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Crusading Warfare

Exploring the Military History of the Crusades
William James Hamblin
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Edessa Campaign 5:
Background on Edessa
AD 1098
Vahka ♜ Gerger
Behesni 1098/03/early
Constantine {??}
Rupenids uk
ald
BSamosata
Constantine Marash ♜
{1095-1102} Pardzerpert ♜ Kaysun ♜
Marash “St. John”
Sis Thatoul
{1087-1104} Keysun Raban

Kogh Vasil
{1087?-1112} ♜
Marzban Edessa

Qalat al-Rum Thoros
♜ Duluk {1094-1098}
Sarvantikar ♜ Ba Edessa

Aintab
Bira
Saruj

alak
s

Ravendel
B
Mt

♜ Haran

s
aeu

Turbessel Jerablus
Am

Cyrrhus
Ayas

Azaz
Aleppo
Alexandretta
Darbsak
Yaghra Mashhala (Ridwan) Mosul
♜ {1095-1113} Manbij ♜
Qalat al-Najm (Kerbogha)
Syrian
Gates
Ma’ratah {1095-1102}
Russole
♜ Tall Qabasin
Baghras
Antioch Mamulah al-Bab
Buza’a
(Yaghi-Siyan) Artah Bir
Tall Aghdi
{1086-1098}
‘Imm ♜ Hisn al-Dayr
Antioch Harim Balat Aleppo
Daphne Sarmada Atharib

St Simeon Qusayr Kafr Nasih
0 5 10 k
Medieval Edessa: Background

A- Geography
• Edessa was located in the center of
♜ the great bend of the Euphrates river.
Qalat al-Rum It was the crossroad of north-south and C- History
east-west travel and trade. • A major cultural center of Syriac
•Edessa was at the northwest corner (Jacobite) Christianity.
of a large plain, which served as its • Part of the Byzantine Empire
agricultural land. It shared this • Surrendered to the Arabs in 639
Edessa
agricultural plain with Harran to the • Ruled by the caliphate and various
south. Arab princes until 1031.
• Edessa was surrounded to the north • Armenian warlords rule the town
and west by hill country which was from 1083-1094
used by pastoralists. • 1094-1095, Conquered by Tutush
of Damascus
• 1095-1098, Ruled by Armenian
♜ Bira Thoros

Saruj B- Population

• Exact figures and proportions are
unknownn.
• At the time of the crusades the
population of Edessa was largely
Syrian (Jacobite) Christians, with
minorities of Greek and Armenian Haran
Christians.
• The city also had a minority
Muslim population.
100 m 200 m
0 300 m
Modern Edessa
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: City Walls
r 6- Samosata
B
(North) Gate
B- City Walls
Edessa was about a square kilometer
in size, with around 30-40,000
inhabitants. It was about the same size
as medieval Jerusalem
A

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
A- City Walls

r
5- West Gate Most of the medieval city walls have
disappeared. The route of the walls 1- Great (East) Gate =
indicated here is partly hypothetical. Lower Citadel

7- Church of
St. Thomas

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r
A

2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: City Walls
r 6- Samosata
B
(North) Gate

A

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

7- Church of
St. Thomas

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel A- City Walls r
A • The east and north walls are defended by the
river
2- Harran • The west wall is built on a ridge and is difficult
(South) Gate to assault.
• The citadel is impregnable.
• The south wall is the most susceptible to attack.
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Daisan River
r 6- Samosata
A (North) Gate

A

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

7- Church of
St. Thomas A- Daisan River
The Daisan River was relatively small, although it
gave some protection to the northern and eastern walls
of the city, and provided water for the citizens.
In modern times the rive has been canalized, and most
of its water is used for irrigation.
4- Reservoirs It flowed south into the Euphrates, and watered the
agricultural plains southeast of Edessa.

A
D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r

2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Great (East) Gate
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate 1b- Great Gate = East Gate
= Lower Citadel
Creswell photo from a
century ago.

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1a- Great Gate = East Gate = Lower Citadel
The largest and most power gate of the city. It was an
1 independent citadel, and included a palace for the doux.
Today this gate houses the city museum.

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
3- Citadel = ve
r
Upper Citadel
2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Harran (South) Gate
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
2 n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r

2- Harran Gate, South Gate, Harran Kapisi
The southern walls were most vulnerable to attacks.
The surviving gate was restored by the Mamluks, note
the Arabic building inscription, and the heraldic lions.
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Citadel
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

4- Reservoirs

D
3 ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- The Citadel (Upper Citadel) r
An independent “spur castle” on a
strongly fortified mountain ridge.
2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Reservoirs
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

4

4- Reservoirs
A number of pools by the Citadel were reservoir basins
originally fed by Roman era aqueducts. In medieval
D
times they could be used as reservoirs during sieges. ai
Today the pools (Balikli Göl) are part of the of a sa
n
religious center dedicated to Abraham the “Friend of Ri
God,” whom the Muslims believe was born in Edessa
ve
3- Citadel r
(the “Ur” in the Arabic name “Urfa”).
There were also many small cisterns throughout the
city for private and neighborhood water supply. 2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Eastern Ridge and Walls
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- Western Wall and gate 1- Great (East) Gate =
The western wall of Edessa followed the top of a Lower Citadel
ridge, roughly along the line of the modern retaining
walls. 5
The steep cliffs made assault on the western walls very
difficult.
The cliffs were used as a cemetery from Roman times,
leaving arched tunnels burrowed into the cliff face.
Nothing significant is left of the Western gate.

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r

2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Samosata (North) Gate
6- Samosatar(North) Gate
Nothing of the original gate survives.
It was located on this plaza.

6

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r

2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa: Church of St. Thomas
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel
7- Crusader Church of St. Thomas. (today:
Selahaddin Eyyubi Cami = Saladin Mosque.)
The upper photo shows the ruins of the church
in the early twentieth century, before its
conversion to a mosque.
7
Interior of the mosque, showing the structure of
the crusader nave and apse.

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r

2- Harran
(South) Gate
Da
100 m 200 m isa
0 300 m
nR
ive
Medieval Edessa
r 6- Samosata
(North) Gate

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
r
5- West Gate
1- Great (East) Gate =
Lower Citadel

7- Church of
St. Thomas

4- Reservoirs

D
ai
sa
n
Ri
ve
3- Citadel r

2- Harran
(South) Gate
Crusading Warfare
Next = Edessa 6: Samosata Campaign

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