Magnanimity of Saladin



The attack was irate and met with equivalent valor. Inside and without, the dividers were genuinely buttressed with the groups of the fallen. It was not until the key door was undermined, the bulwarks tottering, and the warriors of Saladin possessing a portion of the towers, that Balian d'Iselin, the commandant, proposed to acknowledge the conditions the Christians had dismisses before the battle. " It is past the point of no return," answered Saladin, indicating his yellow pennants, which announced his inhabitance of many places along the dividers. "Exceptionally all around," answered Balian; "we will obliterate the city. The mosque of Omar, and the puzzling Stone of Jacob which you love, might be beat into tidy Five thousand Moslems whom we hold should be slaughtered. We will then kill with our own hands our spouses and kids, and walk out to you with flame and sword. Not one of us will go to heaven until he has sent ten Mussulmans to damnation." Saladin again bowed to the boldness which he may have rebuffed, and acknowledged the capitulation (October 2, 1187).

The Christian warriors were permitted to retire to Tripoli or Tyre, cities as yet unconquered by Saladin. The inhabitants were to be ransomed at a nominal sum of money for each. Many, however, in their poverty could not produce the required amount The fact, reported to the victor, led to a deed on his part which showed his natural kindliness, together with the exactness of his rule. The ransom money could not be remitted ; it belonged of right to the men whose heroism had been blessed of Allah in taking the city. Saladin and his brother, Malek-Ahdel, paid from their own purses the redemption money for several thousand Christians, who otherwise, according to the usages of war, would have become the slaves of their conquerors.

­On the day for the evacuation of the city Saladin erected his throne at the Gate of David to review the wretched army of the vanquished as it passed out. First came the patriarch and priests, carrying the sacred vessels and treasures of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Next followed Queen Sibylla with the remnant of her court. Saladin saluted her with great courtesy, and added words of seemingly genuine consolation as he noted her grief. Mothers carried their children, and strong men bore the aged and sick in their arms. Some paused to address the sultan, asking that members of their families from whom they were separated might be restored to them. Saladin instantly ordered that in no case should children be separated from their mothers, nor husbands from their wives. He permitted the Hospitallers to remain in the city on condition of their resuming those duties which their order was originally instituted to perform, and committed to them the care of the sick who could not endure being removed. Many writers are disposed to analyze the motives of Saladin and to attribute his clemency to politic foresight in subduing the hatred as well as the arms of his enemies. But surely the annals of war are too barren of such acts of humanity to allow us to mar the beauty of the simple narration ; and the virtues of Christians in such circumstances have not been so resplendent that they may not emulate the spirit of one who was their noblest foe.

The new Lord of Jerusalem cleansed the holy city of what to him was the corrupt of excessive admiration, the love of Jesus. The mosque of Omar on the sanctuary site was washed inside and without with rose-water. The platform which Nourredin had made with his own hands was raised by the side of the mihrab, towards which the general population asked as demonstrating the heading of Mecca. The central imam lectured from it on the glories of Saladin, " the shining star of Allah," on the recovery of Jerusalem, from which Mohammed had made his supernatural night excursion to Mecca, and on the sacred war, which must be proceeded until "all the branches of scandalousness ought to be cut " from the tree of life.

­The joy of the Moslem world had its refrain in the wails of Europe. It is said that Pope Urban III., on hearing the news, died of a broken heart. The minstrels composed lamentations as the captives did by the rivers of Babylon. Courts and churches were draped in mourning. The superstitious saw tears fall from the eyes of the wooden and stone saints that ornamented the churches. The general gloom was described by one who felt it as " like the darkness over the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour, when Christ was crucified."