Mongol raids into Palestine took place towards the end of the Crusades, following the temporarily successful Mongol invasions of Syria, primarily in 1260 and 1300. Following each of these invasions, there existed a period of a few months during which the Mongols were able to launch raids southward into Palestine, reaching as far as Gaza.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule. The term crusade is also applied to other church-sanctioned campaigns. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Roman Catholic groups, or for political and territorial advantage. At the time of the early Crusades, the word did not exist, only becoming the leading descriptive term around 1760.
Starting in the 1240s, the Mongols made repeated invasions of Syria or attempts thereof. Most failed, but they did have some success in 1260 and 1300, capturing Aleppo and Damascus and destroying the Ayyubid dynasty. The Mongols were forced to retreat within months each time by other forces in the area, primarily the Egyptian Mamluks. Since 1260, it had been described as the Mamluk-Ilkhanid War.
Palestine is a geographic region in Western Asia usually considered to include Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in some definitions, parts of western Jordan.
The raids were executed by a relatively small part of the Mongol army, which proceeded to loot, kill, and destroy. However, the Mongols appeared to have had no intention, on either occasion, of integrating Palestine into the Mongol administrative system, and a few months after the Syrian invasions, Mamluk forces returned from Egypt and reoccupied the region with little resistance.
In 1258, the Mongols under the leader Hulagu, on their quest to further expand the Mongol Empire, successfully captured the center of power in the Islamic world, the city of Baghdad, effectively destroying the Abbasid dynasty. After Baghdad, the Mongol forces, including some Christians from the previously conquered or submitted territories of Georgia, Cilician Armenia and Antioch, went on to conquer Syria, the domain of the Ayyubid dynasty. The Mongols took the city of Aleppo, and on March 1, 1260, they conquered Damascus,destroying the Ayyubid Dynasty as well.
The Mongol Empire existed during the 13th and 14th centuries; it became the largest contiguous land empire in history. Originating in Mongolia, the Mongol Empire eventually stretched from Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northwards into Siberia; eastwards and southwards into the Indian subcontinent, Indochina and the Iranian Plateau; and westwards as far as the Levant and the Carpathian Mountains.
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions, as well as hosting multiethnic and multireligious environment, garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Centre of Learning".
The Kingdom of Georgia, also known as the Georgian Empire, was a medieval Eurasian monarchy which emerged circa 1008 AD. It reached its Golden Age of political and economic strength during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar the Great from 11th to 13th centuries. Georgia became one of the pre-eminent nations of the Christian East, her pan-Caucasian empire stretching, at its largest extent, from Eastern Europe and the North Caucasus to the northern portion of Iran and Anatolia, while also maintaining religious possessions abroad, such as the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem and the Monastery of Iviron in Greece. It was the principal historical precursor of present-day Georgia.
With the Islamic power centres of Baghdad and Damascus gone, Cairo, under the Mamluks, became the centre of Islamic power. The Mongols probably would have continued their advance on through Palestine towards Egypt, but they had to stop their invasion because of an internal conflict in Turkestan. Hulagu departed with the bulk of his forces, leaving only about 10,000 Mongol horsemen in Syria under his Nestorian Christian general Kitbuqa, to occupy the conquered territory.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa, the largest in the Middle East and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 AD by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.
Turkestan, also spelt Turkistan, refers to an area in Central Asia between Siberia to the north; Iran, Afghanistan, and Tibet to the south, the Caspian Sea to the west and the Gobi Desert to the east.
Kitbuqa Noyan, also spelled Kitbogha or Ketbugha, was a Nestorian Christian of the Mongolian Naiman tribe, a group that was subservient to the Mongol Empire. He was a lieutenant and confidant of the Mongol Ilkhan Hulagu, assisting him in his conquests in the Middle East. When Hulagu took the bulk of his forces back with him to attend a ceremony in Mongolia, Kitbuqa was left in control of Syria, and was responsible for further Mongol raids southwards towards Egypt. He was killed at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260.
Kitbuqa continued the offensive, taking the cities and castles of Baalbek, al-Subayba, and Ajlunand sending Mongol raiding parties further into Palestine, reaching as far as Ascalon and possibly Jerusalem. A Mongol garrison, of about 1,000, was placed in Gaza, with another garrison located in Nablus. The devastation of this raid on the Samaritan community of Nablus is recorded in the Tolidah . Many men, women and children were killed and ׳Uzzī, son of the High Priest ׳Amram ben Itamar, was captured and brought to Damascus. He was later ransomed by the community.
Baalbek, properly Baʿalbek and also known as Balbec, Baalbec or Baalbeck, is a city located east of the Litani River in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley, about 85 km (53 mi) northeast of Beirut. It is the capital of Baalbek-Hermel Governorate. In Greek and Roman times Baalbek was also known as Heliopolis. In 1998 Baalbek had a population of 82,608, mostly Shia Muslims, followed by Sunni Muslims and Christians.
Ashkelon or Ashqelon, also known as Ascalon, is a coastal city in the Southern District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Tel Aviv, and 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age. In the course of its history, it has been ruled by the Ancient Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hasmoneans, the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs and the Crusaders, until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1270.
Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.
Hulagu also sent a message to King Louis IX of France, saying that the Mongols had remitted Jerusalem to the Christians. However, modern historians believe that though Jerusalem may have been subject to at least one Mongol raid during this time, that it was not otherwise occupied or formally conquered.
Louis IX, commonly known as Saint Louis, was King of France, and is a canonized Catholic and Anglican saint. Louis was crowned in Reims at the age of 12, following the death of his father Louis VIII; his mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom as regent until he reached maturity. During Louis' childhood, Blanche dealt with the opposition of rebellious vassals and obtained a definitive victory in the Albigensian Crusade which had started 20 years earlier.
During the Mongol attack on the Mamluks in the Middle East, most of the Mamluks were made out of Kipchaks and the Golden Horde's supply of Kipchaks replenished the Mamluk armies and helped them fight off the Mongols.
After retreating from Syria to Cairo, the Egyptian Mamluks negotiated with the Franks of the rump Kingdom of Jerusalem at Acre, and the Franks adopted a position of passive neutrality between the Mamluks and the Mongols even though the Muslim Mamluks had been the traditional enemies of the Crusaders. At the time, the Franks appear to have regarded the Mongols as a greater threat than the Muslims. Thus, the Mamluk forces were permitted to pass through Crusader territory unharmed, and they amassed a sizable force to confront the remains of the Mongol army in September 1260 at the historic Battle of Ain Jalut in Galilee. The Mamluks achieved a major victory, which was important for the region but also was the first time that the Mongol Army had suffered a major defeat. It became the high-water mark for the Mongol conquests, as after this battle, even if he Mongols would again attempt several invasions of Syria, they would not be successful until 1300. Even then, they again they would hold territory for only a few months.
The Crusader Julian de Grenier, Lord of Sidon and Beaufort, described by his contemporaries as irresponsible and light-headed, took the opportunity in 1260 to raid and plunder the area of the Bekaa in what had recently become Mongol territory. When the Mongol general Kitbuqa sent his nephew with a small force to obtain redress, they were ambushed and killed by Julian. Kitbuqa responded forcefully by raiding the city of Sidon, destroying walls and slaying Christians although it is said that the castle remained untaken.
In 1269, the English Prince Edward (the future Edward I), inspired by tales of his uncle, Richard the Lionheart and the Second Crusade of the French king, Louis VII, started on a crusade of his own, the Ninth Crusade.The number of knights and retainers that accompanied Edward on the crusade was quite small, possibly around 230 knights, with a total complement of approximately 1,000 people transported in a flotilla of 13 ships. Many of the members of Edward's expedition were close friends and family, including his wife Eleanor of Castile, his brother Edmund, and his first cousin Henry of Almain.
When Edward finally arrived in Acre on May 9, 1271, he immediately sent an embassy to the Mongol ruler Abaqa.
Edward's plan was to use the help of the Mongols to attack the Muslim leader Baibars.The embassy was led by Reginald Russel, Godefrey Welles and John Parker.
Abaqa answered positively to Edward's request in a letter dated September 4, 1271. The historians Runciman and Grousset quote the medieval French Estoire d'Eracles, a continuation of the twelfth-century Latin chronicle of William of Tyre:
The messengers that Sir Edward and the Christians had sent to the Tartars to ask for help came back to Acre, and they did so well that they brought the Tartars with them, and raided all the land of Antioch, Aleppo, Haman and La Chamele, as far as Caesarea the Great. And they killed all the Sarazins they found.
In mid-October 1271, the Mongol troops requested by Edward arrived in Syria and ravaged the land from Aleppo southward. Abaqa, occupied by other conflicts in Turkestan, could send only 10,000 Mongol horsemen under general Samagar from the occupation army in Seljuk Anatolia and auxiliary Seljukid troops,but they triggered an exodus of Muslim populations (who remembered the previous campaigns of Kithuqa) as far south as Cairo. The Mongols defeated the Turcoman troops that protected Aleppo, putting to flight the Mamluk garrison in that city, and continued their advance to Maarat an-Numan and Apamea.
When Baibars mounted a counteroffensive from Egypt on November 12, the Mongols had already retreated beyond the Euphrates, unable to face the full Mamluk army.
In the summer of 1299, the Mongols under Ghazan successfully took the northern city of Aleppo and defeated the Mamluks in the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar (also known as the 3rd Battle of Homs), on December 23 or 24, 1299.One group of Mongols under the command of the Mongol general Mulay then split off from Ghazan's army, and pursued the retreating Mamluk troops as far as Gaza, pushing them back to Egypt. The bulk of Ghazan's forces then proceeded to Damascus, which surrendered sometime between December 30, 1299, and January 6, 1300, but its Citadel resisted. Ghazan then retreated most of his forces in February, probably because their horses needed fodder. Ghazan also promised to return in November to attack Egypt.
Accordingly, there existed a period of about four months, from February to May 1300, when the Mongol il-Khan was the de facto lord of the Holy Land.The smaller force of about 10,000 horsemen under Mulay engaged in raids as far south as Gaza, returned to Damascus around March 1300 and, a few days later, followed Ghazan back across the Euphrates.
The Egyptian Mamluks then returned and reclaimed the entire area in May 1300without a battle.
Medieval sources give many different views of the extent of the raids in 1299 and 1300, and there is disagreement among modern historians as to which of the sources are most reliable and which might be embellished or simply false. The fate of Jerusalem, in particular, continues to be debated, with some historians stating that the Mongol raids may have penetrated the city and others saying that the city was neither taken or even besieged.
The most often-cited study of the matter is that by Dr. Sylvia Schein in her 1979 article "Gesta Dei per Mongolos". She concluded, "The alleged recovery of the Holy Land never happened."However, in her 1991 book, Schein includes a brief footnote saying that the conquest of Jerusalem by the Mongols was "confirmed" because they are documented to have removed the Golden Gate of the Dome of the Rock in 1300, to transfer it to Damascus. That was based on an account from the 14th century priest Niccolo of Poggibonsi, who gave a detailed architectural description of Jerusalem and mentioned the acts of the Mongols on the gate. Another scholar, Denys Pringle, described Poggibonsi's account as saying that the Mongols tried to destroy, undermine, burn or remove the gate but without success, and when the Mamluks returned, they had the gate walled up.
In his 2007 book, Les Templiers, Alain Demurger states that the Mongols captured Damascus and Jerusalem,and that Ghazan's general Mulay also was "effectively present" in Jerusalem in 1299-1300. According to Frederic Luisetto, Mongol troops "penetrated into Jerusalem and Hebron where they committed many massacres." In The Crusaders and the Crusader States, Andrew Jotischky used Schein's 1979 article and later 1991 book to state, "after a brief and largely symbolic occupation of Jerusalem, Ghazan withdrew to Persia".
In his 1987 article, "Mongol raids into Palestine", Reuven Amitai stated, "It seems most likely then that the Mongols raided Palestine by themselves in 1299–1300. The Mongol forces rode as far as Gaza, looting and killing as they went, and they entered several towns, including Jerusalem. In the end, all the raiders returned to the Damascus area... by the middle of March 1300."
Whatever the truth may have been, the Mongol advance led to wild rumours in Europe at the time, that perhaps the Mongols had captured Jerusalem and were going to return it to the Europeans. These rumours, starting around March 1300, were probably based on accounts from Venetian merchants who had just arrived from Cyprus.The account gave a more or less accurate picture of the Mongol successes in Syria but then expanded to say that the Mongols had "probably" taken the Holy Land by that point. The rumours were then inflated widely by wishful thinking, and the urban legend environment of large crowds that had gathered in Rome for the Jubilee. The story grew to say (falsely) that the Mongols had taken Egypt, that the Mongol Ghazan had appointed his brother as the new king there and that the Mongols were next going to conquer Barbary and Tunis. The rumours also stated that Ghazan had freed the Christians who were held captive in Damascus and in Egypt and that some of those prisoners had already made their way to Cyprus.
By April 1300, Pope Boniface VIII was sending a letter announcing the "great and joyful news to be celebrated with special rejoicing,"that the Mongol Ghazan had conquered the Holy Land and offered to hand it over to the Christians. In Rome, as part of the Jubilee celebrations in 1300, the Pope ordered processions to "celebrate the recovery of the Holy Land" and further encouraged everyone to depart for the newly recovered area. King Edward I of England was asked to encourage his subjects to depart as well, to visit the Holy Places. Pope Boniface even referred to the recovery of the Holy Land from the Mongols in his bull Ausculta fili .
In the summer of the Jubilee year (1300), Pope Boniface VIII received a dozen ambassadors, dispatched from various kings and princes. One of the groups was of 100 Mongols, led by the Florentine Guiscard Bustari, the ambassador for the Il-khan. The embassy, abundantly mentioned in contemporary sources, participated in the Jubilee ceremonies.Supposedly, the ambassador was also the man nominated by Ghazan to supervise the re-establishment of the Franks in the territories that Ghazan was going to return to them.
There was great rejoicing for a short time, but the Pope soon learned about the true state of affairs in Syria, from which, in fact, Ghazan had withdrawn the bulk of his forces in February 1300, and the Mamluks had reclaimed by May.However, the rumours continued until at least September 1300.
The Battle of Ain Jalut took place in September 1260 between Muslim Mamluks and the Mongols in the southeastern Galilee, in the Jezreel Valley, in the vicinity of Nazareth, not far from the site of Zir'in.
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü or Hulegu, was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Western Asia. Son of Tolui and the Keraite princess Sorghaghtani Beki, he was a grandson of Genghis Khan and brother of Ariq Böke, Möngke Khan, and Kublai Khan.
Hethum I ruled the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia from 1226 to 1270. He was the son of Constantine, Lord of Baberon and Princess Alix Pahlavouni of Lampron and was the founder of the dynasty which bears his name: the Hetoumids. Due to diplomatic relations with the Mongol Empire, Hethum himself traveled to the Mongol court in Karakorum, Mongolia, which was recorded in the famous account The Journey of Haithon, King of Little Armenia, To Mongolia and Back by Hetoum's companion, the Armenian historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi.
Hethum II, also known by several other romanizations, was king of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, ruling from 1289 to 1293, 1295 to 1296 and 1299 to 1303, while Armenia was a subject state of the Mongol Empire. He abdicated twice in order to take vows in the Franciscan order, while still remaining the power behind the throne as "Grand Baron of Armenia" and later as Regent for his nephew. He was the son of Leo II of Armenia and Kyranna de Lampron, and was part of the Hethumid dynasty, being the grandson of Hethum I, who had originally submitted Cilicia to the Mongols in 1247. He was assassinated with his nephew and successor Leo III by the Mongol general Bilarghu, who himself was later executed for this by the Mongol Ilkhan ruler Öljaitü.
Bohemond VI, also known as Bohemond the Fair, was the Prince of Antioch and Count of Tripoli from 1251 until his death. He ruled while Antioch was caught between the warring Mongol Empire and Mamluk Sultanate. In 1268 Antioch was captured by the Mamluks, and he was thenceforth a prince in exile. He was succeeded by his son Bohemond VII, nominal prince of Antioch and count of Tripoli.
The Ninth Crusade was a military expedition to the Holy Land under the command of Prince Edward, the future King Edward I of England, in 1271–1272. It was an extension of the Eighth Crusade and was the last of the Crusades to reach the Holy Land before the fall of Acre in 1291 brought an end to the permanent crusader presence there.
Abaqa Khan, was the second Mongol ruler (Ilkhan) of the Ilkhanate. The son of Hulagu Khan and Lady Yesünčin. He was the grandson of Tolui and reigned from 1265 to 1282 and was succeeded by his brother Tekuder. Much of Abaqa's reign was consumed with civil wars in the Mongol Empire, such as those between the Ilkhanate and the northern khanate of the Golden Horde. Abaqa also engaged in unsuccessful attempts at military invasion of Syria, including the Second Battle of Homs.
Arghun Khan a.k.a. Argon was the fourth ruler of the Mongol empire's Ilkhanate, from 1284 to 1291. He was the son of Abaqa Khan, and like his father, was a devout Buddhist. He was known for sending several embassies to Europe in an unsuccessful attempt to form a Franco-Mongol alliance against the Muslims in the Holy Land. It was also Arghun who requested a new bride from his great-uncle Kublai Khan. The mission to escort the young Kökötchin across Asia to Arghun was reportedly taken by Marco Polo. Arghun died before Kökötchin arrived, so she instead married Arghun's son, Ghazan.
Mahmud Ghazan was the seventh ruler of the Mongol Empire's Ilkhanate division in modern-day Iran from 1295 to 1304. He was the son of Arghun and Quthluq Khatun, continuing a long line of rulers who were direct descendants of Genghis Khan. Considered the most prominent of the Ilkhans, he is best known for making a political conversion to Islam in 1295 when he took the throne, marking a turning point for the dominant religion of Mongols in Western Asia. His principal wife was Kököchin, a Mongol princess sent by his Khagan Kublai Khan.
Mulay, Mûlay, Bulay, or Molay for the Franks, was a general under the Mongol Ilkhanate ruler Ghazan at the end the 13th century. Mulay was part of the 1299–1300 Mongol offensive in Syria and Palestine, and remained with a small force to occupy the land after the departure of Ghazan. He also participated in the last Mongol offensive in the Levant in 1303. His name has caused confusion for some historians, because of its similarity with that of the contemporary Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay.
The Battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar, also known as the Third Battle of Homs, was a Mongol victory over the Mamluks in 1299.
Several attempts at a Franco-Mongol alliance against the Islamic caliphates, their common enemy, were made by various leaders among the Frankish Crusaders and the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. Such an alliance might have seemed an obvious choice: the Mongols were already sympathetic to Christianity, given the presence of many influential Nestorian Christians in the Mongol court. The Franks were open to the idea of support from the East, in part owing to the long-running legend of the mythical Prester John, an Eastern king in an Eastern kingdom who many believed would one day come to the assistance of the Crusaders in the Holy Land. The Franks and Mongols also shared a common enemy in the Muslims. However, despite many messages, gifts, and emissaries over the course of several decades, the often-proposed alliance never came to fruition.
An-Nasir Yusuf, fully al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn al-Aziz ibn al-Zahir ibn Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shazy, was the Ayyubid Emir of Syria from his seat in Aleppo (1236–1260) and the Sultan of the Ayyubid Empire from 1250 until the sack of Aleppo by the Mongols in 1260.
Nerses Balients, also Nerses Balienc or Nerses Bagh'on, was a Christian Armenian monk of the early 14th century. He is mainly known for writing a history of the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia. Though his works are regarded by modern scholars as a valuable source from the time period, they are also regarded as frequently unreliable.
Samagar, also Cemakar, was a Mongol general of the Il-Khan ruler Abaqa Khan (1234–1282), mentioned as leading a Mongol invasion force in 1271, in attempted coordination with the Ninth Crusade.
The Fall of Ruad in 1302–3 was one of the culminating events of the Crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean. When the garrison on the tiny Isle of Ruad fell, it marked the loss of the last Crusader outpost on the coast of the Levant. Ten years earlier, in 1291, the Crusaders had lost their main power base at the coastal city of Acre, and the Muslim Mamluks had been systematically destroying any remaining Crusader ports and fortresses since then, forcing the Crusaders to relocate their dwindling Kingdom of Jerusalem to the island of Cyprus. In 1299–1300, the Cypriots sought to retake the Syrian port city of Tortosa, by setting up a staging area on Ruad, two miles (3 km) off the coast of Tortosa. The plans were to coordinate an offensive between the forces of the Crusaders, and those of the Ilkhanate. However, though the Crusaders successfully established a bridgehead on the island, the Mongols did not arrive, and the Crusaders were forced to withdraw the bulk of their forces to Cyprus. The Knights Templar set up a permanent garrison on the island in 1300, but the Mamluks besieged and captured Ruad in 1302 or 1303. With the loss of the island, the Crusaders lost their last foothold in the Holy Land. Attempts at other Crusades continued for centuries, but the Europeans were never again able to occupy any territory in the Holy Land until the 20th century, during the events of World War I.
Reuven Amitai, also Reuven Amitai-Preiss, is an Israeli-American historian and writer, specializing in pre-modern Islamic civilization, especially Syria and Palestine during the time of the Mamluk Empire. In his 20s he moved to Israel, and became history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As of 2012 he is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University.
Mongol Armenia or Ilkhanid Armenia refers to the period in which both Armenia and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia became tributary and vassal to the Mongol Empire in the 1230s. Armenia and Cilicia remained under Mongol influence until around 1335.