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Near East Kingdoms

Levantine States


Israelites & Israel

Today's Israel and Palestine are irrevocably linked in terms of their history. The former was carved out of a large proportion of the already-expanded latter from 1948. Before that though lies four thousand years of history, sometimes recorded, sometimes alluded to, and sometimes a complete mystery. Unpicking it to establish a relatively stable story has been the work of decades, and even today there are differences of opinion regarding many of the details.

The region in which both names came to be created was Canaan, the long Mediterranean coast between ancient Syria and Egypt which today is known as the Levant. Various independent or united Semitic-speaking city states formed in this region from around 3000 BC onwards, reaching a peak of independent development in the second millennium BC. It was during the climate-induced social collapse of the late thirteenth century BC that both a state known as Israel and a region known as Palestine emerged, giving both terms similar founding dates (very approximately), with the Phoenicians emerging to the immediate north during the same period.

Then came the Jewish Diaspora and the age of great empires in the form of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Eastern Romans, Islam, and the Ottomans, until the twentieth century saw the most recent phase of empire-building come to an end and individual sovereign states emerge.

The term 'Israelite' is often used interchangeably with the terms 'Hebrew' and 'Jew', but these terms are not strictly interchangeable. The specific term 'Israelites', or 'people of Israel', is best used only for periods after the followers of Yahweh undertook their exodus from Egypt. It can also be used conveniently for the earlier period in which these people were subject to patriarchs (approximately between the eighteenth and sixteenth centuries BC).

The term loses its accuracy after the united kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon divided into the kingdoms of Samaria and Judah around 927 BC. The Old Testament tends usually to use the term 'Hebrew' for the entire period before 1000 BC, but it is best to avoid it here due to controversy surrounding its origins (regarding whether it descends from 'Eber', the ancestor of Abraham, or habiru, a general term for brigands and the dispossessed).

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler and from the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information by Sean Bambrough & Wayne McCleese, from The Amarna Letters, William L Moran (1992), from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (Gen Ed, 1986), from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald Redford (Princeton University Press, 1992), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

Islamic Palestine / Jund Filastin
AD 636 - 1099

The early Israelites were able to form a kingdom of Israel in the late eleventh century BC, although it quickly divided into Samaria and Judah. The latter was commanded by Babylonian overlords in 586 BC, part of its Yehud province. Babylonian control was replaced by that of Persia, the Greek empire, Ptolemaic Egypt, and the Seleucid empire in Syria, before a second century BC Judean revolt created the mainly-independent Jewish Hasmonaean state.

Unfortunately, when the weakened Seleucids fell to Rome, so did Judea. Backed by Rome, Herod of Idumaea soon ruled in Jerusalem under his own Herodite dynasty. This lasted for less than a century before Rome saw fit to take direct control of Roman Judea, but frenetic political strife did not relent. Frequent unrest resulted in two major revolts in the first two centuries AD. The second, from AD 132, saw Jerusalem destroyed and the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina built at least partially over the top of it. By AD 136 Rome had forbidden Jews from entering the city and had renamed Judea as the province of Roman Palestine.

In 395 control passed officially to the Eastern Roman empire which held it for the next two hundred and forty years, albeit not without interruption. It was under the leadership of Umar I 'the Great' that Islam began its rapid expansion outside Arabia. Eastern Roman Emperor Heraclius was defeated in 636, and Palestine and Phoenicia were taken in 636 and 637 respectively. For much of the next millennium and-a-half Palestine would remain dominated by Muslim leaders.

One immediate consequence of the Islamic conquest of Palestine was that Jews were allowed once more to settle in Jerusalem - local Jews in Palestine and members of the Jewish Diaspora alike. Classed as dhimmis ('protected person'), they were grouped with Christians and Samaritans, all of whom the Muslims designated 'peoples of the Book' (ahl al-kitab), meaning that they and Muslims alike based their worship on a book which their God had given to them, one which in essence was identical to the Koran.

However, Palestine also saw a large-scale influx of Arab tribes which soon came to dominate life there and, being Muslim, they gained a degree of precedence over the 'protected persons'. Jews who did not join the diaspora, those who remained behind in Palestine or in the large colony in Babylon, would in modern times be labelled Mizrahi Jews.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the creation of the name 'Palestine'. One favours the word 'plesheth', which refers to a 'root palash', an edible culinary delight which was carried by migratory tribes (such as the Philistines) and which came to be used to refer to any nomadic tribe. The alternative - and far more popular - version suggests that the Greeks named the region after the people. The entire Syrian and Levantine region was under Greek control following the campaigns of Alexander the Great, and so it was very much within the Greek sphere of influence.

A third theory involves writers such as Tom Robbins suggesting that the name originates from the androgynous god, Pales, who was widely worshipped in the region. It was not at all uncommon for barbarian tribes to take the name of their god, but that would merely have created the Philistines, still leaving it to the Greeks to apply that name to the region. Various Celtic tribes were named either directly or indirectly after their gods, including the Ambarri, Atuatuci, Brigantii, and Sequani, so the practice is one which is widely accepted by historians, but the second theory here seems the most reasonable.

Cairo's Sultan Hasan Mosque, Egypt

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from the John De Cleene Archive and by Allan Rousso, from Palestine, Joshua J Mark (available via the Ancient History Encyclopaedia website), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Meqorot u-Meḥqarim be-Toldot Yisrael, Simha Assaf (Jerusalem, 1946), from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (General Ed, 1986), from A History of Palestine, 634-1099, Moshe Gil (Cambridge University Press, 1997), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and History: Foreign Domination (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now available only via the Wayback Machine).)

636 - 639

Amr ibn al-As

First Islamic governor (nominally from 634). In Egypt (640).


Umar I 'the Great', khalifah or leader of the Islamic empire, visits newly-conquered Jerusalem. A text which is described by Simha Assaf describes how he orders a group of Gentiles and another of Jews to sweep the Temple Mount area, while overseeing the work himself.

The Dome of the Rock
With the Second Temple having been destroyed in the first century AD, the temple mount witnessed a variety of uses until the coming of Islam and a return to more holy usage

The Temple Mount has been in ruins for centuries. The Eastern Romans had even using it as a waste dumping ground, throwing their rubbish onto it so that a great heap of rubble has formed. The latest addition to the rubble had been the temple of Jupiter, destroyed in the early seventh century revolt in Roman Palestine.

Umar orders the rubbish on the Ṣakhra (rock) to be removed by the Nabataeans. Prayers there are started once three heavy rain showers have cleansed the rock, giving the place its present name, ḳubbat es ṣakhra, the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem's Jews inform the rest of Palestine's population of Jews that it is safe to resettle in the city, although officially only seventy Jewish households are permitted to return.

640 - 646?

Alqama ibn Mujazziz al-Kinani

Military commander and governor of Palestine.


Amr ibn al-As, the first Islamic governor of Egypt since his promotion from Palestine, is known to stamp an order with his name which orders the leaders of the local Rabbinate Jewish community against interfering with the practices of the Karaite Jews or the way in which they celebrate their holidays.

The Karaite movement fully crystallises in Abbasid Baghdad between the eighth and ninth centuries AD, although its earlier origins in Egypt are still being examined with respect to this.

Mecca and the Great Mosque
A detailed print which shows Mecca and the Great Mosque which is central to Islam as a faith, and illustrating the long queues of pilgrims entering

646 - ?

Abd al-Rahman



Following the death of Abd al-Rahman, Jund Filistin is attached to the Syrian governorship of Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan. It is unclear whether any sub-governor is appointed to manage Palestine itself, but Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan is certainly now the main figure of authority.

c.648 - 661

Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan

Governor in Damascus. Gained Palestine. Later Umayyad caliph.

656 - 661

FeatureAli is the second historical follower of Islam. Some Muslims see him as one of several possible leaders while others believe him to be divine. The Sunni/Shia split in Islam is created by his rule (see feature link), with Sunni Muslims counting Abu Bakr as the first legitimate caliph, while the Shi'a count Ali as the first truly legitimate caliph.

For two decades around these years the First Islamic Civil War rages in Arabia, and Ali is assassinated in 661. Hasan is appointed as his successor but he is recognised by only half the Islamic empire. He is challenged and ultimately defeated by Mu'awiya, the Umayyad governor of Syria.

661 - 673

Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan

Now simultaneously Umayyad caliph & governor of Syria.

673 - 676/7

Al-Harith ibn Abd Allah al-Azdi

Governor of Palestine under Mu'awiyah.

674 - 677

The capital of the Islamic empire moves to Damascus where an Arab aristocratic government is established. Syria is divided into four districts: Damascus, Homs, Jordan, and Palestine.

Umayyad Great Mosque in Damascus
The Umayyad Great Mosque in Damascus was built between AD 706-715 on the site of the Basilica of St John, which itself had been converted from the Temple of Jupiter

676/7 - 684

Hassan ibn Malik ibn Bahdal al-Kalbi

Governor of Palestine under Mu'awiyah.

683 - 684

Upon the death of Yazid, his son becomes Caliph Mu'awiya II, but he seems not to be accepted outside Syria. Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr renews his own claim, gathering supporters from the many who are dissatisfied with Umayyad rule.

Civil war breaks out, but a rival faction under Marwan quickly proves to be superior (with support coming from Hassan ibn Malik ibn Bahdal al-Kalbi). It conquers Egypt and the renegade areas of Syria which have sided with the opposition. Ibn Zubayr is finally killed in 692 in battle against Abd al Malik.

680 - 684

Rawh ibn Zinba al-Judhami

Deputy governor while ibn Bahdal was fighting.


Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan

Son of Umayyad Caliph Marwan I. Gained Syria (685).


Rawh ibn Zinba al-Judhami

Deputy governor for a second time.

685 - 694

Yahya ibn al-Hakam

Younger half-brother of Marwan I. Gained Medina (694).


In the same year as Iraq is brought fully back under Umayyad control, construction of the Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem. It sits on the site of the former Jewish Second Temple which had been destroyed during the Roman siege of occupied Judean Jerusalem in AD 70. The building survives to this day, making it the oldest existing Islamic building in the world, and probably the holiest (from 705).

The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is situated on a flat elevated plaza known to Muslims as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf ('The Noble Sanctuary'), and to Jews as the Temple Mount (the site of the lost Second Temple)

694? - c.704?

Aban ibn Marwan

Son of Umayyad Caliph Marwan I.

c.704? - 715/7

Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik

Brother of Umayyad Caliph al-Walid I. Gained Syria (715).


Shortly before his death, and during a brief spell as caliph, Umar II champions the Islamic faith by espousing a return to its original principles. As part of these efforts he bans Jews from worshipping on Jerusalem's Temple Mount in Palestine. The policy remains in place for the next millennium or so.

717 - 720

Nadr ibn Yarim ibn Ma'dikarib

Himyar chieftain from Jund Hims (north of Damascus).

743 - 744

Sa'id ibn Abd al-Malik

Son of Umayyad Caliph Abd al Malik ibn Marwan (685).


Arabic tribes have been integrating themselves into Palestine during the past century. Notable amongst these are the Qays and the Yamani groups who begin a mutually-antagonistic feud under the Umayyads. In 744 the Palestinian tribes in general revolt against the caliph.


Yazid ibn Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik

Rebel governor of Palestine raised by his troops.

As the position of caliph changes hands, the Palestinian Arabic tribes are appeased by promises of high office and rewards, but resentment remains and Jewish families continue to leave the region in search of a safer existence, contributing further to the Jewish Diaspora. Sa'id ibn Abd al-Malik voluntarily steps down from his office in favour of a locally-born governor.

744 - 745

Dab'an ibn Rawh ibn Zinba al-Judhami

Appointed by Umayyad Caliph Yazid III ibn al-Walid.


Another revolt ignites in Palestine following the accession of Marwad II as caliph. The revolt is quelled, but only after a considerable amount of bloodshed and violence. Caliph Marwan destroys Jerusalem's city walls in punishment, along with those of Damascus and other cities.

Jewish wedding in the 1400s
Entitled the 'Marriage of Moses to Zipporah' this wedding scene shows the groom about to place a gold ring on the third finger of the bride's right hand, a descended form of 'bride price' which was part of Jewish marriage custom from at least the seventh century


Thabit ibn Nu'aym al-Judhami

Selected by his troops, swore allegiance, then rebelled.

745 - 750

Al-Rumahis ibn Abd al-Aziz al-Kinani

Appointed during Thabit's revolt. Fled with the caliph.

747 - 749

The Abbasids under Abu Muslim begin an open revolt in the Islamic emirate of Khorasan against Umayyad rule. Khorasan quickly falls and an army is sent westwards. Kufa falls in 749 and in November the same year Abu al-Abbas is recognised as caliph.

The Umayyads are overthrown and massacred in the revolution, with the survivors fleeing to Islam-controlled Iberia where they rule independently. Al-Rumahis ibn Abd al-Aziz al-Kinani flees to Egypt with Caliph Marwan where the latter is captured and killed. The former governor of Palestine eventually resurfaces as governor of Algeciras in Iberia, but this massacre signals the end of the Arab-dominated empire. The capital is moved to Baghdad (Iraq), which marginalises Palestine.


As his reward for the successful Abbasid conquest of Damascus, and of Fustat in Egypt, and for disposing of the last of the Umayyad caliphs, Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah is made wali of Palestine.

751 - 753

Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah

Also wali of Egypt (750, 753-755) & Syria (753).


al-Hakam ibn Da'ban

Replacement and rival. Defeated by Saleh.

754 - 755

Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah, wali of Egypt, is the uncle of Abbasid Caliph Abdullah as Saffah, but the caliph dies in 754. Saleh's brother, Abdallah, launches a revolt in Syria against the new caliph, claiming that he himself is the rightful successor.

Samarkand coin
Two sides of a typical Abbasid-era coin are shown here, with this one being nineteen millimetres in diameter and having been issued in Samarkand

Saleh refuses to join his brother's revolt. Instead he enters Syria to help suppress it, defeating Abdallah's governor of Palestine, al-Hakam ibn Da'ban. Abdallah is also defeated and is forced to submit to the new caliph. A similar revolt by the Persian Jew, Abu Isa Obadiah, who had been hoping to create a new Jewish homeland, is ended when Abu Isa falls in battle in 755.


Anan ben David is generally considered to be a major founding figure of the Karaite Jews. Around this date his father dies: Shelomoh ben Ḥisdai II, the 'exilarch' in Abbasid Babylon. Anan and his brother, Ḥananyah, are seen as the likely successors, with the latter being selected by the rabbis of the Babylonian Jewish colleges (the geonim) and notables of the chief Jewish congregations.

Anan may refuse to accept the decision (unproven by modern scholars but strongly suspected), leading to a schism. He, backed by his followers, the Ananites, allegedly claims the title of 'exilarch', leading to a charge of treason by the city's Islamic authorities. The sentence is commuted to exile in Palestine. A synagogue is erected there which is maintained until the time of the Crusades. Ananite Jews gradually diffuse throughout Islamic territories.

Babylon in 3D
Despite its gradual relegation as a place of importance in the face of the Greek preference for Seleucia, Babylon was still of huge importance in Mesopotamia, as can be seen in this unknown artist's impression of the city (click or tap on image to view full sized)

764? - 775

Abd al-Wahhab ibn Ibrahim al-Abbasi

Formerly governor of Syria (754).

775 - 777


Name unknown.


Nasr ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath

Assigned, but reassigned to Sind in the same year.

? - 780

Ibrahim ibn Salih

Brother of Al-Fadl of Damascus (766).

? - 787

Al-Fadl ibn Rawh / Raouh

Later governor of Ifriqiyya (793).

787 - 791?

Ibrahim ibn Salih

Governor for second time. Later in Damascus (791-792).

791? - 794

Harthama ibn A'yan

From Khorasan. Transferred as wali of Egypt (794).

792/3 & 796

A Qays-Yaman War (otherwise known as the War of the Watermelon) is sparked across Palestine and the Transjordan zone across the river of that name (with a fresh outbreak in 796). The sides consist of the northern Arab tribal federation of Mudhar (or Nizar or Qays), and the southern tribal confederation of Yaman and their Abbasid allies.

794 - 809


Unknown governor or governors.

809 - 811

Sulayman ibn Abi Ja'far

Son of Caliph al Mansur. Gained Damascus (811).

811 - 863


Unknown governor or governors.


The eastern province which includes former Sassanid Iran and Khorasan has lost Transoxiana to the Samanids, so Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun appoints Tahir ibn al-Hussein, governor of Damascus (and probably Palestine too) and the successful commander of the campaign which had defeated the caliph's main rival, as the new governor.

Sassanid troops fighting off Arabs during the Islamic invasion of Persia
This modern illustration (uncredited) shows Sassanid troops fighting off Arabs during the Islamic invasion of Persia, with the Arab conquest gaining them entry to eastern Iran and the Indo-Iranian provinces there

This begins the Tahirid period of rule in the east. Tahir effectively declares independence in his new domains by failing to mention the caliph during a sermon at Friday prayers in 822.

832 - 833

Abbasid Caliph Ma'mun follows up on a recent minor success against the Eastern Roman empire by capturing the strategically important fortress of Loulon. A large army is collected together with the intent of conquering Anatolia piecemeal.

The caliph's general, al-Abbas ibn al-Ma'mun, wali of Damascus (and probably governor of Palestine too), marches into Byzantine territory on 25 May 833, creating a military base at Tyana. The caliph's main force follows in July, just as the caliph himself becomes ill and dies unexpectedly. The invasion is abandoned and al-Abbas is soon arrested for potential involvement in a coup to remove the new caliph. He dies in prison.


Abū Ḥarb al-Yamānī leads a revolt against Abbasid rule in Palestine, playing on the deep-seated belief that the deposed Umayyads should or will be returned to power. Such revolts are highly destructive in the region, resulting in general havoc and destruction, and even widespread lawlessness.

863 - 868?

Bugha al-Saghir / al-Sharabi

Appointed by Caliph Ahmad al Musta'in (862). Executed.


Governors of Palestine for the next century appear to be unknown. Given the number of times that a governor in the more senior post in Damascus has also governed Palestine, it has to be suspected that this becomes the norm in this period, so that the governors of Damascus should also be listed here. However, for the moment this cannot be proven.

Tomb of Ahmed ibn-Tuluh in Cairo
The tomb in Cairo of Ahmed ibn-Tuluh is the final resting place of one of only two strong rulers in the Tulunid period

877 - 878

Abbasid troops are sent against Ahmed ibn-Tuluh, governor of Egypt, because he has failed to send enough tribute to Baghdad. Having defeated them, in the following year he invades and captures Palestine and Syria.


The Tulunids in Egypt are weakened by this stage following years of mismanagement of the country. Egypt is invaded and Wali Shayban retreats to Fustat where he surrenders on 10 January 905. The Tulunid dynasty of governors and semi-independent rulers is ended and loyal and obedient Abbasid governors are installed.


Thanks to the murder of the Aghlabid ruler of Ifriqiyya, Abdullah, and Ziyadat's massacring of his brothers and uncles, the Aghlabids have lost all prestige in the eyes of the people. Ifriqiyya is conquered by the Fatimids, who quickly also conquer Morocco, Syria, Algeria, and Arabia. Ziyadat escapes, but dies in Palestine while failing to secure support to recapture his territory.

933 - 935

Abbasid control of Egypt proves to be short-lived when the country falls under the control of the Mameluke dynasty of Turkic governors who are allowed to rule in a semi-independent manner. From 935, under the Turkic slave soldier, Muhammad ibn Tughj al Ikhshid, Egypt also regains control of Palestine and Syria.

Buto (Tell El Farain)
Egypt's waning power and the continual fighting for its control was carried out amongst the ruins of four thousand years of civilisation and previous empires

946 - 947

Sayfud Dawla eyes a much bigger prize than Aleppo, although he takes his advances in easy stages. He wins the support of the local tribe of the Banu Kilab and seizes Aleppo, presumably as a domain of his own rather than a governorship.

The following year he attacks and seizes Damascus, despite being rebuffed twice by the Ikhshidids. He also manages to advance as far as Ramla in Syria (now in Israel), but thereafter is forced to agree peace terms with the Ikhshidids. Clearly they are left in charge of Palestine.


In the same year as they capture Egypt and Palestine, the Fatamids build the beginnings of al Kahira (modern Cairo) to serve as a royal residence. The Fatamids control Egypt directly, as governors, and also exercise power through their viziers (see Egypt for details). Their tenuous hold over Palestine leads to over half a century of near-constant violence there.


Given the in-fighting between Fatamid elements across Palestine, it is no surprise that the Bedouin Jarrahids are able to seize full control of the region in frequent periods across the next half a century. Two of their leaders occupy the rank of governor but rule as de facto independent lords. The Fatamid defeat of Mufarrij ibn Daghfal in 1013 does bring his son more into line for a time though.

Old Cairo
The Fatamid conquest of Egypt in 969 finally established the dynasty as the most powerful single Islamic force, and it immediately established a capital at the new city of Cairo

977 - 1013

Mufarrij ibn Daghfal

Son of Daghfal ibn al-Jarrah. Jarrahid governor. Poisoned?


On 27 September as part of a concerted period of persecution against Jews and Christians, Caliph Al Hakim orders the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a Christian holy site (his successor allows the church to be rebuilt, although persecutions persist).

1013 - 1028?

Hassan ibn Mufarrij

Son of Mufarrij. Jarrahid governor.

fl 1028 - 1041

Anushtegin ad-Dizbari

Also Anushtakin al-Duzbari. Governor of Palestine & Syria.

1028 - 1029

The Arab rebellion in Syria is crushed by the newly-appointed Fatamid Turkic governor of Syria and Palestine, Anushtegin ad-Dizbari, with victory coming in 1029. The success gives the new governor control of Syria, which is not something which pleases his Fatamid masters. However, his authority and leadership is welcomed by the people of Damascus itself, who are probably relieved to find some stability after several years of uncertainty.


The region is struck by four earthquakes between 1033-1035. The one which hits the Jordan Rift Valley on 5 December 1033 is perhaps the worst. It results in extreme devastation in Palestine, and triggers a tsunami along the eastern Mediterranean coastline. Jerusalem suffers a partial collapse of its city walls, while the Dome of the Rock subsequently undergoes strengthening work.

The Jordan rift valley
The Jordan rift valley is a segment of the East African Rift system, following the north-south course of the River Jordan from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, and with a width which generally measures about ten kilometres (and narrower in some places)


Anushtegin ad-Dizbari is exiled to Aleppo where he dies, giving his Fatamid masters revenge for his success of 1029. Any regional governor with too much territory and too great a reach is to be feared as a potential rival.


Having already extended his new and growing Seljuq empire into western Iran and Iraq, Alp Arslan now defeats an immense Eastern Roman army and captures Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes. This victory opens the gates to a large-scale Turkic influx into western Anatolia.

Palestine is also conquered by 1072, bringing chaotic and brutal rule to the region. The gradual but persistent exodus of Jewish families means that, by this century, the Jewish community in Palestine has diminished considerably, losing some of its organisational and religious cohesiveness.

fl 1072

Badr al-Jamali

Former governor of Syria. First Fatamid military vizier.


Desperate to resolve the ongoing situation in Cairo, Caliph al Mustansir recalls General Badr al-Jamali. He successfully puts down the various rebel factions, clearing out much of the Turkic presence at the same time. However, the caliphate has been seriously weakened by the revolt.

Seljuq cavalry
A stone relief of Seljuq cavalry, which swept through Iran, northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia in the eleventh century

Badr al-Jamali becomes the first military vizier of the caliphate (along much the same lines as the magistri militum of the late Western Roman empire, and they dominate the caliphate in much the same way as the late Roman emperors had been dominated). The military viziers become the heads of state in Egypt in all but name, with the caliph reduced to the role of figurehead.

1096 - 1099

Nicæa in western Anatolia is the first Islamic town to fall to the Crusaders, who cross the Bosphorus alongside the forces of the Eastern Roman Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. The Christian soldiers briefly besiege the town before it falls.

Islam is divided and in conflict with itself, and neither the ruling Seljuq Turks or the more local Seljuqs of Rum who actually control Nicæa are in any position to offer immediate retaliation. Crusader Palestine quickly becomes a reality.

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