Today in Middle Eastern history: the Crusaders capture Maʿarrat al-Nuʿman (1098)

The First Crusade's conquest of the city of Maʿarrat al-Nuʿman was noteworthy for at least two reasons, one fairly blasé and the other definitely not. On the blasé side, Maʿarrat al-Nuʿman was an important waypoint along the march from Antioch to Jerusalem, and the Crusaders couldn't get from the former to the latter without capturing … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Crusaders capture Maʿarrat al-Nuʿman (1098)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Montgisard (1177)

Although he’s considered a great military leader, largely for having retaken Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, Saladin’s career as a general was not without its setbacks. Richard the Lionheart defeated him a few times during the Third Crusade, for example, though ultimately that crusade failed to achieve its goal. And there’s also the 1177 Battle of Montgisard, … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Montgisard (1177)

Today in North African history: the Eighth Crusade ends (1270)

King Louis IX of France (d. 1270, which is a bit of a spoiler), who would later be known as Saint Louis, would probably go somewhere on a list of the 10 greatest Crusaders of all time. He'd be right up there alongside men like Godfrey of Bouillon, the first Christian ruler of Jerusalem, and Richard the … Continue reading Today in North African history: the Eighth Crusade ends (1270)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the “People’s Crusade” ends (1096)

The “People’s Crusade” actually preceded the First Crusade, so you could argue that it was sort of a test case for the concept. In hindsight, certainly, European leaders should have treated it as such and scrapped the Crusading enterprise before it really got started. This is just a placeholder. If you’d like to read the … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the “People’s Crusade” ends (1096)

Today in European history: the Knights Templar order is purged (1307)

The Knights Templar are the more famous of the two major Christian military orders that were founded during the Crusades. We talked about the other, the Knights Hospitaller, when we looked at the failed Ottoman siege of Malta in 1565. Ironically, while the Templars get more press it’s the Hospitallers who have survived to the present … Continue reading Today in European history: the Knights Templar order is purged (1307)

Today in Middle Eastern history: Saladin takes Jerusalem (1187)

There are plenty of things wrong with Ridley Scott’s 2005 Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven. It completely rewrites the history of the court at Jerusalem, for one thing. In Scott’s story, Princess (later queen) Sybilla (d. 1190) is trapped in an unhappy marriage to malicious idiot (and later king) Guy of Lusignon (d. 1194), leading her … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Saladin takes Jerusalem (1187)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Treaty of Jaffa ends the Third Crusade (1192)

So, the Third Crusade. While the First Crusade was undoubtedly the most successful of the numbered Crusades, this is the one I assume most of us envision when we hear the word “Crusades.” After all, it produced probably the two most enduringly famous Crusader figures in history—Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, whose rivalry became legendary … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Treaty of Jaffa ends the Third Crusade (1192)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Ascalon (1099)

Most modern historians of the Crusades agree that the way we separate and number the multiple Crusade expeditions is ahistorical at best and misleading at worst. For one thing, the flow of European warriors to the Holy Land was not nearly as organized and episodic as the numbering system suggests. For another thing, treating the … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Ascalon (1099)

Today in Middle Eastern History: the Siege of Damascus ends (1148)

While the Fourth Crusade is really the archetypal Crusade in many respects—setting off to capture Jerusalem and conquering Constantinople instead really sums up the whole enterprise—the Second Crusade is the one that really set the tone for what the Crusades were capable of becoming. It started off with reasonable goals, fell apart in the planning … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern History: the Siege of Damascus ends (1148)