal primacy. Taking advantage of Bohemond's weakened position, Leo entered Antioch and installed Raymond-Roupen as prince in 1216. Raymond-Roupen rewarded his supporters with lavish grants, emptying his treasury. He introduced heavy taxation and lost popularity.[151][152]

Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI of Austria were the first leaders of the new crusade to reach the Holy Land in late 1217, but Andrew quickly abandoned the campaign. The crusaders invaded Egypt and laid siege to Damietta. They acknowledged John of Brienne as their supreme commander, but Pope Innocent's legate, Cardinal Pelagius, challenged his authority as soon as he landed at Damietta, accompanied by fresh troops.[153][154] Damietta was still under siege in Egypt, when a riot broke out in Antioch, forcing Raymond-Roupen to flee to Cilicia early in 1219. Already dying, King Leo refused to support him and the Commune of Antioch surrendered the city to Bohemond IV. On his deathbed, Leo named his younger daughter, Zabel, as his sole heir, ignoring the claims that his elder daughter, Stephanie (who was John of Brienne's second wife), and Raymond-Roupen, could lay to his inheritance.[155][156] In November, Damietta fell to the crusaders. Al-Adil's son and successor, Al-Kamil offered to return almost all lands that Saladin had conquered from the Franks in return for the crusaders' withdrawal from Egypt. After Pelagius vetoed the agreement, John left Egypt on the pretext of asserting his wife's claim to Cilicia, but Stephanie and their son died. He returned to Egypt and the crusaders moved south to Mansoura, a newly built Egyptian fortress on the Nile, but the flood forced them to start negotiations with Al-Kamil. In August 1221, Al-Kamil signed an eight-year truce in return for Damietta and the withdraval of all crusader troops from Egypt.[157][158]

A drawing depicting a young man who wears a crown as giving a ring to a young woman who also wears a crown.
Emperor Frederick II marries Queen Isabella II of Jerusalem (from a 13th-century manuscript)

Raymond-Roupen invaded Cilicia to assert his claim to the throne in 1221. By that time a powerful Armenian baron, Constantine of Baberon had assumed the regency for Queen Zabel. Constantine captured and imprisoned Raymond-Roupen and married off the Queen to Bohemond IV's son, Philip. Philip showed blatant favoritism towards his Frankish courtiers, alienating the native aristocracy. In late 1224, Constantine captured and poisoned him. To take revenge of his son's death, Bohemond made an alliance with the Sultan of Rum, Kayqubad I. Turkic and Antiochene troops invaded Cilicia, but Constantine persuaded the Aleppines to make an assault on Antiochene territory, forcing Bohemond to abandon the campaign.[159][160]

Although Emperor Frederick II renewed his crusading oath in 1218 and 1221, the crusade was delayed on both occasion. To raise Frederick's interest in fighting for the Holy Land, John of Brienne offered the hand of his daughter Queen Isabella to him. In 1225, Frederick married her and claimed full authority in her kingdom, putting aside his father-in-law.[161] Fearing a new invasion of Egypt, Al-Kamil offered an alliance to Frederick against his brother, Al-Mu'azzam Isa, who held Palestine, promising the restoration of significant territory to the Franks. In September 1227, Frederick set sail for the Holy Land, but a sudden illness forced him to return to Italy soon. The new delay provided Pope Gregory IX with a pretext to excommunicate him and demand the reimposition of papal suzerainty over Sicily.[150][162]

Queen Isabella died after giving birth to a son, Conrad. From then on, Frederick ruled the kingom as regent for his infant son. Ignoring the Pope's ban, Frederick resumed the crusade, although he could no more rely on Al-Kamil. Al-Mu'azzam had died and Al-Kamil was unwilling to renounce Palestinian land by then in his possession. Frederick's attempts to assert his sovereign rights in Cyprus brought him into conflict with John of Ibelin who had administered the island on behalf of the underage King Henry I. Frederick accused Ibelin of embezzlement and wanted to confiscate his estates both in Cyprus and the mainland, but the Jerusalemite barons resisted, claiming that Ibelin's mainland domain could not be seized as a punishment for his acts in the island.[150][163] Frederick landed at Acre in June 1228. Although his army was inadequate to wage war against Al-Kamil, his knowledge of Arabic and his familiarity with Muslim customs facilitated his negotiations with the Sultan's envoys. In his absence, John of Brienne launched a "crusade"—a military campaign sanctioned by the Pope—against his Sicilian realm, forcing Frederick to conclude a treaty with Al-Kamil. Al-Kamil agreed to cede Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, save the Temple Mount, and parts of Galilee to the Franks, stipulating that Jerusalem was to remain open to Muslim pilgrims. The treaty also included a truce for ten years, ten months and ten days (the maximum period allowed by Islamic custom). It was signed in February 1229, although both militant Muslims and Christians regarded it as a treachery. Frederick visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to wear his royal crown in public, but the clergy did not attend the ceremony celebrating an excommunicated monarch. Frederick disembarked at Acre for Italy in May 1229.[164][165][166]

Demography and Society[edit]

Modern research using historical geography techniques indicate that Muslims and indigenous Christian populations were less integrated than historians previously thought. Palestinian Christians lived around Jerusalem and in an arc stretching from Jericho and the Jordan to Hebron in the south.[167] Comparisons of archaeological evidence of Byzantine churches built prior the Muslim conquest and 16th century Ottoman census records demonstrate that while some Greek Orthodox communities had disappeared prior the crusades, most continued during and for centuries after the crusader states. Maronites were concentrated in Tripoli; Jacobites in Antioch and Edessa. Armenians were concentrated in the north but communities existed in all major towns. Palestine's central areas had a Muslim majority population. The Muslims were mainly Sunnis, but Shi'ite communities existed in Galilee. The nonconformist Muslim Druzes were recorded living in the mountains of Tripoli. The Jewish population resided in coastal towns and some Galilean villages.[168][169] Little research has been done on Islamic conversion but the limited available evidence led Ellenblum to believe that around Nablus and Jerusalem Christians remained a majority.[170]

Peasants living off the land formed the vast majority of the indigenous population, particularly after the massacres and sieges of the early 11th century led to widespread death and emigration among the native city dwellers. Charters from the beginning of the 12th century show evidence of the donation of local villeins to nobles and religious instituitions. This may have been a method of denoting the revenues from these villeins or land where the boundaries were unclear. These are described as villanus, surianus for Christians or sarracenus for Muslims. The term servus was reserved for the numerous urban, domestic slaves the Franks held in Jerusalem. The use of villanus is thought to possibly reflect the higher status that villagers or serfs held in the near East or that the indigenous men referred to were considered to have servile land tenures rather than that they lacked personal freedom. The difference between the Western serf and Near Eastern villein was that the latter could marry outside their lords' domain, were not obliged to perform unpaid labour, could hold land and inherit property. However, because the Franks needed to maintain productivity the villagers were tied to the land. Charters evidence landholders agreeing to return any villeins from other landholders they found on their property. Peasants were required to pay the lord one quarter to a half of crop yields, the Muslim pilgrim Ibn Jubayr reported there was also a poll tax of one dinar and five qirat per head and a tax on produce from trees. 13th century charters indicate this increased after the loss of the first kingdom to compensate the Franks for the resulting loss of income. These are the reasons that the use of the term indentured peasant is considered by historian Christopher MacEvitt to be a more accurate description for the villagers in the Latin East rather than serf.[171]

The Frankish population of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was concentrated in three major cities. By the 13th century the population of Acre probably exceeded 60,000, then came Tyre, with the capital being the smallest of the three with a population somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000.[172] At its zenith, the Latin population of the region reached c. 250,000 with the Kingdom of Jerusalem's population numbering c. 120,000 and the combined total in Tripoli, Antioch and Edessa being broadly comparable.[173] The presence of Frankish peasants is evident in 235 villages, out of a total of some 1,200 rural settlements.[174] Some were planned villages, established to encourage settlers from the West and some were shared with native Christians. The native population lived in casalia, or rural settlements, each including the dwellings of about 3-50 families.[175] In context, Josiah Russell estimates the population of what he calls "Islamic territory" as roughly 12.5 million in 1000—Anatolia 8 million, Syria 2 million, Egypt 1.5 million and North Africa 1 million — with the European areas that provided crusaders having a population of 23.7 million. He estimates that by 1200 that these figures had risen to 13.7 million in Islamic territory—Anatolia 7 million, Syria 2.7 million, Egypt 2.5 million and North Africa 1.5 million— while the crusaders' home countries population was 35.6 million. Russell acknowledges that much of Anatolia was Christian or under the Byzantines and that some purportedly Islamic areas such as Mosul and Baghdad had significant Christian populations.[176]

The Franks ruled as an elite and outnumbered class. As such, linguistic differences remained a key differentiator between the Franks lords and the local population. The Franks typically spoke Old French and wrote in Latin. While some learnt Arabic, Greek, Armenian, Syriac and Hebrew this was unusual.[177] Society was politically and legally stratified, with self-governing, ethnically-based communities. Though relations between communities were controlled by the Franks.[178] Research into the society of the crusader states focussed on the role of the ruʾasāʾ, Arabic for leader, chief or mayor. Riley-Smith divided these into the urban, those that he considered freemen, and the rural who were tied to the land. Not only did these men administer the Frankish estates and govern the native communities but evidence indicates they were often respected local landowners in their own right. If the communities were segregated as indicated by the written evidence and identified by Riley-Smith and Prawer inter-communal conflict was avoided because interaction between the landed and the peasants was limited. Alternatively, McEvitt identifies possible tension between competing groups. According to the 13th century jurists, in the towns the Rais presided over the Cour des Syriens and there is other evidence that on occasion they led local troops.[179] Civil disputes and minor criminality were administered by these courts of the indigenous communities, but more serious offences and cases involving Franks were dealt with by the Frankish cour des bourgeois or courts of the burgesses, the name given to the non-noble Franks.[180] The lack of material evidence makes it difficult to identify the level of assimilation. The archaeology is culturally exclusive and written evidence indicates deep religious divisions, although some historians assume that the states' heterogeneity eroded formal apartheid.[181] The key differentiator in status and economic position was between urban and rural dwellers. Indigenous Christians could gain higher status and acquire wealth through commerce and industry in towns, but few Muslims lived in urban areas except those in servitude.[182]

Frankish courts reflected the region's diversity. Queen Melisende was part Armenian and married Fulk from Anjou. Their son Amalric, first married a Frank from the Levant, then a Byzantine Greek. William of Tyre was appalled at the use of Jewish, Syrian and Muslim physicians, who were popular among the nobility. Greek and Arabic speaking Christians made Antioch a centre of cultural interchange. The indigenous peoples showed the Frankish nobility traditional deference. Some Franks adopted the their dress, food, housing and military techniques. This does not mean that Frankish society was a cultural melting pot. Inter-communal relations were shallow, separate identities were maintained and other communities were considered alien.[183]


Photograph of three crusader coins from the British Museum. Left: A Denier in European style with Holy Sepulchre (1162–75). Centre: a Kufic gold bezant (1140–80). Right: gold bezant with Christian symbol (1250s)
Crusader coins of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Left: Denier in European style with Holy Sepulchre (1162–75). Centre: Kufic gold bezant (1140–80). Right: gold bezant with Christian symbol (1250s). (British Museum)

In addition to being economic centres themselves, the crusader states provided an obstacle to Muslim trade by sea with the west and to the land routes from Mesopotamia and Syria to the great urban economies of the Nile. Despite hostility, commerce continued, coastal cities remained maritime outlets for the Islamic hinterland and eastern wares were exported to Europe in unprecedented volumes. The Byzantine-Muslim mercantile growth in the 12th and 13th centuries may have occurred anyway, as the Western European economy was booming due to population growth; this increased wealth and created a growing social class demanding city centred products and eastern imports, but it is likely that the Crusades hastened the developments. European fleets were expanded, better ships built, navigation improved and fare paying pilgrims subsidised many voyages. Agricultural production, largely the domain of the indigenous population, flourished before the fall of the First Kingdom in 1187, but was negligible afterwards. Franks, Muslims, Jews and indigenous Christians traded crafts in the souks, teeming oriental bazaars, of the cities.[184] Olives, grapes, wheat and barley were the most important agricultural products before Saladin's conquests. Glass making and soap production were major industries in the towns.[185] The Italian, Provençal and Catalan merchants monopolised shipping, imports, exports, transportation and banking. The Frankish noble and ecclesiastical institutional income was based on income from estates, market tolls and taxation.[186] Seigniorial monopolies, or bans, existed, compelling the peasantry to use the landowners' mills, ovens and other facilities. The presence of hand-mills in most households implies that the serfs sometimes circumvented their lords' monopolies.[187] The main centres of production were Antioch, Tripoli, Tyre and, less importantly, Beirut. Textiles, glass, dyestuffs, olives, wine, sesame oil and sugar were exported; silk was particularly prized.[188] The Frankish population, estimated at roughly a quarter of a million people, provided an import market for clothing and finished goods.[189]

The Franks adopted the more monetised indigenous economic system, using a hybrid coinage: predominantly northern Italian and southern French silver European coins; Frankish variant copper coins minted in Arabic and Byzantine styles; and silver and gold dirhams and dinars. After 1124, Egyptian dinars were copied, creating Jerusalem's gold bezant. Following the collapse of the first kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187, trade, rather than agriculture, increasingly dominated the economy and western coins began dominating the coinage in circulation. Although lords in Tyre, Sidon and Beirut minted silver pennies and copper coins there is little evidence of systematic attempts to create a unified currency.[190]


During the period of near constant warfare in the early decades of the 12th century, the king of Jerusalem's foremost role was leader of the feudal host. They very rarely awarded land or lordships, and those awarded that became vacant—a frequent event due to the high mortality rate in the conflict—reverted to the crown. Instead their followers' loyalty was rewarded with city incomes. As a result, the royal domain of the first five rulers —including much of Judea, Samaria, the coast from Jaffa to Ascalon, the ports of Acre and Tyre, and other scattered castles and territories—was larger that the combined holdings of the nobility. This meant that the rulers of Jerusalem had greater internal power than comparative western monarchs, although they did not have the necessary administrative systems and personnel to govern such a large realm.[191]

Map of the feudatories of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187
Map of the feudatories of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187

The situation evolved in the second quarter of the century with the establishment of baronial dynasties. Magnates—such as Raynald of Châtillon, Lord of Oultrejordain, and Raymond III, Count of Tripoli, Prince of Galilee—often acted as autonomous rulers. Royal powers were abrogated and effectively governance was undertaken within the feudatories. What central control remained was exercised at the Haute Cour—High Court, in English. Only the 13th century jurists of Jerusalem used this term, curia regis was more common in Europe. These were meetings between the king and his tenants in chief. Over time the duty of the vassal to give counsel developed into a privilege and ultimately the legitimacy of the monarch depended on the agreement of the court.[192] In practice, the High Court consisted of the great barons and the king's direct vassals. In law a quorum was the king and three tenants in chief. The 1162 the assise sur la ligece theoretically expanded the court's membership to all 600 or more fief-holders, making them all peers. All those who paid homage directly to the king were now members of the Haute Cour of Jerusalem. They were joined by the heads of the military orders by the end of the 12th century, and the Italian communes in the 13th century.[193] The leaders of the Third Crusade ignored the monarchy of Jerusalem; the kings of England and France agreed on the division of future conquests as if there was no need to take into account the nobility of the crusader states. Joshua Prawer considered that the weakness of the crown of Jerusalem was demonstrated by the rapid offering of the throne to Conrad of Montferrat in 1190 and then Henry II, Count of Champagne in 1192.[194] This was given legal effect by Baldwin IV's will stipulating if Baldwin V died a minor the Pope, the kings of England and France, and the Holt Roman Emperor should select the successor.[195]

Before the defeat at Hattin in 1187 the laws developed by the court were documented as assises in Letters of the Holy Sepulchre.[196] After Hattin the Franks lost their cities, lands and churches. Many barons feld to Cyprus and intermarried with leading new emigres from the Lusignan, Montbéliard, Brienne and Montfort families. This created a class apart from the remnents of the old nobility with limited understanding of the Latin East including the king-consorts Guy, Conrad, Henry, Aimery, John and the absent Hohenstaufen that followed.[197] The entire body of written law was lost in the subsequent fall of Jerusalem. From this point the legal system was largely based on custom and the memory of the lost legislation. The renowned jurist Philip of Novara lamented "We know [the laws] rather poorly, for they are known by hearsay and usage...and we think an assize is something we have seen as an the kingdom of Jerusalem [the barons] made much better use of the laws and acted on them more surely before the land was lost". Thus a myth was created of an idyllic early 12th century legal system. The barons used this to reinterpret the assise sur la ligece, which Almalric I intended to strengthen the crown, to instead constrain the monarch, particularly with regards to the right of the monarch to remove feudal fiefs without trial. The concomitant loss of the vast majority of rural fiefs led to the barons becoming an urban mercantile class where knowledge of the law was a valuable, well-regarded skill and a career path to higher status.[198] The barons of Jerusalem in the 13th century have been poorly regarded by both contemporary and modern commentators: James of Vitry was disgusted by their superficial rhetoric; Riley-Smith writes of their pedantry and the use of spurious legal justification for political action. For the barons themselves it was this ability to articulate the law that was so prized.[199] The sources of this are the elaborate and impressive treatises by the great baronial jurists from the second half of the 13th century.[200]

The Barons invoked the assise sur la ligece three times in justification of open opposition to arbitrary acts by the king: in 1198, 1229 and 1232. The precedent was set by Ralph of Tiberias when he was accused of attempted regicide. King Aimery had narrowly survived an attempted murder in Tyre by four armed members of the German Crusade. While recovering he became convinced that Ralph was responsible. At a meeting of the High Court Aimery exiled him, ordering his departure from the kingdom within eight days. In response, Ralph devised a defence based on an interpretation of the assise sur la ligece. The defence was that it was an absolute necessity that a case concerning the relationship between a lord and his vassal was judged in court, that vassals were peers bound to give mutual assistance and that vassals should withdraw service from a lord who refused to submit to the court's decision. Ralph's innovation was applying the Assise to the king himself. Aimery refused. His vassals withdrew service from him until 1200 following great words but Ralph still went into banishment. He only returned in 1207 after the king's death. In the later accounts of the jurists, Ralph was credited with a great achievement. He set a precedent in applying the assise to the actions of the crown. This provided him and his peers with justification, a method of resistance and sanctions that could be legally applied. At the same time it is clear that the use of the assise sur la ligece was not effective. Aimery's refusal meant Ralph had still found it necessary to leave the country.[201]

The second time the precedent was consciously followed followed the arrival in the kingdom of Emperor Frederick II in 1228. Three years earlier he had become king-consort when he married Isabella II and immediately claimed the throne of Jerusalem from her father, the king-regent, John of Brienne. Isabella died in the summer of that year, after giving birth to a son. The son, Conrad, was through his mother the king of Jerusalem. As a result, on his arrival Frederick was received as regent.[202] In 1229, Frederick successfully negotiated the return of Jerusalem, lost in 1187, from Egypt and went under the imperial crown in the Holy Sepulchre. Perhaps in a fit of hubris following the acquisition of the city, according to the later baronial jurists, he instructed his bailli Balian Grenier to take control of the Acre possessions of John of Beirut, Walter I Grenier, Walter III of Caesarea, John of Jaffa, Robert of Haifa, Phillip l'asne and John Moriau. These barons invoked the assise sur la ligece and the barons combined force restored their possessions.[203] According to a surviving charter, Alice of Armenia took the same approach to claim the lordship of Toron. Frederick had awarded this to the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem on its recovery. After this was decided in Alice's favour, a clear baronial victory, the Barons re-entered the Emperor's service. This was the high point of the vassals ability to use the law to resist a monarch infringing what they believed to be their rights.[204] From May 1229 when Frederick II left the Holy Land to defend his Italian and German lands, monarchs were absent—Conrad from 1225 until 1254, his son Conradin until his execution by Charles of Anjou in 1268. Government in Jerusalem had developed in the opposite direction to monarchies in the west. European monarchs such as St Louis, Emperor Frederick and Kind Edward I—contemporary rulers of France, Germany and England respectively—were powerful with bureaucracratic machinary for administration, jurisdiction and legislation. Jerusalem had a royalty without power.[205]

The third invocation of the assise sur la ligece followed the Ibelin's fight for control with an Italian army led by Frederick's viceroy Richard Filangieri in the War of the Lombards. Filangieri besieged John of Beirut's city and convened the High Court to confirm his appointment as regent. When the court demanded he lifted the siege, Filangieri implied John had committed treason and if the court disagreed they should write to the Emperor for final judgement. Tyre, the Hospitallers, the Teutonic Knights and the Pisans supported Filangieri. In opposition were the Ibelins, Acre, the Templars and Genoa. The rebels established a surragate commune, or parliament in Acre.[206] The commune was developed from the cofraternity of St Andrew. It had its own bell and officers. The most important was the major, a position for which John of Beirut was chosen. There was also a deputy major, consuls and captains. Membership was open to all free men. While the commune presented itself as representing the whole country, it did not even represent all of Acre and large numbers still supported the Emperor. After 1236 there is little wriiten evidence of the commune's activities and it is clear that it never adopted governmental functions. The main objective seems to be an attempt to match Filangieri's mandate and resist Frederick II. Ultimately, the barons' motive was the result of Filangieri rejecting the invocation of the Assise. The Barons withdrew their service and attempted to use force but this was ineffective. Filangieri's Italian army was more than capable of resisting. This demonstrated the weakness in the Baron's case. The Assise relied on the king being weak, with a strong force of what John called foreign people, or mercenaries supporting the monarchy the Assise could not be enforced. The baronial jurists such as Phillip of Novara and John of Jaffa do not mention this failure, the events of 1232 or even the balliage of Filangieri. Instead their impressive treatments articulated their political and constitutional ideas rather than the political reality.[207]

When Conrad reached majority in 1242 the Barons finally prevailed Tyre was captured, and a succession of Ibelin and Cypriot regents followed.[208] Centralised government collapsed while the nobility, military orders and Italian communes took the lead. Three Cypriot Lusignan kings succeeded without the financial or military resources to recover the lost territory. The title of king was even sold to Charles of Anjou, but although he gained power for a short while, he never visited the kingdom. The king of Cyprus fought at Acre until all hope was lost and then returned to his island realm.[209] Cyprus survived the fall of the mainland crusader states and in 1365 Peter I of Cyprus launched the last crusade against Egypt that temporarily captured Alexandria.[210]


Photograph of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity.

Indigenous Christians shared each other's churches, priests and even took the sacraments together. There is no wriiten evidence that the Franks or local Christians recognised significant religious differences until the 13th century when the jurists repeatedly used phrases such as men not of the rule of Rome.[211] Partly a result of anti-Orthodox sentiment the early crusaders filled ecclesiastical positions in the Orthodox church left vacant with Franks, including the patriarchy of Jerusalem when Simeon II died. The Greek Orthodox Church was considered part of the universal Church, which enabled the replacement of Orthodox bishops by Latin clerics in coastal towns. The first Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Arnulf of Chocques, ejected the Greek Orthodox monks from the Holy Sepulchre but relented when the miracle of Easter Fire failed in their absence. The appointment of Latin bishops had little effect on the Arabic-speaking Orthodox Christians because the previous bishops were also foreign, from the Byzantine Empire. The Latin bishops used Greeks as coadjutor bishops to administer Syrians and Greeks left without higher clergy. In many villages Latin and Orthodox Christians shared a church. In exceptional political circumstances, Greeks replaced Latin patriarchs in Antioch. Orthodox monasteries were rebuilt and Orthodox monastic life revived. This toleration continued despite an increasingly interventionist papal reaction demonstrated by Jacques de Vitry, Bishop of Acre. The Armenians, Copts, Jacobites, Nestorians and Maronites had greater autonomy. As they were not in communion with Rome they could retain their own bishops without a conflict of authority. Around 1181 Aimery of Limoges, Patriarch of Antioch, managed to bring the Maronites into communion with Rome, establishing a precedent for the Uniate Churches.[212]

That religion prevented assimilation is evidenced by the Franks' discriminatory laws against Jews and Muslims. They were banned from living in Jerusalem and sexual relations between Muslims and Christians were punished (at leat de jure) by mutilation. Some mosques were converted into Christian churches, but the Franks did not force Muslims to convert to Christianity. Frankish lords were particularly reluctant, because conversion would have ended the Muslim peasants' servile status. The Muslims were permitted to pray in public and their pilgrimages to Mecca continued.[213] The Samaritans' annual Passover festival attracted visitors from beyond the kingdom's borders.[214]


One Frankish weakness was the lack of sea-power. This was addressed by the purchase of naval resources from the Italian maritime republics of Pisa, Venice and Genoa.[215] These republics were enthusiastic crusaders from the early 11th century whose commercial wealth secured the financial base of the Franks. In return these cities, and others such as Amalfi, Barcelona and Marseilles, received commercial rights and access to Eastern markets. Over time this developed into colonial communities with property and jurisdictional rights.[216]

Largely located in the ports of Acre, Tyre, Tripoli and Sidon, communes of Italians, Provençals and Catalans had distinct cultural characteristics and exerted significant political power. Separate from the Frankish nobles or burgesses, the communes were autonomous political entities closely linked to their towns of origin. This gave them the ability to monopolise foreign trade and almost all banking and shipping in the kingdom of Jerusalem. Their parent cities' naval support was essential for the crusader states. Every opportunity to extend trade privileges was taken. One example saw the Venetians receiving one-third of Tyre and its territories, and exemption from all taxes, after Venice participated in the successful 1124 siege of the city. Despite all efforts, the Syrian and Palestinian ports were unable to replace Alexandria and Constantinople as the primary centres of commerce in the region. Instead, the communes competed with the monarchs and each other to maintain economic advantage. Power derived from the support of the communards' home cities rather than their number, which never reached more than hundreds. Thus, by the middle of the 13th century, the rulers of the communes were barely required to recognise the authority of the crusaders and divided Acre into several fortified miniature republics.[217][218]

Military orders[edit]

13th-century miniature of King Baldwin II granting the captured Al Aqsa Mosque to Hugues de Payens
13th-century miniature of Baldwin II of Jerusalem granting the captured Al Aqsa Mosque to Hugues de Payens

The crusaders habitually followed the customs of their Western European homelands and there were very few cultural innovations in the crusader states. Three notable exceptions to this were the military orders, warfare and fortifications.[219] The order of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, more commonly known as the Templars, was formed in 1119 with a mission to protect pilgrims in the perilous territory. The founders were a group of knights attached to the Holy Sepulchre. They were formally recognised at the council of Nablus and eventually granted the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount to use as the orders headquarters. This was known to the Franks as Solomon's Temple from which the order's name derives. The founding leaders, Hugues de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer travelled to Europe and in 1129 the order was recognised by the Latin Church at the Council of Troyes. Unshrining this in a detail rule, support, privileges and immunities followed from the papacy. Donations of estates across Western Europe and the Levant enabled the order to provide the crusader states with troops, funding, loans and luxury accommodation for travellers.[220]

The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem were more commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller. The order began with the operation of an Amalfi funded pilgrim hospital in Jerusalem during the 1080s. After the arrival of the early crusaders they started receiving generous donations both locally and in the west. In 1113 the order that moved from a lay organisation to a religious one was recognised by the pope. It grew into an enormous concern with extensive estates in Italy, Catalonia and Southern France. The income from these provided funding for hundreds of beds serving patients from all religions and genders. By 1126 a military dimension had been added and members formed part of the army from Jerusalem that attacked Damascus.[221]

The creation of communities of warrior monks united the two medieval ideals of monasticism and knighthood.[222] During the 12th and 13th centuries the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar developed into Latin Christendom's first professional armies. They were now supranational organisations with autonomous powers in the region.[223] The template presented by these two organisations led to the formation of further orders. These stretched as far as the Iberian Peninsula and Christendom's northern borders. Notable examples were the Order of Saint Lazarus, founded in 1130, for knights with leprosy and in 1190 the Teutonic Order]]. This is more commonly known as the Teutonic Order. By 1180 the number of castles controlled and the 700 knights that the military orders could put in the field matched that from all other sources available to the kingdom of Jerusalem. The knightly elite was also supported by massive organisations of sergeants, clerics, layman and servants.[224]

Art and architecture[edit]

photograph of 12th-century Hospitaller castle of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria showing concentric rings of defence, curtain walls and location sitting on a promontory.
12th-century Hospitaller castle of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria, one of the first castles to use concentric fortification, i.e. concentric rings of defence that could all operate at the same time. It has two curtain walls and sits on a promontory.

According to Joshua Prawer no major European poet, theologian, scholar or historian settled in the crusader states. Some went on pilgrimage, and this is reflected in new imagery and ideas in western poetry. Although they did not migrate east themselves, their output often encouraged others to journey on pilgrimage to the east.[225]

Historians consider military architecture—demonstrating a synthesis of the European, Byzantine and Muslim traditions—the most original and impressive artistic achievement of the crusades. Castles were a tangible symbol of the dominance of a Latin Christian minority over a largely hostile majority population. They also acted as centres of administration.[226] Modern historiography rejects the 19th-century consensus that Westerners learnt the basis of military architecture from the Near East, as Europe had already experienced rapid growth in defensive technology. Direct contact with Arab fortifications originally constructed by the Byzantines did influence developments in the east. But the lack of documentary evidence means that it remains difficult to differentiate between the importance of this design culture and the constraints of situation, which led to the inclusion of oriental design features such as large water reservoirs and the exclusion of occidental features like moats.[227] Castles acted as centres of defence and administration. stimulating the development of new settlements.[228][229]

Typically, early church design was in the French Romanesque style. This can be seen in the 12th-century rebuilding of the Holy Sepulchre. It retained some of the earlier Byzantine details, but new arches and chapels were built to northern French, Aquitanian and Provençal patterns. There is little trace of any surviving indigenous influence in sculpture, although in the Holy Sepulchre the column capitals of the south facade follow classical Syrian patterns.[230]

In contrast to architecture and sculpture, it is in the area of visual culture that the assimilated nature of the society was demonstrated. Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries the influence of indigenous artists was demonstrated in the decoration of shrines, painting and the production of manuscripts. In addition, Frankish practitioners borrowed methods from the Byzantines and indigenous artists and iconographical practice. Monumental and panel painting, mosaics and illuminations in manuscripts adopted an indigenous style leading to a cultural synthesis illustrated by the Church of the Nativity. Wall mosaics were unknown in the west but in widespread use in the crusader states. Whether this was by indigenous craftsmen or learnt by Frankish ones is unknown, but a distinctive and original artistic style evolved.[231]

Manuscripts were produced and illustrated in workshops housing Italian, French, English and indigenous craftsmen leading to a cross-fertilisation of ideas and techniques. An example of this is the Melisende Psalter, created by several hands in a workshop attached to the Holy Sepulchre. This style could have either reflected or influenced the taste of patrons of the arts. But what is seen is an increase in stylised Byzantine-influenced content. This even extended to the production of icons, unknown at the time to the Franks, sometimes in a Frankish style and even of western saints. This is seen as the origin of Italian panel painting.[232] While it is difficult to track illumination of manuscripts and castle design back to their sources, textual sources are simpler. The translations made in Antioch are notable, but they are considered of secondary importance to the works emanating from Muslim Spain and from the hybrid culture of Sicily.[233]


Reports from John of Ibelin indicate that around 1170 the military force of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was based on a feudal host of about 647 to 675 heavily armoured knights. Each feudatory would also provide his own armed retainers. Non-noble light cavalry and infantry were known as serjants. The prelates and the towns were to provide 5,025 serjants to the royal army, according to Ibelin's list. This force would be augmented by hired soldiery called Turcopoles. In times of emergency, the king could also call upon a general muster of the whole Christian population.[234]

Joshua Prawer estimated that the military orders could match the king's fighting strength. This means the total military of the kingdom was approximately 1,200 knights and 10,000 serjants. Enough for further territorial gains, but fewer than required to maintain military domination. This was also a problem defensively. Putting a major army into the field required draining castles and cities of able-bodied fighting men. In the case of a defeat, such as the Battle of Hattin, there remained few to resist the invaders. Muslim armies were incohesive and seldom campaigned outside the period between sowing and harvest. As a result, the crusaders adopted delaying tactics when faced with a superior invading Muslim force. They would avoid direct confrontation, instead retreating to strongholds and waiting for the Muslim army to disperse. It took generations before the Muslims recognised that they could not conquer the Franks without destroying the Franks' fortresses. This strategic change forced the crusaders away from the tactic of gaining and holding territory, including Jerusalem. Instead their aim became to attack and destroy Egypt. By removing this constant regional challenge, the crusaders hoped to gain the necessary time to improve the kingdom's demographic weakness. Egypt was isolated from the other Islamic power centres, it would be easier to defend and was self-sufficient in food.[235]

Little was achieved by a Fifth Crusade, primarily raised from Hungary, Germany, Flanders and led by King Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI, Duke of Austria. The crusaders attacked Egypt to break the Muslim hold on Jerusalem. Damietta was captured but then returned and an eight-year truce agreed after the Franks advancing into Egypt surrendered.[236] In 1249 Louis IX led a crusade attacking Egypt, was defeated at the Battle of Al Mansurah and the crusaders were captured as they retreated. Louis and his nobles were ransomed, other prisoners were given a choice of conversion to Islam or beheading. A ten-year truce was established and Louis remained in Syria until 1254 consolidating the Frankish position.[237][238]


After the fall of Acre the Hospitallers first relocated to Cyprus. The order conquered and ruled Rhodes (1309–1522) and Malta (1530–1798). The Sovereign Military Order of Malta survives to the present-day. King Philip IV of France probably had financial and political reasons to oppose the Knights Templar, which led to him exerting pressure on Pope Clement V. The pope responded in 1312 dissolving the order on the alleged and probably false grounds of sodomy, magic and heresy.[239]

The raising, transportation, and supply of large armies led to flourishing trade between Europe and the crusader states. The Italian city-states of Genoa and Venice flourished, through profitable trading communes.[240][241] Many historians argue that the interaction between the western Christian and Islamic cultures played a significant, ultimately positive, part in the development of European civilisation and the Renaissance.[242] Relations between Europeans and the Islamic world, stretching across the length of the Mediterranean Sea, led to an improved perception of Islamic culture in the West. But this broad area of interaction also makes it difficult for historians to identify how much of this cultural cross-fertilisation originated in the crusader states and how much originated in Sicily and Spain.[233]


Modern historians have developed a broad consensus on relationships between the Frankish and native communities in the crusader states . Joshua Prawer and others described an outnumbered Frankish elite dominating the coastal areas of southern modern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. In this paradigm the Frankish elite is isolated from the majority population by discrimatory laws, conditions of serfdom and exclusion from positions of authority. Recently this position has been challenged by historians such as Ronnie Ellenblum, using archeological research. These challenges have recognised weaknesses and no alternative model has been presented.[243] Christopher Tyerman points out the challenges are not a return to older theories, the sources remain the same and the archeological materials are virtually unprovable. Denys Pringle, a specialist in Frankish architecture, notes that new architectural research does not contradict the segregationist view of Frankish society that earlier in the 20th century, Hans Eberhard Mayer had already written that the number of Franks living in rural settlements should not be underestimated.[244]

It was in the 19th century that subject of the crusader states, rather than just the crusades themselves, become a subject of study. This was paricularly true among French historians. Joseph François Michaud's influential narratives had concentrated on topics of war, conquest and settlement. Later France's colonial ambitions in the Levant were explicitly linked with French-led crusading and the Frankish character of the states. Emmanuel Rey's Les colonies franques de Syrie aux XIIme et XIIIme siècles described Frankish settlements in the Levant as colonies in which Poulains, offspring of mixed marriages, adopted local traditions and values instead of those of their Frankish descent. The first American crusade historian, Dana Carleton Munro extended this analysis describing the care the Franks took to win the goodwill of the natives. In the 20th century historians rejected this approach. R. C. Smail argued that Rey, and the like, had identified an integrated society which did not exist in order to justify French colonial regimes. The new consensus was that the society was segregated with limited social and cultural interchange. Prawer and Jonathan Riley-Smith focussed on the evidence of social, legal and political frameworks in the kingdom of Jerusalem to present a widely accepted view of a society that was largely urban, isolated from the indigenous peoples, with separate legal and religious systems. Prawer's 1972 work, The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem:European Colonialism in the Middle Ages extended this analysis: the lack of integration was based on economics with the Franks' position depending on a subjugated, disenfranchised local population. In this arrangement the Franks' primary motivations were economic. Islamic historian Carole Hillenbrand identified that Islamic population responded with resentment, suspicion and rejection of the Franks.[245]

This model supports the idea that the crusader states were part of the wider expansion of Western Europe in places such as Ireland, eastern Europe and Spain: driven by religious reforms and the growth of papal power. However, historians now argue that were different in that there was no vigorous church reform in the East, or resulting persecution of Jews and heretics. Some historians consider it exceptional that the 1120 Council of Nablus regulated ecclesiastical tithes, outlawed bigamy and adultery, imposed the death penalty for sodomy and a penalty of castration and mutilation for any Frank engaging in sexual relations with a Muslim. Benjamin Z. Kedar considered that Nablus followed a Byzantine, rather than western reformist, precedent.[246] This has led historians such as Claude Cahen, Jean Richard and Christopher MacEvitt to argue that the history of the crusader states is distinct from the history of the crusades. This allows other analytical techniques to be applied placing the crusader states in the context of Near Eastern politics. These ideas are sill in the process of articulation by modern historians.[247]


  1. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 16–18.
  2. ^ Lock 2006, pp. 310–311.
  3. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 20–21, 23, 26–27.
  4. ^ Hillenbrand 1999, pp. 100–104.
  5. ^ Holt 2004, p. 4.
  6. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 23–25.
  7. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 3–5.
  8. ^ a b Cobb 2016, p. 45.
  9. ^ Holt 2004, p. 52.
  10. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 47–49, 86–87, 116–117.
  11. ^ Prawer 1972, pp. 52–55.
  12. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 4–6, 10–11.
  13. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 8–10.
  14. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 70–72, 83.
  15. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 71–72.
  16. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 8–9.
  17. ^ Köhler 2013, pp. 13–19.
  18. ^ Barber 2004, pp. 18–19, 57–58.
  19. ^ Lock 2006, pp. 11, 17, 382–384.
  20. ^ Barber 2004, pp. 25, 34–40.
  21. ^ Barber 2004, pp. 25–26.
  22. ^ a b Lock 2006, pp. 305–306.
  23. ^ Barber 2004, p. 113.
  24. ^ a b Barber 2004, pp. 83–87.
  25. ^ Jotischky 2017, pp. 28–29.
  26. ^ Lock 2006, pp. 20, 360–361.
  27. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 19–20.
  28. ^ Köhler 2013, p. 23.
  29. ^ Lock 2006, p. 140.
  30. ^ Köhler 2013, pp. 27–28.
  31. ^ Lock 2006, pp. 22, 139–140.
  32. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 20–21.
  33. ^ MacEvitt 2008, pp. 58-60, 149.
  34. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 89–90.
  35. ^ Lock 2006, p. 22.
  36. ^ MacEvitt 2008, pp. 65, 67-69, 70, 75-76.
  37. ^ Lock 2006, pp. 22-23.
  38. ^ Tyerman 2019, pp. 86-88.
  39. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 90–94.
  40. ^ Köhler 2013, pp. 36–40.
  41. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 94–98.
  42. ^ Köhler 2013, pp. 26–27.
  43. ^ Cobb 2016, pp. 99–100.
  44. ^ Jotischky 2004, pp. 59-60, 62.
  45. ^ Lock 2006, p. 25.
  46. ^ Holt 1986, p. 23.
  47. ^ Köhler 2013, p. 7.
  48. ^ Köhler 2013, pp. 7, 33–34.
  49. ^ Holt 2004, p. 24.
  50. ^ Köhler 2013, pp. 33–34.
  51. ^ Holt 2004, pp. 24–25.
  52. ^ Holt 2004, p. 35.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]