Siege and Fall of Jerusalem, June 7 – July 15, 1099
5 Minute History (Five Minute History) is an attempt to…
On July 15, 1099, the Holy city of Jerusalem was finally captured by the Crusaders after a 38-day long siege. What followed was the massacre of the natives.
The Crusaders rushed through the streets and into the houses and mosques killing all that they met, men, women, and children alike. All that afternoon and all through the night, the massacre continued. The Muslims and the Jews were all slaughtered by the Christian Crusaders.
When the Muslims heard of the final assault of the Crusaders (on July 14), they took shelter in the al-Aqsa mosque. But early next morning, a band of Crusaders forced an entry into the mosque and slew everyone. The area was filled with corpses and blood that reached up to the knees.
The Jews of Jerusalem fled in a body to their chief synagogue. But no mercy was shown to them as well. Their synagogue was set on fire and they were all burnt within.
Driven by extreme religious fanaticism, the Christian Crusaders had gathered from all around Europe in order to expel the Muslims from the Holy Lands. After cutting a swath of destruction through Central and Eastern Europe, massacring Jewish communities, pillaging Christian ones, and slaughtering the Muslims in Anatolia, the Crusaders finally reached outside the walls of Jerusalem on June 7, 1099.
The city of Jerusalem was defended by Fatimid governor Iftikhar ad-Dawla. After the fall of the city, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was founded and Baldwin I became the first king in 1100.
The city would remain occupied by the Crusaders until Salah al-Din retook it in 1187. Contrary to what the Crusaders had done to the Muslims, Salah al-Din ensured the safety and security of every citizen of Jerusalem irrespective of their faith. Even the defeated and captured king after short imprisonment was released by Salah al-Din.
The infamous massacre of the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem
On July 16, 1099, the Massacre of the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem by the Crusaders continued on the 2nd day. Within a few days, human corpses littered the streets, mosques, and synagogues of Jerusalem. The area was filled with corpses and blood that reached up to the knees.
According to Ali ibn al-Athir, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Franks killed more than 70,000, a large number of them being imams, ulema, righteous men and ascetics, Muslims who had left their native lands and come to live a holy life in this august spot.
According to Steven Runciman, no one can say how many victims it involved; but it emptied Jerusalem of its Moslem and Jewish inhabitants. The chief Jewish synagogue was set on fire and they were all burnt within.
According to Karen Armstrong, for three days the Crusaders systematically slaughtered about thirty thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Ten thousand Muslims who had sought sanctuary on the roof of the Aqsā were brutally massacred, and Jews were rounded up into their synagogue and put to the sword. There were scarcely any survivors.
The streets literally ran with blood. “Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen,” says the Provençal eyewitness Raymond of Aguilers. Muslims and Jews were cleared out of the Holy City like vermin.
5 Minute History (Five Minute History) is an attempt to explore Islamic History and Culture. We highlight aspects of Islamic culture and history that are often overlooked and uncover the historical gems on a daily basis.