Who achieved more in the battle against the Christians? Essay
Who achieved more in the battle against the Christians? Zengi or Nur ed-Din?
To answer this question we must first understand what the question actually means. Does it mean who won the most land off the Christians? Or who was the psychological winner? Who was the won who made the Crusader states crumble? Who made it possible for Saladin to destroy the Crusaders?
I am going to assume that it is not who won the most Christian land, but who had the greatest impact upon the Franks.
Zengi, its true, did win the most land against the Franks, for was able to capture Edessa in Christmas Eve 1144, and Nur ed-Din did not actually capture anything that the Christians already owned. What Nur ed-Din did manage to achieve was that he got Damascus (a close ally of the Franks) and Egypt were the Franks were very prominent in.
In the battle against the Christians Zengi would be the most obvious answer to say that he was the one who achieved everything, for without Zengi Nur ed-Din would not have had a platform with which to attack Edessa, Damascus and Egypt. Zengi was the one who first preached Jihad; he was the one who first started to unite the Muslims against the Franks, and he was the one who gave Nur ed-Din the captured cities of Aleppo and Edessa. It was Zengi, and without Zengi who knows what Nur ed-Din would have achieved. He might have been a historical nobody, just like his elder brother, who got Mosel from Zengi. But Nur ed-Din was not like his brother and he did receive all that he did from Zengi, and he did add Damascus and Egypt to his kingdom. Nur ed-Din was very politically aware, far more so than his father. He mange to capture Damascus with no bloodshed, this was a huge achievement, for Damascus managed to repel the great warrior Zengi. In 1159 Antioch fell, not to the Muslims, but to another Christian, Manuel of the Byzantine Empire. This meant that the Crusaders were now one city-state less and this was at a point when they needed all the help that they could get.
Nur ed-Din knew exactly what he wanted and he wanted to throw the crusaders out of Outremer, which me might well have done if he did not die when he did. Nur ed-Din had some superb Generals, like Saladin’s uncle Shirkuh. It was Shirkuh who captured Egypt for Nur ed-Din, but it was Saladin who held it for him. Nur ed-Din had now a strangle hold on the Franks. They only way that they could get in and out was by sea. Nur ed-Din had effectively sealed the Franks in, and now he would slowly destroy them, ending triumphantly in Jerusalem. Unforcantly for him he died before he could fulfil his dream, and it was left to Saladin to do it for him.
Zengi and Nur ed-Din were completely different people, and despite being Father and Son they had totally different temperaments. Zengi was a warrior, a proud man, who didn’t really have any use for God, except as a tool to motivate his people (preaching jihad against the Franks). Nur ed-Din on the other hand, was a very devote person, and thought not known for his military skills, he was a very skilled tactician. Nur ed-Din was perhaps the first person in History to properly understand and use propaganda. He used it very effectively against the Franks in Damascus. So in this way he was far more of a threat to the Franks, for while Zengi conquered their lands, Nur ed-Din conquered the common people’s minds.
Both Zengi and Nur ed-Din had something in common. They both died before their time. If his slave had not killed Zengi then it might have been a completely different story, but he was killed, and there is no doubt about it that Zengi definitely laid the foundations for Nur ed-Din’s life. Without Zengi who knows what Nur ed-din would have done, but History as it is, has to acknowledge that Nur ed-Din was the one who took the most away from the Franks. Egypt would have been a prize beyond compare. It was rich and had a huge military that if united might well have been unstoppable. The Franks wanted him dead so much that more than once they hired assassins to kill him, and both times Nur ed-Din managed to escape. Nur ed-Din was definitely the more dangerous of the two to the Franks, if only because he was the one who attacked them more. Zengi undoubtedly was the better warrior and if he had started in Edessa or Aleppo then maybe he would have been the one who achieved more, but for most of his life his was consolidating his power in and around Mosul.
So in conclusion I think that it was Nur ed-Din who was the one, who really achieved the most in the battle against the franks, but I do admit that it would have been a very different story of Zengi had not laid the foundations. It was Nur ed-Din who was the one who got the Franks scared enough that they tried to kill him, it was Nur ed-Din who took their only ally away fro them, and it was Nur ed-Din who stole Egypt from them. Also as Nur ed-Din and the Byzantine Emperor had no quarrel there was no reason for Manuel to attack Nur ed-Din from Antioch and therefore helping the Crusaders.
Nur ed-Din took the most away from the Crusaders. He made the people love him, and want t be apart of his empire. As soon as that had happened the Crusaders really lost the entire battle, they just had not realised it yet.