The Crusader Period – Part A

1099–1291 C.E. – The Crusader Period in the Land of Israel lasts 190 years.

July, 1099 – Godfrey from the French city of Bouillon is chosen secular leader (Defender of the Holy Sepulchre) of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. He is among those who see the conquest of the coastal cities as a high priority; however, Acre is known to be strongly fortified and he would not be able to conquer it. He arrives from Rosh HaNikra in the north and passes along the Acre plain.

1100 – In the summer of this year Tancred (later Prince of Galilee) lays siege to Haifa; many of its Moslem residents flee to Acre.

1101 – Baldwin I, king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, signs a ceasefire agreement with the people of Acre and lifts the siege of the city. 24a

1102 – A combined English, Danish and Flemish fleet fails in its attempt to conquer the city from the sea, as the Crusaders lack a sufficiently effective naval force.

1103 – In the middle of April, the Crusader siege of Acre once again begins, to continue for five weeks. The Crusaders lift their siege when an Egyptian fleet comes to the aid of the Moslems.

May, 1104 – Baldwin I, king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, (previously Count of Edessa, 1098-1100) assisted by a Genoese and Pisan naval fleet, conquers Acre after a twenty-day siege. The Crusaders do not honor the terms of surrender and slaughter thousands of the city’s inhabitants. Acre became the chief seaport for the Crusaders and as such is considered as belonging to the royal domain. The Genoan quarter is established in the western part of the city, between the Templar quarter to the south and the Hospitaller quarter to the north.

1106–1108 – The Ukrainian Bishop (Archimandrite) Daniel (also Daniel of Kiev, or Daniel Kievsky, or Daniil Polomnik) visits Acre. 38 He notes that “the Saracen (a Crusader term for Moslems) city Accra (Acre) is very large and fortified, the port here is very good and with a good bay beside it…” In a 12th century map of the Holy Land, Acre appears under the name Accon and south of it a river flows into the bay.

1107 – The Norwegian king Sigurd I sets forth at the head of a contingent of Norwegian Crusaders and joins with King Baldwin I in the conquest of the coastal cities of the eastern Mediterranean. Sigurd reaches Acre in 1109.

1110 – The Hospitallers, from the Italian city of Amalfi, receive permission from Baldwin I to hold several buildings north of the Church of the Holy Cross. They establish a large hospital in Acre. The Venetians receive the right to establish an autonomous commune on one-third of the city’s land. The Genoans receive commercial rights in the city. A Norwegian flotilla sets out from the port of Acre to conquer Sidon. The Venetian quarter is established. Egyptians damage Acre’s port in an attempt to conquer the city.

1113 – The Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem receive official recognition from the Pope. Adelaide, the future wife of Baldwin I, arrives in Acre and is received in a splendid ceremony.

1115 – French traders from Marseille purchase the Provencal street in the east of the city. Some Amalfians are granted the right to a portion of the city’s land.

1123 – In accordance with the “Pactum Warmundi” (between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Republic of Venice), the Venetians obtain a full exemption from paying customs fees to the Kingdom. The Venetian fleet arrays its forces in Acre’s port. A Council of the Crusader kings is held in Acre.

1124 – The Venetian fleet sails from Acre to conquer Tyre.

1130 – The Templars settle in a fortified castle in the southwest of the city. The traveler and pilgrimage guide writer Fetellus visits Acre. In his book “The Description of the Holy Land,” he describes the city’s port and surroundings, noting that Acre hosts a greater number of seagoing vessels than any other seaport under Christian control. 39

1133 – John I is the Bishop of Acre. Damascus sets out to attack Acre. 40

1135 – Expansion of the site of the Church of the Holy Cross (site: Al-Jazzar mosque) causes damage to part of the Hospitallers’ building. The Order begins to build a new center at the location of today’s Crusader Citadel, next to the northern wall.

1141 – Goitein 41 later posits that Rabbi Yehuda Halevi sailed from Alexandria to Acre during this year.

1143 – Fulk, king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (formerly Fulk V, count of Anjou), is injured while hunting and dies in Acre.

1143–1163 – Baldwin III (son of Fulk), is King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

1147 – Rorgo is the Bishop of Acre.

1147–1149 – The Second Crusade is led by Louis VII, King of France.

1148 – A Council of the Crusader kings takes place in Acre, led by Louis VII. Among the participants: Conrad III of Germany and Baldwin III, king of Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

1149 (or 1141) – The building of the Church of St. John, south of the city’s new (Hospitaller’s) center , is described in a document from the time of Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem.

1150 –Acre appears under the name Tholomaida in a Latin draft transcription based on settlements mentioned by name in sacred texts. These names appear in the Onomasticon (Place-Names in Holy Scripture) of Eusebius of Caesarea (approx. 270-340) and in the translation from Greek to Latin by Hieronymus (St. Jerome) ca. the year 385. 42 The first merchants from Pisa settle in Acre. 43

1152 – Frederick de la Roche is Bishop of Acre.

1153 – In the following year Yaakov ben Netan’el Hacohen arrives in Acre. He writes: “…to Acre, and there within the gate is the tomb of Elazar ben Hasmonean. And the greatest abomination (i.e., the Christian church) that was in Acre is said to have been his Beit Midrash (place of Torah study).” 24a

1154 – The Moslem traveler Muhammad al-Idrisi visits Acre and adds the city to his map. In the accompanying book, Geography, he notes that there is a good, protected anchorage. 44

1163 – William I is Bishop of Acre.

1163–1174 – Amalric I is King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

1165 – On May 16, the Rambam (acronym of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as Moses Maimonides), arrives in Acre by sea and sojourns there until October 12 before his ascent to Jerusalem. Rabbi Yefet ben Eliahu is the head of Acre’s Jewish community.

1168 – The Pisan quarter is situated in the west of the city, east of the Templar quarter and south of the Genoan quarter. Amalric I, King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, grants the Pisans and Genoans the right to engage in commerce in Acre. 45, 45a

1169–1171 – Benjamin of Tudela travels from Spain to the Land of Israel. In the summer of 1170 he reaches Acre and writes: “ … there is a large port there and for all the wanderers (Christian pilgrims) that are going to Jerusalem by boat…” 47 He notes that some 200 Jews live there.

1171–1173 – The pilgrim Theodoric visits Acre and describes the strength, size, and fortifications of the Hospitallers’ center. In addition, he mentions that 80 ships anchored in Acre port in 1172. 46,45a

1172 – The Byzantine traveler-pilgrim Johannes Phocas, a native of Crete, arrives in Acre. He describes the over-crowding of the inhabitants of the city and the poor sanitation conditions. He visits one more time in 1185.

ca. 1173 – Moslem pilgrim Ali al-Harawi, a writer and ascetic, 24a visits Acre and records description of Moslem tombs and mosques. 48 He emphasizes the importance of the Ein al-Bahr spring, that from time to time serves as a mosque or a church.

1175–1187 – Rabbi Petachiah of Regensburg, Germany, leaves from Prague for an extended journey through Europe, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. In his journey he reaches Acre in 1180.

1177 – A geographical sketch of Acre is attached to one of the Rambam’s letters. The Byzantine fleet is drawn up in Acre port prior to an attack on Egypt. 49

1178 – Merchants from Amalfi move to Acre from Jerusalem.

1179 – Ioscio is Bishop of Acre. Salah ad-Din attacks Christian ships in Acre port.\

1184 –Rufinus is Bishop of Acre. The Andalusian Moslem traveler Ibn Jubayr visits Acre. He praises and exaggerates in his descriptions, saying: “…located here is the greatest seaport…second only to Constantinople in importance” 50. He further wrote: “…On the 6th of October, 1184 we embarked on a ship, and it was one of the biggest ships, and a mass of Christians got onboard, 2000 persons and more…” 24a. In this same year a council of the Crusader Kings takes place in Acre.

1187 – Guy of Lusignan, King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, assembles the Crusader forces at Acre in preparation for the battle at the Horns of Hattin (near Tiberias and east of Acre). The Ayyubid Moslem forces under Salah ad-Din are victorious and rout the Christians on July 4, 1187. Among others, the Bishop of Acre is killed in the battle 51. Salah ad-Din reaches Acre on the 10th of July and conquers the city. The Emir Baha al-Din Karakosh , builder of the walls of Cairo, is brought to Acre by invitation of Salah ad-Din and improves its fortifications 52. The Guards of the Holy Sepulchre (the”Canonici”) in Jerusalem move to Acre. Monks of the monastery of St. Augustine seek sanctuary in Acre after the Moslems conquest of Jerusalem. After Salah ad-Din’s conquest of Mt. Tabor the Benedictines there relocate to Acre. In this same year the Benedictine Sisters of the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem flee to Acre and establish a church next to the Templar quarter. The Latin Patriarch moves from Jerusalem to Acre. Malik à-îæôø, son of Salah ad-Din, is appointed governor of Acre. Jamal al-Din al-Sarwardi is the Imam of Acre 24a.

1188 – Large Danish and Frisian fleets from Germany and Holland arrive at Acre as reinforcements to aid the Christians in re-conquering the city.

1189 – Guy of Lusignan sets up his camp at Tel al-Fukhkhar (Napoleon’s Hill) east of the city and attempts to attack Acre.

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