1099 – Some 15,000 starving Christian soldiers begin the siege of Jerusalem by marching in a religious procession around the city as its Muslim defenders watch.
The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099, during the First Crusade. The climax of the First Crusade, the successful siege saw the Crusaders seize Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate and laid the foundations for the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
After the successful siege of Antioch in June 1098, the Crusaders remained in the area for the rest of the year. The papal legate Adhemar of Le Puy had died, and Bohemond of Taranto had claimed Antioch for himself. Baldwin of Boulogne remained in Edessa, captured earlier in 1098. There was dissent among the princes over what to do next; Raymond of Toulouse, frustrated, left Antioch to capture the fortress at Ma’arrat al-Numan in the Siege of Maarat. By the end of the year the minor knights and infantry were threatening to march to Jerusalem without them. Eventually, on January 13, 1099 Raymond began the march south, down the coast of the Mediterranean, followed by Robert of Normandy and Bohemond’s nephew Tancred, who agreed to become his vassals.
13th-century miniature depicting the siege
On their way the Crusaders besieged Arqa but failed to capture it and abandoned the siege on May 13. Fatimids had attempted to make peace, on the condition that the crusaders not continue towards Jerusalem, but this was ignored; Iftikhar ad-Daula, the Fatimid governor of Jerusalem, was aware of the Crusaders’ intentions. Therefore, he expelled all of Jerusalem’s Christian inhabitants. Further march towards Jerusalem met no resistance.
On 7 June, the crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuqs by the Fatimids only the year before. Many Crusaders wept upon seeing the city they had journeyed so long to reach. As with Antioch the crusaders put the city to a siege, in which the crusaders themselves probably suffered more than the citizens of the city, due to the lack of food and water around Jerusalem. The city was well-prepared for the siege, and the Fatimid governor Iftikhar ad-Daula had expelled most of the Christians. Of the estimated 5,000 knights who took part in the Princes’ Crusade, only about 1,500 remained, along with another 12,000 healthy foot-soldiers (out of perhaps as many as 30,000). Early in the siege, some low-class knights claimed to have been visited by Adhemar, the papal regate for the crusade, who recently died of typhus after the Siege of Antioch. They claimed that this was a Battle of Jericho situation, and that he instructed them to march around the city walls barefoot. They did so for a few days, singing holy chants. After which, Peter the Hermit held religious sermons in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the Mount of Olives, sending the crusading knights lost into religious zeal. It was at this time that they were ready for a siege. Godfrey, Robert of Flanders, and Robert of Normandy (who had now also left Raymond to join Godfrey) besieged the north walls as far south as the Tower of David, while Raymond set up his camp on the western side, from the Tower of David to Mount Zion. A direct assault on the walls on June 13 was a failure. Without water or food, both men and animals were quickly dying of thirst and starvation and the crusaders knew time was not on their side. Coincidentally, soon after the first assault, two Genoese galleys sailed into the port at Jaffa. The crusaders also began to gather wood from Samaria in order to build siege engines. They were still short on food and water, and by the end of June there was news that a Fatimid army was marching north from Egypt.
1766 – Dominique Jean Larrey, French surgeon (d. 1842)
Dominique Jean Larrey (French: [larɛ]; 8 July 1766 – 25 July 1842) was a French surgeon in Napoleon’s Grand Armée and an important innovator in battlefield medicine and triage. He is often considered the first modern military surgeon.
Larrey was born in the little village of Beaudéan, in the Pyrenees as the son of a shoemaker, who later moved to Bordeaux. Larrey was orphaned at the age of 13. He was then raised by his uncle Alexis, who was chief surgeon in Toulouse. After serving a 6-year apprenticeship, he went to Paris to study under Pierre-Joseph Desault, who was chief surgeon at the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris. His studies were cut short by war. Larrey went to Brest where he was appointed in the navy and gave lectures. In 1788 he was sent to Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1789 he was back in Paris and finished his thesis on Eskimos. He cooperated with Jean-Nicolas Corvisart, Marie François Xavier Bichat and Raphaël Bienvenu Sabatier in Les Invalides. In 1792, during the War of the First Coalition he joined the Army of the Rhine. In Mainz he met with Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring.
During this time, Larrey initiated the modern method of army surgery, field hospitals and the system of army ambulance corps. After seeing the speed with which the carriages of the French flying artillery maneuvered across the battlefields, Larrey adapted them as ambulance volantes (“Flying ambulances”) for rapid transport of the wounded and manned them with trained crews of drivers, corpsmen and litterbearers. Larrey also increased the mobility and improved the organization of field hospitals, effectively creating a forerunner of the modern MASH units. He established a rule for the triage of war casualties, treating the wounded according to the seriousness of their injuries and urgency of need for medical care, regardless of their rank or nationality. Soldiers of enemy armies, as well as those of the French and their allies, were treated.
In 1794 he was sent to Toulon, where he met for the first time with Napoleon. He married the paintress Marie-Élisabeth Laville-Leroux. In Spain he fell ill and was sent back to Paris. He became professor at Val-de-Grâce but was appointed as surgeon-in-chief of the Napoleonic armies in Italy in 1797, and went to Egypt the year after. In the Battle of Acre he was wounded. In 1801 he was back in France.
Larrey was made a Commandeur of the Légion d’honneur on 12 May 1807. He joined in the Battle of Aspern-Essling, where he operated on Marshall Jean Lannes and amputated one of his legs in two minutes. He became the favorite of the Emperor, who commented, “If the army ever erects a monument to express its gratitude, it should do so in honor of Larrey”, he was ennobled as a Baron on the field of Wagram in 1809. In 1811, Baron Larrey co-led the surgical team that performed a pre-anesthetic mastectomy on Frances Burney in Paris. Her detailed account of this operation gives insight into early 19th century doctor-patient relationships, and early surgical methods in the home of the patient. Larrey was involved in the French invasion of Russia.
When Napoleon was sent to Elba, Larrey proposed to join him, but the former Emperor refused. At Waterloo in 1815 his courage under fire was noticed by the Duke of Wellington who ordered his soldiers not to fire in his direction so as to “give the brave man time to gather up the wounded” and saluted “the courage and devotion of an age that is no longer ours”. Trying to escape to the French border, Larrey was taken prisoner by the Prussians who wanted to execute him on the spot. Larrey was recognized by one of the German surgeons, who pleaded for his life. Perhaps partly because he had saved the life of Blücher’s son when he was wounded near Dresden and taken prisoner by the French, he was pardoned, invited to Blücher’s dinner table as a guest and sent back to France with money and proper clothes. He devoted the remainder of his life to writing, but after the death of Napoleon he started a new medical career in the army as chief-surgeon. In 1826 he visited England, received well by British surgeons. In 1829 he was appointed in the Institut de France. In 1842 he went to Algiers, together with his son, and fell ill. Larrey died on his way back in Lyon. His corpse was taken to Paris and buried at Père-Lachaise, but his remains were transferred to Les Invalides and re-interred near Napoleon’s tomb in December 1992.
Larrey’s writings are still regarded as valuable sources of surgical and medical knowledge and have been translated into all modern languages. Between 1800 and 1840 at least 28 books or articles were published. His son Hippolyte (born 1808) was surgeon-in-ordinary to the emperor Napoleon III.
Relation historique et chirurgicale de l’expédition de l’armée d’orient, en Egypte et en Syrie. Demonville, Paris 1803.
Mémoires de chirurgie militaire, et campagnes. J. Smith, Paris 1812. (digitalized books: Volume1, Volume 2, Volume 3)
Richard H. Willmott: Memoirs of military surgery. Cushing, Baltimore 1814. (volumes 1–3, digitalized book)
John C. Mercer: Surgical memoirs of the campaigns of Russia, Germany, and France. Carey & Lea, Philadelphia 1832. (volume 4, digitalized Book)
The Dominique-Jean Larrey Award is the North Atlantic Alliance’s highest medical honour. It is bestowed annually by NATO’s senior medical body, the Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS), which is composed of the Surgeons General of NATO and partner nations. It is awarded in recognition of a significant and lasting contribution to NATO multi-nationality and/or interoperability, or to improvements in the provision of health care in NATO missions in the areas of medical support or healthcare development.
This article includes additional links of interest.
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