Post-classical history

Terre de Suète

The Terre de Suète was the name applied by the Franks of Outremer to the region east of Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), deriving from the Arabic al-Sawad (“the black”), which referred to its dark basalt soil. The core of the region was the fertile, corn-producing area known as the Hauran (mod. southwestern Syria), but the Terre de Suète was regarded as extending into the Jaulan (Golan) to the north and beyond the river Yarmuk to the south.

The region was inhabited predominantly by settled Muslim Arabs, with minorities of Syrian Christians and Bedouin. In the period 1105-1126, the Franks of Jerusalem made strenuous efforts to wrest control of the region from the atabegs of Damascus, without being able to annex it permanently, and during this time an accommodation was reached (which came to be repeatedly renewed by treaty up to the time of Saladin) recognizing the Terre de Suète as a condominium under the joint sovereignty of Damascus and the kingdom of Jerusalem. Each party took a third of its produce and revenues, the remainder being left to its inhabitants. The area north of the river Yarmuk remained largely demilitarized, although for most of the twelfth century the Franks maintained an important strongpoint south of the river at the cave fortress of Cave de Suète (mod. Habis Jaldak).

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