The summer of 1098 saw the much-fought-over fortress city in Egyptian hands. The Fatimid Emir (commander) al-Afdal Shahinshah had taken Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks after a 40-day siege, on orders of Vizier (minister of state) al-Musta’li, ruler of Egypt.
Many months of political and diplomatic maneuvering with the Franj (Franks–the Arabic term used for all Western European Crusaders) and the Rumi (Romans–actually the Greeks of the Byzantine Empire) had not gotten the vizier the concessions he wanted, so he simply had sent Emir al-Afdal to seize the city the Crusaders were coming to capture, thereby presenting the Franj invaders with a fait accompli.
This Fatimid conquest was the final step of developments during two decades within the fragmented Muslim world, where rulers of the same faith fought one another. Religion apparently being of no importance in matters of worldly power and conquest. This development is summarized as follows:
- 1073: Jerusalem is captured by Malik-Shah I's Great Seljuq Empire under Emir Atsiz ibn Uvaq, who was advancing south into the weakening Fatimid Empire following the decisive defeat of the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert two years previously and a devastating six-year famine in Egypt between 1067 and 1072.
- 1077: Jerusalem revolts against the rule of Emir Atsiz ibd Uvaq while he is fighting the Fatimid Empire in Egypt. On his return to Jerusalem, Atsiz re-takes the city and massacres the local population. As a result, Atsiz is executed by Tutush I, governor of Syria under his brother, Seljuk leader Malik-Shah I. Tutush I appoints Artuq bin Ekseb, later founder of the Artuqid dynasty, as governor.
- 1091–95: Artuq bin Ekseb dies in 1091, and is succeeded as governor by his sons Ilghazi and Sokmen. Malik Shah dies in 1092, and the Great Seljuk Empire splits into smaller warring states. Control of Jerusalem is disputed between Duqaq and Radwan after the death of their father Tutush I in 1095. The ongoing rivalry weakens Syria.
- 1095: At the Council of Clermont Pope Urban II calls for the First Crusade.
- summer 1098: Fatimid Regent Al-Afdal Shahanshah reconquers Jerusalem from Artuq bin Ekseb's sons Ilghazi and Sokmen.
- July 15, 1099: Siege of Jerusalem – First Crusaders capture Jerusalem and slaughter most of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.
These 1098 events suggest that there were negotiations between the Byzantine (and perhaps even the Crusading Frankish) powers on the one hand, and the Muslim Fatimid rulers of Egypts on the other hand on combined efforts against their common enemy: the Muslim Seljuk Turcs that controlled the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire as well as Jerusalem. Negotiations that apparently turned sour, resulting in lots of misery. It now took untill 1192 when the Third Crusade under Richard the Lionheart failed to recapture Jerusalem, but reached the Treaty of Ramla with Saladin. In this treaty Saladin agreed that Western Christian pilgrims could worship freely in Jerusalem.
Sources text historynet.com and Wikipedia. illustration A medieval map of the Jerusalem during the Crusades. Map of Crusader Jerusalem from a Picture Book, late 12th century. Saint-Bertin, France. Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague (MS 76 F 5), source