fatmid egypt

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June 7th 1099: Siege of Jerusalem begins

On this day in 1099, the Siege of Jerusalem began, an event which was a major moment of the First Crusade. The Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in 1095 in order to rid the Holy Land of what he considered a dangerous Muslim presence. The siege of Jerusalem lasted until July 15th, and saw the Crusaders capture the Holy City from Fatmid Egypt. It was after this siege that the Crusaders massacred much of Jerusalem’s population, with some sources from the time claiming the blood in the streets reached the Crusaders’ ankles, and even the bridles of their horses. This grisly scene was one of many that characterised the Crusades which followed the first, most of which revolved around religious struggles for the Holy Land or against supposed Christian ‘heretics’.

Rock crystal ewer, Egypt, probably Cairo, 1000–1050.

Naturally-occurring rock crystals were used by craftsmen from Iraq and Egypt to make objects of supreme beauty and elegance. Objects like the Egyptian ewer were made to be royal possessions of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt (969–1171). They were prized for their clarity, which was thought to combine the qualities of air and water, and for the great skill required to hollow the crystal to a thickness of only 2mm in places, and then polish its surface, without breaking or blemishing it. 

Most of the surviving Fatimid rock crystal ewers were preserved in important church treasuries, such as the basilicas of Saint Mark in Venice and Saint Denis in Paris.