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

While you know that I don’t generally have very nice things to say about the Crusaders, there is a certain something about the defense of Jerusalem, manned by common citizens and squires, some of whom were knighted by Balian out of a sheer desperate need for manpower, that you have to respect. These weren’t the putzes who rode out to their destruction at Hattin, they were the people abandoned by those putzes. The fact that they managed to hold out for even 12 days against Saladin’s much larger (20,000 men against maybe 5,000 Christian defenders), much better equipped, much better trained army is a testament first to the challenges of medieval siege warfare (Jerusalem was a tough nut to crack), but also to the will and determination of the people inside the city. Yes, we could say that they made a big mistake not jumping on Saladin’s original offer of a peaceful surrender of the city, but let’s not discount the fact that a) they may not have trusted Saladin to keep his word and b) these were genuinely religious people who may have had difficulty abandoning “Christ’s city” to the Muslims without at least putting up a fight.

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


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