ibn al-athir on the conquest of jerusalem

ibn al-athir on the conquest of jerusalem -...

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369 Ibn al-Athir / The Conquest ofJerusalem ~---'-'-'-'-'-'-'-'-'-'-'-'--------'---------------- large gifts of money and let them go free. They made for Damascus and then crossed the Euphrates. Suqman settled in Edessa and Ilghazi went on into Iraq. The Egyptian governor of Jerusalem was a certain Iftikhar ad-Daula, who was still there at the time of which we are speaking. ·~After-dlei-:r-va·i-n--a:ttempt-te>-ta-ke-Acre-by-siege,the Franks moved on to Jerusalem and besieged it for more than six weeks. They built two towers, one of which, near Sian, the Muslims burnt down, killing everyone inside it. It had scarcely ceased to burn before a messenger ar- rived to ask for help and to bring the news that the other side'of the city had fallen. In fact Jerusalem was taken from the north on the morning of Friday 22 Sha'ban 492/July 15, 1099. The population was put to the sword by the Franks, who pillaged the area for a week. A band of Muslims barricaded themselves into the Oratory of David and fought on for several days. They were granted their lives in return for surrenqering. The Franks honoured their word, and the group left by night for Ascalon. In the Masjid al-Aqsa the Franks slaughtered more than 70,000 people, among them a large number of Imams and Muslim scholars, devout and ascetic men who had left their homelands to live lives of pious seclusion in the Holy Place. The Franks stripped the Dome of the Rock of more than forty silver candelabra, each of them weighing 3,600 drams, and a great silver lamp weighing forty-four Syr- ian pounds, as well as a h:undred and fifty smaller silver candelabra and more than twenty gold ones, and a great deal more booty. Refugees from Syria reached Baghdad in Ramadan, among them the qadi Abu Sa'd al-Harawi. They told the Caliph's ministers a story that wrung their hearts and brought tears to their eyes. On Friday they went to the Cathedral Mosque and begged for help, weeping so that their hearers wept with them as they described the sufferings of the Muslims in that Holy City; the men killed, the women and children taken prisoner; the homes ,pillaged. Because of the terrible hardships they had suffered, they were allowed to break the fast .... It was the discord between the Muslim princes, as we shall de- scribe, that enabled the Franks tooverrun the country. Abu I-Muzaffar al-Abiwardi composed several poems on this subject, in one of which he say~: We have mingled blood with flowing tears, and there is no room left in us for pity[?] To shed tears is a man's worst weapon when the swords stir up the embers of war. Sons of Islam, behind you are battles in which heads rolled at yo:u r feet. Dare you slumber in the blessed shade of safety, where life is as soft as an orchard flower? 368 IBN AL-A THIR The Conquest of Jerusalem Ibn al-Athir" (1160-1233) was an influential Arab historian who wrote a history of the first three crusades, having witnessed the third him- self. The following selection, taken from his work The Perfect History, is one of the m:ost authoritative, roughly contemporaneous histories of the First Crusade from the Muslim perspective. What rea-
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ibn al-athir on the conquest of jerusalem -...

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