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

XIX: The Decline and Fall of Jerusalem, 1174-1189,   pp. 590-621 PDF (13.0 MB)

Page 594

1183. At least there is no record until then of the appointment of any bailli.
 During these same years (i 174—I i8o), the diplomatic and military
situation grew steadily worse. It will be recalled that the center of interest
during Amairic's reign had been Egypt where the collapse of the Fã~irnid
caliphate invited outside intervention. Amalric's failure permanently to
profit by that opportunity had left the field to Saladin. As the preceding
chapter has indicated, Saladin's success in supplanting the caliphate of
Cairo had ended, at least in that area, the old Sunnite~Shicite feud which
had been an important element in Christian security.~ So long as Nür-adDin
had lived, however, his jealousy and suspicion of the young conqueror of
Egypt had prevented the political unity of Egypt and Syria. Nür-ad-DIn's
death (May 1174), just two months before that of Arnalric, therefore removed
one obstacle to Syrian-Egyptian cooperation. Saladin was quick to take advantage
of the situation. His capture of Damascus on October z8, 1174, with the resulting
political union of Egypt and Syria, was his first step toward encircling
the crusaders' states. The old Latin policy of balancing a friendly Damascus
against its rivals in Egypt and northern Syria was now largely thwarted.
What was worse, Saladin then proceeded from Damascus north against Aleppo,
the key to northern Syria. 
 This objective, however, Saladin did not then attain, partly because of
Aleppan resistance, partly because of the presence of a Frankish army under
Raymond of Tripoli, then bailli. Yet his campaign was otherwise a great success.
Before he returned to Egypt in September 1176, he had taken Horns and Hamah
and defeated a contingent from Mosul. Somewhat later Baalbek was invested.
Further, the caliph of Baghdad now recognized him as ruler of Egypt and Syria.
Thus, the crusaders' policy of balancing dissident Moslem states against
each other was gradually losing its efficacy in the face of Saladin's Syrian
 The Near Eastern equilibrium was also seriously upset by the Byzantine defeat
at Myriokephalon in September 1176. It had been the emperor Manuel Comnenus's
intention to break the Turkish hold in Asia Minor. Instead, his army was
routed. The basileus accepted Kilij (or Kilich) Arslan's terms and retreated
with the remnants of his troops. Myriokephalon has been compared with Manzikert
a century earlier; and, indeed, for the Latin east the defeat was crucial.
Militarily, Byzantium never recovered. 
~ For further details regarding Saladin's career see above, chapter XVIII.

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