18th of May 1268….. Antioch falls to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in the Battle of Antioch.

The Crusades, were a series of religious wars, starting in 1096; it was started by Pope Urban II to retake the holy land, from the Muslim conquests of Levant (632-661), in response to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who requested that western volunteers come to his aid and help to repel the invading Seljuq Turks from Anatolia.  This concluded in the Recapture of Jerusalem in 1099.


The Crusades are split by historians into several periods:

First crusades: 1096-1099

Second Crusades: 1145-1149

Third Crusades: 1189-1192

Fourth Crusade:  1202-1204

Fifth Crusade: 1213-1221

Sixth Crusade: 1228- Circa 1243


Seventh Crusade: 1248-1254

Plus inter crusade periods of unrest and expedition followed by the “Late Crusade Period”, into which the Siege of Antioch falls.


The (second) siege of Antioch occurred in the Late Crusade period; it was the last part of the conflict and effectively sealed the end of the Crusades;


“The fall of Acre closed an era. No effective Crusade was raised to recapture the Holy Land after Acre’s fall, though talk of further Crusades was common enough. By 1291 other ideals had captured the interest and enthusiasm of the monarchs and nobility of Europe and even strenuous papal efforts to raise expeditions to liberate the Holy Land met with little response. The ideal of the Crusade was irretrievably tarnished. The Latin Kingdom continued to exist, theoretically, on the Island of Cyprus. There the Latin Kings schemed and planned to recapture the mainland, but in vain. Money, men, and the will to do the task were all lacking. One last effort was made by King Peter I in 1365, when be successfully landed in Egypt and sacked Alexandria. Once the city was pillaged, however, the Crusaders returned as speedily as possible to Cyprus to divide their loot. As a Crusade, the episode was utterly futile.

The fourteenth century saw some other so-called Crusades organized, but these enterprises differed in many ways from the eleventh and twelfth century expeditions which are properly called Crusades. The “Crusades” of the fourteenth century aimed not at the recapture of Jerusalem and the Christian shrines of the Holy Land, but rather at checking the advance of the Ottoman Turks into Europe. While many of the “Crusaders” in these fourteenth century undertakings looked upon the defeat of the Ottomans as a preliminary to the ultimate recapture of the holy Land, none of the later crusades attempted any direct attack upon Palestine or Syria.”Ludolph of Suchem, Description of the Holy Land and of the Way Thither, trans. Aubrey Stewart (London: Palestine Pilgrims’ Text Society, 1895), XII, 54­61. reprinted in James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 268-72


In 1268 Baibars [Sultan of Egypt and Syria] besieged the city of Antioch which was “badly defended by its patriarch and abandoned by most of its inhabitants,” [Joseph Michaud, History of the Crusades, Wm. Robson, trans. 3 vols. (London: Routledge, 1881), Vol. 3, p. 17.] capturing it on 18 May after a relatively feeble defense. [Michaud, History of the Crusades, vol. 3, pp. 17-18; Jean Richard and Jean Birrell, The Crusades, c. 1071-c. 1291 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 419.] Antioch had been weakened by its previous struggles with Armenia as well as internal power struggles, and Antioch’s inhabitants were quick to agree to surrender; on the condition that the lives of the citizens within the walls would be spared.  Something which in earlier years had not been guaranteed, after the years of the first Crusades, anyone found aiding and abetting the enemy was executed; Christian and Muslim, by the Crusaders, Saladin however had been content to let both sides co-exist in Constantinople, as long as certain rules and etiquettes were observed.  Baibars reneged on this pledge; as soon as his troops were within the gates, brutally massacring everyone in the city. It is thought that 40,000 Christians were massacred and another 100,000 enslaved.[ Michaud, The History of the Crusades, Vol. 3, p. 18 ; available in full at Google Books. Note that in a footnote Michaud claims reliance on “the chronicle of Ibn Ferat” (Michaud, Vol.3, p.22) for much of the information he has concerning the Mussulmans.] Afterward, Baibars secretary (who was also his biographer) wrote a detailed letter describing exactly what had been done to the people and the city:[The letter is excerpted in Francesco Gabrieli, Arab Historians of the Crusades (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), 310; Richard and Birrell, The Crusades, 419; Michaud, The History of the Crusades, vol. 3, p. 18.]


    ‘Death came among the besieged from all sides and by all roads: we killed all that thou hadst appointed to guard the city or defend its approaches. If thou hadst seen thy knights trampled under the feet of the horses, thy provinces given up to pillage, thy riches distributed by measures full, the wives of thy subjects put to public sale; if thou hadst seen the pulpits and crosses overturned, the leaves of the Gospel torn and cast to the winds, and the sepulchres of thy patriarchs profaned; if thou hadst seen thy enemies, the Mussulmans trampling upon the tabernacle, and immolating in the sanctuary, monk, priest and deacon; in short, if thou hadst seen thy palaces given up to the flames, the dead devoured by the fire of this world, the Church of St Paul and that of St Peter completely and entirely destroyed, certes, thou wouldst have cried out “Would to Heaven that I were become dust!” ‘. (Michaud, 1853)


A portion of this article has been taken from:


Joseph Michaud, History of the Crusades, Wm. Robson, trans. 3 vols. (London: Routledge, 1881), Vol. 3, p. 17.

Arab Historians of the Crusades (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), 310




2 thoughts on “18th of May 1268….. Antioch falls to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in the Battle of Antioch.

  1. Pingback: London, Terrorism, and Crusading History | nebraskaenergyobserver

  2. Pingback: Angel - The Last Days Of Planet Earth

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