Expugatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum
from Brundage] The Battle of Hattin decimated the knights and soldiers
of the Latin states. The remnants of the fighting forces of the Kingdom
sought refuge in the fortified coastal cities and especially at Tyre.
Through the months of July and August, Saladin successively occupied the
remaining towns, cities, and castles of the Holy Land. His initial attack
upon Tyre failed, however, and the city was bypassed. Late in September
Saladin's armies camped before the Holy City itself.
Holy City of Jerusalem was besieged on September 20. It was surrounded
on every side by unbelievers, who shot arrows everywhere into the air.
They were accompanied by frightening armaments and, with a great clamor
of trumpets, they shrieked and wailed, "Hai, hai." The city
was aroused by the noise and tumult of the barbarians and, for a time,
they all cried out: "True and Holy Cross! Sepulchre of Jesus Christ's
resurrection! Save the city of Jerusalem and its dwellers!"
battle was then joined and both sides began courageously to fight. But
since so much unhappiness was produced through sorrow and sadness, we
shall not enumerate all the Turkish attacks and assemblies, by which,
for two weeks, the Christians were worn down.... During this time it seemed
that God had charge over the city, for who can say why one man who was
hit died, while another wounded man escaped? Arrows fell like raindrops,
so that one could not show a finger above the ramparts without being hit.
There were so many wounded that all the hospitals and physicians in the
city were hard put to it just to extract the missiles from their bodies.
I myself was wounded in the face by an arrow which struck the bridge of
my nose. The wooden shaft has been taken out, but the metal tip has remained
there to this day. The inhabitants of Jerusalem fought courageously enough
for a week, while the enemy settled down opposite the tower of David.
saw that he was making no progress and that as things were going he could
do no damage to the city. Accordingly, he and his aides began to circle
around the city and to examine the city's weak points, in search of a
place where he could set up his engines without fear of the Christians
and where he could more easily attack the town.... At dawn on a certain
day [Sept 26] the King of Egypt (that is, Saladin) ordered the camp to
be moved without any tumult or commotion. He ordered the tents to be pitched
in the Vale of Jehosephat, on the Mount of Olives, and on Mount joy, and
throughout the hills in that region. When morning had come the men of
Jerusalem lifted up their eyes and, when the darkness of the clouds had
gone, they saw that the Saracens were pulling up their tents as if they
were going to leave. The inhabitants of Jerusalem rejoiced greatly and
said: "The King of Syria has fled, because he could not destroy the
city as be had planned." When the turn of the matter was known, however,
this rejoicing was quickly turned into grief and lamentation.
tyrant[Saladin] at once ordered the engines to be constructed and balistas
to be put up. He likewise ordered olive branches and branches of other
trees to be collected and piled between the city and the engines. That
evening he ordered the army to take up arms and the engineers to proceed
with their iron tools, so that before the Christians could do anything
about it, they would all be prepared at the foot of the walls. The cruelest
of tyrants also arrayed up to ten thousand armed knights with bows and
lances on horseback, so that if the men of the city attempted a foray
they would be blocked. He stationed another ten thousand or more men armed
to the teeth with bows for shooting arrows, under cover of shields and
targets. He kept the rest with himself and his lieutenants around the
everything was arranged in this fashion, at daybreak they began to break
down the comer of the tower and to attack all around the walls. The archers
began shooting arrows and those who were at the engines began to fire
rocks in earnest.
men of the city expected nothing of the sort and left the city walls without
guard. Tired and worn out, they slept until morning, for unless the Lord
watch the city, he labors in vain who guards it. When the sun had risen,
those who were sleep ing in the towers were startled by the noise of the
barbarians. When they saw these things they were terrified and overcome
with fear. Like madmen they yelled out through the city: "Hurry,
men of Jerusalem! Hasten! Help! The walls have already been breached!
The foreigners are entering!" Aroused, they hastened through the
city as bravely as they could, but they were power less to repulse the
Damascenes from the walls, either with spears, lances, arrows, stones,
or with molten lead and bronze.
Turks unceasingly hurled rocks forcefully against the ramparts. Between
the walls and the outer defenses they threw rocks and the socalled Greek
fire, which bums wood, stone, and whatever it touches. Everywhere the
archers shot arrows without measure and without ceasing, while the others
were boldly smashing the walls.
men of Jerusalem, meanwhile, were taking counsel. They decided that everyone,
with such horses and arms as could be mustered, should leave the city
and march steadily through the gate which leads to Jehosephat. Thus, if
God allowed it, they would push the enemy back a bit from the walls. They
were foiled, however, by the Turkish horsemen and were woefully defeated….
Chaldeans [Saladin and his army] fought the battle fiercely for a few
days and triumphed. The Christians were failing so by this time that scarcely
twenty or thirty men appeared to defend the city walls. No man could be
found in the whole city who was brave enough to dare keep watch at the
defences for a night, even for a fee of a hundred besants .With my own
ears I heard the voice of a public crier between the great wall and the
outer works proclaiming (on behalf of the lord Patriarch and the other
great men of the city) that if fifty strong and brave sergeants could
be found who would take up arms voluntarily and keep guard during the
night over the comer which had already been destroyed, they would receive
five thousand besants. They were not found....
they sent legates to the King of Syria, begging him to temper his anger
toward them and accept them as allies, as he had done for others. He refused
and is reported to have given this reply: "I have frequently heard
from our wise men, the fakih,[from al-Fakih - a wise man] that Jerusalem
cannot be cleansed, save by Christian blood, and I wish to take counsel
with them on this point." Thus, uncertain, they returned. They sent
others, Balian and Ranier of Naples"' and Thomas Patrick, offering
a hundred thousand besants. Saladin would not receive them and, their
hopes shattered, they returned. They sent them back again with others,
demanding that Saladin himself say what kind of agreement he wanted. If
possible they would comply; if not, they would hold out to the death.
had taken counsel and laid down these ransom terms for the inhabitants
of Jerusalem: each male, ten years old and over, was to pay ten besants
for his ransom; females, five besants; boys, seven years old and under,
one. Those who wished would be freed on these terms and could leave securely
with their possessions. The inhabitants of Jerusalem who would not accept
these terms, or those who did not have ten besants, were to become booty,
to be slain by the army's swords. This agreement pleased the lord Patriarch
and the others who had money ....
Friday, October 2, this agreement was read out through the streets of
Jerusalem, so that everyone might within forty days provide for himself
and pay to Saladin the tribute as aforesaid for his freedom. When they
heard these arrangements, the crowds throughout the city wailed in sorrowful
tones: "Woe, woe to us miserable people! We have no gold! What are
we to do? . . ." Who would ever have thought that such wickedness
would be perpetrated by Christians? .
alas, by the hands of wicked Christians Jerusalem was turned over to the
wicked. The gates were closed and guards were posted. The fakihs and kadis,
[judges] the ministers of the wicked error, who are considered bishops
and priests by the Saracens came for prayer and religious purposes first
to the Temple of the Lord, which they call Beithhalla and in which they
have great faith for salvation. They believed they were cleansing it and
with unclean and horrible bellows they defiled the Temple by shouting
with polluted lips the Muslim precept: "Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!
. . ." [God is Great]
people held the city of Jerusalem for some eighty-nine years. . . . Within
a short time, Saladin had conquered almost the whole Kingdom of Jerusalem.
He exalted the grandeur of Mohammed's law and showed that, in the event,
its might exceeded that of the Christian religion.
Expugatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum, [The Capture of the Holy Land
by Saladin], ed. Joseph Stevenson, Rolls Series, (London: Longmans, 1875),
translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee,
WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 159-63
Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that
copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for
use of his translations.
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Paul Halsall December 1997