Post-classical history

Ridwân (1081-1113)

King (Arab. malik) of Aleppo and northern Syria (10951113), with the title Fakhr al-Mulûk (“Glory of the Kings”).

Ridwân was the eldest of five sons of the Saljûq king of Syria, Tutush I. During his struggle for the Saljûq sultanate, Tutush appointed Aytakin in 1094 as atabeg for Ridwân and married him toRidwân’s mother. When Tutush was killed in Persia (1095), Ridwân and his brother Duqāq engaged in a conflict for power that plunged Syria into a civil war lasting until 1099. Each brother was aided by his own ambitious atabeg. Ridwān ruled Aleppo (his capital) as well as Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey), Homs (mod. Hims, Syria), and Hama. He failed in two attempts to capture Duqāq’scapital, Damascus, in 1096. As a result, he took an unprecedented step for a Sunnī ruler, and accepted an offer of the Egyptian vizier, al-Afdal, by which he was to adopt the Fātimid Shī‘itedoctrine in return for political support. On 7 September 1097 the name of the Fātimid caliph replaced that of the ‘Abbasid caliph in the khutba (Friday sermon) in Aleppo, but after four weeks theSaljûq sultan persuaded Ridwān to return to the Sunnī faith.

By this time, the armies of the First Crusade (1096-1099) had arrived in the northern dominions of Aleppo. Ridwān did not intervene to save the city of Antioch, nor did he participate in the relief expedition mounted by Karbughā of Mosul, fearing his presence in Syria. Until 1103, Ridwān avoided any serious hostilities against the Franks of Antioch or Edessa, a consequence of his economic difficulties and strife with his rebellious atabeg. Tancred, regent of Antioch from 1101, did not attack Ridwān, as he was more afraid of other powers, such as the Byzantine Empire.Ridwān was very keen on a modus vivendi with Antioch and in May 1103 agreed to pay a large annual tribute to protect his realm. He made no attempt to coordinate his policies with the Turcoman rulers of Upper Mesopotamia and Iraq in their wars with the Franks in the county of Edessa, even after the heavy defeat of the Franks at the battle of Harran in 1104. Ridwān maintained the modus vivendi with the Franks during 1105-1110, but broke the peace when the Saljûq sultan started to send massive armies against the Franks in Syria, and plundered Antiochene territory.

The economy of Aleppo suffered from Tancred’s retaliatory attacks, and its citizens, who were losing confidence in Ridwān, sent an embassy to the sultan urging him to promote jihād (holy war) against the Franks. When an army sent by Sultan Muhammad Tapar arrived at Aleppo in 1111, Ridwān closed the city’s gates against it. Distrusting the loyalties of his subjects, Ridwān imposed a curfew with the aid of the Assassins, a minority Ismā‘īlīsect, until the sultan’s forces withdrew. In his last years, Ridwān was still paying a large annual tribute to Roger of Antioch to safeguard his kingdom. He died after an illness on 10 December 1113. He was succeeded by his son Alp Arslān, with the mamluk (slave soldier) Lu’Lu’ as regent.

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