Palestine Travel Guide
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Palestine History - Islamic Period - Crusader Rule (1099-1187 CE)
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Christian kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. It lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks.
At first the kingdom was little more than a loose collection of towns and cities captured during the crusade. At its height, the kingdom roughly encompassed the territory of modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories. It extended from modern Lebanon in the north to the Sinai Desert in the south, and into modern Jordan and Syria in the east. There were also attempts to expand the kingdom into Fatimid Egypt. Its kings also held a certain amount of authority over the other crusader states, Tripoli, Antioch, and Edessa.
Many customs and institutions were imported from the territories of Western Europe from which the crusaders came, and there were close familial and political connections with the West throughout the kingdom's existence. It was, however, a relatively minor kingdom in comparison and often lacked financial and military support from Europe. The kingdom had closer ties to the neighbouring Kingdom of Armenia and the Byzantine Empire, from which it inherited "oriental" qualities, and the kingdom was also influenced by pre-existing Muslim institutions. Socially, however, the "Latin" inhabitants from Western Europe had almost no contact with the Muslims and native Christians whom they ruled.
Under the European rule, fortifications, castles, towers and fortified villages were built, rebuilt and renovated across Palestine largely in rural areas. A notable urban remnant of the Crusader architecture of this era is found in Acre's old city.
During the period of Crusader control, it has been estimated that Palestine had only 1,000 poor Jewish families. Jews fought alongside the Muslims in Jerusalem in 1099 and Haifa in 1100 against the Crusaders. They were not allowed to live in Jerusalem and initially most of cities saw the destruction of the Jewish communities, but communities did continue in the rural areas. For instance, it is known about at least 24 villages in the Galilee were Jews lived. Later in the history of the Crusaders state Jews settled in the Coastal cities. Unlike the treatment of Jews by the Crusaders Europe, where many Massacres occurred, in Palestine no distinction was made between Jews and other non Christians and there were no laws specifically against Jews. Some Jews from Europe visited the country, like Benjamin of Tudela who wrote about it. Maimonides escaped to Palestine from the Almohads in 1165 and visited Acre, Jerusalem and Hebron, finally settling in Fostat in Egypt.
In July 1187, the Cairo-based Kurdish General Saladin commanded his troops to victory in the Battle of Hattin. Saladin went on to take Jerusalem. An agreement granting special status to the Crusaders allowed them to continue to stay in Palestine and In 1229, Frederick II negotiated a 10-year treaty that placed Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem once again under Crusader rule.
In 1270, Sultan Baibars expelled the Crusaders from most of the country, though they maintained a base at Acre until 1291. Thereafter, any remaining Europeans either went home or merged with the local population.
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