The Presentation of the Franks

in Selected Muslim Sources from the

Crusades of the 12th Century


Niall G. F. Christie

Submitted for the Degree of M.Litt.

in the University of St. Andrews


September, 1996

“Mysterious are the works of the Creator, the author of all things! When one comes to recount cases regarding the Franks, he cannot but glorify Allah (exalted is he!) and sanctify him, for he sees them as animals possessing the virtues of courage and fighting, but nothing else; just as animals have only the virtues of strength and carrying loads. I shall now give some instances of their doings and their curious mentality.”

- Usama ibn Munqidh

Author’s Note

What follows is my M.Litt. dissertation, which was submitted in the University of St. Andrews in 1996. As such it represents an early stage in my career as a researcher. As a result of this, it displays a number of flaws, and cannot be said completely to reflect my current views. In particular, some of the opinions expressed now seem somewhat naïve to my more-experienced eyes. However, I think the dissertation still provides useful information, and draws attention to a number of interesting issues with regard to the topic.

In the process of conversion to Internet format, a number of minor changes have been made to the original version of the dissertation, so that it differs somewhat from the text that may be found in the library at the University of St Andrews. Most of these are minor changes of layout and grammar, but I have also taken the opportunity to translate the original Arabic quotations into English, in order to make the dissertation of use to a wider range of scholars. I should emphasize, however, that these are quick translations, which may contain some errors.



I Introduction

II Ibn al-Qalanisi

Dhayl Ta’rikh Dimashq

III Usama ibn Munqidh

Kitab al-I‘tibar

IV Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad

Al-Nawadir al-Sultaniyya w’al-Mahasin -Yusufiyya

V ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani

Al-Barq al-Shami, Al-Fath al-Qudsi and Other Works

VI Ibn al-Athir

Al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh

VII Conclusion



I would like to thank the following for their contributions towards this dissertation;

Hugh Kennedy, for his invaluable support and advice, and for always making time for me, despite his busy schedule.

Professor Wilkinson and the School of History and International Relations, without whose moral and financial support I would not have been able to undertake this course.

Richard Kimber, for his help and advice, and above all for teaching me how to use the Nisus Writer.

Elizabeth Kerr, Catherine Cobham and Ihab El-Sakkout, for making the Arabic department a pleasant place to work.

Alison Aiton, for holding the key in Elizabeth’s absence.

The writers, for making their Arabic as clear as possible, and the translators and editors, for making my job much easier!

All at the Burn on the 8th to 10th March, for their thoughts on Usama, and especially John Mattock, for drawing my attention to the joke.

And last, but by no means least, Steph, to whom this work is dedicated. Your constant love, support and encouragement have been beyond measure and price. For you this humble knight rides to the Crusade...



During the period of the Crusades a large number of Muslim writers wrote accounts of the events that took place at the time, and also kept records of their experiences. As a result of this, a large body of literature concerning the period was created, a reasonable proportion of which has survived up until the present day, in one form or another. The modern reader is able to examine these works in order to determine what the Muslim view was of the Crusades and those who fought in them, and so to understand the motives behind the Muslims’ initial reactions to the Crusaders and their subsequent interaction with the Franks who settled in the Holy Land.

As one examines the sources for the period, it becomes apparent from the way that the Franks are presented that there were certain initial characteristic attitudes that prevailed among the Muslims, which remained throughout the period, although they changed significantly as time progressed, as a consequence of increased contact with the Franks who now settled in the area. In addition, other attitudes developed later on, also as a result of this increase in contact. One can therefore examine the development of Muslim attitudes to the Franks, and see how this affected their interaction with them.

In this dissertation an attempt has been made to determine the development of the attitudes of Muslims towards the Franks during the period covering the Crusades of the 12th Century, by examining five major sources from the period, and seeing how the Franks are presented in each. As will be shown in following chapters, there are certain attitudes that remain throughout all five texts, whilst others develop as the texts progress chronologically.

The texts that have been chosen for this dissertation are from among the more well-known sources for the period, consisting of the following: 

Dhayl Ta’rikh Dimashq by Ibn al-Qalanisi,

Kitab al-I‘tibar by Usama ibn Munqidh,

Al-Nawadir al-Sultaniyya w’al-Mahasin al-Yusufiyya by Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad,

Various works of ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani quoted by Abu Shama in Kitab al-Rawdatayn fi Akhbar al-Dawlatayn,

Al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh by Ibn al-Athir.

The use of well-known works has enabled the author to gain access to a large amount of secondary source material, and this has resulted in a more thorough study. It is the intention of this author to carry out a more wide-ranging study in future research.


Ibn al-Qalanisi

Dhayl Ta’rikh Dimashq

Unfortunately for modern scholarship, very little is known of Abu Ya‘la Hamza ibn Asad al-Tamimi, who was also known to his contemporaries as Ibn al-Qalanisi. It is known that he came from an important family in Damascus, and that he occupied the position of ra’is of the town for a time. He was a historian for the 5th-6th/11th-12th Centuries, right up until his death[i] on the 7th Rabi‘ I 555/18th March 1160.[ii]

Apart from a number of poems, it seems that the only literary work of Ibn al-Qalanisi was a two-part continuation of a chronicle by the historian Hilal ibn al-Muhassin al-Sabi‘, taking up from the point at which he died in 448/1056, which Ibn al-Qalanisi called Dhayl Ta’rikh Dimashq.[iii] However, unlike the work of al-Sabi‘, which was universal in its subject, Ibn al-Qalanisi’s work, which includes relevant extracts from that of al-Sabi‘ as a preface, concentrates firmly on the city of Damascus, and deals with events in other regions only in an incidental fashion.[iv] Ibn al-Qalanisi also makes use of other Syro-Egyptian archives and chronicles in his work, and, in addition, includes accounts of events witnessed by himself and his contemporaries. The Ta’rikh was a major source for other chroniclers, including Ibn al-Athir, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi and Abu Shama.[v]

Ibn al-Qalanisi’s work is an essentially straightforward chronicle of the history of Damascus, but unfortunately it lacks detail and, because it concentrates almost exclusively on the city, is of little value as a source for events that did not have a direct effect upon it. Ibn al-Qalanisi rarely cites the exact sources of his information, which makes it difficult to assess its reliability, particularly in the case of the oral reports he uses. His work also shows a certain amount of bias towards the city and its rulers, resulting in him occasionally altering details of the narrative in order to present his side in the best light possible. One example of this occurs in his description of Zahir al-Din’s raid on Rafaniya in 1115, in which he emphasises the glorious victory of the Muslims and minimises their losses:

They took possession of it, and all who were in it passed into the grip of captivity, and the noose of disgrace and subjugation. Those who were killed were killed, and those who were taken prisoner were taken prisoner. The Muslims took as booty from their land and herds and goods enough to fill their hands, and their (the Muslims’) souls were gladdened by that, and likewise their hearts were strengthened…and the Muslims withdrew to Damascus, victorious, glad and successful, not having lost any person, nor was anyone missing.[vi]

It seems hardly credible that the Muslims would have sustained no losses at all in an action that was as significant as Ibn al-Qalanisi claims this one to be. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to examine other sources from the period, in order to confirm or disprove his claims. Besides, the effect of Ibn al-Qalanisi’s alteration of detail seems to be fairly minimal, and the accuracy of the narrative does not seem to have been seriously compromised.

Despite these limitations, Ibn al-Qalanisi’s work does contain valuable information concerning Frankish interaction with the Muslims during the period, and it is therefore important to consider how he presents the Franks. However, before considering the presentation of the Franks in the text, it is necessary to consider how much Ibn al-Qalanisi knew about them. As has been stated above, his chronicle concentrates firmly on the city of Damascus and events that affected it directly. This and the fact that it is known that Ibn al-Qalanisi was resident in Damascus, suggest that he had a fairly restricted view of what events were taking place outside of the city, and therefore would not have had a very great knowledge of the Franks and their behaviour. There is no account in the text of Ibn al-Qalanisi ever having any personal contact with the Franks, and he refers to them as if they are one mass of humanity, and shows little awareness of the variety of countries that they come from. He does seem to be aware that they come from different countries, but this is not something that he seems to regard as important, and he does not seem to know anything of these countries. One particular indication of this occurs when he refers to the arrival in 1147 of Conrad of Germany and Bertram, the son of Alphonso Jourdain, to the Levant:

In that year news came from the region of Constantinople, and the countries of the Franks and the Byzantines and others near them, of the appearance of kings of the Franks from their countries, including Alman and Alfunsh.[vii]

The fact that Ibn al-Qalanisi refers to Conrad as “Alman”, evidently thinking that this is his name, and not his nationality, shows that he did not have a very good knowledge of the countries and origins of the Franks.

Another comment made by Ibn al-Qalanisi also leads the reader to doubt either his knowledge of the Franks, or the attention he is paying to what he is writing. Several times in his text, he makes reference to quarrels and disputes that took place among the Franks. Having done this, in his chronicle for 527 A.H. (November 1132 to October 1133) he makes the comment:

In Muharram of it (the year), news came from the region of the Franks of the occurrence of a dispute between them, contrary to the custom current among them concerning that.[viii]

This apparent contradiction in the text suggests that either Ibn al-Qalanisi is paying little attention to what he is writing or that he has little knowledge of the Franks. It seems that he may be taking his information from another source who told him that disputes were not usual among the Franks and, despite his own experience and the disputes he has heard about himself, he is assuming that the source is reliable, and that what he has been told is true, as he does not know enough about the Franks to suggest confidently that the case may be different. In this way, what he writes serves to undermine any confidence the modern reader may have in Ibn al-Qalanisi’s own knowledge of the Franks.

As it seems that Ibn al-Qalanisi knows little in the way of hard facts about the Franks, it must therefore be expected that little of how he presents the Franks will be based on solid knowledge, but rather on personal viewpoint and attitude. This does not detract from his work’s value, however, as Ibn al-Qalanisi’s presentation of the Franks is still relevant as an indication of attitudes that were prevalent in Damascus at the time.

 The most apparent feature of Ibn al-Qalanisi’s presentation of the Franks is his hostility towards them. He expresses this hostility in various ways, the most discernible being the language he uses when he refers to them and their exploits. For example, he regularly refers to them as “polytheists” or “accursed ones”. In this way, he expresses his hostility towards them.

It is interesting to note, however, that in his writing, Ibn al-Qalanisi does not make use of suffixed formulae, such as “may God forsake them”, until the end of his chronicle, the first instance of this being in his record of the year 553 A.H. (February 1158 to January 1159).[ix] Before this point, Ibn al-Qalanisi expresses his hostility in other ways, such as those described above, but it is only at this point that this particular mode of expression appears. He then goes on to use the same expression, “may God forsake them”, several times throughout the rest of his chronicle. This suggests that this particular mode of expression, which is used by many later chroniclers, only came into use at the time in which Ibn al-Qalanisi begins using it. It is the hope of this author that, in further research, it may be possible to trace the development of the use of suffixed formulae such as these in Muslim writing during the period. This, however, will require considerable research into a large number of sources, and is therefore beyond the limits of this dissertation.

However, if the suffixed formulae used by Ibn al-Qalanisi are to be accepted as a mode of expression that came into common usage at the time of his writing, this does suggest that he is, in some ways, following a fashion, rather than expressing genuine hostility towards the Franks. This suggests that, although he is undoubtedly hostile towards the Franks, Ibn al-Qalanisi’s hostility is not very vehement. Given that the Franks had relatively little impact on Damascus, and therefore Ibn al-Qalanisi is, in some ways, slightly removed from the conflicts that took place between the Franks and the Muslims, this is to be expected, and should not be regarded as surprising. Indeed, a further indication of the impact that the Franks made is shown by the fact that, in many ways, Ibn al-Qalanisi is as hostile towards other Muslims who move against Damascus and its territories as he is to the Franks. For example, he describes ‘Imad al-Din Zangi I and his actions after his taking of Ba‘albek in 1139 in these terms:

They surrendered it to ‘Imad al-Din, the atabeg, after taking his assurance of protection, and comfirming it with him. When it (Ba‘albek) passed into his possession, he broke his promise, and violated his assurance of protection from angry imprisonment, and became angry to those who were in it, and ordered their crucifixion. The only ones to escape were those whose delay protected them, and the people found that deed of his repugnant, and considered his violation (of his promise) unprecedented.[x]

For Ibn al-Qalanisi, other Muslims are as much of a threat as the Franks, and so he is equally hostile to either, if they show any aggression towards Damascus or its territories.

One view of the Franks that Ibn al-Qalanisi holds is the view that they are inherently untrustworthy. He shares this view with a number of other Muslim writers, as will be shown in following chapters, and it seems likely that this was a view commonly held among the Muslims. Indeed, Muslim writers repeatedly describe how the Franks broke truces and treaties. Ibn al-Qalanisi gives several accounts of the Franks breaking truces that they had made with the Muslims. One example of this occurs in his account of the aftermath of the taking of Ma‘rrat al-Nu‘man by the Franks in December 1098:

The people ran away to the houses of Ma‘arra to seek protection in them, and the Franks gave them their assurance of protection. They acted treacherously towards them, and raised crosses over the city, and took away the lands of the people of the city. They did not keep any of their promises, and they plundered whatever they found, and they demanded things of the people that they were not able to provide.[xi]

This characteristic of the Franks is one that further increases Ibn al-Qalanisi’s hostility towards them, and seems to be a characteristic that aroused resentment in several Muslim writers.

Although Ibn al-Qalanisi is hostile to the Franks, he, like other writers, does find himself being impressed by some of their more positive characteristics, and is unable to prevent himself from showing respect for these characteristics, when he comes across them. One example of this occurs in his chronicle for 501 A.H. (August 1107 to August 1108), in his description of Gervase of Tiberias:

He was one of the leaders of the Franks who was famous for chivalry, courage, bravery and intense strength, who followed King Baldwin in precedence over the Franks.[xii]

In this way, Ibn al-Qalanisi shows a grudging respect for the Franks, and an ability to appreciate their good qualities, which belies his apparent hostility towards them, and suggests that it may not be as fervent as it seems to be on first reading.

Whatever Ibn al-Qalanisi’s personal view of the Franks may be, it is apparent from his writing that they are, for him, infidels, and the enemies of God and the Muslims. As a result of this, he regards them as being forsaken by God, despite any good qualities they might have. This view is apparent in the language Ibn al-Qalanisi uses to refer to the Franks. As has been stated above, he describes them as “polytheists” and “accursed ones”. He also describes them more explicitly as “enemies of God”,[xiii] and describes how God aids the Muslims against them. For example, he describes how God aided the Muslims in June 1113, in the battle at Al-Uqhuwana:

The two armies came into conflict, and Noble God (praise be to Him), granted the Muslims victory over the polytheists after three charges.[xiv]

Thus it is apparent that for Ibn al-Qalanisi, the Franks are clearly defined as infidels, and the enemies of God, against whom God aids His chosen people, the Muslims.

Ibn al-Qalanisi’s chronicle is one of the earliest Muslim accounts of the Christian Crusades which, combined with the fact that its author was resident in Damascus, which was relatively unaffected by the early Crusades, results in it being one of the period’s least well informed chronicles. The result of this is that Ibn al-Qalanisi shows relatively little knowledge of the Franks, when compared with later historians, and his chronicle is vague and lacking in detail. It is, however, a useful work, in as far as it gives the reader an insight into the development of Muslim reactions to the arrival of the Crusaders. It suggests that the initial Muslim reaction was one of understandable hostility towards the invader, which soon developed into a call to the jihad against the infidel, particularly after the taking of Jerusalem. The text also shows the beginnings of an appreciation of the Franks’ good qualities, which, as will be shown in following chapters, was to become more evident in later chronicles, particularly in the works of Usama ibn Munqidh, Ibn Shaddad and Ibn al-Athir. Ibn al-Qalanisi’s work shows none of the curiosity or awareness of the strangeness of the Franks that is apparent in later works, suggesting that this curiosity came about with closer knowledge of the Franks and their customs. Nevertheless, it is invaluable as an indication of the initial reactions of the Muslims to the Franks.


Usama ibn Munqidh

Kitab al-I‘tibar

Usama ibn Murshid ibn ‘Ali, who was known to most of his contemporaries as Usama ibn Munqidh, was originally of Bedouin origin, of the clan of Munqidh. He was born at their stronghold of Shayzar on the 27th Jumada II 488/4th July 1095,[xv] and lived there until about 526/1131, when he joined the entourage of ‘Imad al-Din Zangi I. He later returned to the fortress, but was banished along with his brothers in 532/1138 by his uncle Sultan, who feared they might attempt to reclaim the succession to leadership of the clan, which they had renounced their claims to upon the death of their father. Usama went to the Burid court at Damascus, where he became an associate of Mu‘in al-Din Unur, and from whence he took the opportunity to journey extensively. However, by 593/1144 he had become embroiled in the factionalism of the Damascene court, and was soon ordered to leave by Mu‘in al-Din. He travelled to Egypt and the Fatimid court, becoming an associate of the vizier Al-‘Adil ibn al-Sallar, and remained in the country for 10 years. After the victory at Harim in 559/1164, he joined the court of the Artuqid Qara-Arslan of Hisn Kayfa, in what was essentially retirement, collected a diwan and composed a number of works on poetry, rhetoric, adab history and religion, most of which have since been lost. In the autumn of 570/1174 he allowed his son, Murhaf, to persuade him to join the court of Saladin. Murhaf had been an associate of the sultan since 565/1170, and when Usama joined the court, he was enthusiastically welcomed. However, after two years relations between Usama and Saladin had deteriorated, and so he lived out his last years in honourable, but bitterly resented, retirement. Towards the end of his life he composed or dictated his memoirs, the Kitab al-I‘tibar. He died on the 23rd Ramadan 584/16th November 1188, having had a great impact on both his contemporaries, and on later writers. His poetry was quoted in his own lifetime and the century following, although it became neglected later. Usama’s works were among the major sources used by several later writers, in particular Ibn al-Athir, Abu Shama and Ibn Khallikan.[xvi]

The Kitab al-I‘tibar is one of the most important Muslim sources for the early period of the Crusades preceding the career of Saladin. Through it the reader gains an insight into the impact made by the Crusaders on the Muslim Levant, and the interaction that took place between the two sides. However, it is important, when examining the work, to bear in mind that it was not written as a chronicle of the early Crusades, but rather as the author’s memoirs, intended to entertain and instruct later generations, and also to ensure that the author was remembered after his death. This purpose produces a number of consequences, the first being that the work is extremely disorganised and vague, lacking important details, in particular the dates of events. In addition, the work contains a large amount of seemingly unnecessary details, which, although they give the reader an insight into conditions at the time, are of little use when attempting to construct a chronology of the period. It is also apparent that certain details and anecdotes are untrue, the result either of an old man’s failing memory, or of his desire to present himself in as good a light as possible, one particular example of this being Usama’s neglecting to mention his involvement in the plot to kill al-Zafir in 1154.[xvii] Despite these seeming failings, the text is, nevertheless, valuable as a source for conditions and attitudes that were prevalent among Muslims, and in particular as a description of their interaction with the Franks at that time.

Before analysing Usama’s presentation of the Franks, however, it is necessary to consider how much he knew about them. As a member of the courts of several significant Muslim political figures, it can be expected that he would have had a certain amount of contact with the Franks on a diplomatic and military level. In addition, Usama’s adventurous lifestyle seems to have resulted in even greater contact with the Franks and, if his own claims are to be believed, the forging of close relationships with many of them. He refers, for example, to the Templars in Jerusalem “who were my friends”.[xviii] Likewise, he describes another Frankish knight from the army of King Fulk:

He was of my intimate fellowship and kept such constant company with me that he began to call me “my brother.” Between us were mutual bonds of amity and friendship.[xix]

Although it must be borne in mind that Usama may be altering some of the details of his text, the knowledge that he displays in it, particularly in the section entitled “An Appreciation of the Frankish Character”,[xx] suggests that he has had a significant amount of contact with the Franks, and has a fairly good knowledge of their characteristics and behaviour. He shows the ability to distinguish between the various nationalities of which the Franks are composed, and also notes that “everyone who is a fresh emigrant from the Frankish lands is ruder in character than those who have become acclimatized and have held long association with the Moslems.”[xxi] In addition, his accounts of their actions, most of which are first hand, are extremely detailed. These factors suggest that his knowledge of the Franks on a closer level is also fairly good.

The most significant feature that strikes the reader about Usama’s presentation of the Franks is his ambiguity of attitude towards them. It seems initially that he is hostile towards them. He describes them as “the enemy”[xxii] and also states, when describing the death of an unidentified Frankish knight whom he calls Badrhawa, “may Allah’s mercy not rest upon his soul!”[xxiii] He also makes regular use of a suffixed hostile formula, such as “May Allah render them helpless!” or “May Allah’s curse be upon them!”, the first time he refers to the Franks in any given story. Thus it seems that Usama is extremely hostile towards them.

However, this hostility belies the claims to friendship with the Franks that Usama makes, such as those that have been mentioned above, and this suggests that Usama’s hostility is not entirely genuine. In addition, he shows an ability to appreciate the Franks’ better characteristics, in a way that is similar to that of Ibn al-Qalanisi, only in Usama’s case his appreciation is much less grudging. He describes Badrhawa, for example, as being “one of the most valiant Frankish knights.”[xxiv] He also inadvertently describes one of them as being honourable, when he gives an account of the departure of the knight who used to call him his “brother”:

When he resolved to return by sea to his homeland, he said to me:

My brother, I am leaving for my country and I want thee to send with me thy son (my son, who was then fourteen years old, was at that time in my company) to our country, where he can see the knights and learn wisdom and chivalry. When he returns, he will be like a wise man.

Thus there fell upon my ears words which would never come out of the head of a sensible man; for even if my son were to be taken captive, his captivity could not bring him a worse misfortune than carrying him into the lands of the Franks. However, I said to the man:

By my life, this has exactly been my idea. But the only thing that prevented me from carrying it out was the fact that his grandmother, my mother, is so fond of him and did not this time let him come out with me until she exacted an oath from me to the effect that I would return him to her.

Thereupon he asked, “Is thy mother still alive?” “Yes.” I replied. “Well,” said he, “disobey her not.”[xxv]

In this story Usama attempts to present the knight, and by extension, all the Franks, as lacking common sense. However, the knight’s final words mark him as a man of honour, and so Usama inadvertently presents him as such. This suggests that Usama’s hostility to the Franks is not entirely genuine, as had he been hostile, he would have been unlikely to have included the knight’s exact response to his excuse. In this way, his attitude towards the Franks becomes ambiguous.

Whether Usama is hostile to the Franks or not, it is apparent from his writing that he, like Ibn al-Qalanisi, regards them as being the enemies of God, despite their good qualities. As has been stated above, he often says of them “May Allah render them helpless!” or “May Allah’s curse be upon them!” He also describes incidents where, he believes, God has aided His chosen people, the Muslims, against the Franks. For example, he describes one incident in which the Franks had crossed the bridge into Shayzar and taken the city. His father and uncle rode to the rescue:

When my father and my uncle (may Allah’s mercy rest upon their souls!) were within sight of the castle [Shayzar], its inhabitants shouted, “Allah is great!” and howled lustily. Thereby Allah (worthy of admiration is he!) struck terror and helplessness to the hearts of the Franks, and they failed to find the spot at which they crossed. Covered with their coats of mail, they forced their horses, on which they were mounted, into a place in the river where there was no ford. A large number of them were thus drowned. The rider would plunge into the water, fall from his saddle and sink to the bottom, while the horse would get over. Those of them who survived left in disorderly flight with no one of them minding the other. They were a great army, while my father and my uncle had only ten young mamelukes in their company![xxvi]

Thus it may be seen that Usama regards the Franks as being the enemies of God, who aids the Muslims against them.

It seems that for Usama, the Franks are, in many ways, more a source of inconvenience and irritation than of hostility. He states, when describing hunting trips he took part in around Shayzar, that “we never felt secure on account of the Franks, whose territory was adjacent to ours.”[xxvii] However, it is apparent from a later account that they were more a source of irritation than fear:

The lord of Antioch camped against us and, after a combat, departed without concluding peace. Before the rear guard of the Franks had gone any distance from the upper town [Shayzar], my father (may Allah’s mercy rest upon his soul!) was already on horseback going out for a hunt. Our horsemen pursued the enemy, who now turned against them. As for my father he was by that time at quite a distance from the town. The Franks went back until they got to the town. In the meantime, my father had climbed Tell-Sikkin in order to watch them as they stood between him and the town. He remained standing on that Tell [hill] until they departed from the town. He then resumed his route for the chase.[xxviii]

In this way Usama attempts to present the Franks as having been a source of irritation and unwelcome interruptions, rather than a serious threat. In a similar way, he uses the Franks as a device to present himself as a skilled warrior. He describes an encounter with the Franks in which his advice was ignored:

As the Franks were at some distance from the town, they were pursued by a number of unworthy meddlers incapable of resistance and devoid of capacity. The Franks turned once more against them, attacked them and slew a few of their number. So the foot soldiers, whom I had asked to keep back but who refused to do so, were routed and threw down their shields. We then made another encounter with the Franks, repulsed them and made them return to their own territory which was close to ‘Asqalan. Those of the foot soldiers who were put to rout came back blaming each other and saying, “Ibn-Munqidh certainly knew more than we did. He advised us to return, but we refused, which resulted in our rout and disgrace.[xxix]

Thus Usama uses the Franks as a device in his story to present himself as a wise and skilled warrior. As with the entire text, the actual truthfulness of the story is uncertain.

Another way in which Usama uses the Franks for his own devices is in his attempts to entertain his readers. There are some stories about the Franks in his account that seem to be almost entirely made up, purely in order to entertain. In his most unlikely account Usama states:

One day this Frank went home and found a man with his wife in the same bed. He asked him, “What could have made thee enter into my wife’s room?” The man replied, “I was tired, so I went in to rest.” “But how,” asked he, “didst thou get into my bed?” The other replied, “I found a bed that was spread, so I slept in it.” “But,” said he, “my wife was sleeping together with thee!” The other replied, “Well, the bed is hers. How could I therefore have prevented her from using her own bed?” “By the truth of my religion,” said the husband, “if thou shouldst do it again, thou and I would have a quarrel.” Such was for the Frank the entire expression of his disapproval and the limit of his jealousy.[xxx]

In this story Usama is, essentially, using the Franks to tell a joke. He claims that he merely wishes to point out that Franks lack jealousy in sex affairs, but the pattern of the dialogue, with its gradual buildup to the fact that the Frank’s wife was in the bed with the other man, has the characteristics of a joke, and so it seems that Usama is making one at the Franks’ expense. In this way he uses the Franks as convenient victims for his humour, in order to entertain his readers, and so to ensure he is remembered for his wit, among his other qualities, after his death.

There are two characteristics of the Franks upon which Usama agrees with several other writers from the period of the Crusades. The first of these is upon their untrustworthiness. As has been stated above, Ibn al-Qalanisi describes the way that the Franks broke truces and treaties they made with the Muslims. Likewise, Usama describes how the Frankish king broke a safe-conduct that had been given to Usama’s family:

From Dimyat they sailed in a Frankish vessel. As they approached ‘Akka [Acre] where the king (may Allah’s mercy not rest upon his soul!) was, he sent, in a small boat, a few men who broke the vessel with their axes under the very eyes of my people. The king mounted his horse, stood by the coast and pillaged everything that was there.

One of my retainers came swimming to the king, taking the safe-conduct with him, and said, “O my lord the king, is this not thy safe-conduct?” “Sure enough,” replied the king. “But this is the usage for the Moslems. Whenever one of their vessels is wrecked near a town, the people of that town pillage it.” “Art thou going, then, to take us captive?” inquired my retainer. “No,” replied the king. The king (may Allah’s curse be upon him!) then put them in a house, had the women searched and took everything they all possessed. In the vessel were jewelry, which had been intrusted to the women, clothes, gems, swords, weapons and gold and silver amounting to about thirty thousand dinars. The king took it all. He then sent my people five hundred dinars and said, “This will see you home,” though they were no less than fifty persons, men and women.[xxxi]

In this way Usama shows how the Franks broke a truce with his family, and so agrees with the other writers who accuse the Franks of being oath-breakers.

The other characteristic upon which Usama and other writers agree is on the strangeness of the Franks. Although this is a feature that is not remarked upon by Ibn al-Qalanisi, Usama draws attention to it, as do Ibn Shaddad, ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani and Ibn al-Athir, as will become apparent in following chapters. Usama spends much of the section on “An Appreciation of the Frankish Character” commenting on the strange customs and behaviour of the Franks. As has been described above, he comments upon their lack of jealousy in sex affairs, although it is difficult to be sure how genuine his evidence is. However, he also supplies more believable evidence to support his point. For example, he states:

The Franks are void of all zeal and jealousy. One of them may be walking along with his wife. He meets another man who takes his wife by the hand and steps aside to converse with her while the husband is standing on one side waiting for his wife to conclude the conversation. If she lingers too long for him, he leaves her alone with the conversant and goes away.[xxxii]

Usama also comments on a number of other curious customs and practices of the Franks. He shows a particular interest in their strange medical practices, recounting a number of different stories concerning them. One particular example of this concerns the account of a Syrian Christian physician named Thabit:

They brought before me a knight in whose led an abscess had grown; and a woman afflicted with imbecility. To the knight I applied a small poultice until the abscess opened and became well; and the woman I put on diet and made her humor wet. Then a Frankish physician came to them and said, “This man knows nothing about treating them.” He then said to the knight, “Which wouldst thou prefer, living with one leg or dying with two?” The latter replied, “Living with one leg.” The physician said, “Bring me a strong knight and a sharp axe.” A knight came with the axe. And I was standing by. Then the physician laid the leg of the patient on a block of wood and bade the knight strike his leg with the axe and chop it off at one blow. Accordingly he struck it - while I was looking on - one blow, but the leg was not severed. He dealt another blow, upon which the marrow of the leg flowed out and the patient died on the spot. He then examined the woman and said, “This is a woman in whose head there is a devil which has possessed her. Shave off her hair.” Accordingly they shaved it off and the woman began once more to eat their ordinary diet - garlic and mustard. Her imbecility took a turn for the worse. The physician then said, “The devil has penetrated through her head.” He therefore took a razor, made a deep cruciform incision on it, peeled off the skin at the middle of the incision until the bone of the skull was exposed and rubbed it with salt. The woman also expired instantly. Thereupon I asked them whether my services were needed any longer, and when they replied in the negative I returned home, having learned of their medicine what I knew not before.[xxxiii]

Usama then goes on to remark about a number of other Frankish remedies for illnesses, some of which are less extreme and do actually work, but which he still regards as curious.

It is interesting to note that unlike later writers such as Ibn Shaddad or Ibn al-Athir, Usama fails to give any accounts of Frankish women being found in battle, indicating that either he did not find any, or if he did, he did not find it strange. The latter seems more likely, as he does give accounts of his close female relatives preparing to fight in battles if necessary.[xxxiv] Indeed, he seems to regard their taking part in battles not as something strange, but rather as “an illustration of women’s love of adventure.”[xxxv] In this way, his perception of what is strange is at variance with that of later writers.

In many ways, the work of Usama is a transitional one, lying somewhere between the work of Ibn al-Qalanisi and those of later writers, such as Ibn Shaddad and ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani. In his attitudes towards the Franks, Usama seems to show much of the early characteristics of Ibn al-Qalanisi, showing a similar, not entirely heartfelt hostility towards them, and the same religious attitude and scepticism about their trustworthiness. However, he also shows attitudes displayed by later writers, including a further ambiguity of attitude which, as will be shown in following chapters, is also possessed by Ibn Shaddad and Ibn al-Athir, and also an opinion that the Franks are rather strange. In this way Usama’s work contains the first indications of the prevailing attitudes that were to remain from earlier texts from the period, and how those attitudes were to develop, and also indications of newer attitudes that arose as a result of further contact with the Franks. Thus, despite the numerous flaws inherent in the text, Usama’s work is an important description of the development of Muslim attitudes towards the Franks during the early period of the Crusades, as well as being a valuable account of the conditions that were prevalent in the area at the time.


Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad

Al-Nawadir al-Sultaniyya w’al-Mahasin al-Yusufiyya

Baha’ al-Din Abu’l-Mahasin Yusuf ibn Rafi‘ ibn Tamim, who was also known as Ibn Shaddad, was born in Mosul on the 10th Ramadan 539/5th March 1145. After completing his education in Mosul, he spent four years as an assistant teacher (mu‘id) at a nizamiyya in Baghdad, before returning to teach at the madrasa of Kamal al-Din al-Shahrazuri in Mosul. During his time there, he was sent on various embassies by the atabegs of Mosul, including missions to the Caliph, Saladin and to governors of various towns of the region. In 583/1188 he performed the hajj, and while he was staying at Damascus on his way home, he was sent for by Saladin at Belvoir (Kaukab), who listened to a work of his on the hadith. Ibn Shaddad then visited Jerusalem, before seeking the sultan’s permission to return to Mosul. Saladin, impressed by a work on jihad that Ibn Shaddad had dedicated to him, retained him in his service from Jumada I 584/July 1188 as qadi of the army and of Jerusalem. Ibn Shaddad remained in constant attendance on the sultan until his death in 589/1193, then went to Aleppo as an advisor to Saladin’s sons. In 591/1195 he was appointed qadi of Aleppo by Al-Malik al-Zahir, and founded a Shafi‘ite madrasa and dar al-hadith in the city,[xxxvi] between which he erected his tomb. He also made several missions to Cairo in an attempt to patch up Ayyubid family disputes. In the last years of his life, his house was frequented by such scholars as Ibn Khallikan, Abu Shama and Ibn Wasil. He died in Aleppo on the 14th Safar 632/8th November 1234.[xxxvii]

Ibn Shaddad wrote a number of works, the most famous of which was Al-Nawadir al-Sultaniyya w’al-Mahasin al-Yusufiyya,[xxxviii] which, along with the Kamil fi’l Ta’rikh of Ibn al-Athir and the various works of ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani, is one of the major sources for the life of Saladin. The Nawadir takes the form of a biography of Saladin, written from Ibn Shaddad’s personal point of view as his close friend and advisor. It is divided into two parts, the first being an account of Saladin’s early life, and a list of his good qualities, and the second being an account of his career. Saladin’s career up until July 1188 receives fairly brief treatment, as Ibn Shaddad was not an eyewitness to it, and had to rely on the accounts of “trustworthy persons”[xxxix] as his sources. This also results in him making mistakes, omissions and errors of detail in his account of this period. After he joined Saladin’s service, however, the account becomes much more detailed, as it is now being written by an eyewitness, although he still makes occasional minor mistakes of detail. Although the Nawadir was written primarily as a biography of Saladin, it does contain a large amount of information regarding the Franks and their interaction with the Muslims. In a source that is so vital for the modern historian’s understanding of the period, it is important to consider how Ibn Shaddad presents them.

Before beginning to analyse Ibn Shaddad’s presentation of the Franks, however, it is necessary to consider the position from which he was writing, and consequently how much he actually knew about them. Ibn Shaddad was a high-ranking member of Saladin’s entourage, and, as a result, had more contact with the Franks than most members of the army, as he was witness to many of the negotiations that took place between the Muslim and Christian sides, particularly during the Third Crusade. However, his viewpoint is was still very restricted, as he had little contact with the Franks, other than in a diplomatic capacity. In addition, it is apparent from the Nawadir that his sources of information regarding the Franks were not entirely accurate. He refers to the King of the Latin Kingdom, for example, but mistakenly calls him Geoffrey instead of Guy.[xl] He also mistakenly refers to news that reached him in  October 1191 of the death of the King of France, without realising that it was wrong.[xli] Nevertheless, despite these problems with his information, Ibn Shaddad still shows a great deal of intelligent awareness of the Christian side. He differentiates between different nationalities within the Christian side, rather than viewing them as one large force of the same nationality, and although he does not show a deep understanding of Frankish politics, he does show an awareness of their motives and intentions. One example of this is apparent in his description of the purpose of the Frankish embassies that came to consult with the Muslim leaders at Acre in June 1191:

Their objective in repeatedly (sending) letters was to find out the strength of (our) spirits and their weakness, and our objective in receiving the messages was also to find out what there was regarding that (their spiritual strength and weakness).[xlii]

In this way, Ibn Shaddad shows an awareness of Frankish motives and diplomatic strategy, as well as an ability to differentiate between their different origins.

Now that the extent of Ibn Shaddad’s knowledge of the Franks has been established, an analysis of his presentation of them may be made.

Initially, it seems that Ibn Shaddad is hostile to the Franks. Their position in his mind seems to be very clearly defined, as he often refers to them as “the enemy”. Sometimes he becomes even more hostile towards them, and refers to them as “the forsaken enemy”,[xliii] or adds a hostile formula, such as “may God forsake them”,[xliv] after referring to them. He also seems to single out particular figures from the Christian side, usually the more able leaders, for particular criticism. For example, he describes Conrad de Montferrat as a “wicked and cursed”,[xlv] and describes how, upon his death in April 1191, his soul was sent into Hell’s flames.[xlvi]

Another, less obvious way in which Ibn Shaddad seems to be hostile towards the Franks is in his philosophical attitude towards them. When referring to Muslim defeats, he sometimes points out that these defeats had been ordained by God, and He compensated the Muslims for them at a later date. An example of this is in his attitude towards the defeat at Ramla in October 1177, when he says:

The Franks routed them, and God ordained their defeat in a defeat of great proportions…and it was a great weakness that God counterbalanced with the famous event at Hattin.[xlvii]

For Ibn Shaddad, these reverses are God’s will, and the Muslims receive compensation for them. The Christians, on the other hand, never receive compensation for their defeats, as there are infidels. In this way, they are very clearly marked as being the enemies of both God and the Muslims. Another example of this marking of the Christians is in Ibn Shaddad’s account of an event that took place at Acre in July 1191, which he recounts on the authority of a swimmer who came from the town:

A Frankish person came and stood under the wall and called to one of the people upon it. He said to him, “By the truth of your religion, I bid you tell me the numbers of the army that came to you yesterday (that it, Saturday night).” In the night there had been a sound by which both sides had been alarmed, and there was no reason (given) for it. He (the man on the wall) said to him, “A thousand knights.” He (the Frank) said “No, you have it wrong, for I saw them. They wore green clothes.”[xlviii]

The implications of the anecdote seem to be that the army in Acre had been joined by a party of angels, as green is the colour worn by the inhabitants of Paradise,[xlix] and that this is further proof of God supporting the Muslims and setting Himself against the Franks. Although it is not clear where this anecdote comes from, and indeed it seems likely that it was fabricated by either the swimmer, or by Ibn Shaddad himself, it is an expression of Ibn Shaddad’s hostility to the Franks, and a further marking of them as being the enemies of God.

However, in some ways Ibn Shaddad’s hostility seems to be rather half-hearted. Rather than suffixing every reference to the Franks with a curse and levelling invective at them, he adds the appropriate formulae only occasionally, as an afterthought, and keeps his hostility to a minimum. This does not seem to be from a desire to maintain an objective viewpoint, as he shows evidence of emotional responses throughout the text, one example of this being in his account of Richard’s massacre of the prisoners at Acre in August 1191:

He was treacherous with the Muslim prisoners…and he showed what he had concealed, and he did what he had wanted to do after taking the goods and prisoners…and they attacked them in a single mass and killed them in captivity with blows and stabs.[l] 

Indeed, it is true that as it was for preceding writers, untrustworthiness is, for Ibn Shaddad, one of the Franks’ greatest flaws. Despite this, he also seems to show an appreciation of their good qualities. For example, despite his apparent dislike for Conrad de Montferrat, he does say of him. 

He was the most intrepid of them, the greatest of them in strength for war, and the most firm in arranging a firm basis (for action).[li]

Sometimes this grudging respect turns to open admiration of the Franks. Ibn Shaddad refers to the iron discipline of the Christian forces in their withstanding the harassment they received from the Muslim forces during the march up the coast in 1191, describing how they maintained their line, despite the best efforts of the Muslims to draw them out:

They kept themselves (in place) with great discipline.[lii]

In this way, Ibn Shaddad shows a respect for the Christians that would not be expected from a text that was hostile to them.

Indeed, it seems likely that Ibn Shaddad expresses hostility towards the Franks and, as has been mentioned above, presents them as the enemies of God, not because he is genuinely hostile towards them, but rather because he wishes to present Saladin in a good light, and one way in which he can do this is by presenting the Franks in a bad light, as a contrast to Saladin. Another way in which he does this by using both dramatisation and exaggeration in his work, such as his frequent minimisation of Muslim losses in battles with the Franks. This occurs, for example, in his account of a skirmish that took place during the march up the coast of 1191, in which the Muslims lost only two men, compared to the “group” lost by the enemy.[liii] Although Ibn Shaddad does not specify the exact number of enemy losses, it seems that he is attempting to imply that they were much greater than the losses suffered by the Muslims. In this way he attempts to present the Muslims and Saladin in a good light, by contrasting them with the enemy, but does not seem to bear any real dislike for the Franks.

As a result of this duality of attitudes towards the Franks, Ibn Shaddad’s own opinion of them is ambiguous, much like that of Usama ibn Munqidh. It seems that whilst he is attempting to maintain an officially hostile position towards them, as would be expected of a man of his rank and influence, he also harbours a certain amount of respect for them. It may be that his religious awareness and personal loyalties encourage him to take a hostile view, but, being a man who allows his emotions to pervade his writing, he finds himself unable to completely ignore their good qualities. Although the Franks occasionally carry out actions, such as the Acre massacre, which do arouse hostility in him, they also show certain qualities that he finds praiseworthy. This dilemma may account for the seeming contradiction of attitudes that is present in the text.

Even if it is uncertain whether or not Ibn Shaddad is hostile towards the Franks, it is nevertheless apparent that he, like Usama, does regard them is being rather strange, and this is evidence of the conflict of cultures that occurred as a result of the Crusades. He refers to an incident during the siege of Acre in July 1191, when a woman who had been fighting among the Christian forces was killed and brought before the sultan:

He was greatly amazed at that.[liv]

Although it may appear here that it was the sultan, and not Ibn Shaddad, who found the incident strange, the fact that Ibn Shaddad mentions it at all is testimony to his own thinking that it was unusual, and therefore worthy of mention.

Another strange event that Ibn Shaddad comments upon occurs earlier in the text. During the early stages of the siege of Acre, it seems that the garrison of Acre and the besieging Franks became so used to one another that they used to halt hostilities periodically to socialise with one another, something that seems strange to Ibn Shaddad in the first place. However, one thing he finds stranger still is that on one occasion, towards the end of September 1189, during an organised mock battle between young boys from each side, one of the Muslim boys captured one of the Christian ones:

Some of the Franks bought him for two dinars, and said, “He is truly your prisoner.” (The captor) took the two dinars and let him go. This is an unusual and strange thing.[lv]

Although it is not clear whether it was just this incident, or the whole idea of each side socialising with each other that Ibn Shaddad finds strange, he certainly seems to find it odd that the Franks should take a mock battle such as this so seriously, especially considering that the battle would have taken place during a time of a temporary truce, and therefore, the Christian boy could not legitimately be called a prisoner of war.

As far as his position and loyalties will allow him to, Ibn Shaddad presents the Franks much as he sees them. In the main, this means that he expresses little like or dislike for them, and gives clear, balanced, accurate accounts of their actions as far as his sources enable him to. However, he does show emotional responses to their actions, and an ability to perceive both their good and bad qualities. He also gives accounts of what seem to him to be their more unfathomable qualities, and attempts to understand them, but he is not always able to understand the motivation behind some of their stranger actions. In this way, he shows a similar reaction to them as that of Usama ibn Munqidh. Thus his work is both an indication of the development of Muslim attitudes towards the Franks, and also an account of the continuing cultural clash that took place between the two sides during the period.


‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani

Al-Barq al-Shami, Al-Fath al-Qudsi and Other Works

Born at Isfahan in 519/1125, ‘Imad al-Din Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Katib al-Isfahani was a member of a distinguished family that had also produced another famous katib, his uncle Al-‘Aziz. ‘Imad al-Din spent his youth in his native town and at Kashan, and then studied fiqh in Baghdad. He also journeyed to a variety of places, including Mosul. When the Seljuq sultan Muhammad II unsuccessfully besieged Baghdad in 551/1156, ‘Imad al-Din wrote a sarcastic qasida to congratulate him, and so earned the favour of the vizier Ibn Hubayra, who appointed him as his na’ib in Wasit. However, when the vizier died in 559/1164, ‘Imad al-Din lost his position and spent the next two years in poverty. Thanks to the patronage of the vizier Al-Shahrazuri, he turned to the Zangids of Syria, whom his uncle had served, and was appointed katib to Nur al-Din, and later mudarris of a madrasa built in his honour. He was sent on a diplomatic mission to the caliph, and became mushrif of the diwan. After Nur al-Din’s death in 569/1174, ‘Imad al-Din was supplanted by his enemies, and travelled to Mosul, where he fell ill. He recovered and returned to Syria, where he heard that Saladin was about to invade. After Saladin took Homs in 1175, ‘Imad al-Din sent him his greetings in the form of a poem, and soon gained influence with the sultan,  accompanying him on his expeditions. When Saladin died in 589/1193, ‘Imad al-Din returned to a private life and literary work until his death in 597/1201.

‘Imad al-Din wrote a number of literary works, including an anthology of 12th Century Arab poets, as well his own poetry. He is perhaps better known, however, for his historical works, which include Al-Fath al-Qussi fi’l-Fath al-Qudsi,[lvi]  Al-Barq al-Shami[lvii] and Nusrat al-Fatra, as well as a number of continuations of his historical chronicles after the death of Saladin, cited by Abu Shama as Al-‘Utba wa’l-Uqba, Nihlat al-Rihla and Khatfat al-Barih wa ‘Atfat al-Sharih.[lviii] Sadly, little remains of the Barq, which, along with the Fath, was ‘Imad al-Din’s main record of his time with Saladin and his experience of the Franks, the first being an autobiographical account of this time, and the second being more specifically an account of the re-conquest of Jerusalem. However, there are numerous citations of his works in the Kitab al-Rawdatayn fi Akhbar al-Dawlatayn[lix] of Abu Shama, and it is this work that has been used in the writing of this chapter. As a result of this, it is important to bear in mind, when discussing ‘Imad al-Din’s presentation of the Franks, that the works that are being examined have been edited. Abu Shama states in his work that the original versions of ‘Imad al-Din’s works are in such an elaborate style of rhymed prose and literary devices that they make the reader forget what he has just read, and so he has edited them.[lx] In addition, Abu Shama also uses only extracts from the works of ‘Imad al-Din, and does not present his reader with entire texts. Furthermore, in his citations, Abu Shama rarely specifies which text of ‘Imad al-Din’s he is quoting from, introducing his quotations with a simple “‘Imad says”. Occasionally he specifies the text he is quoting from, and it seems that he quotes from the Barq, the Fath, Al-‘Utba wa’l-Uqba, Nihlat al-Rihla and Khatfat al-Barih wa ‘Atfat al-Sharih,[lxi] as well as quoting occasional pieces of ‘Imad al-Din’s poetry. However, usually he is not specific about which work he is citing. Therefore, the reader must be aware that the works are being examined, as it were, through the veil of Abu Shama’s editing, and it is suggested that they be treated much as one work, as it is unlikely that ‘Imad al-Din’s attitudes or style will vary greatly between each text, although he does display inconsistencies of detail, which will be discussed below. In addition, the reader should bear in mind that ‘Imad al-Din’s works are incomplete, although it is reasonable to assume that Abu Shama’s selection captures the essential flavour and nature of them.

Before proceeding with an analysis of ‘Imad al-Din’s presentation of the Franks, it is also necessary to consider the point of view he was writing from, and how much he knew about them. As Saladin’s katib, ‘Imad al-Din was involved, in particular, in writing letters from Saladin to the caliph, and to other amirs. As a result, he was in constant attendance upon the sultan, and received a great deal of information from the letters that were dictated to him. However, despite this, he seems to have had a relatively restricted view of the Franks, and he does not show the same understanding of them as that shown by Usama ibn Munqidh or Ibn Shaddad. He shows an awareness of the names of various Franks, and seems to distinguish between them. For example, he describes the high-ranking prisoners taken at Hattin in 1187:

The capture of the king and the Prince of Kerak and Humphrey, the brother of the king and Auk, the ruler of Jubayl and Humphrey, the son of Humphrey, and the ruler of Alexandretta and the ruler of Maraclea was accomplished.[lxii]

In this way, ‘Imad al-Din seems to show a great awareness of who all the Franks were. However, this is information he could easily have gained from letters that were dictated to him, and it is evident, from the lack of further factual details regarding the Franks, that he does not have as deep an understanding of them as that possessed by the other writers.

As has been mentioned above, the work of ‘Imad al-Din also displays inconsistencies in the details that it does relate, which further undermines the reader’s confidence in the knowledge ‘Imad al-Din seems to show of the Franks. Occasionally Abu Shama points out these inconsistencies, but refrains from commenting upon them. One example of this is in ‘Imad al-Din’s description of the Christian army at the battle at Tell al-‘Ayadiyya in October 1189, when he describes the size of the enemy army:

(Citing ‘Imad al-Din’s Barq) When we asked him, he said that there were 120,000 of them, then we struck his head off, and he (‘Imad al-Din) says in the Fath that there were twenty thousand.[lxiii]

This inconsistency of detail seems to further indicate that ‘Imad al-Din does not actually know very much about the Franks, and therefore makes the reader doubt how far his knowledge does extend.

The first impression that the reader gets, upon examining the works of ‘Imad al-Din, is that the katib is extremely hostile to the Franks. Although he does not make use of suffixed formulae when referring to them, such as Ibn al-Qalanisi’s “may God forsake them”,[lxiv] his hostility to them is, in many ways, much more vehement. ‘Imad al-Din usually refers to the Franks as “the infidels” or “the enemy”, and often levels other criticisms or insults at them. For example, in his description of the Christian muster in June 1187, ‘Imad al-Din describes how they raised the cross and gathered around it:

They raised the cross of the crucifixion, and the worshippers of the idol gathered around it, mistaken in their humanity and theology.[lxv]

To ‘Imad al-Din, the Christians are infidels, idolaters and the lovers of Satan, and therefore damned to descend into Hell when they die, as opposed to the Muslims, who are the servants of God, and therefore bound to rise into the glories of the Hereafter. It is for this reason that he writes, when describing the death of an amir and a Christian officer at Acre in 1191:

They fell in the sea and drowned, and they went together to their fate and acted in concert, and on the roads to the garden and the fire they separated.[lxvi]

At other points in the text, ‘Imad al-Din is much more explicit about this. He describes the death of Frederick Barbarossa in 1190, after his bathe in the River Saleph

An illness came upon him that took him to hell.[lxvii]

In this way, ‘Imad al-Din makes it clear that he believes that the Christians are damned for opposing the Muslims. He also makes it clear that the Muslims are the true servants of God, and He supports their cause. He describes how God aided the Muslims at the battle at Sepphoris in May 1187:

They set out and travelled by night, and in the morning they came to Sepphoris. It was an evil morning for the ones who had been warned (the Franks). The Franks went to meet them in a troop, and God gave them a felicitous victory and a splendid triumph.[lxviii]

‘Imad al-Din also shows the same religiously fatalistic attitude as Ibn Shaddad, in that all events, including both successes and failures, are due to God’s will. One point at which he states this explicitly is in his description of Raymond III of Tripoli’s co-operation with Saladin after the crowning of King Guy in 1186, when he says that it was an event “of those decreed by God (who is exalted) as causes to aid Islam.”[lxix] Admittedly, this tends to apply more often to successes, but this is due more to the fact that ‘Imad al-Din tends to gloss over failures, to the point where his work seems to simply omit the fact that they took place. One example of this is in his description of the defeat at Arsuf in September 1191, when he states of the Franks:

They took refuge in the walls of Arsuf, and were it not for (their doing) that, death would have taken them.[lxx]

In this way, ‘Imad al-Din makes Muslim defeats appear to be victories. The precise reasons for his doing this are not entirely clear. It may be that he does not wish to present an account of his time with Saladin that may cast a bad light upon the sultan, or it may be that, considering the confused nature of the battle at Arsuf, and the fact that ‘Imad al-Din was not from a military background, and could not, therefore, be expected to have any military training, he did not realise that the Muslim forces had been defeated. It seems likely that it was a combination of these two factors that led him to his point of view.

‘Imad al-Din is not able to completely ignore defeats, however, and so he rationalises them as having been allowed by God in order to spur them to greater efforts. He describes the massacre of the volunteers at Le Toron (Tibnin) in July 1189 in these terms:

The infidels did not (ever) strike the Muslims (again) the way they were struck this time. After the unveiling to us of victories, we have tasted a passing of this bitterness. God woke us up from the sleep of heedlessness, and the people became wary.[lxxi]

In this way, the Franks become the pawns of God, only allowed to defeat the Muslims if He specifically decrees it. Thus ‘Imad al-Din presents events as being ordained by God, and the Franks as being weak and incapable before His will.

Although ‘Imad al-Din’s work lacks a great deal of factual detail regarding the Franks, he does, nevertheless, give dramatic, detailed accounts of encounters with them that give further evidence of his hostile attitude towards them. His account of the Battle of Hattin, for example, contains a large amount of detail regarding the glorious efforts of the Muslims and the uselessness of the Christians’ attempts to defeat them. He describes, for example, the effect of the heat upon the Christian soldiers:

Those dogs, panting with their tongues, and suffering from a disaster they had brought upon themselves, their thoughts went back to water, hell met them with its evils, and noon conquered them with its fire.[lxxii]

In this way he dramatises his account, and presents the Christians in a bad light. Occasionally, however, ‘Imad al-Din dramatises his account to such a degree that it seems to exceed the bounds of plausibility. One example of this occurs in an account he gives of the battle at Tell al-‘Ayadiyya in October 1189, when he states:

The amazing thing is that those who stood firm, strong against them, numbered no more than a thousand, and they turned back a hundred thousand…and the sultan was one of those standing firm in that expedition, and (one of) the crushers of the people attacking. He had remained alone when the Muslims turned away. There is no doubt that God sent down his angels with their power.[lxxiii]

It seems likely that in this case, ‘Imad al-Din is attempting to rationalise the fact that the Muslims were able to defeat such a vastly greater force, and to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. His chosen rationalisation, however, is evidence both of his belief that God was on the Muslim side, and also of his desire to present the Franks in as bad a light as possible.

Another way in which the work of ‘Imad al-Din differs from that of other writers is in another aspect of the author’s attitude towards the Franks. As has been mentioned previously, despite their hostility, the writers mentioned in preceding chapters seem also to have a grudging respect for the Franks, and this is evident in occasional compliments that they give to them, and other signs of respect that they display. ‘Imad al-Din, by contrast, shows no respect at all for the Franks, and there is a noticeable lack of any details that could be regarded as compliments of them in the text. Even Raymond III of Tripoli, whom other Arab writers regarded with a certain measure of respect, is related as having fled the battlefield of Hattin in discouragement upon having seen the imminent Christian defeat,[lxxiv] rather than having attempted a tactical break-out, as other writers have suggested. ‘Imad al-Din is determined not to accord any of the Franks a compliment, or signs of any good qualities, and this is further evidence of his hostility to them.

It is interesting to note that there are two points on which the other writers and ‘Imad al-Din agree. The first of these is their agreement that Franks are inherently untrustworthy. In ‘Imad al-Din’s case, this is evident in his relating of the Franks’ breaking of a truce in May 1182:

In that year the Franks behaved treacherously and violated their treaty.[lxxv]

In this way, he describes the perfidiousness of the Franks by his choice of language to describe their breaking of the truce.

The other point on which all the writers agree is on their view of the Franks as being rather strange.[lxxvi] Like Ibn Shaddad, ‘Imad al-Din describes incidents of women being found fighting among the Frankish forces.[lxxvii] His view of the strangeness of this is confirmed by his comment of “Observe the agreement in wrongdoing between men and women”.[lxxviii] ‘Imad al-Din also expresses his disapproval of Frankish marriage customs when he relates the marriage of Henry of Champagne to Isabella de Courtenay, despite her pregnancy, after the murder of Conrad de Montferrat:

Count Henry married the queen, the wife of the Marquis, on that night, and slept with her while she was pregnant. Pregnancy is not an impediment to marriage, according to the Frankish religious creed, and the child belongs to the queen. This is a rule of this polytheistic group.[lxxix]

Thus ‘Imad al-Din shows his disapproval of what seem to him to be strange customs of the Franks, which he finds offend his moral and cultural sensibilities.

‘Imad al-Din’s work seems, on the whole, to be a much more hostile presentation of the Franks than that of the other writers. He expresses great hostility towards the Franks, and avoids writing anything that might cast a good light upon them. He also shows his disapproval of their practices, and in particular of their attitudes towards women. He views them as treacherous infidels, cursed by God and ultimately destined for the fires of Hell. It is interesting to note that ‘Imad al-Din is more vehement towards the Franks than most of the other writers, and yet in most cases he knows less about them. The ignorance of ‘Imad al-Din may be the cause of his increased hostility, as the other writers’ increased understanding of the Franks and their good qualities is the cause of their grudging respect for them. In this way ‘Imad al-Din’s account gives the reader a less-educated man’s view of the Franks, which could well have been the view held by the lower ranks among the Muslim forces. In some ways, ‘Imad al-Din’s account is more indicative of the development of attitudes and clash of cultures that took place during the period than the accounts of the other chroniclers.


Ibn al-Athir  

Al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh

Ibn al-Athir was a family name given fame by three sons of a high-ranking officer of the Zangids of Mosul, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim, who was stationed at Cizre (Jazirat Ibn ‘Umar) when his sons were born. The three sons were Majd al-Din, ‘Izz al-Din and Diya’ al-Din, and of the three it was the middle son, ‘Izz al-Din, who was to make the name most famous, and who is the historian known to modern students of the period as Ibn al-Athir. ‘Izz al-Din Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali was born on the 4th Jumada I 555/13th May 1160. After completing his education, he went on to spend most of his adult life in Mosul under a private scholar. He repeatedly visited Baghdad as a pilgrim or an envoy of the ruler of Mosul, and took the opportunities provided by these journeys to attempt to study under Baghdadi scholars. He is also recorded at the age of 28 as having fought in the armies of Saladin against the Crusaders, probably with his brother Diya’ al-Din. Towards the end of his life, in 626-8/1228-31, Ibn al-Athir spent time as a guest of the atabeg of Aleppo, interrupting this stay at one point in order to spend a year in Damascus. During his stay at Aleppo, he was asked by the dying Yaqut to handle the transfer of his books and papers to a Baghdadi foundation after his death, something that he is reported to have done ineptly. Ibn al-Athir died in Sha‘ban or Ramadan 630/May-June 1233.

Ibn al-Athir wrote a variety of works, including improved compendia of Sam‘ani’s Ansab and earlier collections of biographies of contemporaries of the Prophet, entitled Al-Lubab and Usd al-Ghaba. He also wrote a short work on the Zangid dynasty of Mosul, Al-Bahir, which he based on the knowledge of both himself and his father. However, by far his most famous work is Al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh,[lxxx] a history of the world beginning at its creation and going up to the year 628.[lxxxi] The Kamil is a detailed, mostly unbiased chronicle of this period, and is particularly useful as a chronicle of the Crusades. It is considered to be the third major source for the life of Saladin and is also useful, due to its attention to detail, as a source for the Franks and their interaction with the Muslims, despite its having been written from a Muslim perspective, and therefore having a slightly restricted point of view. The only major flaw of the Kamil is that, for most of the work, Ibn al-Athir neglects to report where his information comes from. It is known that he made use of other writers, including Ibn al-Qalanisi[lxxxii] and Usama ibn Munqidh,[lxxxiii] and he does occasionally make reference to either information his father has given him,[lxxxiv] or to his own experience,[lxxxv] but in general he makes few references to his sources of information. The exception to this general rule is when he quotes poetry, in which case he usually gives the name of the author. For example, in his description of the aftermath of the destruction of Banyas in 1179, Ibn al-Athir states:

The poets said much on this, and among those (comments) are the words of our friend al-Nashw ibn Naffadha, may God have mercy on him:

The destruction of the Franks came soon, and the breaking of their crosses had come,

If their deaths had not drawn near, the house of their grief would not have been built.[lxxxvi]

Despite this general lack of information regarding Ibn al-Athir’s sources, it is apparent from the large amount of detail contained in the text that Ibn al-Athir had access to a lot of information concerning the Franks and their interaction with the Muslims. This view is further supported by the fact that Ibn al-Athir’s father was a high-ranking officer, and therefore was likely to have had a great deal of experience of both negotiations and conflicts with the Franks, and likewise, Ibn al-Athir himself, as an envoy of the rulers of Mosul and a member of the Mosuli forces, also had experience in these areas.

 Ibn al-Athir also shows his knowledge of the Franks through the fact that he differentiates between them. Like Usama ibn Munqidh and Ibn Shaddad, Ibn al-Athir treats the Franks as a variety of peoples from a variety of nations, rather than simply one mass known as “al-Faranj”. He also shows a knowledge of Frankish politics, which he displays when he discusses the effect of the coronation of Guy de Lusignan on Raymond III of Tripoli’s relations with Saladin.[lxxxvii] This knowledge of the Franks is probably a result of the important position Ibn al-Athir held in Muslim society, and the access to information he gained as a result.

Given these factors, it is reasonable to assume that Ibn al-Athir had an extremely good knowledge of the Franks and their behaviour. In addition, Ibn al-Athir’s account may be seen as even more reliable because of its impartiality. Unlike the other writers, Ibn al-Athir shows little bias towards either side, and neither does he shirk away from admitting Muslim defeats and mistakes of strategy that may have led to Christian victories, such as their refraining from attacking Guy de Lusignan’s forces before they reached Acre in August 1189, which he explicitly describes as a mistake:

Were it not for the fact that the army followed the opinion of Salah al-Din in their manner of arrangement and fighting before they reached Acre, they would have achieved their aim and blocked (the Franks) from it.[lxxxviii]

In this way, it is apparent that Ibn al-Athir is writing an unbiased account, showing little or no partiality to either side.

Due to the objective, unbiased nature of Ibn al-Athir’s account, it is difficult to assess his own particular view of the Franks, and his attitude towards them. In many ways, he shows an ambiguous attitude, similar to that of Usama or Ibn Shaddad, only due to the objectivity that he maintains, the attitude is even more ambiguous. Ibn al-Athir shows very few emotional responses to the Franks in the text, but from those that there are, one may draw a certain amount of information, leading to the conclusion that he, much like the other two mentioned above, is unsure of his attitude towards the Franks.

In many ways, the Franks are much less clearly defined as an enemy for Ibn al-Athir, and this is reflected in the fact that he usually refers to them simply as “al-Faranj”, rather than the “enemy” of Ibn Shaddad. However, Ibn al-Athir does occasionally make use of hostile suffixes, such as “may God forsake them”,[lxxxix] when referring to the Franks, and even goes so far as to call them “the devils of the Franks”[xc] at one point in his work. He also occasionally singles out particular Frankish leaders for criticism and hostility. For example, at one point he refers to Conrad de Montferrat as “the greatest of the devils of the Franks”.[xci] However, much like in the work of Ibn Shaddad, these suffixes are usually only added as afterthoughts, or at points where the Franks have committed particularly heinous acts, and so it is difficult to judge how sincere Ibn al-Athir’s hostility is.

Indeed, despite his apparent hostility, Ibn al-Athir is unable to refrain from showing the same grudging respect for the Franks as is shown by most of the other writers. For example, when referring to Raymond III of Tripoli, he states:

At that time the Franks had no-one who was of more importance, braver or wiser.[xcii]

In this way, he shows a similar admiration for the Franks as that shown by Ibn Shaddad, which makes his account seem ambiguous. The account is made even more ambiguous by occasional instances when Ibn al-Athir seems to curse and praise the Franks in the same breath, as it were. One example of this occurs in an earlier reference to Conrad de Montferrat, in which he states:

He was a devil of a man, good at arranging and defending things. He had great bravery.[xciii]

This simultaneous praising and cursing of the Franks serves only to increase even further the ambiguities of attitude present in the text.

Whatever Ibn al-Athir’s personal feelings about the Franks, it is nonetheless clearly defined for him that the Franks are the enemies of God, and that the Muslims are His chosen people. Although he does not seem to have the same theories on God compensating the Muslims for their defeats as those held by Ibn Shaddad, he does refer repeatedly to God protecting the Muslims, and opposing the Christians. One example of this is apparent in Ibn al-Athir’s account of the burning of the Frankish siege towers at Acre in May 1190, which he ascribes to the aid of God:

God brought them (the Muslims) victory from his side, and allowed the towers to be burned…God hastened for them (the Franks) the fire in this world, before the Hereafter.[xciv]

Thus Ibn al-Athir makes it clear that, in his opinion, God is opposed to the Franks and aids the Muslims.

There are two characteristics of the Franks upon which all three of the sources for the life of Saladin agree. The first of these is upon their untrustworthiness, a characteristic that, as has been mentioned above, is also commented on by Usama ibn Munqidh and Ibn al-Qalanisi. Like the other writers, Ibn al-Athir also refers to the dishonest treachery of the Franks in breaking treaties. One example he cites of this is in their breaking of their truce with Nur al-Din in 1172:

Two ships went out from Egypt to Syria and anchored at the city of Latakia, and the Franks took them over…There was a truce between them and Nur al-Din, and they violated it and behaved treacherously. Nur al-Din sent to them for an explanation and the return of the goods and merchants they had taken. They deceived him and argued with him over the matter, (saying) that the ships had been wrecked and water had entered them, and the regulation was that they could take every ship that was wrecked and that water had entered. He did not believe their deception, and gathered the armies and deployed raiding parties in their country.[xcv]

Later in the text, Ibn al-Athir shows that it is not only him that regards the Franks as being untrustworthy, when he refers to Richard’s requests for a truce in 1192:

Salah al-Din did not assent to what he had requested, thinking that he only did that as a deception and trick.[xcvi]

In this way, Ibn al-Athir shows that Saladin also thought that the Franks were untrustworthy, a point of view which is understandable, given the experience he had of their repeated breaking of truces.

The other characteristic upon which Ibn al-Athir agrees with the other two sources for the life of Saladin, as well as the work of Usama, is on the Franks’ strangeness. He agrees in particular with the sources for Saladin when he refers to the Franks’ attitudes towards women. He remarks on an incident during the siege of Burzey in August 1188:

I saw…a women shooting from the castle with a mangonel, and it was she who was thwarting the Muslim mangonels.[xcvii]

The fact that Ibn al-Athir remarks on this, and in particular, emphasises the fact that he saw it (in the Arabic, he uses the personal pronoun “ana” after the verb), indicates that he considered it strange, and therefore worthy of mention. Thus he has the same perception of the strangeness of the Franks as that held by Ibn Shaddad and ‘Imad al-Din.

Ibn al-Athir’s work is, in its very nature, ironic. Of the three main sources popularly cited for the life of Saladin, it is the most detailed, and so, in many ways, it is the best source for the Franks and their interaction with the Muslims of the period. However, despite its attention to detail, the text is, in some ways, the least useful source of information on the Franks, as its objectivity means that, although it is useful as a record of events involving the Franks, it reveals little of the attitudes prevalent at the time. Fortunately, Ibn al-Athir is unable to maintain this objectivity throughout the text, and the few instances where he allows it to slip allow the modern reader to gain a better impression of his attitudes.

It seems that Ibn al-Athir’s view of the Franks is, in many ways, similar to that of Usama ibn Munqidh or Ibn Shaddad, in that he is aware that they are the enemy of both the Muslims and God, and so he feels that he ought to be hostile towards them. Yet despite this he, like the others, finds himself able to appreciate their good qualities, and is unable to prevent himself from feeling a certain amount of respect for them. This leads to the ambiguity of view that is apparent in the text.

The strangeness of the Franks, which Ibn al-Athir touches on, albeit to a lesser degree than Ibn Shaddad or ‘Imad al-Din, is once again an indication of the development of attitudes and cultural conflict which took place during the period. The fact that he does not devote as large an amount of his text to it as do the other two writers is a result of his desire to maintain an objective view, and does not detract from its significance. He is as much a witness to the conflict as they are, and is no less affected by it.



It is apparent, from the sources examined in this dissertation, that a number of characteristics developed in Muslim attitudes towards and writings about the Franks, as a result of their arrival and subsequent settlement in the Levant, which affected the way they were presented. Some of these characteristics remained throughout the period examined, whereas others either developed later or changed significantly from their original nature. These changes were the result of the increased contact with the Franks, itself a result of their settlement in the area, which led to increased understanding of their attitudes and motivations. This increased understanding is most apparent in the writings of Ibn Shaddad, Usama ibn Munqidh and Ibn al-Athir, whose high-ranking positions enabled them to have a large amount of contact with the Franks on a diplomatic level. As a result, they show a much deeper understanding of the Franks, their motivations, and the different groups that exist within their ranks. Nevertheless, it is apparent that even the less high-ranking Muslims had increased contact with the Franks as time progressed, even if it did not lead to the same depth of understanding.

The most apparent characteristic in Muslim presentation of the Franks that remains largely unchanged throughout the period is the Muslim view of the Franks as being infidels and the enemies of God. Throughout all five of the works examined, the Franks are presented in this way. Even in works that do not seem to be genuinely hostile towards the Franks, there is still a pervading view of the Franks in these terms.

The view of the Franks as being particularly untrustworthy is another that remains throughout all the texts examined. This suggests that the Christians were, indeed, treacherous in their conduct towards the Muslims, the reason for this possibly being the fact that they were not required, by Christian standards, to keep oaths made to infidels. One example of this is the case of Guy de Lusignan, who was absolved from his oath not to fight Saladin in the summer of 1188 by Christian priests, who claimed that the oath could not be kept because his religion was in danger. When this is considered, and also the conduct of oath-breakers such as Reynald de Châtillon, then it becomes apparent that the Muslim view was founded on a certain degree of fact. The fact that every writer mentions it suggests that the practice must have been fairly widespread.

The other main view which remains unchanged throughout Muslim writings is the ability of the Muslims to appreciate the good characteristics of their enemies, the only exception being in the writings of ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani. All the other writers show an appreciation of their enemies’ good qualities, although to Muslim writers, these are of secondary importance, as the Christians are still the enemies of God.

Of the features that develop in the texts as time progresses, the most apparent is the development of the use of hostile suffixes, such as “may God forsake them,” in Muslim writings. The fact that this feature is introduced very suddenly towards the end of the Ta’rikh, then is used regularly in the Kitab al-I‘tibar, then less frequently in the Nawadir and the Kamil, suggests that the use of hostile suffixes developed almost as a fashion, becoming common usage for a while, then faded gradually. It is the hope of this author, as mentioned above, that further research will reveal more about this topic.[xcviii]

The other characteristic that develops through the texts as time progresses is the view of the Franks as being rather strange. It is understandable that this characteristic should develop as a result of increased contact with the Franks, but it is interesting to note how it changes through the period of its development. The most apparent change seems to be in the Muslim attitude towards the Franks’ treatment of women. Usama ibn Munqidh, the first writer to comment on the Franks’ strangeness, does not mention any incident where he was surprised to find women in the Frankish forces, and it is apparent from his writing that he does not find it surprising when Muslim women gird themselves for war. This is a contrast to Ibn Shaddad, ‘Imad al-Din and Ibn al-Athir, all of whom remark on incidents they witnessed of women fighting in the Christian forces. However, it is not clear if this disparity between texts is a result of a change in Muslim perspective, or of the different backgrounds of the writers. Of all the writers, Usama was the only one who was of Bedouin origin, a society in which women were required to be more independent, whereas the others were all of urban stock, and it is possible that this is the reason for their varying attitudes, rather than a genuine change in more universal Muslim attitudes.

There is one feature of Muslim presentation of the Franks which is apparent in all the texts, but which changes its nature as the texts progress chronologically. All the works show a certain amount of hostility towards the Franks, but only in the works of Ibn al-Qalanisi and ‘Imad al-Din does this seem to be very genuine. The works of Usama, Ibn Shaddad and Ibn al-Athir all show a certain ambiguity of attitude towards the Franks, rather than outright hostility. In this way, it seems that increased Muslim contact with the Franks led to a lessening in hostility towards them, as a result of a greater awareness of their motivations and good qualities.

In many ways, all five of the works examined in this dissertation are testimonies to the cultural clash that took place between the Muslims and the Franks during the early period of the Crusades. They give accounts of the hostility and misunderstandings between the two sides, as well as the religious conflicts of which, very often, they were the consequences. The presentation of the Franks in these texts is most important, however, as an indication of how increased contact between the two sides resulted in the development of Muslim attitudes towards the Franks, and led to increased understanding.


Primary Sources:

Abu Shama, Extract from Kitab al-Rawdatayn fi Akhbar al-Dawlatayn in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux. Vols. IV-V, Farnborough: Gregg Press Limited, 1967.

Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad, Al-Nawadir al-Sultaniyya w'al-Mahasin al-Yusufiyya in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux. Vol. III, Farnborough: Gregg Press Limited, 1967.

Ibn al-Athir, ed. Tornberg, C. J., Al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh. 13 vols., Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986.

Ibn al-Athir, Extract from Al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux. Vols. I-II, Farnborough, Gregg Press Limited, 1967.

Ibn al-Qalanisi, ed. Zakar, S., Ta’rikh Dimashq. Damascus: Dar Hassan li’l-Tiba‘a w’al-Nashr, 1983.

Ibn al-Qalanisi, trans. & ed. Gibb, H. A. R., The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades. London: Luzac & Co., 1932.

Usama ibn Munqidh, trans. Hitti, P. K., Memoirs of an Arab-Syrian Gentleman. Beirut: Khayats, 1964.

Secondary Sources:

Cahen, Cl., Entry on IBN AL-KALANISI in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. (New Edition), Vol. III, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979.

Gamal El-Din El-Shayyal, Entry on IBN SHADDAD in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. (New Edition), Vol. III, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971.

Humphreys, R. S., Entry on MUNKIDH in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. (New Edition), Vol. VII, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1993.

Lyons, M. C. and Jackson, D. E. P., Saladin: The Politics of Holy War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Massé, H., Entry on ‘IMAD AL-DIN in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. (New Edition), Vol. III, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971.

Mayer, H. E., trans. Gillingham, J., The Crusades. London, Oxford University Press, 1972.

Rosenthal, F., Entry on IBN AL-ATHIR in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. (New Edition), Vol. III, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971.

Other Useful Works:

Dozy, R., Supplement aux Dictionnaires Arabes. (2nd Edition), 2 vols., Beirut: Librairie de Liban, 1981.

Gaube, H. and Wirth, E., Aleppo: Historische und Geographische Beiträge zur Baulichen Gestaltung, zur Sozialen Organisation und zur Wirtschaftlichen Dynamik einer Vorderasiatischen Fernhandelsmetropole. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1984.

Holt, P. M., The Age of the Crusades. New York, Longman, 1986.

Sauvaget, J., Entry on HALAB in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. (New Edition), Vol. III, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971.

Wehr, H., ed. Cowan, J. M., A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. (3rd Edition), New York: Spoken Language Services Inc., 1976.

© Niall Christie 2002

[i] Cl. Cahen, Entry on IBN AL-KALANISI in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. III, p. 815.

[ii] H. A. R. Gibb, The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades, p. 357.

[iii] Henceforth Ta’rikh.

[iv] Gibb, p. 9.

[v] Cahen, p. 815.

[vi] Ibn al-Qalanisi, the Ta’rikh, Ed. S. Zakar, p. 306. Zakar has given his edition of the text the title Ta’rikh Dimashq, rather than its full title of Dhayl Ta’rikh Dimashq.

[vii] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 461.

[viii] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 374.

[ix] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 536.

[x] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 423.

[xi] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 222.

[xii] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 258.

[xiii] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 277.

[xiv] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 295.

[xv] P. K. Hitti, Memoirs of an Arab-Syrian Gentleman, p. 3.

[xvi] R. S. Humphreys, Entry on MUNKIDH in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VII, pp. 557-80.

[xvii] Hitti, p. 46. Having been unable to gain access to an original Arabic copy of the text, the author has chosen to use this translation, assuming it to be reasonably accurate.

[xviii] Hitti, pp. 163-4.

[xix] Hitti, p. 161.

[xx] Hitti, pp. 161-70. The chapter title has been added by Hitti.

[xxi] Hitti, p. 163.

[xxii] Hitti, p. 27.

[xxiii] Hitti, p. 97.

[xxiv] Hitti, p. 96.

[xxv] Hitti, p. 161.

[xxvi] Hitti, p. 178.

[xxvii] Hitti, p. 230.

[xxviii] Hitti, p. 243.

[xxix] Hitti, p. 41.

[xxx] Hitti, p. 165.

[xxxi] Hitti, p. 61.

[xxxii] Hitti, p. 164.

[xxxiii] Hitti, p. 162.

[xxxiv] Hitti, pp. 153-4 and 158-9.

[xxxv] Hitti, p. 158.

[xxxvi] It has not been possible to discover any further details concerning these institutions, despite consultation of both J. Sauvaget’s entry on HALAB in The Encyclopaedia of islam, Vol. III, pp. 85-90, and H. Gaube and E. Wirth, Aleppo: Historische und Geographische Beiträge zur Baulichen Gestaltung, zzur Sozialen Organisation und zur Wirtschaftlichen Dynamik einer Vorderasiatischen Fernhandelsmetropole.

[xxxvii] Gamal El-Din El-Shayyal, Entry on IBN SHADDAD in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. III, pp. 933-4.

[xxxviii] Henceforth Nawadir.

[xxxix] Ibn Shaddad, the Nawadir, in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux, Vol. III, p. 5.

[xl] Ibn Shaddad, p. 186. He repeats this mistake on p. 283.

[xli] Ibn Shaddad, p. 271.

[xlii] Ibn Shaddad, p. 228.

[xliii] Ibn Shaddad, p. 138.

[xliv] Ibn Shaddad, p. 45.

[xlv] Ibn Shaddad, p. 270.

[xlvi] Ibn Shaddad, p. 297.

[xlvii] Ibn Shaddad, p. 64.

[xlviii] Ibn Shaddad, pp. 235-6.

[xlix] As noted by the (unnamed) editor of this part of the Recueil on p. 236.

[l] Ibn Shaddad, pp. 242-3.

[li] Ibn Shaddad, p. 284.

[lii] Ibn Shaddad, p. 252.

[liii] Ibn Shaddad, p. 254.

[liv] Ibn Shaddad, p. 232.

[lv] Ibn Shaddad, p. 139.

[lvi] Henceforth Fath.

[lvii] Henceforth Barq.

[lviii] H. Massé, Entry on IMAD AL-DIN in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. III, pp. 1157-8.

[lix] Henceforth Rawdatayn. The version used for this chapter is that in the Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux, Vol. IV-V.

[lx] Abu Shama, Rawdatayn, Vol. IV, p. 14.

[lxi] Abu Shama, Rawdatayn, Vol. V, p. 148.

[lxii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 270.

[lxiii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 425.

[lxiv] Ibn al-Qalanisi, p. 536.

[lxv] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 264.

[lxvi] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 522.

[lxvii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 458.

[lxviii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 262.

[lxix] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 257.

[lxx] Abu Shama, Vol. V, p. 38.

[lxxi] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 405.

[lxxii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 267.

[lxxiii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 425.

[lxxiv] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 269.

[lxxv] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 216.

[lxxvi] Ibn al-Qalanisi is the sole exception to this.

[lxxvii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, pp. 434 and 468.

[lxxviii] Abu Shama, Vol. IV, p. 434.

[lxxix] Abu Shama, Vol. V, pp. 52-3.

[lxxx] Henceforth Kamil.

[lxxxi] F. Rosenthal, Entry on IBN AL-ATHIR in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. III, pp. 723-5.

[lxxxii] Cahen, p. 815.

[lxxxiii] Humphreys, pp. 577-80.

[lxxxiv] Ibn al-Athir, extract from the Kamil in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux, Vol. I, p. 454. The extract which has been used for quotations and references in this chapter is contained in Vols. I and II of the Recueil.

[lxxxv] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, pp. 579, 688 and 726.

[lxxxvi] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 639.

[lxxxvii] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, pp. 674-5.

[lxxxviii] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. II, pp. 6-7.

[lxxxix] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 205.

[xc] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 296.

[xci] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. II, p. 58.

[xcii] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 674.

[xciii] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 695.

[xciv] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. II, p. 19-20.

[xcv] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 584.

[xcvi] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. II, p. 65.

[xcvii] Ibn al-Athir, Vol. I, p. 726.

[xcviii] A full discussion of this topic may be found in Niall Christie, “The Origins of Suffixed Invocations of God's Curse on the Franks in Muslim Sources for the Crusades,” Arabica, Vol. 48 (2001), pp. 254-66.