The Crusades >> The
First Crusade >> Jerusalem Falls
There now began an orgy of killing. The Crusaders went on a rampage,
killing everyone they met. They went into houses and dragged out the
inhabitants to kill them. They stole everything they found. The princes lost
Muslim refugees had taken refuge in the Dome of the Rock, the mosque of
al-Aqsa, the one Tancred had taken. Despite his banner flying above, on the
morning of the 16th a group of Crusaders broke in and slaughtered everyone
inside. Similarly, the Jews of the city fled to their synagogue, only to
have the Crusaders set it on fire, killing everyone.
The chroniclers tell of streets running with blood and of horses
splashing blood up onto their riders' leggings. Order returned on July 17th,
not so much because the commanders regained control as there was simply no
one left to kill. All the Jews of Jerusalem were dead. All the Muslims were
dead. The Christians had been expelled before the siege began. The city was
empty of all save its conquerors.
The western sources are briskly uncontrite in their descriptions of the
carnage, indicating that the chroniclers were no more dismayed than were the
perpetrators. But the Muslim world would never forget or forgive the
Crusaders' behavior. Jerusalem was a holy city to the Muslims as much as it
was to the Christians. The looting of sacred shrines and the slaughter of
innocents confirmed the general Muslim opinion that the Westerners were
savage barbarians with no faith at all save in blood and wealth.