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Battle of Harim

Battle of Harim

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The Battle of Harim was fought on 12 August 1164 between the forces of Nur ad-Din Zangi and a combined army from the County of Tripoli
County of Tripoli
The County of Tripoli was the last Crusader state founded in the Levant, located in what today are parts of western Syria and northern Lebanon, where exists the modern city of Tripoli. The Crusader state was captured and created by Christian forces in 1109, originally held by Bertrand of Toulouse...

, the Principality of Antioch
Principality of Antioch
The Principality of Antioch, including parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria, was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade.-Foundation:...

, the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. Nur ad-Din won a crushing victory, capturing most of the leaders of the opposing army.


In 1163 King Amalric I of Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem was King of Jerusalem 1163–1174, and Count of Jaffa and Ascalon before his accession. Amalric was the second son of Melisende of Jerusalem and Fulk of Jerusalem...

 led an invasion of Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, leaving the crusader states open to attack from the east. Nur ad-Din took advantage of this to invade Tripoli, but he was taken by surprise by a large combination of enemies at the Battle of al-Buqaia
Battle of al-Buqaia
In the Battle of al-Buqaia in 1163, the Crusaders and their allies inflicted a rare defeat on Nur ad-Din Zangi, the Emir of Aleppo and Damascus...

 and was almost killed himself. He then moved north to Antioch, with assistance from his brother Qutb ad-Din
Qutb ad-Din Mawdud
Qutb ad-Din Mawdud was the Zengid Emir of Mosul from 1149 to 1169. He was a brother and successor of Saif ad-Din Ghazi I.-Biography:...

 in Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, his other vassals from Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, and the Ortoqids of the Jazira
Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey which is known by the traditional Arabic name of Al-Jazira , variously transliterated into Roman script as Djazirah, Djezirah and Jazirah...

, and besieged the fortress of Harim (Harenc) in 1164. As William of Tyre
William of Tyre
William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

 says, "he stationed his engines around it in the customary manner and began to assault the place with a fury which permitted the inhabitants no rest."


Reginald of Saint Valery, lord of Harim, called for help, and Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187 and Prince of Galilee and Tiberias in right of his wife Eschiva.-Early life:...

, Bohemund III of Antioch
Bohemund III of Antioch
Bohemond III of Antioch , also known as the Stammerer or the Stutterer, was Prince of Antioch from 1163 to his death. He was a son of Constance of Antioch by her first husband Raymond of Poitiers...

, and Joscelin III of Edessa
Joscelin III of Edessa
Joscelin III of Edessa was the titular Count of Edessa 1159 – after 1190. He was the son of Joscelin II of Edessa and his wife Beatrice...

 arrived to relieve the siege. They were joined by Konstantinos Kalamanos
Konstantinos Kalamanos
Constantine Kalamanos or Coloman was a Byzantine governor of Cilicia.Constantine was the elder son of Boris Kalamanos and his wife, Anna Doukaina...

, the Byzantine governor of Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

, and Thoros
Thoros II of Armenia
Toros II the Great , also Thoros II, was the sixth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” ....

, and Mleh of Armenia
Mleh of Armenia
Mleh I , also Meleh I, was the eighth lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains” .The accomplishments during the reign of his elder brother, Thoros II placed Cilicia on a firm footing...

, as well as Hugh VIII of Lusignan
Hugh VIII of Lusignan
Hugh VIII the Old of Lusignan or Hugh III of La Marche or Hugues VIII le Vieux de Lusignan was the eldest son of Hugh VII and of Sarrasine or Saracena de Lezay. He became Seigneur de Lusignan, Couhé, and Château-Larcher and Count of La Marche on his father's death in 1151...

 and Geoffrey Martel, brother of William IV of Angoulême, both of whom had recently arrived on pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...


Nur ad-Din prepared to give up the siege when they arrived, but the crusaders, inspired by the victory at al-Buqaia, and, "regardless of the rules of military discipline ... recklessly dispersed and roved hither and yon in pursuit of the foe." Nur ad-Din's troops defended against their charge and led a counterattack, pushing the crusaders into a swamp, and they were massacred "like victims before the altar."

It is possible that Nur ad-Din was only feigning a retreat in order to draw the crusaders into an ambush, but abandoning a siege when a relief army arrived was a standard tactic and Nur ad-Din presumably had no way of knowing the crusaders would follow him. William's assertion that this was a reckless move is further evidence of this. "Only the Armenian Thoros, who had forseen the Turkish maneuver and had not set off in pursuit, escaped from the disaster." Mleh also avoided capture. Konstantinos Kalamanos, Hugh, Raymond, Bohemund, and Joscelin were captured and imprisoned in Aleppo. According to Ibn al-Athir, 10,000 crusaders were killed.


Nur ad-Din resumed the siege and captured Harim a few days later. With Amalric absent in Egypt, all three crusader states were now without their rulers, but Nur ad-Din did not want to attack Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 itself for fear of provoking a Byzantine response, as the Principality was technically an Imperial fief. To his critics he replied, "I would rather have Bohemund as a neighbor than the King of the Greeks!" Nur ad-Din went on to besiege and capture Banias
Banias is an archaeological site by the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi, located at the foot of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights...

. Amalric abandoned Egypt and marched north with Thierry of Alsace to relieve Nur ad-Din's pressure on Antioch. Bohemund was released from captivity in 1165 but Raymond remained in prison until 1173.

Printed materials

  • Amin Maalouf
    Amin Maalouf
    Amin Maalouf , born 25 February 1949 in Beirut, is a Lebanese-born French author. Although his native language is Arabic, he writes in French, and his works have been translated into many languages. He received the Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel The Rock of Tanios...

    , The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, trans. Jon Rothschild. Al-Saqi, 1984.
  • Oldenbourg, Zoé. The Crusades. New York: Pantheon Books, 1966.
  • Runciman, Steven
    Steven Runciman
    The Hon. Sir James Cochran Stevenson Runciman CH — known as Steven Runciman — was a British historian known for his work on the Middle Ages...

    , A History of the Crusades, vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1952.
  • Smail, R. C. Crusading Warfare, 1097-1193. Cambridge University Press, 1956 (2nd ed., 1995). ISBN 1-56619-769-4
  • William of Tyre
    William of Tyre
    William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

    , A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey. Columbia University Press
    Columbia University Press
    Columbia University Press is a university press based in New York City, and affiliated with Columbia University. It is currently directed by James D. Jordan and publishes titles in the humanities and sciences, including the fields of literary and cultural studies, history, social work, sociology,...

    , 1943.

External sources