Contents Introduction 7 Chronology 11 Background to war Christendom and Islam in the 11th century 12 Warring sides Byzantines,Turks, Crusaders and Saracens 18 Outbreak The First Crusade 23 The fighting Crusade and jihad; consolidation of Islamic resistance 29 Portrait of a soldier Brothers in arms; two crusaders; two fursan 55 The world around warThe impact of the Crusades on the Mediterranean and beyond 60 Portrait of a civilian A saint, a lady, a scholar and a rabbi 73 How the war ended The rise of the Mamluks and the fall of the Crusader State 76 Conclusion and consequences 81 The failure of an idea and the rebirth of Islamic expansionism 89 Further reading 91 Glossary 94 Index
IntroductionThe Crusades were among the most against Muslim, Orthodox Christian andcontroversial events during a long rivalry pagan neighbours. Astonishing economicbetween Christianity and Islam. From growth was accompanied by a major increasePope Urban IIs preaching of what became in population while the 12th-centurythe First Crusade in 1095 to the fall of Acre Renaissance produced a burgeoning of art,in 1291, and the loss of the offshore island architecture, literature and learning. Duringof Arwad 11 years later, they formed part of a the period of the Crusades Western Europebroader offensive by Western Christendom. also learned a great deal from and about itsThis offensive began in the Iberian peninsula Islamic neighbours. New technology, crops,much earlier, since when Sicily had also patterns of trade, trade-goods andfallen to Norman adventurers from southern philosophical, medical, scientific andItaly while Italian mariners were winning geographical knowledge all poured into anaval superiority throughout most of the Western Europe eager to learn, exploit,Mediterranean. dominate and conquer. Before the First Crusade, competition in The significance of the Crusades for thethe Middle East had largely been between Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire, andthe Byzantine or Late Roman Empire and its for Christian communities within the IslamicIslamic neighbours, but this had not Middle East, was almost entirely negative.involved continuous warfare. Peaceful Byzantium was economically and militarilyrelations had been the norm, though weakened by Western European pressure asinterrupted by many conflicts. It was the well as by the Muslim Turks. Some Christiansudden arrival of more fanatical Western communities in Syria, Egypt and elsewhereChristians - the Crusaders or Franks as they still formed the majority of the populationwere known in the Middle East - that under Islamic rule in the 11th century, butresulted in two centuries of military struggle. declined into harassed minorities by the Even today the Crusades and the Jihad 14th century.counter-Crusade which they stimulated are Within the Islamic world the Crusadesstill seen in a different way by most Western were of only local significance in Syria,Christians, Orthodox Christians and Egypt, Anatolia (modern Turkey) and to aMuslims. The historical reality of the lesser extent Iraq. Elsewhere the CrusaderCrusades was also more complex than the conquest of coastal Syria and Palestine wassimplistic views that are still used by discomforting, but of little immediatepolitical, religious and cultural leaders concern to rulers and ordinary people.in both East and West. As a result the Certainly the Crusades were never seen as aCrusades and Jihad remained sources of mortal threat to Islam. Nevertheless they andmisunderstanding and friction for more the Jihad which they prompted underminedthan 700 years. the old culture of toleration which had During the 12th and 13th centuries the characterised the Middle East from the 7th toCrusades were of greater historical the 11th centuries. The savagery, intoleranceimportance for Christian Western Europe and sheer ignorance shown by Westernthan for the Islamic world. This was a period Europeans encouraged intolerance andof growing confidence in Catholic or Latin conservatism among their victims, andWestern Europe as well as physical expansion among the Sunni Muslim majority this was
8 Essential Histories • The CrusadesThe Anglo-Saxons defeat the Danes, shown in an Meanwhile the Islamic Middle EastAnglo-Norman manuscript of c. 1125-50. Both armies had little to learn from the Westernare equipped, mounted and fight in the Norman manner European Franks, who remained inferior inas fully armoured knights in close-packed conroissquadrons. (Life of St. Edmund. Pierpont Morgan Library. almost all aspects of culture until the laterMs. 736. f.7v. New York) 13th and 14th centuries. By that time the Islamic world was rapidly retreating into adirected not only against Western European cultural conservatism which made itbarbarians but also local Christians, Jews virtually impossible for Muslims to acceptand the Shia Muslim minority. lessons from the West. Two centuries of
Introduction 9warfare had, however, created militarily The so-called Mihrab of the Prophet Sulayman (Kingpowerful states, the greatest of which was Solomon in Judeo-Christian terms) is in the Well of Souls, beneath the famous rock in the Dome of the Rockthe Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and Syria. Jerusalem. As a mihrab it marks the direction of prayer forThese Mamluks halted the Mongol Muslims, many of whom believe that the souls of all the deadhordes, who had been a genuine threat to will assemble in this little cave on Judgement Day. The mihrabIslam, thus enabling Middle Eastern itself is not only one of the oldest in existence, perhaps dating from at least three centuries before the arrival of the FirstIslamic civilisation to survive and then Crusade, but is virtually unique in having a small piece ofabsorb its invaders. Meanwhile the meteoric rock embedded in its centre, comparable to theMamluks also turned aside to mop up the larger meteoric rock which is embedded in one corner ofremnants of the Crusader States. the Kaaba in Mecca. (David Nicolle photograph)
10 Essential Histories • The CrusadesThe Mediterranean Sea
Chronology1071 Byzantine army defeated by Seljuk 1202-04 Fourth Crusade diverted to Turks at Manzikirt. conquer Byzantine Constantinople;1081 Alexius I Comnenus becomes Emperor Crusader States in Greece established. of Byzantium. 1218-21 Fifth Crusade invades Egypt;1092 Death of Seljuk ruler Malik Shah; defeated. fragmentation of the Great Seljuk 1220-22 Mongol invasions of eastern Empire. Islamic lands.1095 Emperor Alexius I appeals to Western 1229 Jerusalem returned to Kingdom of Europe for military support; Pope Jerusalem by treaty. Urban II preaches what becomes the 1229-42 Civil war in Crusader Kingdom of First Crusade. Cyprus.1096-99 First Crusade marches east, 1231 Mongol invasion of Iran and Armenia. conquers Jerusalem and starts to carve 1243 Mongols defeat Seljuks of Rum out four Crusader States. (Anatolia).1101 Crusader army defeated by Turks in 1244 Alliance of Crusader States and Syrian Anatolia. Ayyubids defeated at La Forbie by1115 Crusaders defeat Saljuq attempt to alliance of Khwarazmian refugees from retake northern Syria. Iran and Ayyubids of Egypt.1128 Imad al-Din Zangi of Mosul takes 1250 Crusade of King Louis IX of France Aleppo. invades Egypt, is defeated; Ayyubid1144 Edessa falls to Zangi. Sultan of Egypt overthrown by1146 Zangi succeeded by his son Nur al-Din. Mamluks.1148 Second Crusade defeated outside 1255-58 Mongols invade Iran and Iraq; civil Damascus. war in Kingdom of Jerusalem.1153 Fall of Ascalon to Crusaders. 1260 Mongols defeated by Mamluks at Ayn1154 Nur al-Din takes Damascus. Jalut.1163-69 Five attempts by Kingdom of 1261 Byzantines retake Constantinople from Jerusalem to take control of Egypt. Latin Empire.1169 Saladin takes control of Egypt for Nur 1263-68 Mamluks reconquer much al-Din. remaining Crusader territory.1174 Death of Nur al-Din; Saladin takes 1271-72 Crusade of Prince Edward of Damascus. England to Palestine.1176 Byzantine army defeated by Seljuk 1275-77 Mamluks ravage Kingdom of Turks at Myriokephalon. Cilician Armenia, defeat Seljuks and1183 Reynald of Châtillons attempt to Mongols. attack Mecca defeated; Saladin 1277 Crown of Jerusalem sold to Charles of recognised as overlord of Aleppo. Anjou, ruler of southern Italy.1187 Saladin defeats Kingdom of Jerusalem 1281 Mamluks defeat Mongols and at Hattin, reconquers most of the Armenians at Hims. Crusader States. 1289 Mamluks take Tripoli.1189-92 Third Crusade retakes Acre but fails 1291 Fall of Acre and other Crusader to retake Jerusalem. enclaves to Mamluks.1193 Death of Saladin. 1302 Mamluks take island of Ruad; probable1197-98 German Crusade achieves little. end of Crusader rule at Jubail.
Background to warChristendom and Islamin the 11th centuryThe Crusades were an unusual series of relatively stable relationship withconflicts because they involved three or more intermittent, small-scale conflict on land anddistinct groups of people: the Western sea. During the late 10th and 11th centuries, European Christians, generally known as as the Abbasid Caliphate of BaghdadLatins or Franks; the Muslims of the Middle fragmented, power shifted back to theEast and North Africa; the Byzantine and Byzantines, who launched a series of majorother Orthodox Christians of what are now counter-offensives. Then the ByzantineTurkey and the Balkans, generally known as Empire called a halt, drastically reducing itsGreeks to Western Europeans and as Rumi armed forces after having destroyed theor Romans to their Muslim neighbours. Armenian military system that had served asMore or less associated with the Orthodox a buffer between Byzantium and the IslamicChristian Greeks were many other Christian world for centuries.peoples of the region, most of whom were, in For the ordinary people of these regions,the eyes of Latin-Catholic Christians, an intermittent struggle between the Empireschismatics or heretics. Some, such as the and the Caliphate meant merely a change ofArmenians, Georgians and Nubians, had their masters, and even the military elites oftenown independent states. Others, such as the came to terms with their new rulers. In factJacobites and Maronites of Syria, the Copts of this centuries-old rivalry had becomeEgypt and the Nestorians of Iraq and Iran, political and economic rather than a death-formed substantial communities within struggle between incompatible cultures.Islamic states. The Muslims were similarly divided alonglinguistic (mainly Arab, Turkish, Kurdish or Guibert of Nogents explanation of how thePersian) and religious lines (Sunni or various Middle East became Muslim; in his historyShia sects). Other minorities included the of the First Crusade, written around 1100:Jews, Druze, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Manichaean- "It is the common opinion, if IPaulicians and others. In the 13th century understand it correctly, that there was athe Mongols erupted into the Middle East. certain man called Mathomus who drewIncluded in their ranks were Buddhists, [those people] away from the belief inshamanist pagans, adherents of various the Son and the Holy Spirit and taughtChinese faiths, Nestorian Christians and them that in the Godhead there was theeven some Muslims. Father, the Creator, alone. He taught Some of these peoples had very little that Jesus Christ was a man without sin.contact with each other before the Crusades, Let me briefly conclude this account ofwhile others had co-existed for centuries. The his teaching by saying that heByzantine Empire and its Islamic neighbours recommended circumcision whilecould be called the resident civilisations of completely freeing them [his followers]the Middle East, and had a long history of from restraining their lusts ... [they] doboth rivalry and peaceful relations. From the not believe that he [Mathomus] is God,7th to the 10th centuries Islam had been as some people claim, but was a gooddominant, though its attempts to conquer man and a benefactor through whomthe Byzantine Empire ended at an early date. they received the Divine Laws."Instead these two power blocs reached a
Background to war 13 The coming of the Seljuk Turks changedthis situation although those Seljuks who A description of the citizen militia ofoverran most of Anatolia (Rum or present- Syria in the 1080s, by the chronicler Ibnday Turkey) remained something of a Abu Tayyi, who was writing about hissideshow as far as the rest of the Islamic fathers lifetime:world was concerned. Of course the "There was no person in Aleppo whoByzantine perspective was very different. It did not have military attire in his house,was the loss of Anatolia to these Turks which and when war came he would go out atprompted Emperor Alexius I to request once, fully armed."military help from the West - help whicharrived in the unexpected form of a massiveCrusade to the Holy Land rather than as prove to be very important. They not onlypliant mercenaries willing to accept re-established centralised authority, whichByzantine authority. was inherited by small but still potent Nevertheless, the impact of the Seljuk successor states, but encouraged a SunniTurks upon the Islamic Middle East would cultural and religious revival. These Seljuk Turks had not, however, taken full control ofStucco roundel of a seated Islamic ruler with his the Middle East when the First Crusadeattendants and guards, 11th century. This form oficonography, with a ruler seated cross-legged on his arrived. In Egypt and parts of the Palestinian-throne surrounded by members of his court, was Syrian coast the Shia Fatimid Caliphate oftraditional in the Islamic world but was rapidly adopted Cairo remained a rich and culturally brilliantby the Turkish Seljuks, who took control of virtually the state. Its relations with the Byzantine Empireentire Middle East in the 11th century. Such stucco and those Italian merchants who were as yetroundels were used as architectural decoration in many the only Westerners present in the Easternpalaces though this example comes from Rey in Iran.(Museum of Islamic Art and Archaeology, Tehran, Iran. Mediterranean in any numbers wereDavid Nicolle photograph) generally good. Certainly the economic links
14 Essential Histories • The CrusadesEurope and the Islamic world at the end of the 11th century
Background to war 15between Fatimid Egypt and Italy were The ruins of the abandoned city of Fustat still sprawlalready significant. across parts of southern Cairo. Fustat was the main commercial and residential part of the Egyptian capital The relationship between the Byzantine during the Fatimid period, in the 11th and 12th centuries.Empire and its Western, Latin-Catholic, Though devastated by fire during one of the civil warsfellow Christian neighbours was complex that characterised the late Fatimid period, part of it wasand sometimes unfriendly. The Great Schism clearly recolonised after Saladin brought stability back to(the separation between the Eastern and Egypt. The building shown here might have been a mill, perhaps using water which drained into what is now aWestern Churches) started in 1054 and was reed-covered marsh. (David Nicolle photograph)becoming increasingly serious. At first it hadmeant nothing to ordinary men and womenand little to the ruling elites but as the Subsequently competition moved to theSchism deepened, so peoples perceptions of western Balkans where the Norman, theneach other grew more hostile. By the 13th French and finally Spanish rulers of southerncentury many people in Western Europe Italy sought to extend their authority. Inmaintained that Greeks were worse than economic terms the Byzantine Empire wasSaracens. A century or so later there were also declining in the face of Italianthose in the Byzantine. Empire who preferred economic, commercial and maritimedomination by Muslim Turks to domination expansion. Italian merchant republics suchby Western Catholics. as Venice and Genoa certainly took full In political and military terms the main advantage of Byzantiums weakness.arena of conflict between Byzantium and its Before the First Crusade, most Westernwestern neighbours lay in southern Italy, European states had at best a distantmuch of which formed part of the Byzantine relationship with the Muslims of the EasternEmpire until its conquest by the Normans. Mediterranean, the only exceptions being
16 Essential Histories • The Crusadessome Italian merchant republics plus the Carving of sleeping guards at the Holy Sepulchre, on aNorman kingdom of southern Italy and central French capital, early 12th century. This figure is of special interest because the aventail of his crudely carvedSicily. For the merchants of both sides such mail coif is unlaced, making it fall into a loose triangularlinks were purely commercial. For the shape on his chest. (in situ church, Mozac. France. DavidNorman elite of southern Italy, however, a Nicolle photograph)different relationship arose after theyconquered Sicily. Here a large, highly Holy Land. The proportion of Westernerscultured and militarily important Arab- who actually made such a pilgrimage wasIslamic minority remained to serve their new tiny, but their experiences and theNorman Christian rulers. It seems to have significance of travel to the Holy Land gavemaintained cultural links with both Islamic them considerable influence. Given theNorth Africa and with Fatimid Egypt, links confused notions of geography and distancewhich would influence the Siculo-Normans held by most people in Western Europe, therelations with the Islamic world. other point of direct contact between Another important form of contact Western Christian and Islamic civilisations -between Western European society and that namely the Iberian peninsula - must not beof the Islamic Middle East resulted from ignored. Here Christians and Muslims hadChristian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the been competing for domination for
Background to war 17centuries. Although the military struggle special set of circumstances in a Byzantineremained largely political, a religious or Empire that was under pressure from thecrusading element was increasingly Seljuk Turks. Nevertheless, Byzantiums callimportant in what became the Spanish for help did result in a widespread andReconquista. It is also interesting to note virtually uncontrolled mobilisation ofthat recent Christian victories in Iberia had Western military might. In suchresulted from a temporary fragmentation of circumstances Western confidence, recentpower in the Islamic region known as military successes, overpopulation amongAndalus (Andalusia). Such successes the military elite and a wave of religiousstrengthened the confidence of the Western enthusiasm if not outright hysteria probablymilitary elite, particularly in France since played their part. Although there wasFrench knights had played an important role widespread ignorance of the realities of thein the Iberian struggle. Similarly Norman- task to be attempted, there was surely anFrench and other knights had recently element of economic opportunism on theconquered Byzantine southern Italy and part of some better informed Italianseized Sicily from the Muslims. participants. Whether or not such Western European Such factors might explain the fact thatand above all French military, economic and the First Crusade or armed pilgrimageeven cultural confidence made the Crusades remained a unique historical phenomenon.inevitable is an unanswerable question. After Different factors led to the wars of theall, the First Crusade was prompted by a Crusades continuing for two centuries, or more if the so-called Later Crusades are included. For a start the First Crusade was an Nizam al-Mulk, a wazir or chief minister of astonishing success. No subsequent the Seljuk sultan Malik-Shah, described in expedition succeeded to anything like the his Siyasat Nama treatise on government same degree, and all, except for the Fourth written in 1091 the ideal training Crusade which was diverted against programme for ghulam or mamluk soldiers Byzantium, were more or less failures. after they had been purchased as slaves: Indeed it took a century for Western "One year on foot at the stirrup of a political, military, religious and cultural rider, wearing a [plain] Zandaniji cloak leaderships to accept the fact that the First ... Next given a small Turkish horse, a Crusade was a one off. Enthusiasm for the saddle covered in untanned leather, a concept of Crusade steadily declined, first plain bridle and stirrup leathers. In this among ordinary people, then among the manner to serve one year with a horse military aristocracy and cultural and whip. In the third year they are elite. Finally even the Church recognised this given a belt. In the fourth year they are reality. given a quiver and bowcase which is On the other side of the religious frontier, attached to the belt when they are enthusiasm for Jihad or counter-Crusade mounted. In the fifth year they are given increased, and after the Mamluks finally a better saddle and a decorated bridle, expelled the descendants of the Crusaders plus a handsome cloak and a mace from Palestine and Syria in the late 13th which he hangs in a mace-ring." century the torch of Jihad was passed to the Subsequent promotions concern duties rather Ottoman Turks. Their subsequent wave of than appearance or equipment, except in the conquest took them into southern Russia, to eighth year, when they were given a black the gates of Vienna, to Arabia, North Africa felt hat decorated with silver wire, and a and even further afield. In fact it could be fine cloak from Ganja. claimed that by preaching the First Crusade, Pope Urban II sowed the wind, and that his successors reaped the whirlwind.
Warring sidesByzantines, Turks,Crusaders and SaracensCrusader armiesMost of those involved in the First Crusadewere relatively prosperous and the idea thatCrusading was a means of escape for poorknights seeking their fortune overseas is largely a myth. The bulk of the cavalry were knights (or were from that minor militaryelite which would become knights in the 12th century), while the infantry appearsto have been largely drawn fromprofessional soldiers, prosperous peasants ortownsmen. Meanwhile the role of womenwas largely as financial backers rather thanactive participants. Military recruitment within the CrusaderStates, once these had been established,differed considerably from that of Crusading Statuette of knight. French 11th— 12th centuries. A largeexpeditions. The majority of the nobility were number of such statuettes, often designed for use as wine or water-pouring containers, survive from the 13thalso from modest knightly families rather and 14th centuries. This, however, is one of the fewthan the great aristocracy of Western Europe. which dates from the 12th century or even earlierThe number of knights available to the Bronze statuettes, being three-dimensional, provideCrusader States was correspondingly small, better details of the way in which sword-belts were worn and shields carried by the early Crusader militarywhile a lack of agricultural land meant that elite. (inv. O.A. 9103. Musée du Louvre, Paris. France)the bulk of the military aristocracy were urbanbased like those of northern Italy. Non-knightly troops included professional infantryand cavalry sergeants paid by towns or the Part of a letter from Pope Celestine IIIChurch. In an emergency a general feudal written in 1195, urging Christians to go onlevy or arrière ban added local Arabic-speaking Crusade, as included in the chronicle ofChristians and Armenians to the existing Ralph of Diceto:urban militias. Nevertheless, professional "We should not be amazed at those,mercenaries remained an essential element including several of the worlds princes,and governments generally preferred a steady who have so far set out to fight thesupply of such men to the temporary Saracen heathen with spear and sword,appearance of over-enthusiastic Crusaders. even though they have accomplished The Crusader States would not accept nothing wholly successful ... Let thosedefeated Muslim troops into their service who have carried military arms amongunless they converted to Christianity. Such Christian folk now take up the Sign ofconverts played a significant role as the Cross and let them neither despair turcopoles, mostly serving as light cavalry and for their small numbers nor glory in some horse-archers. As the power of the their multitude."Crusader States declined, so the importance
Warring Sides 19of the Military Orders grew. Initially their By the 13th century major offensiverecruits needed only to be free men, but later operations had to await the arrival of athose becoming brother knights were of Crusade from the West. These never lost aknightly origin while brother sergeants were broader strategic vision, with the conquest ofmostly of free peasant or artisan families. Egypt being a common objective. Most early Crusading expeditions were Nevertheless, most Crusades were reactiveorganised around the most senior barons rather than proactive. The precise functiontaking part, though ordinary infantry often of Crusader castles remains a matter offought in groupings that reflected theircountry of origin. By the 13th century Battle scene on a painted paper fragment, Egypt 12thCrusading expeditions were more structured, century. This well-known picture was found in the ruinseven to the extent that knights of differing of Fustat and clearly shows a battle outside a fortifiedstatus were expected to have different city or castle between the Muslim garrison and a force of Western Europeans including knights. The latter arenumbers of horses and followers. Meanwhile probably Crusaders and the fortification might representthe military organisation of the Crusader Ascalon, which the Fatimid Egyptians held againstStates was essentially the same as that in constant Crusader attack for several decades. TheWestern Europe. The command structure of Muslims include a fully armoured horseman in a mailsuch armies remained essentially amateur, hauberk, but with a bulky turban rather than a helmet.though the king, as overall commander, The archers on the walls are similarly protected whereas two Muslim foot soldiers are protected only by theirclearly consulted his leading barons and the larger shields. The presumed Crusaders include a knightMasters of the Military Orders. As the secular in typical and accurately illustrated 12th-century armourarmies of the Crusader States declined, those mail hauberk, shield, and riding an unarmoured horse.of the Military Orders increased in Only part of the attacking foot soldier in the top righteffectiveness, with each Order providing corner survives, and he is more problematical, being equipped with a round shield, a sword and a helmet.what was effectively a regiment of (Department of Oriental Antiquities. British Museum,professional soldiers. London, England)
20 Essential Histories • The Crusadesdebate. They could not really plug an authority though no apparent legal status.invasion route and their usefulness as refuges After the Fourth Crusade conqueredwas limited. However, even in the defensive Constantinople (Istanbul) and large parts ofenvironment of the 13th century such secure the Empires Greek heartland, thebases enabled garrisons to raid enemy fragmented Byzantine successor states hadterritory and harass invaders. much reduced sources of recruitment. Remarkably little is known about the Nevertheless, the Empire of Nicea (Iznik)training of Western European armies at the continued to enlist Western mercenaries.time of the Crusades. For cavalry the primary Byzantine armies of the 12th and 13themphasis was on the lance as used in close- centuries inherited one of the most ancientpacked conrois formations. Another very military organisations in the medieval world,important aspect of Western European but they were rarely in a position to take fullmilitary training concerned the crossbow, advantage of it. The armed forces basicallywhich was the most effective weapon consisted of two armies - one in the westernavailable to European infantry. AI-Tarsusi, in the section of his militaryByzantine armies training manual dealing with archery (late 12th century drawing on an 8th-9thThe Byzantine Empires loss of much of century original):Anatolia deprived it of its most important "When shooting at a horseman whosource of military manpower, and at the end is not moving, aim at his saddle-bow soof the 11th century foreign troops probably that you will hit the man if the arrowoutnumbered domestic recruits. Attempts to goes high, or the horse if it goes low. Ifrebuild a national army were only partially his back is turned, aim at the spotsuccessful and foreign mercenaries continued between his shoulders. If he is chargingto play a major role. The long-established with a sword, shoot at him but not fromByzantine practice of enlisting prisoners-of- too far away, for if you miss him hewar also continued. By the late 12th and might strike you with his sword [before13th centuries a provincial elite known as you can shoot again]."archontes emerged, having clear military
Warring Sides 21Above and opposite: Warriors on carved ivory box, disciplined ranks by command. During theByzantine 11th-12th centuries. Most Byzantine 12th century the apparent success of Westernrepresentations of warriors, particularly those in areligious context, give the men archaic pseudo-Roman European Crusading armies also led to anequipment that probably did not reflect current reality. emphasis on Western military skills.On this ivory box, however, three panels seem to bemore realistic and only the naked man can be dismissedas an ancient artistic convention. The kneeling warrior Islamic armieswith a helmet, bow, spear shield and sword with acurved sabre-style hilt seems especially contemporary.(Hermitage Museum. St Petersburg, Russia. David The armies of the Islamic Middle East wereNicolle photographs) remarkably varied. Recruitment reflected whatever suitable manpower was available,or European provinces and one in the plus as many Central Asian Turkish mamlukeastern or Asian provinces — plus a small or ghulam slave-origin professional soldiersfleet. In reality the Byzantines never as could be afforded. The rest of a jund armyrecovered from the disasters of the later usually consisted of local Turks, Kurds, Arabs,11th century. The army also adopted Persians, Armenians and others. Many citiesorganisational structures, equipment and had their own militia, sometimes called antactics from its Western European rivals and ahdath. Numerous religiously motivatedits Turkish neighbours. After western volunteers or mutatawiah also took part inAnatolia was regained in the early 12th campaigns against the Crusaders.century the territory was secured by a The armed forces of Fatimid Egypt werebroad strip of depopulated no-mans-land different. They were based upon a classicaldotted with powerful fortresses and model provided by the 9th-century Abbasidsupported by field armies from the centre Caliphate. Infantry regiments consisted ofof the Empire. black African slave-soldiers, many Christian More is known about training in the Armenians and some Iranians. The cavalryperiod before the Crusades than during the included Syrian Arabs, Turkish ghulams,12th and 13th centuries. By the 11th century Europeans of slave and perhaps mercenaryhorse-archery had been added to traditional origin, Armenians and perhaps Iranians. Theskills with other weapons. Infantry archers Fatimids also had a substantial navy. Thesewere still theoretically trained to shoot in military systems were inherited by Saladin.
22 Essential Histories • The CrusadesHis army was largely Turkish, with its supply train and the suq al-askar mobilehalqa elite consisting of mamluks. The army army market.of the subsequent Mamluk Sultanate was Strategy and even tactics in the Islamicessentially the same as those of the Middle East were greatly influenced bypreceding Ayyubid states, though Turkish ecological factors such as summer heat,mamluks now formed the ruling as well as winter rain, the availability of water andmilitary elite. The Seljuks of Rum or Anatolia pasture and the need to harvest crops.tried to model their army on that of their The Islamic states also learned that the onlygreat Seljuk predecessors. Slave-origin way to overcome the Crusader States was byghulams formed a core around which tribal the steady reduction of their fortified townsTurks, assimilated Greeks, Armenian and and castles. Training in larger armies seems toothers, plus a remarkable assortment of have relied on written textbooks to a greatermercenaries assembled. extent than anywhere else, except perhaps The success of Islamic armies in China. For cavalry this involved individualcontaining and then expelling the skill with numerous weapons plus a variety ofCrusaders reflected their superior unit manoeuvres. Infantry were expected toorganisation, logistical support, discipline practise archery, avoid and harass enemyand tactics. They, like the Byzantines, were cavalry, and know the skills of siege warfare.heirs to a sophisticated military traditionwhere the men of the sword or soldiers A less well-known fragment of a Fatimid drawing onwere supported by the men of the pen paper, again from Fustat, shows the head of anor civilian administrators, government infantryman armed with two javelins. His head is protected by a bulky turban with the ends of its clothofficials and bureaucrats. Large armies such pulled up into a sort of point. He also carries a round oras that of the Ayyubids were divided into perhaps kite-shaped shield. Egypt 11th-12th centuries.units, often with specific functions, but (Ms. inv. 13801. Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo. Egypt,equally important were the atlab al-mira David Nicolle photograph)
OutbreakThe First CrusadeIn 1071 the Byzantine army was was now fragmenting. Seljuk and othercatastrophically defeated by the Seljuk Turks Turkish amirates in Anatolia and Armeniaat the battle of Manzikirt, after which the were effectively independent, as were theByzantine Empire endured political chaos, atabeg statelets of Syria and northern Iraq.civil war and the loss of virtually the whole Most still acknowledged the suzereinty of theof Anatolia. This was the real background to Great Seljuk Sultan but in reality the Firstthe First Crusade. In 1081, a general named Crusade, supported by the Byzantines, facedAlexius Comnenus seized the throne and a chronically divided Islamic world. Thisreimposed government control across what fragmentation was most acute in Syria andwas left of the Byzantine Empire, despite Palestine, the Crusaders destination.attacks by the Seljuk Turks, the pagan Meanwhile the Fatimid Caliphate in EgyptPecheneg Turks and the Normans of was enjoying a modest revival. It had neversouthern Italy. In 1095 Alexius sent a accepted the loss of Palestine and westernmessage to Pope Urban II asking for Western Syria to the Seljuk Turks and would takemercenary troops. advantage of the approaching Crusade to Quite why this simple request resulted in regain Jerusalem.a massive Crusade remains unclear, but the All these Islamic states, Sunni and Shia,basic facts are known. Pope Urban II were, however, preoccupied with their ownpreached a sort of armed pilgrimage which rivalries. Confident of their militarywould help the Byzantines and also retake superiority over the Byzantines, and securethe Holy Land. This idea caught on and in in their superior wealth, science, technology,November 1095 Pope Urban called upon the material culture, great cities and far-rangingmilitary elite of Western Christendom to trade networks, the Islamic peoples neverliberate Jerusalem from the infidels. The seem to have expected that a horde ofsubsequent wave of enthusiasm was most heavily armed religious fanatics wouldnotable among the lower levels of a military descend upon them from Western Europe.elite that was evolving into what became the For the Islamic Middle East, if not forknightly class. Many ordinary people were Andalus and North Africa, Western Europealso caught up in the religious hysteria, was a cultural and military backwater.though the ruling class tended to be less Such a judgement was seriously out ofenthusiastic. date. The Ifranj or Franks may still have The moment seemed appropriate. been relatively primitive compared toEmperor Alexius was well aware of Byzantines or Muslims, but they were noconditions within the neighbouring Islamic longer the unwashed barbarians of a centurystates while the Papacy in Rome probably or so earlier. In military terms Italy, Spainhad comparable information. The idea that and much of France and England were on athe First Crusade marched eastward with similar level to the Byzantine Empire.little knowledge of their destination is Indeed, France would become the power-probably a myth, at least as far as those who house of the Crusading movement. For theirwere directing the movement. Within the part the Armenians, previously crushedMiddle East the once mighty Seljuk between Byzantines and Muslims, were nowSultanate, which had permitted a small army taking control of large areas of south-centralto attack the Byzantines back in the 1070s, Anatolia, to become a major military
24 Essential Histories • The Crusadespresence when the First Crusade burst upon extraordinary expedition was collective, withthe scene. each regional or linguistic contingent Pope Urban II and the Emperor Alexius I following the senior lord within its ranks.were prime movers but neither actually led During the course of the campaign somethe Crusade. Similarly the commanders of showed greater capabilities than others, suchthe First Crusade often found themselves as Bohemond of Taranto, and they wereresponding to what the mass of participants temporarily recognised as senior - but onlydemanded. In fact military leadership of this while a crisis existed. Others, such as
Outbreak 25Raymond of St Gilles and Robert of religiously excited horde of armed men andNormandy, tried to assume superiority their followers turned upon the Jews ofthrough their status, wealth or the size of Germany. As the Crusades continued varioustheir military contingent. The result was a Crusader contingents reached what was fordivision of command at crucial moments. them alien territory in Catholic Hungary andIndeed the success of the First Crusade, even more so in the Orthodox Christiandespite such drawbacks, seemed virtually Balkans. As a result many local people camemiraculous, Favoured by God in the eyes of to view them as little better than bandits.most Christians. Godfrey of Bouillon, who When the Crusaders reached the Byzantinebecame titular leader with the re- capital of Constantinople further trouble wasestablishment of Christian rule in Jerusalem, avoided by the diplomatic skill of Emperorreflected the paradox of leadership in this Alexius, while Crusader leaders from NormanDivinely inspired movement, refusing to Italy generally maintained tighter controlwear a kings crown in the city where Christ over their troops than did other leaders fromwore a crown of thorns. France or Germany. There was a similar lack of cohesive The first major clash between Crusadersleadership on the Islamic side. In Iran the and Muslims was a disaster for the Christians.Great Seljuk Sultan Berk Yaruq was It happened when the so-called Peasantspreoccupied with the fragmentation of his Crusade, which marched a year ahead of theown realm. Resistance was left to local rulers main Crusade, entered Seljuk Turkish territoryand governors. Many fought hard but were in Anatolia. There it was virtuallyindividually overwhelmed by the armoured exterminated on 21 October 1096. The firsthorde from the west. Other local leaders came units of the First Crusade proper reachedto terms or even tried to form alliances with Constantinople two months later, but it wasthese fearsome newcomers, and the fact that not until early April the following year thatsome Muslim leaders thought the invaders the assembled contingents of the First Crusadecould be used in this way illustrates their lack were ferried across to the Asian shore inof understanding of what the First Crusade Byzantine ships. On 14 May 1097, they andwas all about. Such a lack of mutual support their Byzantine allies attacked the Anatolianamong local Muslim rulers shocked some of Seljuk capital of Nicea. (This surrendered totheir own people, though it would take a long the Byzantines rather than the bloodthirstytime for their successors to overcome the Crusaders on 26 June, much to the annoyancechronic political, ethnic and religious of the latter.) From then on relations betweendivisions within Middle Eastern Islam. Crusaders and the Byzantine authorities, never As the Crusaders made their way east by very good, gradually deteriorated.land and sea, the first blood to be spilled in The Crusaders first full-scale battle tooklarge quantities was not Muslim but Jewish. place on 1 July 1097 and, although it was aIn what has been called the first Holocaust close run thing, it ended in total victory forsome sections of what was clearly a the Christians. Hunger, hardship and the seizure of cities, some of which were then Infantryman with tall shield on a lustreware ceramic plate, garrisoned by Emperor Alexius troops and Iran or Egypt 12th century. The foot soldier on this some of which were retaken by the Seljuks, magnificent ceramic has a straight sword with the kind of marked their subsequent march across hilt which appears in several Islamic manuscripts from this period. The hilt was probably of cast bronze. His tall shield Anatolia. The Crusaders next major military with its flattened base and chequerboard pattern is a obstacle was the great Syrian city of Antiochjanuwiya. a form of infantry mantlet whose name suggests (now Antakya in Turkey). Here the Crusaders that it was of Italian origin. Genoa, from which the name not only conducted an epic siege but also derives, became one of the main Italian merchant defeated two largely Turkish armies. One was republics through which military equipment and strategic materials were illegally sold to the Islamic states during attempting to relieve the city, the other to the Crusader period. (De Unger Collection, London) retake Antioch, which had fallen to the
26 Essential Histories • The Crusadesinvaders just over three weeks previously on The Church of St Peter a short distance from the city of3 June 1098. Antakya (Antioch), was the most sacred site in the Crusader Principality of Antioch. The apostle Peter and Reinforcements also reached the Crusaders the first Christians are believed to have used the cave asin the form of fleets from Italy, England and a church. The present simple structure incorporateselsewhere. These not only enabled the elements built across the front of what is largely a man- made cave in the side of the mountain during the Crusader occupation in the 12th and 13th centuries. (David Nicolle photograph) Fulcher of Chartres on the appalling conditions endured by the Crusaders outside Antioch: invaders to re-establish contact with Western "We felt that misfortunes had befallen Europe and bring supplies as well as men, but the Franks because of their sins and for also more than compensated for the presence that reason they were not able to take of a Fatimid Egyptian fleet in the Eastern the city for so long a time. Luxury and Mediterranean. Not that the Fatimid avarice and pride and plunder had government had been idle. Taking advantage indeed weakened them. Then the of the Seljuks difficulties in northern Syria, Franks, having consulted together, its army retook Jerusalem and most of expelled the women from the army, the Palestine while reinforcing the garrisons of married as well as unmarried, lest defiled several coastal ports. The Fatimids even tried by the sordidness of riotous living they to negotiate an anti-Seljuk alliance with the should displease the Lord." Crusaders, presumably still mistaking them for an offshoot of the Byzantine Empire with
Outbreak 27which the Fatimid Caliphate had oftenenjoyed good relations. Of course the Extract from a letter, found in the CairoCrusaders, so close to their goal of Jerusalem synagogue, written by Yeshaya ha-Kohen Benand in a high state of religious enthusiasm, Masliah, concerning Jewish prisoners taken bywere not interested. The result was the siege the First Crusade:and capture of the Holy City, which fell on "News still reaches us that amongst15 July 1099, followed by the first of several those who were redeemed from the Franksmajor battles between Fatimid armies and and remain in Ascalon some are in dangerCrusader forces on the coastal plain near of dying of want. Others remained inAscalon. The First Crusade had been crowned captivity, and yet others were killed beforewith what was even then regarded as an the eyes of the rest... In the end all thosealmost miraculous success - a success which who could be ransomed from them werewould not, however, be repeated. liberated, and only a few whom they kept remained in their hands ... To this day these captives remain in their hands, asThe so-called Tower of David in Jerusalem stands againstthe western wall of the Old City. This was the citys Citadel well as those who were taken at Antioch,in medieval times and the highest point of the fortifications but these are few, not counting those whowhich were also the most vulnerable. There had been a abjured their faith because they lostcitadel here since Herodian or Roman times, but this fell patience as it was not possible to ransominto decay during the peaceful early Islamic Arab era. It was them and because they despaired of beingrebuilt during the Crusader occupation, thereafter beingmaintained and perhaps strengthened under the Mamluks permitted to go free."and Ottomans. (David Nicolle photograph)
28 Essential Histories • The Crusades Ibn al-Qalanisi describing the defence of Tyre against Crusader attack in 1111-12: "A long timber beam was set up on the wall in front of the [enemy] siege-tower. On top of it, forming a T-shaped cross, another beam forty cubits long was swung on pulleys worked by a winch in the manner as a ships mast... At one end of the pivoting beam was an iron spar and atCarving of St George helping the First Crusaders outside the other end ropes running throughAntioch. English early 12th c e n t u r y . The story was pulleys by means of which the operatorspopular throughout most of Latin Western Europe could hoist buckets of dung and refuseduring the period of the Crusades, but this is one of theearliest and best preserved carved reliefs. At this date and empty them over the Franks ... Thenthe only item of military equipment which differentiates this sailor (who had designed the device)the Crusaders praying on the left, from the Muslims had panniers and baskets filled with oil,being slaughtered by St George on the right, is the pitch, wood shavings, resin and cane-barklatters round s h i e l d s . The round shield became, in fact,the most common iconographic method of identifying set on fire and hoisted up in the mannerinfdel troops in medieval European art. described to the level of the Frankish(in situ parish church of St George, Fordington, England. tower (which was then burned down)."David Nicolle photograph)
The fightingCrusade and jihad; consolidationof Islamic resistanceThe so-called Peasants Crusade had been ranks, was captured. Later that year Godfreywiped out on the frontier of Islamic territory. of Bouillon, ruler of Crusader Jerusalem, diedThe second wave, or the First Crusade proper, and was succeeded by Baldwin of Boulogne,had achieved an almost miraculous success at the Count of Edessa. Meanwhile the FatimidAntioch, in defeating two large Islamic armies army, though far past its peak, launched aand by seizing the Holy City of Jerusalem. A series of campaign which resulted in thethird wave was crushed in eastern Anatolia three battles of Ramla. The Egyptians werewhile apparently heading for Iraq. Whether defeated in the first and third, but in theor not this third wave was hoping to take the second battle they virtually exterminated agreat city of Baghdad, which Western Crusader army, causing losses which theChristians regarded as the capital of the Christians could not afford.Islamic world, has never been established. In the north the fortunes of war wereThe result was, however, a catastrophe and similarly divided and although the Crusadersnever again would Crusading armies have a won notable victories, their glory days wereclear passage through Muslim-Turkish soon over. Nevertheless, it took severalAnatolia. Instead the Mediterranean became decades for the Western Christians to realisethe main, and eventually the only, link that the clear military superiority they hadbetween the Crusader States and Western enjoyed during the First Crusade no longerEurope. existed. From then on the Crusaders were Those of the First Crusade who remained forced on to the defensive, while thein the east, plus a steady flow of newcomers Muslims slowly reunited their forces and,from Europe, joined forces with theArmenians to carve out four small states inwhat are now south-eastern Turkey, Syria, Bohemond of TarantoLebanon, Palestine and Jordan. They became Bohemond, born in the mid-1050s,the Principality of Antioch, the County of eldest son of Robert Guiscard, foughtEdessa, the County of Tripoli and the alongside his father against EmperorKingdom of Jerusalem. A fifth state, that of Alexius in the early 1080s. He joined thethe Armenians themselves, emerged in what First Crusade, became its most effectiveis now Turkish Cilicia. military commander and subsequently Fully aware that control of the coast was the ruler of Antioch. Having taken anessential for their survival, the Christians oath of allegiance to Emperor Alexius,soon took all the ports except Ascalon, Bohemond refused to recognise thewhich remained in Fatimid hands for several Byzantine claim to Antioch, hence theredecades. In fact Ascalon became a 12th- were tensions. He was captured bycentury version of the 20th- to 21st-century Danishmandid Turks in 1100 but releasedGaza Strip. Nevertheless, the invaders soon in 1103. After further clashes with thesuffered serious reverses, partly through their Byzantines in Cilicia, he returned to Italyown overconfidence and partly because their from where he unsuccessfully attackedMuslim neighbours recovered from the Byzantine Albania in 1107. Bohemondinitial shock of invasion. In 1100 Bohemond did not return to Syria but died in Apuliaof Taranto, Prince of Antioch and perhaps in 1111.the most skilful military leader in Crusader
30Jerusalem under Crusader occupation in the 12th century Essential Histories • The Crusades
The fighting 31 12th-century Damascus and the siege of the city by the Second Crusade in July AD 1148even more slowly, retook what had been lostin the early 12th century. Fulcher of Chartres on the role of women in In strategic terms the Crusader States were the defence of Crusader Jaffa against avulnerable, forming an arc of territory from Fatimid naval assault in 1123:the unclear eastern frontier of the County of "The Arab or Aethiopian [Sudanese] footEdessa to the southern tip of the Kingdom of soldiers which they brought with themJerusalem. To the north were the similarly together with a body of cavalry, made anewly established Turkish Anatolian states of heavy assault upon the inhabitants of Jaffa.the Danishmandids and Seljuks. To the east On both sides men hurled javelins, somelay the great city of Mosul which would threw stones and others shot arrows.become the power-house of the first Islamic Moreover those within the city, fightingcounter-Crusade. Tucked inside the curve of manfully for themselves, slew thoseCrusader territory was the seemingly outside with oft-repeated blows... Thevulnerable Syrian city of Aleppo which the women of Jaffa were constantly ready withChristians never took. Further south, and as generous help for the men who wereyet of secondary significance, was another struggling mightily. Some carried stonesgreat Syrian city - Damascus - which again and others brought water to drink."the Crusaders never took. Beyond Damascus
32 Essential Histories • The Crusades As yet the Crusader States largely ignored Emperor Alexius I the Byzantine Empires attempts to exert its Born in 1048 to the powerful own suzereinty over them. Instead an uneasy landowning Comnenus family, Alexius alliance was formed, though the Byzantines became a senior general. He seized the continued to try to dominate Antioch. The imperial Byzantine throne in 1081 during rulers of Damascus were afraid of being taken the civil wars which followed the Turkish over by their fellow-Muslim rulers of Mosul invasion of Anatolia. The weakened and so formed occasional alliances with the Empire was now threatened from all sides Crusader States. In fact King Baldwin I of but Alexius diplomatic skill and a small Jerusalem and Tughtagin, the amir of revival of the Byzantine army enabled Damascus, agreed to share the revenues of him to defeat the Pechenegs in the territory south of Damascus and east of the north, the Normans in the West and Jordan. Meanwhile Edessa, where the and even regain some territory in Crusader military elite were so few that they Anatolia. But he failed to control the relied on Armenian military support, Crusaders. Personally orthodox in his survived because the Muslim rulers of Aleppo religion, Alexius tried to rebuild the felt themselves to be threatened by the other Byzantine economy and accepted the fact more powerful Crusader States. that the powerful aristocracy had to some This fragile equilibrium collapsed in the degree to remain autonomous as the mid-12th century as the fragmented Islamic backbone of Byzantine military might. states gradually coalesced into fewer realms. He died in 1118. As the shock of the First Crusade wore off,the Christians took control of almost all the Imad al-Din Ibn Qasim al-Dawlaagricultural zone, establishing a hazy frontier Zangi, Atabeg of Mosulwith the semi-desert regions. The latter, Zangi was born around 1084. His fatherthough sometimes recognising the authority was a Turkish mamluk, a senior politicalof one or other Islamic ruler, had been figure in the service of the Seljuk Sultanindependent for centuries, the only exception Malik Shah who joined the wrong side inbeing the Islamic holy land of the Hijaz in a civil war and was put to death by MalikArabia which recognised a distant Seljuk Shahs brother when Zangi was ten yearsoverlordship. To the west the Sinai desert old. Nevertheless, the boy remained innominally formed part of Fatimid territory. the service of the rulers of Mosul and wasFinally there was the Fatimid-held port and eventually appointed governor of Wasitenclave of Ascalon on the Mediterranean in 1122/23. This was a time of virtualwhose survival largely depended upon the anarchy, but Zangi steadily rose toFatimid-Egyptian navy. Only when Italian became atabeg or autonomous governornaval power became overwhelming did the of Mosul under Seljuk suzereinty in 1127.Crusaders finally take Ascalon in 1153. This Thereafter he extended his territory,event also opened the way for Crusader fought both the Crusader States and theattempts to take control of Egypt, where Byzantines, usually managing to be onFatimid power was tottering to its fall. But the winning side during various SeljukEgypts weakness also attracted attempts by civil wars. Politically astute and a fineNur al-Din, the increasingly powerful Turkish military commander, Zangi was alsoruler of northern Iraq and Syria, to win ruthless, unscrupulous and sometimescontrol of what all sides recognised as a mistreated his own followers, beingpotential power-house. It was Nur al-Din and murdered by some of his own mamluksin particular his governor Salah al-Din while besieging Qalat Jabar in 1146.(Saladin) who eventually succeeded.
The fighting 33 The maristan or hospital of Nur al-Din in the Old City of Guibert of Nogent on how a doctor Damascus is one of the best preserved medieval hospitals in the Middle East. Nur al-Din was, of course, a great proposed treating the injured King Baldwin I patron of art. architecture and public works as well as of Jerusalem who had a deep wound in his being perhaps the most significant figure in the Islamic body: military revival of the 12th c e n t u r y . The maristan itself was "He proposed a wonderful expedient built to treat those suffering from mental health ... He asked the king that he might order problems, being designed to provide not only secure accommodation but also a soothing environment in one of the Saracen prisoners to be which fountains and a large pool were central features. wounded in the same position as the The doctors themselves worked and taught in the four king himself and then order him to be surrounding iwans or tall shaded recesses in each wall. killed so that the doctor might Today the maristan of Nur al-Din is a museum of Arab- investigate freely on the dead body and Islamic Science and Medicine. (David Nicolle photograph) examine certainly from looking at it what the royal wound was like on its power of Mosul, only recognising the threat inside." from the east when Mosul and Aleppo were The king refused, but had a bear united under the rule of Imad al-Din Zangi wounded and killed instead. in 1128 and more particularly when Zangi conquered most of the County of Edessa in 1144. Instead their attention was focusedthe Islamic military elite returned to its largely upon Damascus and Egypt.traditional responsibilities of jihad or the Nevertheless, the fall of Edessa sentdefence and recovery of Islamic territory. In Shockwaves throughout Westerngeneral, Middle Eastern society regarded the Christendom and resulted in the preachingpresence of Crusader States in the heart of of the Second Crusade by St Bernard ofthe Islamic world as an affront rather than a Clairvaux. In 1147 two great expeditions setthreat. For their part the Crusader Kings of out from France and Germany. Unlike theJerusalem seem to have neglected the rising First Crusade, the Second came to grief in
34 Essential Histories • The Crusades The struggle for Egypt
The fighting 35Turkish Anatolia and only a small part One section of the huge fortified walls of Cairo Citadelreached Syria. Others came directly by sea. looking south from the Burg al-Ramla or Sandy Tower towards the Burg a l - l m a m . These towers and theOnce assembled in Palestine the Second intervening wall were erected between 1183 and 1207.Crusade attacked Damascus instead of They incorporate several very advanced features includingmarching against the main threat in vaulted passages inside the curtain wall. One of thenorthern Syria. Even so they failed, being stairways leading from the upper rampart to such a passagedefeated by weak local forces and militias can be seen in the foreground. (David Nicolle photograph)
36 Essential Histories • The Crusades and Syrian-Turkish armies as well as political Saladin and military factions within the Fatimid Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub was born Caliphate. In 1169 Nur al-Dins general in 1138 into the minor Kurdish military Shirkuh seized Cairo and the Crusader army aristocracy. He was brought up in the evacuated Egypt. That same year Shirkuh service of Zangi, his father being died and his nephew, Saladin, became not governor of Baalbek. Saladin was only Nur al-Dins governor and commander educated in the typical manner of the of the Syrian forces in Egypt, but also of the Turco-Arab military aristocracy. He Fatimid army and navy. After ruthless entered the service of Zangis son Nur purging and reorganisation these formed al-Din and accompanied his uncle on Saladins first powerbase, to which he two expeditions to Egypt. Following the gradually added more troops including a second successful expedition, Saladin significant force of slave-recruited mamluks. became the wazir or chief minister of the The Crusader States seemed paralysed last Fatimid Caliph. When the latter died before this looming threat and when Nur in 1171 Saladin took over as governor of al-Din and King Almaric of Jerusalem both Egypt under the suzereinty of Nur al-Din died in 1174, Saladin added Damascus to his of Aleppo. After the ruler of Aleppo died realm. Over the next few years Saladin in 1174, Saladin gradually extended his extended his authority further, either by control over most of what had been Nur direct annexation or by obliging Nur al-Dins al-Dins territory. Despite earlier and less descendants to recognise his overlordship. At successful clashes, Saladins invasion of this stage Saladins occasional brushes with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem the Crusader States seemed designed to resulted in overwhelming victory in improve his standing among his fellow 1187, including the reconquest of Jerusalem itself. Thereafter he held on to the Holy City despite Western Richard I of England Christendoms massive effort in the Richard, called Coeur de Lion, was born Third Crusade. He died in 1193. Pious in 1157, the third son of King Henry II. and orthodox, an astute politician and He became King of England in 1189, led a an excellent military commander, major contingent in the Third Crusade Saladin was regarded as a pattern of and married Berengaria of Navarre while chivalry by his Frankish foes and as an in Cyprus, which he had conquered from ideal ruler by many, though not all, in the Byzantines. Richard defeated Saladin the Islamic world. at Arsuf but failed to retake Jerusalem. Attempting to return home overland, he was imprisoned by Duke Leopold ofoutside Damascus in 1148. The Second Austria. Ransomed in 1194, King RichardCrusade was, in fact, a fiasco which returned home and fought King Philipdestroyed a potential alliance between the Augustus of France in Normandy, beingCrusader States and Damascus against Mosul killed in 1199 while besieging Chaluz.and Aleppo. A few years later, in 1154, Nur Richard was regarded as one of the finestal-Din added Damascus to his expanding exponents of chivalry, handsome anddomain. physically brave but ostentatious. He Since the first attempt by King Almaric I spent barely six months in England asof Jerusalem to take control of Egypt, the king, regarding it merely as a place toMuslim and Christian powers in Syria had raise money. King Richard I was also ahoped to annexe this wealthy and densely leading patron of troubadours, as hispopulated country. This resulted in a series mother Eleanor of Aquitaine had been.of remarkable campaigns, involving Crusader
The fighting 37French sword, 1 1 5 0 - 7 5 . This is a very typical knightlyweapon of the later 12th c e n t u r y . The pommel is aflattened nut shape while the quillons broaden towardstheir ends. Such a sword-hilt is shown in a great deal ofart from this period, but usually appears in a chunkier,less delicate manner than the real w e a p o n . The blade hasa single broad fuller or groove down most of its lengthand also has a now unintelligible inlaid inscription. (RoyerCollection, Paris. France)Muslims. He also retook the southern tip ofPalestine; a victory which was presented asthe freeing of the Islamic pilgrim routefrom Egypt to the Holy Cities of Mecca andMedina, which was good for Saladinscredentials as a leader of the jihad. It alsomeant that communication between Increasingly it focused on breaking IslamicSaladins two powerbases in Egypt and Syria, power in Egypt, which was the main threatthough difficult, was free from anything to what remained of the Crusader States.more serious than occasional Crusader raids. Egypt was also accessible now that Western In 1187 Saladin launched a major European domination of the Mediterraneancampaign against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. was overwhelming; Cyprus, taken from theThis, like the First Crusade, achieved greater Byzantines during the Third Crusade,success than Saladin probably expected. The provided an excellent naval base.Christian army was virtually annihilated at During the 13th century the fate of thethe battle of Hattin and Jerusalem was Crusader States became entangled in theretaken along with almost all the Kingdom rivalries of Western powers, most notablyof Jerusalem and a considerable amount of those of the German Empire and southernother Crusader territory. This caused an even Italy. In fact the rulers of Sicily sometimesgreater shock than had the fall of Edessa, seemed to view the affairs of Jerusalem asand resulted in the Third Crusade. Emperor part of their own ambitions to dominate theFrederick Barbarossa marched in 1189 butwas drowned in Anatolia, only a small partof his army reaching Syria. Next year King Pope Innocent IIIPhilip of France and King Richard of England Lotario deConti de Segni was born inset out by sea. Other European leaders were 1160 of a noble family. Vigorous, quick-also involved in this huge enterprise but the witted and highly educated in theologyresults, though significant, were far less than and law at Paris and Bolognamight have been expected from a pan- universities, Lotario had very elevatedEuropean effort to reconquer the Holy Land. views of the Papacy. Unfortunately heEven the famous battle of Arsuf was little tended to be hasty, arrogant, legalisticmore than a failed ambush from Saladins and what today might be termed apoint of view. Nevertheless, Saladins army control freak. Elected Pope in 1198 atwas exhausted by the time the Third Crusade the young age of 37 with the name ofended. A rump Kingdom of Jerusalem was Innocent III, his tenure saw continuedrecreated, but without Jerusalem, and the efforts to promote papal supremacy overgreat coastal port of Acre remained the temporal rulers, the suppression ofeffective capital of the Crusader east until its heresies and support for Crusades. He isfall in 1291. often regarded as the chief architect of The emphasis of the Crusading movement the powerful Papacy of the 13th century.in the Middle East now changed.
38 Essential Histories • The CrusadesThe fortified port of Aigues Mortes was specially built as entire Eastern Mediterranean. At the samea powerful base in southern France from which to launch time antipathy between Catholic WesternCrusading expeditions. Whether it was started by King Europe and Orthodox Eastern Europe wasLouis IX or dates entirely from the reign of King Philip theFair is unclear but most of the walls and towers clearly increasing. Such tensions, added to thedate from Philips reign, 1285 to 1314. Today the seashore declining authority of the Byzantineis some way away from the town, which is partly Emperors and the Venetian desire to controlsurrounded by reed marshes. (David Nicolle photograph) the regions trade, culminated in the The Fourth Crusade attacks the port of transport ship in tow so that they could Constantinople, as described in reach the other side [of the Golden Villehardouins Chronicle: Horn] more quickly ... The knights came "The appointed time was now come out of the transports and leapt fully and the knights went on board the armed into the sea up to their waists, transport ships with their war-horses. helmets on their heads and spears in They were fully armed, with their their hands. The good archers and the helmets laced on, while the horses were good crossbowmen, each in their units, covered with their armours and were scrambled ashore as soon as their ships saddled. All the other people who were touched the ground. At first the Greeks of less importance in battle were in the made a good resistance but when it came larger ships. The galleys were also fully to the meeting of spears they turned armed and made ready. The weather was their backs and fled, abandoned the fair and a little after dawn the Emperor shoreline ... Then the sailors began to Alexius (III) was waiting for them on the open the doors of the transports, let other side with a great army and with down the ramps and took out the horses. everything in order. Now the trumpets The knights mounted and were sounded and every galley took a marshalled in their correct divisions."
The fighting 39diversion of the Fourth Crusade against Crusade of 1218-21 was a government-ledConstantinople. This led to the creation of a rather than popular movement. It startedshort-lived Latin Empire of Constantinople with relatively small-scale operations againstand of several Latin-Crusader States in neighbouring Islamic territory in Syria butGreece, plus the emergence of Byzantine then a bolder plan was devised. Thesuccessor states in Epirus, Nicea and Crusaders would attack Egypt itself but thisTrebizond. From then on effective military time, with control of the Easternco-operation between Latin and Orthodox, Mediterranean, they could invade from theWestern and Eastern Christian states became sea. Although the resulting campaigndifficult if not impossible. It was a turning demonstrated the sophistication of Westernpoint in the history of the Crusades. European combined operations, it failed with The need to support new Latin-Crusader the Crusader army surrendering to the forcesstates in the Balkans also diverted resources of Saladins nephew, al-Kamil, in 1221. Theaway from the Middle Eastern Crusader Sixth Crusade, led by the cultured butStates at a time when European enthusiasm excommunicated Western Emperor Frederickfor Crusading was in steep decline. Like II, was a diplomatic exercise rather than avirtually all the later Crusades, the Fifth military expedition and resulted in the peaceful transfer of Jerusalem to CrusaderClairmont Castle, now called Khlemoutsi Castle, built sovereignty in 1229. From then on thein 1220-23, was one of the most important military, political and diplomatic situation offortresses in Crusader Greece, it defended the lands the Crusader States deteriorated both inof the Villehardouin family, whose capital was atnearby Andravida, and consisted of an outer wall, the Syria-Palestine and Greece. Small groups oflarge eliptical inner ward, and a series of rooms and Crusaders would arrive from the West,galleries including a chapel built against the outer wall. invariably conduct ineffective raids thatIn most cases only their fireplaces r e m a i n . The keep, merely annoyed neighbouring Islamic rulers,seen here on the right, was basically hexagonal with and then sail back to Europe. One of thesehuge vaulted galleries around a central court. (IanMeigh photograph) led by Thibaut of Champagne, the King of
40 Essential Histories • The Crusades Egyptian use of naft against the Crusaders elbows and knees, and pray to our outside the captured city of Dumyat, Saviour to save us. As soon as they threw according to De Joinvilles Chronicle: their first shot, we threw ourselves on "One night when we were guarding our elbows and knees as he had shown the chas-chastiaus the Saracens brought us. That first shot fell between the two up an engine called a pierrière which they chas-chastiaus. It fell right in front of us, had not used before. They put Greek Fire where the army had been damming the into the sling of this engine. When my river ... The Greek Fire was hurled Lord Gautiers dEscuiré, a good knight towards us like a large barrel of vinegar, who was with me, said; Lords, we are in and the tail of fire which came from it the greatest peril so far, for if they set fire was as long as a large lance. to our towers and we are inside them, we The noise it made as it came was like are doomed and burned up. But if we heavens thunder, and it seemed as if a leave these defences which we have been dragon was flying through the air. It ordered to defend, we are dishonoured ... also shed so much light... that one So my advice is this. Every time they could see the camp as clearly as if it had throw the fire at us, we drop on our been daytime."Navarre, was graced with the title of the Aerial view of Irbil taken in the early 1930s. Irbil was aSeventh Crusade. It tried to take advantage major centre of military power and of culture in northern Iraq during the 12th and 13th centuries,of rivalry between Saladins Ayyubid particularly when Saladins Turkish general Gökböri wasdescendants who ruled in Cairo, Damascus the citys governor When this photograph was taken, itand elsewhere. This resulted in an had still not expanded far beyond the original circularunsuccessful alliance with Damascus, a walled hilltop medieval city. Even today, after being ravaged by Mongols and damaged in 20th-century wars,serious defeat near Gaza, a coup detat in Irbil still has the beautifully decorated brick minaret ofCairo which placed a more effective Ayyubid the Great Mosque built by Gökböri. (Flight LieutenantPrince on the Egyptian throne, and Thibaut Sharpe photograph. St Andrews University Librarysailing home in disgust. Jerusalem was lost Photographic Collection, St Andrews, Scotland)
The fighting 41 The famous but very damaged wall-painting at Cressac is unusual in illustrating specifically Crusader knights. French 12th c e n t u r y . The scene is believed to illustrate their defeat of Nur al-Din in the Buqaia valley in 1163. A 19th-century reproduction of this section of the wall-painting, made before it suffered further damage, shows that the little figure apparently seated behind one of the knights shields, was playing a stringed instrument. Perhaps he represented the musicians who also accompanied some Crusader armies into battle. (in situ Protestant church, Cressac, France. David Nicolle photograph)again in 1244, taken by an army ofKhwarazmian military refugees called in by Danishmandamah, originally writtenthe Sultan of Egypt. Then, in alliance with c.1245 for Sultan Kay Kawus II of Seljukthe Egyptian army, they inflicted a crushing Rum, describing how Malik Danishmenddefeat on the Christians and their allies from fought a Christian knight named Tatis:Damascus at La Forbie, north of Gaza. It was "The evil Tatis attacked Malikthe last time an army from the Crusader Danishmend with his lance; MalikStates challenged a comparable Islamic army parried with his shield. They fought onin open battle. with blows of their lances, and because In 1249 the Eighth Crusade led by King of the violence and the strength of theseLouis IX of France was a more ambitious, blows they burst the links which heldbetter organised and better led expedition their coat of mail and so, ring by ring,and once more was aimed at Egypt. The these tumbled to the ground ... TheCrusaders landed at Dumyat on the eastern neighing of horses, the rattle of armourbranch of the Nile, and marched upriver and harness, the clatter of swords, thetowards Cairo, as they had done previously. crash of maces, the whistling of arrows,They again reached Mansura, named in the twang of bows and the cries ofcommemoration of the defeat of the Fifth warriors filled the air."Crusade, and were again crushed in 1250.