How the First Crusaders were taught a lesson in chivalry by Muslim Saladin

Many people still believe that Jerusalem was first a Christian not a Muslim city:”Muslims were the aggressors, taking it from Christians”.  The truth is Jerusalem was established as a Canaanite city circa 4000-3100 BC, 4,000 years before Christ.  In the 10thC BC, King David made it the capital and the Holy City of the Jews. Soloman lived there and built his Temple. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.saladinThis timeline of Jerusalem shows how often the city was taken over.

Tweeters were making the ludicrous claim on twitter today that “Jerusalem has always been an Christian city and the Muslims were the aggressors!  They stole the city from the Christians. “

History proves otherwise.  The Muslims controlled the Holy Land long before the first Crusaders. The advancing Muslims conquered northern Palestine in 636 BC and Jerusalem in 638 AD. They controlled the whole of Syria, Palestine and Egypt by 641 AD. Christians and Jews were permitted to remain, subject to payment of a poll tax.

In 1099 AD, the Christians of the First Crusade took Jerusalem and massacred the population, which was predominantly Muslim. Pope Urban ll preached it was not a sin to kill an infidel. If you killed an infidel, you would be forgiven all your sins. In Spain Muslims were called “Moors”, the wonderful film “El Cid” deals with Moors in Spain.

A leading historian of the Crusades believes that 1099 massacre of Jerusalem’s inhabitants by the army of the First Crusade was not the result of religious fervour, but rather, “the cold-blooded implementation of…’ethnic cleansing’.”

In his recent article, “The Demographics of Urban Space in Crusade Period Jerusalem (1099-1187), Alan V. Murray (University of Leeds) examines what happened when the Crusaders stormed into the Holy City on July 15th after a long siege.  He describes the violence as the Crusaders slaughtered the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. For example, Raymond of Aguilers wrote, “Some of the pagans were mercifully beheaded, others pierced by arrows plunged from towers, and yet others, tortured for a long time, were burned to death in searing flames.”

In 1187, Saladin recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims, sparing the Christian population.  The Christians recaptured Acre in 1191, during the Third Crusade. Saladin was known for his chivalry, compassion and honourable behaviour. He frequently spared the Christian population and when he heard Richard the Lionheart was sick, sent him fresh fruits.

Christians are often reluctant to admit that Jerusalem has sacred associations for Jews and Muslims alike. Muslims revere Jerusalem (AlQods) because that is where the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Masjid Al-Aqsa) and the Dome of Rock Shrine are, in addition to several other Islamic places. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered the third holiest place in Islam and praying there is a moving experience for many Muslims. There are also the remnants of Mohammed’s footsteps from where he ascended to heaven from Al-Aqsa.

There is no possible excuse for the sadism of the terrorism such as Isil, this is an issue apart, that must be stamped out.  But in other types of warfare, there is violence on both sides.   It is only fair to look at the facts of history and see that the conflict, as believed by many these days, has never been one sided.

14 responses to “How the First Crusaders were taught a lesson in chivalry by Muslim Saladin

  1. Also, Sala al Din was not so merciful to the european survivors of the Battle of Hattin. They were all beheaded.

  2. Actually, Richard was more correctly “Norman French” and spent more time in Normandy than in England. If I remember correctly he is even buried in Normandy. As for Sala al Din all we know of him is from romantic tales about Richard. There is nothing to substantiate any of them. His history is hidden.

    • Must check out what I can find about Saladin, but at school we were taught he was compassionate and frequently spared Christians. I do agree, there is a lot of fiction around, not hard fact. I love the movie El Cid. Charlton Heston is fighting the Moors in Spain, and there is a “good” Muslim lord in the film who befriends and helps him.

  3. This thread reminds me that I really should get down to reading ‘Jerusalem: The Biography’ by Simon Sebag Montefiore, which I bought several years ago!

  4. angelnstar, well done on the date. However the Moors lived in Spain not the Middle East. Sala Al Din was a Kurd, try to find any mention of hm in Arab literature. Also Richard was a Norman, and we know what they were like. So much modern history is written with a bias. After all King John ruled for how many years longer than Richard? He was overthrown by a rebellion by the great and good. Not to mention the lampreys.

    • Have corrected about the Moors. I don’t think it is any excuse to say that Richard the Lionheart was a Norman, although I know the cruelty of the times.

      It’s interesting that Saladin, a Muslim, was by far the more compassionate one, even in those days, when Muslims are bullied nowadays for the appalling cruelty of jihadis, who are not like ordinary Muslims.

      I appreciate the help of you both. I don’t mind being corrected if I am wrong, because I am always keen to learn, and important to get it right. That time line I give above, it is accurate.

    • If you can’t admit when you are wrong, pretty pathetic!

  5. Well done angelenstar, however they were only ever called Moors in Spain.

  6. Well done angelnstar, but then Richard was a Norman and we know what they were like! As for Sala Al Din, he was a Kurd and we know what Arabs think about them! p.s. They were only moors in Spain.

  7. ‘The advancing Muslims conquered northern Palestine in 636 BC and Jerusalem in 638BC.’

    Those dates must be AD, not BC. Christ lived before Muhammad.


    • Steve, the dates are correct, BEFORE Christ. that is the whole point. Muslims (then called Moors) lived in the Holy land centuries before Jesus was born, Moors existed before Mohammed was born! If you click on the link under the picture, you will see that the dates are correct, BC, not AD.

      • Jon Reinertsen

        No they should be AD. The Arabs captured the city from the Byzantines. Check the Muslim conquest on any history web site.

      • Jon Reinertsen

        Mohammad the founder of Isalm died in 632AD, so he can’t possibly have been around in 638BC!

      • Before being called Muslims,this people was called the Moors, however, think you are right it was AD.The main thing is it was the Christians who were the aggressors, Saladin was far more civilised and refused to kill women and children. Richard the Lionheart had no such scruples.

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