The Crusades (Part III)

 Imad al-Din Zengi (The atabeg of Mosul of the Seljuk Empire) enabled Muslims to unite and take back Jerusalem. Pope summoned the Second Crusade. However, unlike the other crusade, they were led by kings. After being ambushed 3 times, the survivors reached Jerusalem through land and sea roads. They did a council about defending Jerusalem and at the end of the meeting, they decided to attack the city of Damascus. When the news reached the atabeg of Damascus, he took precautions and got help from Nur ad-Din Zengi. Crusaders knew they could not resist the Zengi’s Army and lifted the siege. Nur ad-Din Zengi arrived and stopped in Damascus.

   This Crusade caused massive damage to Europe and this failure caused them to collapse physically and mentally.
Constant Warfare:

   With the Second Crusade lasting severely, Nur ad-Din Zengi’s dominance in Damascus and areas of Syria made him achieve a big success for the Muslim States.

   By the year 1162, after the death of King Baldwin the Third (King of Jerusalem), there was a concern because King Baldwin the Third had no kids to take the crown. His brother Amaury took the crown. King Amaury’s main target was Egypt because it was the main security gateway to Jerusalem. 

Conquering Egypt:

   On the other hand, Fatimid Dynasty began to collapse. King Amaury made a sudden attack to invade the Eygpt. However, Amaury needed to retreat to survive. The news of the incident reached quickly to Nur ad-Din Zengi. With the help call of an old Vizier of the Fatimids, Nur ad-Din Zengi sent an army led by Şirkuh el-Mansur to Egypt. Şirkuh’s nephew Salah al-Din Eyyubi (the future conqueror of Jerusalem) was there too.

   The army headed to Cairo. He captured the whole Eygpt. However, two months after taking Egypt, his life ended. His nephew Salah al-Din Eyyubi became the new commander and King Amaury sent ambassadors to the West to call the Crusades with the Pope’s help. Unfortunately to the Crusades, nothing changed. King Amaury also sent some of his ambassadors to Byzantium. The Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos replied sending a powerful army. However, the army force wasn’t enough to halt the Zengid army. In the end, Fatimid Dynasty ended and Muslims united against the Crusaders.

More Strikes:

   After the death of Nur ad-Din Zengi, his son Ismail took the throne but Ismail was just eleven years old. Because of being a young sultan, the administration of the government was shared with the governors. By Salah al-Din being dominant in the administration, he won the struggle and remade the union. King Amaury died two months after the death of Nur ad-Din Zengi, making the kingdom despair. The last one from the Dynasty was his 13 years old leper son Baldwin the Fourth. King’s illness was worsening. There needed to be an heir to continue the throne. His sister Sibylle was married to Guillaume de Montferrat and with this marriage, an heir would be born (Baldwin the Fifth).

   The kingdom asked for help from the West. Although the Pope’s efforts, the kingdom’s hope was despaired. Also, Byzantium was in a bad condition because they were defeated in the Battle of Myriohephalon. (Note: The battle was made with Seljuk Sultan Kilij Arslan the Second and Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos. Seljuks won with a tactical attack. This battle is also known as the “ Yurt Tutan ” battle because, after this battle, Byzantines left Anatolia and Anatolia became the land of the Turks.) At this time, Salah al-Din conquered Aleppo and enlarge the Dynasty’s border from Egypt to Dicle.

Last Effort to Survive:

   King Baldwin the Fourth died in 1185. His nephew Baldwin the Fifth was announced as the king. His proxy was Count of Tripoli Raymond the Third. As the kingdom’s condition was going badly, he made a 4 years agreement with Salah al-Din and hoped to sustain it until the crusade. But after the sudden death of Baldwin the Fifth, chaos arose on the throne and the results got worse from Raymond’s side. Raymond and his supporters were forcibly driven away from the administration. 

   Sister of Baldwin the Fourth and also the mother of Baldwin the Fifth, Sibylle became the new queen. However, she left the crown to her present husband Guy de Lesignan (second husband). This made the situation more complicated.

   New King Guy de Lesignan supported the agreement Raymond made. Unfortunately, not everyone supported it. An old Prince of Antioch Principality Renaud de Chatillon was captured. He had been kept a slave for 15 years in Aleppo and after that, his supporters paid his ransom and became the head of the enemies of Islam in that history. The actions he made were breaking the rules of the treaty.

This made the war inevitable. 


Onur Hakan Akdoğan

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