Politics From The Second Crusade To Hattin.

by Daniel Russ on February 4, 2012

Salahudin at Hattin, defeated the Crusader Army in 1187 AD

Salahudin at Hattin

One hundred thousand Christians marched into the Mid East and took Jerusalem. Along the way they had fought, pillaged, plundered, and laid siege to every populace they came across and of course, they slaughtered. The chutzpah of this unannounced invasion, perhaps spurred by Byzantine losses at Manzikert, or perhaps it was spurred by the Seljuk Turk’s capture of the Armenian capital at Ani. Or perhaps it was a manipulative and cynical play on poor people’s fears all to win new territories, and gain grandeur by taking the original birth places of Christianity from the Arabs. Looking at the tidal wave upheavals in the battle between Islam and Christianity, it was easy for either side to frame the next fight as a revenge for a terrible deed wrought upon them by the other.

Out of this chaos came Zengi, a Turk who managed to unite Mosul and Aleppo under his rule for the first time in history. In 1144, he sent out sappers to burn the Crusader’s garrison at Edessa. The guards were in Mesopotamia plundering villages near the Euphrates. He started a revolution and augmented an already busy insurgency. He was murdered by one of his own eunuch guards one night and his son took the throne. Nur ad-Din. The Zengid dynasty disintegrated and was replaced by another smart ambitious leader. Nur ad-Din claimed God spoke to him and ordered him to battle. He was quite a strong personality and lead thousands into battle with him over the next decade.

It gets a bit complicated after then. Bernard lead a Second Crusade into Syria and Bernard decided instead of attacking Nur ad-Din, his real enemy, he would attack the Emir of Damascus, who in fact was his only Muslim ally. The Muslims fared well on the battlefield and the Emir now asked Nur Ad-Din for help. The arrival of the combined force convinced the many princes in charge of the forces that it would no longer be worth the risk failure and so they each withdrew from the battlefield. Conrad III of Germany, Baldwin III of Jerusalem, Raymond of Poitiers, Manuel I Komnenos, were among those who rode out with their forces intact, all blaming each other for the betrayal.

Despite the defeat of Bernard, one that was written about in elygiac tomes by the church leaders in Rome, the Crusaders and the Arabs could not stop fighting.

Out of the chaos in the Muslim high command, Chirka conquered Egypt, placated it and brought it together with the Arab empire in the Levant all the ay to Damascus, and then promptly handed it to his nephew Salahudin.

Salahudin suffered a niece who was assaulted by Crusaders whilst riding in a convoy. He also saw Crusaders attacked unarmed pilgrims in 1182 and vowed Jihad against the Crusaders. In 1187 he lured the crusaders in a trap and defeated the Christian Army at Hattin.

Fatimid Egyptians had been driven from the walls of Jerusalem by the Crusaders almost a century earlier. Thusly, Salahudin became one of the leading heroes in all of Arab history. He essentially reversed the Christians greatest victory, the taking of Jerusalem. While Christians would never again entirely leave the Holy Land and nearby lands, they never took back Jerusalem. That didn’t happen until 1967 during the Six Day War. He was also well liked by Westerners because of his sense of chivalry and respect. Saladin never allowed his troops to subjugate and brutalize occupied people. He was holding Richard The Lionhearted, for example. When Richard grew ill with fever, Saladin sent his top doctors to lower the fever. Saladin was the archetype for chivalry and his deeds are told even today.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Louis September 11, 2017 at 8:54 am

Jeruzalem was taken in 1918, by the british General Allenby, from the Turks. And they, the british, kept it until 1948, when they ceded it to Jordan.
Also the crusades were sparked by the Turks. The arabs who ruled the Holy Land after they kicked out the East Roman\Byzantine empire were quit happy to let the christian (and jewish!) pilgrims have access to their holy sites, as it brought in money. However, the arab empire (or at least the unity in the Holy Land) more of less disintegrated from 800 till 1000. And they were conquered, or at least subjugated, by the forerunners of the Seljuk Turks. These Turks, being new converts to Islam, could not stomach the sight of Infidels (Christians and Jews) at “their” holy sites, so they harrased, and killed, pilgrims a-plenty. And they also threatened the asiatic remnants of the Byzantine Empire, who then asked for military assistance from the Pope. And the rest is history….

Daniel Russ September 11, 2017 at 10:22 am

I think the Crusades were started by the Catholic Church

Louis September 12, 2017 at 3:14 am

Well, yes and no, at least according to historical research. In a way, there is the difference between cause, trigger, and opportunity. The pope was probably genuinly miffed about the turks having possesion of the holy places, but did not have the political, or spiritual, power to do much about it. Please do remember that Europe at that time was not a unified continent, and that even within the Roman-Catholic church there were huge differences in what to believe, and how to behave. So the pope was very pleased that Alexius provided the trigger (namely: asking for help) and he saw an opportunity to use what little moral and spiritual power he had, with the help of a charismatic preacher, to kill two birds with one stone. Get rid of overly ambitious younger noble sons, and other riffraff, and cement the, at that time still small, power of the church over the nobility.
I realise that for americans the Catholic church is always the one from Rome, but historically all of Christendom (in itself a very medieval concept) was part of the katholikos. That is a greek word, and means something like: the community of all believers, so also including Orthodox, and even earlier christian sects like Nestorians, and Arians, and nowadays also protestants. It’s the christian version of the Islamic concept Ummah.

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