Why Did Edessa Fall in 1144

The fall of Edessa in 1144 was due to many reasons. One of the main reasons was because of the rise of Muslim unity in North Syria under Zengi of Mosul. This had never happened before and so was very unexpected, Muslim disunity was one of the main things keeping the Crusader states together. When Zengi arrived, he found the population of Edessa made up of unwarlike men, unfamiliar with the use of arms and accustomed only to the acts of trade. The safekeeping of the city was entrusted solely to mercenaries and these often had to wait a year or more for the payment of their stated wages. In 1128, Zengi has secured control of the city of Aleppo and so was gradually gaining power.

Also in 1144, just before the siege, Joscelin II was able to make an alliance with Kara Arslan against Zengi. Joscelin marched out of Edessa with almost his entire army to support Kara Arslan against Aleppo. However, Zengi hurried north to besiege Edessa. Even though the city had been warned of his arrival and was partly prepared, there was little they could do while Joscelin and his army were elsewhere.

Another possible reason for the fall of Edessa was Zengi’s advanced tactics. The inhabitants of Edessa had no experience in siege warfare and the numerous towers remained unmanned. They also had no knowledge of counter-mining, which resulted in part of the wall near the Gate of the Hours collapsing on December 24th.