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July 15: Sacking Jerusalem

July 15, 2013
Jerusalem by SignolChristian crusaders under the Frankish knight Geoffrey de Boullion conquered Jerusalem after a five-week siege on this date in 1099. Reports by Muslims at the time claim that he drove the Jewish inhabitants into their synagogue and burned it down; more modern historians argue that he may actually have protected Jews and Muslims from some of the predations of his crusaders. Thousands, nevertheless, were killed, sold into slavery, or driven from the city. Before his death the following year, Geoffrey de Boulllion forced the towns of Acre, Ascalon, Arsuf, Jaffa, and Caesarea to become tributaries of the “Kingdom of Jerusalem.” His conquest purged Jerusalem of Jews for nine decades, until the Muslims reconquered the city in 1189. “Forthwith, they joyfully rushed into the city to pursue and kill the nefarious enemies, as their comrades were already doing. Some Saracens, Arabs, and Ethiopians took refuge in the tower of David, others fled to the temples of the Lord and of Solomon. A great fight took place in the court and porch of the temples, where they were unable to escape from our gladiators. Many fled to the roof of the temple of Solomon, and were shot with arrows, so that they fell to the ground dead. In this temple almost ten thousand were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet colored to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared.” —Fulkes of Chartres To view our editor’s video offering a modern martyrology for Tisha B’Av (July 15-16), see below.