First Siege of Arsuf

Siege of Arsuf
Part of the Crusades
Gustave dore crusades gerard of avesnes exposed on the walls of asur.jpg
Gerard of Avesnes exposed on the walls of Arsuf. Illustration by Gustave Doré (1877)
Datelate October – mid-December 1099
ResultFatimid victory
 Fatimid Caliphate Kingdom of Jerusalem
Commanders and leaders
Fatimid Caliphate Governor of ArsufArmoiries de Jérusalem.svg Godfrey of Bouillon
Casualties and losses

The first siege of Arsuf, originally Apollonia, took place in the First Crusade. Arsuf was an ancient city in Judea dating from the late Roman era, situated on a cliff above the Mediterranean Sea, about 21 miles south of Caesarea, now in Israel. The city fell to the Muslims in 640 and was fortified to protect against attacks by the Byzantine armies. Godfrey of Bouillon attempted to capture the city in 1099, but failed for want of ships.

During the siege, while the Crusaders pounded the walls with catapults, the Fatamids had one of Godfrey's knights, Gerard of Avesnes, hung from the mast of old ship that had been lying in the city. They raised Gerard up to be in view of the attacking Crusaders. Gerard begged Godfrey to take pity on him. Godrey responded that while Gerard was the bravest of knights, but he could not call off the attack. Godfrey said that he was better for Gerard to be the sole casualty than to Arsuf to remain a danger to Christian pilgrims. Gerard then asked that his property be donated to the Holy Sepulchre, which Godfrey was Defender, instead of king. The Crusaders continued their attack. Gerard was wounded multiple times, though he managed to survive and make it back to Jerusalem.

The city rulers offered to surrender to Raymond of Saint-Gilles, but Godfrey refused.[2] Raymond even encouraged the garrison at Arsuf to hold out against Godfrey, touting his perceived weakness.[3] Within Godfrey's army, Franco I of Maasmechelen, a relative of Godfrey, is known to have died in the battle.

Second Siege of Arsuf

Baldwin I started the second siege and finally took the city on 29 April 1102, after a siege by land and sea, allowing the inhabitants to withdraw to Ascalon, and his troops rebuilt the city. In 1187, Arsuf was captured by the Muslims, but fell again to the Crusaders on 7 September 1191 after the Battle of Arsuf, fought between the forces of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.