Bar Hebraeus’ Chronography The Taking of Edessa from the Franks

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In the year fourteen hundred and fifty-six of the GREEKS (A.D. 1145), when JOSCELYN the lord of EDESSA went to ANTIOCH, the men of HARRAN informed ZANGI, the lord of MAWSIL, that EDESSA was empty of troops. And ZANGI collected armies, and on the third day [of the week], on the twenty-eighth day of the month of the LATTER TESHRIN (NOVEMBER), came and encamped against EDESSA. And they pitched their camps by the Gate of SHA’E, close to the Church of the Confessors. And they set up seven engines of war against it, and troops who shot in arrows [as thick] as drops of rain. And all the natives of the town, great and small, and the monks of the mountains were standing on the wall and fighting. And all the women were on the wall also, and they were pushing out stones, and water, and food for the combatants. And whilst those who were outside had dug underground, and had reached the wall, [306] those who were inside had dug underground and went forth against those who were outside. And they killed those whom they found in the excavations, and went back and built up a wall before the part which was breached. Then those outside dug under two other towers.

And when the towers were nigh to fall, ZANGI sent ‘ATABAG to the EDESSEANS and said, ‘Take ye two of our men with you, and give us two men of yours so that they may see that the towers are nigh to fall; surrender the city before ye are captured and perish by the sword’. Now PAPYAS, the chief of the FRANKS who were in EDESSA, because he was confident that JOSCELYN and the king of JERUSALEM would arrive to help them, was not convinced, but he scoffed at and made a mock of ZANGI. Then those who were outside [the wall] set fire to the posts of wood which supported the towers, and they fell. And when the TURKS began to pour in through the breach, the people of the city, and PAPYAS, and the holy men took their stand inside the breach, and prevented the TURKS from coming in. And the breach was filled with heaps of the slain of those who were inside and those who were outside.

And all the people being huddled together at the breach, the TURKS saw that the wall was emptied of combatants, and they placed ladders in position and went up. And when those who were inside saw that the TURKS were masters of the wall, their hands dropped, and they began to flee to the Citadel of the city. And from that moment–what mouth would not be hampered in narrating, or what finger would not tremble in writing, the account of the awful and horrible happenings which took place at the third hour of the day of the Sabbath, on the third day of the month of the LATTER KANON (JANUARY)–the TURKS pushed in with drawn swords, which drank the blood of old men and young men, of strong men and women, of priests and deacons, of monks and anchorites, of nuns and virgins, of children of tender years, and of bridegrooms and brides. O what a bitter history ! The city of ABHGAR, the friend of CHRIST, had become a thing to be trampled under foot because of our iniquity! Woe on the tribulation! Sons denied their fathers, and fathers their sons! The mother forgot to show mercy to her children! And every man ran to the top of the mountain. And when the aged priests who were carrying the coffins of the martyrs saw the wrath of which the prophet said, ‘I will bear the wrath of the Lord because I have sinned’ (Micah, vii. 13), they neither fled nor did they cease to pray until the sword [307] silenced them. And afterwards they were found with the blood mingled in their vestments. And a great many mothers collected their children about them as a hen collects her chicks, expecting to die altogether by the sword, or that they would be carried off into slavery in a body.

And the guards of the Citadel would not open the doors to those who fled there until they saw the face of PAPYAS, and as he did not flee to come with the first [fugitives], thousands were suffocated in the crush. And when he arrived he was unable to enter because of the piles of dead bodies that were before the door of the Citadel. And there he was shot by an arrow from the TURKS and he died. And when ZANGI saw the horrible sight, he stopped the sword, Then the holy man BASILIUS was found naked and shoeless, and he was dragged along by the TURKS with a rope. And when ZANGI saw him he recognized the graciousness which was in his face and he asked who he was. And when he knew that he was the Metropolitan, he commanded and [his servants] clothed him, and he had him brought into his tent. And he began to chide the holy man because he had not surrendered the city and spared the wretched people from being killed. And the holy man replied: ‘Divine Providence wished this to take place–that such a victory as this should be thine, and a great and splendid name among thy fellow kings. And there is openness of face with us poor folk (i,e. we are innocent) towards the Lord, for we have neither acted treacherouslv nor broken our oaths.’ And his words pleased the ‘ATABAG, and he said unto him, ‘Thou speakest truth, O Metropolitan, for those who keep their oaths are honoured by God and by men, and especially those who endure to the death.’ As for those who were in the Citadel, after two days they received the promise that their lives should be spared, and they surrendered it. Now wherever the TURKS found a FRANK they killed him; but they left alive our people and the ARMENIANS that were left; Now it is not for such as I am to relate the history of this calamity, but the prophet JEREMIAH and those who are like unto him. Let men read the wise dirges which they have composed, and the lamentations with [their] mournful songs and thoughtful comments concerning the people which are to be pitied. For on the day in which EDESSA was taken, fire broke out in the Monastery of KARARIT, which is in the country of KARSHENA, and it burnt up all the cells and one old monk, and the others escaped as from a furnace of fire. And on that same day a village in the country of MAR’ASH was also burnt. And fire broke out in the Monastery of [308] MAR BAR SAWMA. When three cells had been burnt out they were able, though with considerable difficulty, to extinguish the fire. Now the pious MAR DIONYSIUS BAR-SELIBHI composed two discourses on the capture of EDESSA, and MAR BASIL, a native of EDESSA, composed three discourses, all of them in the metre of MAR JACOB.

And ZANGI having taken EDESSA went and encamped against BlRAH, a rebel fortress, which overshadowed the EUPHRATES. And whilst he was harassing it with war, there came to him the report that dissension had broken out in MAWSIL, and that his deputy there, NASIR AD-DIN, had been killed. Then he left BIRAH and returned to MAWSIL. And the FRANKS who were in BIRAH, being afraid lest ZANGI would come back and attack them again, sent [a letter] to HUSAM AD-DIN TEMURTASH, the son of ‘ILGHAZI, the son of ‘ARTUK, the lord of MARDIN, and delivered the city over to him. But ‘ILGHAZI, fearing lest ZANGI would come and attack his country, and capture the fortresses thereof, and rule by means of them over all his country, destroyed many of the fortresses himself, namely, that of HUR’BHAR and that of TELL-BESME, and that of THUMA, and that of TELL-SHIH, and that which was near the Monastery of MAR HANANYA which is called ‘Of the woman’. And at that time TEMURTASH took the fortress of HATHKHA from a certain KURD, after he had encamped against it for one year and four months, by means of the oaths (i.e. assurances), and gold and villages which he gave to the KURD its lord. And ‘ARSLAN TOGHMISH, the son of DAWUD, the lord of the fortress of ZAID, went forth from ZANGI and encamped against TELLA of ‘ARSANYAS, and he wanted them to surrender it, but they did not wish [to do so] because their sons were hostages in the fortress of ZAID. And having made war upon it he captured it quickly. And about fifteen thousand souls were found in it, captives from all parts of the country. And he commanded, and they all, together with their bishop TIMOTHY, became slaves, and were sold.

And in the year five hundred and forty of the ARABS (A.D. 1145), ZANGI sent an army against the fortress of PANAK, which is by the side of the island of KARDU, and is called [after] the ‘Sons of ‘OMAR’. This was a rebel fortress which overshadowed the TIGRIS, and it had been in the hands of the BASHNAWAYE KURDS for a period of three hundred years. And in the year five hundred and forty-one of the ARABS (A.D. 1146), ZANGI, having made peace with the natives [309] of MAWSIL after the murder of his deputy NASIR AD-DIN, went to ALEPPO, because it belonged to him, and he collected an army and went and encamped against the fortress of KAL’AH JA’BAR. And one day when he was sitting in his tent with the metal workers who had made for him a bowl of gold which they had brought to him [for inspection], he bowed his head and was examining it. And one of the slaves who were his armour-bearers smote him with a sword from behind him, and cut off his head. And others say that one night when he was sunk in a drunken sleep three of his slaves killed him. And they fled to the base of the wall [of the city] and said to the sentries [on top], ‘Pull us up that we may give you some good news’. And the sentries let down an earth basket and pulled them up one by one with a rope. And when they reached the top they said to the men of the fortress, ‘We have just killed ZANGI, and at present no man knoweth anything about it, therefore do ye inform them’. And the sentries blew the horns, and cried out to those who were below, saying, ‘Rise up and bury ye your lord who hath been killed, before he stinketh’. And when they went to ZANGI they found him dead.

Then MAHMUD his son, who was called NUR AD-DIN, because he was with him, attacked the fortress with greater violence, and when he and those who were inside it were wearied by the struggle, he said unto them, ‘Hand over to me my father’s murderers and there shall be peace to you’. And they handed over the three slaves to him. And after cruel torturings they killed them and burnt their bodies.

Now there remained to ZANGI four sons and one daughter: SAIF AD-DIN GHAZI, NUR AD-DIN MAHMUD, KUTB AD-DIN MAWDUD, NUSRATH AD-DIN, Amir of the Amirs, and their sister. Now ZANGI built the royal palaces which are in MAWSIL, because before his time there was only one royal habitation there, namely that which is opposite the Stadium, that is to say the Maidan. He raised the walls thereof, and he deepened the ditch thereof. And he opened the gate which is called ‘EMADI after his name. And he also planted gardens round about it. It is said that formerly vegetables (or, fruits) and grapes were so very scarce in MAWSIL that when the waiter in the tavern was cutting bunches of grapes to sell, he would cut the bunch off with a razor, taking care that not a single grape should fall upon the ground. [310] And it was he who multiplied therein all kinds of fruits.

And he had in the palace of the Sultan men who gave him hints secretly about everything which was done there by day and by night. And when an ambassador came to him he would never permit him to hold converse with any of the members of his administration and his city. And one day he gave a precious object to one of the slaves and said unto him, ‘Guard this for me’. And the slave took it and wrapped it up in a kerchief and placed it in his bosom, and it was with him for a full year. And after a year the ‘ATABAG said unto him, ‘Where is that precious object?’ And straightway the slave brought it forth Out of his bosom, and handed it to him. And the service of this slave pleased him, and he said, ‘In like manner it is meet to fulfil the guardianship of the fortress’; and he gave him the governorship of the fortress of KAWASHI, and sent him thither. And he possesed also other [remarkable] characteristics, [e.g.] modesty coupled witn great ability, and severity in dealing with offenders, but because of the length [of a summary of them] we must leave them. He ruled over SYRIA nineteen years.

And when the’ATABAG ZANGI was killed at KAL’AH JA’BAR there was with him a great and wise man whose name was ‘ASAD AD-DIN SHIRKUH. This man approached NUR AD-DIN, the son of ZANGI, and said unto him, ‘Behold I see the Wazir of thy father leading astray all the troops together with thy brother SAIF AD-DIN, whom he wisheth to carry to MAWSIL, that he may reign there. Because of this what I now propose is better for thee; viz. that I should carry thee to ALEPPO, so that thou canst reign there, and through that place canst reign over all SYRIA. When this happeneth [thou wilt reign over] the East also, that is MAWSIL, and its clime will be subject unto thee. And this operation was carried out. And the heralds made a proclamation to [this effect] among the armies of SYRIA, and they all gathered together to NUR AD-DIN, and they took ALEPPO, and NUR AD-DIN ruled over it, and over its Citadel. And SAIF AD-DIN, his brother, took MAWSIL and ruled therein. And Sultan MAS’UD, because he loved SAIF AD-DIN–now during his father’s days he had served the Sultan greatly–sent to him royal apparel and confirmed him in the Sultanate of MAWSIL. Now NUR AD-DIN was afraid of his brother SAIF AD-DIN, [311] and he showed by gifts and other kinds of homage that he was afraid to meet him. And after [swearing] oaths, when SAIF AD-DIN went to SYRIA, NUR AD-DIN came to him. And when they met each other NUR AD-DIN bowed down and kissed the ground before his brother, and SAIF AD-DIN also bowed down, and they embraced each other and wept. And SAIF AD-DIN said unto NUR AD-DIN, ‘Why didst thou not come to me? Is it possible that thou wast afraid of me? Believe me, my brother, there hath never entered into my mind the thought which thou hast imagined. What good would life and countries be to me if I worked evil on my brother?’ And thus being reconciled to each other, each returned, to his own place.

And at the time when ZANGI was killed, BAYMOND (RAYMOND?), the lord of ANTIOCH, went forth to the country of ALEPPO and HAMATH, and he made a great slaughter of the ARABS. And haying made many captives, SHIRKUH overtook him, and sent them back. And MUJIR AD-DIN, the lord of DAMASCUS, went against B’ELBAK, and harassed it with war, and took it from NAJM AD-DIN IYUB, the father of SALAH AD-DIN. And he gave certain villages to NAJM AD-DIN, and carried him with him to DAMAASCUS.

And in the year fourteen hundred and fifty-eight of the GREEKS (A.D. 1147), in the month of the FIRST TESHRIN (OCTOBER), JOSCELYN and BO’DWIN the lord of KHISHUM came to EDESSA. And during the night the Frankish foot-soldiers ascended by ladders the two towers through the plan which they had made with certaIn ARMENIANS who were guarding the walls, and the TURKS fled to the Citadel. And in the morning the Water Gate was opened and JOSCELYN went in. And when the FRANKS had remained in EDESSA six days, NUR AD-DIN, with ten thousand TURKS, burst out upon them. Then JOSCELYN harassed the wretched people of EDESSA, and he seized men, and women, and youths,and maidens, and expelled them with violence at the second hour of the night. And, when the day broke the TURKS overtook them, at the same time raining upon them arrows like hail-stones, and wounding them seriously. Alas for the cloud of wrath, and the day which was without mercy! Alas for the night of death, and the dawn of GEHENNA! Alas for the day of destruction which burst upon the wretched citizens and natives of the city which had been envied!

For the horsemen of the FRANKS, since they could not stand against the TURKS, left and fled. [312] And the foot-soldiers of the FRANKS who were unable to flee fixed their gaze on the great ruined fortress which is called the ‘Star’, and went up there. And there remained the hapless people (or, mob) who were to be pitied, and the sword of the TURKS mastered them as fire mastereth straw. And when the TURKS were exhausted through slaughtering, they stripped those who remained of their shoes and apparel, and they tied cords to them, men and women alike, and they forced them to run naked with horses. The number of the killed on the first onrush and on the second onrush amounted to thirty thousand, and sixteen thousand people were carried off as captives. And those who escaped with the foot-soldiers of the FRANKS into the ruined fortress were one thousand men. Not a single woman or child was saved, and those who did not perish were sold into slavery in foreign countries. And EDESSA remained a waste place, and saturated with b]ood, and filled with the limbs of her sons and her daughters; and the sirens used to go into it during the nights to feed upon the flesh of the slain, And it became a habitation for jackals. Even the dead body of BO’DWIN, the lord of KHISHUM, was not found, and the accursed JOSCELYN escaped to SAMOSATA. Our holy man BASIL was saved by flight, but he of the ARMENIANS was seized, together with many others.

Now when the FRANKS heard of the disaster which had taken place in EDESSA, they were greatly moved, and many armies rushed out from ITALY, the king of ALLEMAGNE (GERMANY, CONRAD?) with ninety thousand horsemen, and the king of ‘AFRANZIS (FRANCE), whom the ARABS call FONIS (LOUIS?), with fifty thousand [horsemen], and an endless number of foot-soldiers.

And in the year of the GREEKS fourteen hundred and fifty-nine(A.D. 1148) they waged war against CONSTANTINOPLE, because they knew the treachery of the GREEKS. Then king MANUEL, after much gold which he gave to them, swore that he would guide them without treachery. And straighhway he deceived them, sending before them guides who took them into difficult mountains where there was no water. And when they had remained in this state for five days and had wandered about, their guides having fled, myriads of them died of thirst, both they and their horses. And the TURKS heard [of this], and they rushed out on the FRANKS who were scattered about [313] among the mountains, and when they found them in groups they destroyed them. And the countries of the TURKS were filled with the spoil of the FRANKS, and talents of silver were sold as if they were lead in MELITENE. And those of the FRANKS who escaped returned to the sea-coast of PONTUS. The GREEKS mixed lime with the flour of wheat and gave it to the FRANKS to eat [in their bread]. And whilst they were eating company after company of them fell down and died.

The king of GERMANY, with three Counts, alone escaped, and came to JERUSALEM, and he prayed and was blessed by the Holy Tomb. And after he had rested a few days he came against DAMASCUS with ten thousand horsemen and sixty thousand foot-soldiers. Now the TURKS and the ARABS were in number about one hundred and thirty thousand foot-soldiers, besides horsemen. And the FRANKS, seeing that the ARABS and TURKS though very numerous, were not formidable, plucked up courage and approached until they pitched their camps by the rivers and among gardens. Now MU’IN, the lord of DAMASCUS, seeing that his hope had already been cut off, sent secretly to the king of JERUSALEM a letter of flattering words and gold, viz. two hundred thousand dinars, all of them [being] copper (or, brass) plated with Egyptian gold, and he sent likewise to the lord of TIBERIAS (?) fifty thousand [dinars] made of this adulterated gold, which was tested and discovered [to be base] having gone into circulation. And this gold crumbled away. Although,I have read through five different Arabic manuscripts, I have not found this story in them; it is only the blessed MAR MICHAEL who hath recorded it in writing.

Now when the great king of GERMANY perceived the treachery, he left DAMASCUS and went back to his own country in great sadness, And this was the evil end which came upon that great people. And when the king of SICILY understood about the treachery of the GREEKS he was furiously angry. And he came against the city of THEBES and took it and destroyed it; and he made the GREEKS who were therein to perish by the sword. And he also treated thus ADRIANOPLE, and PHILIPOPOLIS, and became also to CONSTANTINOPLE, and laid waste the whole of its surrounding lands.

And LEO, the ARMENIAN, the governor of CILICIA, died at this time in CONSTANTINOPLE, and his son [TOROS] fled on foot like a beggar and came to CILICIA. And he went to [314] our holy man MAR ATHANASIUS and asked for help from him in prayer so that Gdd might restore to him the heritage of his fathers. And whilst he was praying over him he gave him as a blessing (i,e, a gift) the price of a horse. And having acquired a mount there joined him twelve men, ARMENIANS, and they went first of all and attacked the fortress which is called ”AMUDHA’. And when the men of the fortress saw their lord outside, they surrendered the fortress to him quickly, and he went in and killed the GREEKS who were in it. And the fear of him fell upon the GREEKS who were in the rest of the fortresses, and he captured many positions without difficulty. And the ARMENIANS and the GREEKS joined themselves to him, and they met the TURKS in battle, and destroyed about three thousand of them. And he was triumphant, and renown accrued to him. And the TURKS also took good heed to him and never contended with him. Then he also reigned over the cities, ‘ANAZARBA and the rest.

And in this year NUR AD-DIN, the son of ZANGI, took APAMEA and other fortresses from the FRANKS. And the lord of ANTIOCH laid an ambush for him, and killed many of his army; but NUR AD-DIN himself, together with a few men, escaped and went to ALEPPO.

And in the year fourteen hundred and sixty of the GREEKS (A.D. 1149), which is the year five hundred and forty-three of the ARABS (A.D. 1148), NUR AD-DIN went against HARIM, and he took the suburbs thereof and laid waste the buildings which were outside its fortress. And when PRAYNS, the lord of ANTIOCH, sallied forth to drive him away from HARIM, the FRANKS were conquered by the TURKS, and PRAYNS himself, than whom, among all the kings of the FRANKS, there was none more feared by the TURKS, was killed. And dissension broke out among the men of ANTIOCH, and many of them wished to surrender the city to NUR AD-DIN. Then others of them sent hurriedly to the king of JERUSALEM, and he arrived quickly, and gave courage to the remnant of the horsemen who remained [there]. And he appointed their Patriarch to be their governor until BOHAYMOND, the son of PRAYNS, who had been killed, grew up. And the lord of KHISHUM was killed at this time, and JOSCELYN reigned over KHISHUM and over BETH HESNE.

And in this year the son of MAS’UD, the Sultan of ICONIUM, whose name was KELEJ ‘ARSLAN, encamped against MAR’ASH, and he took it from the FRANKS. And having allowed the Frankish horsemen, and the bishop, and the elders to depart [315] to ANTIOCH, because forsooth of the oaths which he had sworn to them, he dispatched the TURKS to attack them [whilst they were] on the road, and they killed them. During this capture the furniture and equipment of our church which was in MAR’ASH perished by the hands of the elders who were rebelling against the bishop, namely, the box of Muron [oil], and the chalices and phials, and the silver censers, and the curtains and the draperies.

And the lord of the fortress; of ZAID, that is KARA ‘ARSLAN, took BABHULA from the FRANKS and sent raiders to the country of GARGAR. And when they saw that the whole people with their riches were hiding in the mountains of MAR BAR-SAWMA, they laid an ambush in three places, and at dawn they burst forth and took the beasts (i.e. sheep and goats) and cattle. And three of the vassals of the monastery were killed, and two of the TURKS. And the TURKS sent a message to the monastery, saying, ‘Give us the men of GARGAR so that we may give back to you everything which we have taken. For we reverence this saint, and to him we pay vows, and we have not come to do evil to his monastery. As for the people whom we have taken, it is not to carry them off into slavery, but to remove them and transport them to their villages so that they may do work on the farms for us.’

And dissension broke out in the monastery, and some of the monks said, ‘Let us surrender [them]’, and others said, ‘No, [we will not],’ and at length the men of the monastery were nearly ready for a sword to descend between them. Then an aged monk took two persons from each of the two parties, and they went out to the TURKS, and the old man said unto them, ‘If what ye say is true, and ye really wish to have these men to do work on the farm and not as slaves, let some of you come with us, and we will go to the Amir who is your protector, and whatsoever he in his justice commandeth we will do’. Then their treachery was laid bare. And the [two parties of] monks agreed together and with one voice they all cried out, ‘We will not surrender [them]’. Then the TURKS burned the wine presses and the props of the vineyards, and they left [the place] and departed. And the monks went to the fortress of ZAID and appeared before the Amir, and God placed mercy in his heart, and he had everything which had been taken given back.

And in [that] year JOSCELYN went forth from TELL-BASHiR to go to ANTIOCH with two hundred horsemen, who were hoping to meet with a ship, and as they were journeying along by night a few TURCOMANS met them; and they trembled at the mere sound of the word (i.e. name) and fled. And the TURKS pursued and overtook them, [316] and captured JOSCELYN, and they brought him to NUR AD-DIN, the lord of ALEPPO, and he bought him from them for one thousand dinars, and he bound him in fetters and imprisoned him. And h’e lived in prison for nine years, and although they were constantly urging him with promises and threats to become a Muslim, he never yielded.

But he persisted in his Faith, and he confessed saying that it was because of his sins and because he had taken the Monastery of MAR BAR SAWMA, as by God’s help we will show in [our] ‘ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY’, that the Lord had punished him. And when his end drew nigh, he asked for the Bishop, and they brought him to him, and he offered confession; and the Bishop administered to him the Holy Mysteries, and there in a cave he ended his life. And when JOSCELYN was made a prisoner, the TURKS plucked up courage, and took many places from the FRANKS, GARGAR, and GHAKHTI, and also HSEN MANSUR and TIGHINKAR, which is by the side of the monastery. Now when JOSCELYN fell, the FRANKS who were in TELL-BASHIR set up his son, a youth, in his place; and he also was called JOSCELYN.