chapter  2
Appeals for Help
Pages 17

In his account of the events of the year 491/1097-98 in Al-Muntaẓam fī ta’rīkh al-mulūk wa’l-umam (The Systematic Arrangement in the History of Kings and Nations, written in the second half of the sixth/twelfth century), the Baghdad scholar Ibn al-Jawzī recounts how, even before the fall of Jerusalem in 492/1099, complaints and anger were heard in his city on account of the Franks. He writes that calls to fight them multiplied and that complaints about what was happening in Syria were repeated incessantly from all sides. Writing in the city where these complaints were made, he recounts that the sultan Berkyāruq responded positively, ordering his emirs to go to fight the Franks.1 Similarly, during the first encounter between the Franks and the Muslims, Guibert of Nogent reports that the besieged inhabitants of Nicaea wrote to other Muslim cities nearby asking for help – appeals which received a swift and positive response.2 Such occurrences would appear to belie the assessment of Cook and others that there was little appetite among the Muslims to fight the Franks at the beginning of the crusading period.3 The aim of this chapter is to examine Muslim appeals to their co-religionists for help against the Franks to see whether this idea is, indeed, tenable, and what other information can be gleaned from the sources.