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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years

XII: The Foundation of the Latin States, 1099-1118,   pp. 368-409 PDF (16.5 MB)

Page 370

since ancient times for manufactures and the caravan trade. Such are Aleppo,
Hamah, Horns, and Damascus. These cities were never conquered by the crusaders.1
 With the exception of the county of Edessa .the Frankish conquests were
to hug the coast, dependent upon sea communications with Europe and reaching
back into the highlands only for an average distance of fifty miles. Under
these circumstances the enemy was seldom more than a day's ride, away. Therefore
the Frankish states had to be garrison states, and their history is in large
part military. Let us first examine the Moslem lands surrounding the Franks
in 1099, and then the Latin Christian states themselves. 
 Southwest of Jerusalem, across the Sinai peninsula, lies Egypt. At the end
of the eleventh century it was one of the wealthiest countries of the world
with a dense though not warlike population. Its ships dominated the coasts
of Palestine and Syria northward to the Byzantine sphere of control around
Cyprus. In Ascalon, Palestine, it had an advanced base only forty miles from
Jerusalem. As preceding chapters have made clear, Egypt was technically ruled
by the Fã~imid caliph of Cairo, al-Musta~li, but was actually governed
by a capable vizir, al-Malik al-Afçlal. This caliphate championed
the Shi~ite school of Moslem belief, and represented a challenge to the older
Sunnite caliphate of the ~Abbãsid dynasty in Baghdad. In the latter
part of the eleventh century the caliphs of Cairo had lost control of Syria
and most of Palestine to the ' warlike Selchükid (Arabic, Saljuq) sultans
who had begun to dominate the ~Abbãsid caliphate of Baghdad in 1055.2
Consequently the Moslems were badly divided by the religious and political
rivalries of the two caliphates when the crusaders arrived. 
 Between Jerusalem and Antioch Syrian affairs were in great confusion. The
two most powerful centers of authority were Damascus and Aleppo, east of
the mountain ranges and facing the Syrian desert. In 1099 they were governed
by two Selchükid princes, brothers and rivals, Ridvan of Aleppo and
Dukak of Damascus. Their father, Tutush, governor of Syria, had aspired to
succeed his own brother, the Selchükid sultan Malik-Shãh, 
 1 See P. K. Hitti, History of Syria (New York, 1951), pp. 30—53; and
D. C. Munro, The Kingdom of the Crusaders (New York and London, 5935), pp.
 2 For the politics of the Moslem states and the conditions in Syria and
Palestine see H. A. 
R. Gibb, The Damascus Chronicle, intro.; R. Grousset, Histoire des croisades,
I (Paris, 1934), i—lxii; Hitti, op. Cit., pp. 573—592; S. Runciman,
A History of the Crusades, II (Cambridge, 5952), 3—i7; and above, chapters
III and V. 

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