Episode 2, Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades 12/14/2016:
The text of the accompanying article notes that a city recently much in the news played an important role during the Crusades, here speaking of the early 1100s:
The economics of the war soon began to dominate the crusades and the Regent of Antioch, Tancred, marched his army towards Aleppo, then the trade capital of the Levant.Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem 12/21/2016:
Aleppo's ruler, Radwan, who has been described as spineless and servile, had a friendly relationship with the crusaders. The story goes that he even put a cross on the mosque of Aleppo, which provoked a strong reaction from the locals as they revolted against their duplicitous ruler.
The uprising was irresistible and the Muslim people forced the caliphate in Baghdad, weak though it was, to take action. Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustazhir asked for help from his protector, the Seljuk Sultan.
The governor of Mosul, Mawdoud, was ordered to gather his army and put an end to the crusader siege of Aleppo. Mawdoud was successful in forcing the crusaders to lift the siege of Aleppo because other crusader entities would not come to support them. But Aleppo's ruler Radwan prevented Mawdoud's army from entering the city.
"At the same time, Toghtekin [the governor of Damascus] was being attacked by the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Mawdoud's forces came to help him resist the attack. Mawdoud met King Baldwin in a battle near Tiberias known as the battle of As-Sannabra during which the Muslims defeated the crusaders," says Sabra.
This one features the resistance to the Crusaders mounted by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn (1137/3-1193), aka Saladin.
The Crusades were a key event in European Christians learning about Islam and the broader Islamic world. But European Christians also had exposure to Islam without going to the Middle East. Al-Andalus (now Spain) was controlled by Islamic rulers. Islamic incursions into what is now Spain began in 711 when , a North African deputy of Umayyad Caliphate led fighters who intervened in a dispute between Visigoth factions at the invitation of a Visigoth leader.
But for centuries, there was apparently considerable isolation of the Islam of Al-Andalus and the Christians outside of it. Richard Fletcher argues that until the time the First Crusade began in 1095, "Christians had tended to look upon Islam [even in Al-Andalus] with a bewildered lack of curiosity. Little by little this was replaced by militant hostility in which Spain, like Syria and Palestine, became an arena of religious war." ("The Early Middle Ages" in Richard Carr, ed., Spain: A History; 2000)