- Siege of Emesa
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict= Siege of Emesa
Muslim conquest of Syria Byzantine-Arab Wars
caption=Present days Emesa
date=December 635–March 636
EmesaCaptured by Rashidun Caliphate.
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah Khalid ibn al-Walid
The Siege of Emesa was laid by the forces of
Rashidun Caliphatefrom December 635 up until March 636. This led to the Islamic conquest of Emesa, which was a major trading city of the Byzantine Empirein the Levant.
After a decisive victory at the
Battle of Ajnadayn, the Muslim army conquered Damascus after a long siege in September 634 AD. The army continued their march northward and in late 635 AD, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrahsent Khalid ibn Walidwith his mobile guard to begin the siege of Emesaand later joined him along the main body of the army. The Byzantine garrisons of Emesaand Qinnasrinmade a truce with the Muslim army. It was agreed that Emessa would pay 10,000 dinars and deliver 100 robes of brocadeand in return, the Muslim army would not attack Emessa for one year. If, however, any Roman reinforcements arrived to strengthen Emessa's garrisons, then the truce would become defunct. The gates of Emessa were opened as soon as the truce was signed, and thereafter there was free movement of Muslims in and out of the markets of Emesa, advancing the economies of major Byzantine towns. The garrison of Qinnasrin(the ancient Calchis) made the truce on the same terms. However, the governors of Emesa and Qinnasrin made the truce for reasons of expediency. Both hoped that their garrisons would be reinforced by Emperor Heraclius, and as soon as that happened they would repudiate the extortion of the Muslims. [Akram, A. I. "The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns". Rawalpindi: National Publishing House, 1970. ISBN 0-71010-104-X] Muslim armies raided many cities in northern Syria, as well as the major towns of Hama Shaizar, Afamia (known today as Qalatul-Muzeeq) and Ma'arra Hims (now Ma'arrat-un-Numan). One by one, each city and town that fell to the Muslim army surrendered in peace and agreed to pay the jizya.
It was while Muslims were at
Shaizarthat they heard of Byzantine reinforcements moving to Qinnasrinand Emesa. This, naturally, led to the invalidation of the truce established by the city of Emesa. The arrival of winter gave the Byzantine garrison a further assurance of success. In their forts they would be better protected from the cold than the Muslim Arabs, who were not used to intense cold, and with only their tents to give them shelter would suffer severely from the Syrian winter. [ Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 3, pp. 96-97.]
Heraclius wrote to Harbees, the military governor of Emessa:
Abu Ubaidah decided to take Emessa first, and thus cleared his rear flank from the enemy before undertaking more serious operations in northern Syria. Consequently, the Muslim army marched to Emesa with Khalid's
mobile guardin the lead. On arrival at the city, a short battle was fought between Khalid ibn Walid's mobile guard and the Byzantine garrison of Emesa. The Muslims drove the Byzantine guard back, which forced the Byzantines to withdraw into the fort and close the gates. Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarraharrived with the rest of the army and deployed it into four groups opposite the four gates of Emesa:
#Masdud Gate "(to the southwest)"
#Tadmur Gate "(to the north-east)"
#Duraib Gate "(to the east)"
#Hud Gate "(to the west)"
Emesa was a fortified circular-shaped city with a diameter of less than a mile, and it was surrounded by a
moat. There was also a citadelatop a hillock inside the fort. Outside the city stretched a fertile plain, broken only on the west by the Orontes River. [Charles Greenstreet Addison. "Damascus and Palmyra: A Journey to the East." Adamant Media Corporation.] Abu Ubaidah himself, together with Khalid and his mobile guard, camped on the north side, a short distance from the Rastan Gate. Abu Ubaidah left the siege in the hands of Khalid, who thus acted as the virtual commander of the Muslims for this operation. It was now late November or early December, and the winter was at its peak. The siege continued and every day there would be an exchange of archery, but no major action took place which could lead to a decision either way. The Byzantineexpectations that the Muslims would not be able to withstand the cold of Emesa were proved to be correct to some extant, but not as they imagned. [ [http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1436&chapter=90406&layout=html&Itemid=27 Chronology of the Saracen Conquest of Syria and Egypt] ] . It was about the middle of March 636 the worst of the winter was over, when Harbees decided to make a surprise sally and defeat the Muslims in battle outside the fort, as the Byzantine hope of the cold driving the Muslims away vanished, Supplies were running low, and with the coming of spring and better weather the Muslims would receive further reinforcements and would then be in an even stronger position. Early one morning the Rastan Gate was flung open and Harbees led 5,000 men into a quick attack on the unsuspecting Muslim army facing that gate. The speed and violence of the attack took the Muslims by surprise, and although this was the largest of the four groups positioned at the four gates, it was driven back from the position where it had hastily formed up for battle. [The Byzantine And Early Islamic Near East By Hugh N. Kennedy, Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.] A short distance back the Muslims reformed their front and held the attack of the Byzantines, but the pressure became increasingly heavy and the danger of a break-through became clearly evident. Abu Ubaidah sent Khalid ibn Walidto restore the situation. Khalid moved forward with the mobile guard, took the hard pressed Muslims under his command and redisposed the Muslim army for battle, after all this defensive measures Khalid took the offensive and steadily pushed the Romans back, though it was not till near sunset that the Romans were finally driven back into the fort. The sally had proved unsuccessful.
Conquest of Emesa
The following morning Abu Ubaidah held a council of war and expressed his dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Muslims had given way before the Roman attack, whereupon Khalid remarked:
Abu Ubaidah asked Khalid for his advise and Khalid gave his plan that the next morning there will be fake withdrawal of army from Emesa giving the impression to the Byzantines that the Muslims are raising the siege and withdrawing to the south and they will surely attack the
rearguardwithdrawing Muslim army and at that moment the army will turn back encircle the Byzantine army and will inhiliate them. [Waqidi, p. 103.]
According to the plan, early the following morning, the Muslims raised the siege and withdrawing to the south, viewing it as a brilliant military opportunity Harbees immediately collected 5,000 Byzantine warriors and led them out of the fort to chase the Muslims, he launched his mounted force into a fast pursuit to catch up with the retreating Muslim forces and strike them down as they fled. The Byzantine army caught up with the Muslims a few miles from Emesa, the leading elements of Byzantine cavalry were about to pounce upon the 'retreating Muslims' when the Muslims suddenly turned and struck at the Byzantines with ferocity. As the Muslims turned on the Byzantines, Khalid shouted a command at which two mounted groups detached themselves from the Muslim army, galloped round the flanks of the surprised Byzantines and charged from the rear. Steadily and systematically the Muslims closed in from all sides. It is said that Khalid with a small group of elite mounted warriors of mobile guard reached to the centre of the Byzantines army and here he saw Harbees still fighting, Khalid made for Harbees, but was intercepted by a gaint Byzantines general, who was killed by Khalid after an interesting
duel. At the time when the Muslims started their attack on the encircled Romans, a group of 500 horsemen under Maaz ibn Jabalhad galloped back to Emesa to see to it that no escaping Roman got into the fort. As these horsemen neared Emesa, the terrified inhabitants and the remnants of the Roman garrison which had not joined the pursuit hastily withdrew into the fort and closed the gates. Maaz deployed his men in front of the gates to prevent the Byzantines in Emesa from coming out and the Byzantines outside Emessa from getting in. [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/gibbon/05/daf05018.htm Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 5: Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs. Part V ] ] It is recorded that only about a hundred Byzantines got away. The Muslims, on the other hand, lost about 235 dead in the entire operation against Emesa, from the beginning of the siege to the end of the last action. As soon as this action was over the Muslims returned to Emesa and resumed the siege. The local inhabitants offered to surrender on terms, and Abu Ubaidah accepted the offer. This happened around the middle of March, 636. The inhabitants paid the Jizyaat the rate of one dinarper man, and peace returned to Emesa. [Waqidi, p. 104.]
Soon after the surrender of
Emesa, the Muslims set out once again for the north, intending to take the whole of Northern Syria this time, including Aleppoand Antioch. They went past Hamaand arrived at Shaizar. Here a Roman convoy taking provisions to Qinasarin and escorted by a small body of soldiers was intercepted and captured by Khalid. The prisoners were interrogated, and they provided the information regarding the plan of Heraclius, and concentration of a large Byzantine armyat Antioch. The Byzantine army met the Muslims in August 636 at the plain of Yarmouk where the Muslims won a decisive victory against the Byzantines at Battle of Yarmouk.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Siege of Marash — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Siege of Marash partof=Byzantine Arab Wars and Campaigns of Khalid ibn al Walid caption=Location of Kahramanmaraş (Marash) in Turkey. date=638 AD place=Marash,Turkey result=Kahramanmaraş (Marash) captured by… … Wikipedia
Siege of Damascus (634) — Siege of Damascus Part of Muslim conquest of Syria Byzantine Arab Wars … Wikipedia
Siege of Alexandria (641) — Contents 1 Historical overview 2 Byzantine Alexandria 3 Muslim conquest of Egypt 3.1 Fall of Alexandria and aftermath … Wikipedia
Muslim conquest of Syria — Part of the Muslim conquests and Byzantine Arab Wars … Wikipedia
Umar — For other uses, see Omar (disambiguation). Umar ibn al Khattab Caliph Umar s empire at its peak, 644 Al Farooq Reign … Wikipedia
Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah — Abu Ubaidah redirects here. For other uses, see Abu Ubaidah (disambiguation). Aamir Tomb of Abu Ubaidah in Balqa Governorate, Jor … Wikipedia
Khalid ibn al-Walid — Infobox Military Person name= Khālid ibn al Walīd caption= Khālid ibn al Walīd is famous for his victories against the Byzantines and the Persians during the early Muslim conquests. allegiance= Rashidun Caliphate commands= nickname= The Sword of… … Wikipedia
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah — Infobox Military Person name= Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah caption= Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah is famous for his victories against the Byzantines during the Muslim conquests. allegiance= Rashidun Caliphate commands= nickname= Custodian of Ummah or… … Wikipedia
Rashidun Caliphate — Infobox Former Country native name = الخلافة الراشدية conventional long name = Rashidun Caliphate common name = Rashidun continent = Afroasia region = Middle East status = Empire government type = Caliphate event start = year start = 632 event… … Wikipedia
Abu Bakr — For other people with the name, see Abu Bakr (name). Abu Bakr Caliph Abu Bakr s empire at its peak, 634. Khalifat ul Rasūl (Prophet s successor) … Wikipedia