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Saladin frees his captives

On October 2nd, 1187, the Ayyubid sultan Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders after a long siege. Unlike the Crusaders, he didn’t kill anybody, and instead freed most of the people in Jerusalem and made sure they had safe passage to another city still in Christian hands. He also let the churches stay open to Christian pilgrims. And he freed tens of thousands of Muslim slaves.

The Second Crusade
Who was Saladin?
The Third Crusade

Saladin: a West Asian man sitting crosslegged


Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem

The marriage of Sibylla and Guy, in a manuscript from the 1200s from Acre

Saladin also gave safe passage to the ruler of Jerusalem, Queen Sibylla, who had been in power there for the last year and had managed the siege. (Her grandmother Melisende had ruled Jerusalem for two decades.) As so often in Wikipedia articles, Sibylla gets credit for this in her own article but not in Wikipedia’s main article about the siege. The main article makes her appear to be just some noblewoman: “Saladin allowed many of the noblewomen of the city to leave without paying any ransom. For example, a Byzantine queen living a monastic life in the city was allowed to leave the city with her retinue and associates, as was Sibylla, the queen of Jerusalem and wife of the captured King Guy.” But Guy was not a ruling king. Legal power was in Sibylla’s hands.

In her own article, we get this:

Of Queen Sibylla’s right to rule, Bernard Hamilton wrote “there is no real doubt, following the precedent of Melisende, that Sibylla, as the elder daughter of King Amalric, had the best claim to the throne; equally, there could be no doubt after the ceremony that Guy only held the crown matrimonial.”

Sibylla’s reign[edit]

An octagonal building with a smaller gold dome on top

Dome of the Rock Mosque, Jerusalem

Sibylla had shown great cunning and political prowess in her dealings with the members of the opposition faction. She had some support from her maternal relations, …and their allies and vassals, while her rivals were led by Raymond of Tripoli, who had a claim to the throne in his own right, the Ibelin family and the dowager queen in Nablus on behalf of Isabella.

Queen Sibylla’s chief concern was to check the progress of Saladin’s armies as they advanced into the kingdom. Guy and Raymond were dispatched to the front with the entire fighting strength of the kingdom, but their inability to cooperate was fatal, and Saladin routed them at the Battle of Hattin on July 4, 1187. Guy was among the prisoners. The dowager queen joined her stepdaughter in Jerusalem as Saladin’s army advanced. By September 1187, Saladin was besieging the Holy City, and Sibylla personally led the defence, along with Patriarch Eraclius and Balian of Ibelin, who had survived Hattin. Jerusalem capitulated on October 2, and Sibylla was permitted to escape to Tripoli with her daughters.

The remains of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

The remains of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

Editing Wikipedia articles

The movement to create Wikipedia articles for women is fantastic, but we also badly need a movement to edit what we might call “men’s articles” and integrate the material from the women’s articles into them. I have enough to do maintaining my own articles, but would love for someone to step up to do this.

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