The POD is far enough back that the likelihood the Mongols would be united at the same time as OTL and follow the same path of conquests as OTL, never mind have the same numbers of forces in the same area, is rather improbable.
Tbf considering the climatic changes during that era in central asia even if the Mongols don't unify and conquer everyone someone will.

Maybe the Mongols have one khan that conquers China and central Asia and the next khan conquer (or attempt to conquer) the ME for the Mongols be called the cathayans.
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Merry Christmas and congratulations on your soon to be born daughter @Rdffigueira, I hope you and yours are doing well this holiday season.
Reborn Armenia: For the time being, is not in the plans. Not only Armenia as a nation is absolutely wrecked but, also, I want to explore a longer-lasting Georgia first. Its too bad that they were wiped out from day to night by the Mongols in the cusp of their apogee. I admit a united Armenia-Assyria is interesting, but I don't know if its doable.
Makes sense that that is the plan, and honestly I feel a stronger Georgia, Mongols or no, could still be feasible if it can last longer than 1490, which I'm hoping so. I mean there is also the Armenian Principality of Cilicia, but I cannot remember if that is now part of Jerusalem or Rhomania. Either way, I doubt Armenia is coming back any time in the foreseeable future I'm afraid.
Fate of the ERE: Due to their role in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern geopolitics, Byzantium will always have a meaningful presence in the narrative, but as long as it is convenient to further our goal of having the Crusader States last as long I see feasible. So they might collapse entirely, might be devoured by a foreign power, might Balkanize in warlordism, might survive into Modernity mostly with a similar territorial situation (in the very least, Greece, Macedonia, Thrace and Anatolia). We'll have to see how this will unfold. I do have a soft spot for the idea of it surviving into later centuries as a reduced, but cohesive, nation-state.
I think that might be a good call in the long term at least. A Byzantine state surviving into the modern era holding onto Greece, Anatolia (or at minimum Western and Central Anatolia as well as the Pontic region) Macedonia & Thrace (maybe even modern Albania) would be interesting.
Occitania: I want to explore a more autonomous Occitania, but more from cultural, social and economic perspectives rather than necessarily political. Short of the complete collapse of the Kingdom of France - something that's not in the charts -, I don't think complete political independence is in the table for them, barring perhaps the House of Poitou's fiefs. On the other hand, it is interesting to explore WI the Aquitanian, Gascon, Limousin and Provençal cultures remain distinctive and unassimilated by the standard French one.
I honestly think it is on the table, just not currently in reach at the moment. The various Occitan cultures, assuming you don't plan to eventually coalesce them into one culture would eventually break off politically if the distinctions are great enough to warrant not wanting to be ruled from Paris. With that being said, I think the Poitiers would be the best shot for such a move, and even then...I predict it'll still be too far down the road to worry about now.
Norman Sicily (#3,116): it certainly is in the plans. Some stuff has changed already, because we won't be seeing the same troubled succession that plagued the dynasty after William the Good. Overall, they will be more stable politically than OTL.
I'm down for a continued Hauteville dynasty.
Makes sense that that is the plan, and honestly I feel a stronger Georgia, Mongols or no, could still be feasible if it can last longer than 1490, which I'm hoping so. I mean there is also the Armenian Principality of Cilicia, but I cannot remember if that is now part of Jerusalem or Rhomania. Either way, I doubt Armenia is coming back any time in the foreseeable future I'm afraid.
Tbf a strong Georgia is very interesting but I do hope we see Armenia pop up somewhere. A scenario with Mongol descended Georgian kings would be interesting.
I mean there is also the Armenian Principality of Cilicia,
Tbf an Armenian Cilicia that acts as a buffer between Jerusalem and Constantinople would make sense as a state.
I honestly think it is on the table, just not currently in reach at the moment. The various Occitan cultures, assuming you don't plan to eventually coalesce them into one culture would eventually break off politically if the distinctions are great enough to warrant not wanting to be ruled from Paris. With that being said, I think the Poitiers would be the best shot for such a move, and even then...I predict it'll still be too far down the road to worry about now.
Tbf yeah especially as time goes by ittl, since Jerusalem and the other states of the Mediterranean would increase the strength of Occitania (maybe with the lands of the kingdom of Aragon too if they get super lucky). Also Brittany not being part of France would be cool especially if France seems a bit less powerful than otl.
68. The Jews and the Crusades



Colored woodcarving depicting a theological disputation between Christians and Jewish scholars (c. 1290)​

Of the Hebrew Gentes in Exile in the Middle Ages​

It is useful and adequate to the pursuit and flourishment of knowledge that we delve into the comprehension of the Jewish world in the eve of the First Crusade, that is, in the end of the 11th Century A.D., and their historical contexts, as well as their relations with the Franks, Saracens and Moors and other peoples.

From the start, it must be said, with the intent of dispelling a common misconception, that there was never a single, perfectly homogeneous gens Iudaica, but rather various gentes, who while sharing the same faith, had distinct customary, cultural, linguistic and social characteristics, which is indeed not surprising at all, considering that most of the Hebrew communities [1] in diaspora voluntarily or forcibly became integrated, if not assimilated, in the cultural medium in which they lived.


Hispania [i.e. Iberian Peninsula] was known to the Hebrews by the name of Sepharad, in reference to a Biblical name, and thus those who lived in the peninsula were known as the Sephardim. We know that most of them lived in al-Andalus, and that in the 10th Century, under the rule of the complaisant Caliphate of Cordoba, they saw an unprecedented golden age of social, demographic, cultural and scientific blossoming. The Hebrew-speaking communities became centers of learning and of international commerce - to the point where the trade networks driven by the Jews in the Mediterranean Sea and beyond often “detoured” through Sepharad in spite of being situated in the geographic periphery of the Known World.

Yet, for all their generations-valuable accomplishments, the fate of an exiled nation was evidently tied to the fate of the Moorish regime itself, and when it collapsed, in the very beginning of the 11th Century, in the wake of the glorious era of al-Mansur [Span. Almanzor], the situation of the Sephardim began to decline. In the age of the Taifas, they became as much liable to persecution and destructiveness as in other realms of the Earth where they were despised and oppressed. Such was, for example, the grim fate suffered by the thousands of Jews of Granada in 1066 A.D., butchered by the hands of a frenzied Moorish mob. This explains why many of these Jews actually welcomed the initial advances of the Christians in the “Reconquest”, most notably of the Leonese and Castilian monarchs, because at least they could expect protection from persecution and live in a more peaceful realm than in the fragmented al-Andalus.

The nadir of the Jewish fortunes in al-Andalus began after the Almoravid invasion in the 1080s, followed, in the late 1140s, by the Almohad invasion, because each of these Berber barbarians were, in their respective ways, devoted to a fundamentalist and purist view of the Islamic faith and to ethnic favoritism (the former towards the Sanhaja, and the latter towards the Masmuda). The Moorish Andalusians were discriminated against and coerced into subservience, but Christians and Jews were brutally oppressed. Forced conversions, expulsions and executions had become the norm in the Almohad regime by the end of the 11th Century.

The fortunes of the Sephardim did ebb and wane during the years afterwards, and would be fundamentally transformed upon the occurrence of the *Fourth Crusade, the one destined to bring the Berber Caliphate to heel and to inaugurate the Frankish rule in al-Andalus.


Ashkenaz [Hebr. ʾAškənāz] was great-grandson of Noah, who, according to the rabbinic literature, founded a kingdom with his own name in a land far to the north of Israel. In ancient era, it was how the Israelites referred to the vast Scythian steppe and to the ancestral land of the Slavs, however, in time, more specifically in the 11th Century, the Jews that settled in northern Europe came to use this name to refer to the heartland of the Carolingian domain, coinciding with the territory of the now defunct principalities of Neustria and Austrasia, and thus they came to be known as Ashkenazim [2].

It must be noted that there was a centuries-old Hebrew community in the land of the Franks, there living since the reign of King Clovis, who had given them protection during the turbulent sunset of the Roman Empire, and these Jews flourished greatly during the reign of Charlemagne. Unlike what happened to the Sephardim, the dissolution of the Carolingian kingdom did not result in their abasement; on the contrary, while the Frankish princes disputed among themselves the pieces of Charlemagne’s vast realm, forcing the peasantry into serving under arms and building for them castles to rule over the lands, the Jews, who lived mostly in the cities, were largely unaffected and left to their own devices.

At the time, the Catholic Church had no antagonism towards the Jewry. On the contrary, both the regional ecclesiastic institutions and the Holy See had acted, in the past, to curb some anti-Jewish policies of the temporal monarchs of the early 11th Century A.D., such as, for example, Robert I of France and Henry II of the [Holy] Roman Empire. And, when faced with local waves of popular persecution, as it happened in the late 10th and the early 11th Centuries throughout France - known to them as Tzarfat -, from Metz to Normandy and from Orléans to Limoges and Narbonne [3], where the Jewry suffered with coerced baptisms, their protectors and benefactors were usually the bishops. Ideological and theological matters aside, such as the fact that forced conversions were regarded as unchristian and bloodshedding was always unlawful, there were very mundane and pragmatic reasons for this: the economic and social relevance of the Hebrew communities in Europe were implicitly acknowledged, even if in the end it was all too convenient for both the parish priests and Pontiffs alike to be able to point out to these disenfranchised and ignoble “unbelievers” to demonstrate the triumph of the Christian faith as a rhetorical adversary in the doctrinal arguments. In the High Middle Ages, theological disputations would become increasingly common involving Christian doctors and Hebrew rabbis.

As it came to pass, after the end of the Viking and Magyar invasions, the dormant venues of maritime and overland commerce in Northern Europe began to regenerate, and the Ashkenazim were poised to play a large role in this development - being an educated urban class dedicated to activities seen as disreputable by their Christian neighbors, notably money-lending and non-artisanal industry, but which were nonetheless necessary to provide for economic growth. Then, while the Christian aristocracy and clergy were still adapting to the new geopolitical conformation of the post-Carolingian realms, the Ashkenazi Jewry saw their future in erudite and mercantile endeavors, in succession to the Radhanim of old [4]. From the beginning to the middle of the 11th Century, the Jewish quarter in Troyes grew and became a center of learning under Rashi [Hebrew acronym of Shlomo Yitzchaki], but the most industrious and prosperous Hebrew families, likely escaping from persecution in France, moved to settle in the growing cities of the Rhineland, such as Speyer, Worms, Mainz and Cologne, at invitation of the local bishops.

After the destitution and debasement of formerly secure “Sepharad”, now under the rule of the Berber tyrants, Ashkenaz became the best place for the Jews to live in Europe, safe from the persecutions they had suffered in France and in southern Italy, under the protection of the Church herself. In imperial Germany they even enjoyed a special legal status as Schutzjude. This meant that, in the Empire, they were under direct protection of the Emperor, and were liable to special taxes; their condition gradually worsened, however, once the Emperors, especially under the reign of the Salians, and later of the Supplinburg, developed the habit of delegating the fiscal powers to the local nobility in exchange for military and/or political support.

Yet, to the desperation of the Ashkenazim, the First Crusade would be inaugurated precisely with a surprising and unprecedented wave of violence from the Christians against the Jews, and, in hindsight, would serve as the prelude of centuries of vehement persecutions, which, coupled with the gradual loss of support from the Catholic Church, would severely worsen the stance of the European Jewry.


Unlike the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim, whose collective identity historically created two distinct Hebrew ethnicities [gentes] - exemplified by the fact that they had their own dialects and even religious customs -, the term “Mizrahim” [“Orientals”, the point of reference being the Mediterranean Sea] is a purely geographical designation, and a complicated one in this regard, not only because it apparently disregards ethnic and cultural divisions but, moreover, because its scope is still uncertain. In its broadest - and most controversial - definition, it encompassed all the Jewry living in the Islamic world excluding the Sephardim, from the Maghreb al-Aqsa to India - but the more accepted definition is that that links the Mizrahim with the Arabian Mashriq [Arab. Al-Mašriq], thus encompassing the Jewish populations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria and Arabia, but the “Freed Hebrews” of Lower Mesopotamia are still considered part of the definition. The most problematic aspect of the terminology is the fact that, barring its usage by the Syrian and Yemenite Jewry, it was mostly an exonym attributed by other Jewish peoples, notably the Sephardim, to those living in the distant Orient.

Tradition holds that the Mizrahim descend from all the Israelites who had been liberated from the Babylonian Captivity by Cyrus the Great, but who chose to remain in the land that was once the heartland of Babilonia instead of returning to Israel, the first of them being, thus, the Freed or Liberated Hebrews - those who since Antiquity live in Mesopotamia and in Persia -, but then there is also the Egyptian Jews and the Syrian Jews, whose communities grew during the Hellenistic era. But it was the destruction and damnation of Judaea by the Romans that initiated another wave of diaspora throughout Western Asia, and led to the spread of the Jewry from Yemen to as far as Khorasan. While it is undeniable that some Jewish communities were established in this historical context, it is likely that, overall, the consolidation of the Mizrahi communities as a demographic entity is far more recent, dating from after the Arabian conquests, this because it was in the golden age of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates that the Hebrews spread even more evenly throughout Western Asia, to exploit the needs for production and services and the commercial enterprises of the Muslim-dominated places. Indeed, as “People of the Book” (dhimmi), the Hebrew communities in the Orient experienced a substantial demographic and economic growth as their social and even political standing was elevated by the Caliphs after the expulsion of the Rhômaîoi from Asia and after the destruction of the Sassanid state, perhaps in gratitude of the frequent collaboration of the Jews with the Arabs.

By the late 12th Century, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi rabbinic intelligentsia already looked down upon the Mizrahim as uncultured and servile cousins, and, according to them, even their Talmudic customs ought to have been debased after generations of living in the plantations as subjects of gentile masters. We can not know if this perception was the same of the common Jewish man and woman in Sepharad or Ashkenaz, but it seems to have been a widespread prejudice, even more because, in spite of the shared religion and ancestral customs, the geographic and historical distance between them probably developed a perception of alienness of the Mizrahim to the European Jews as a whole, excepting perhaps those who still lived in Palestine, who were regarded as “genuine Judaeans”. If it is true that many of the Mizrahi, especially in northern Mesopotamia and western Persia are indeed of rural background, and generally illiterate, there were nonetheless many exponents of a more sophisticated and urbane Jewish culture in the Orient, notably in the metropolises of the Arabian Caliphates - Damascus, Alexandria and Fustat, and then Baghdad, Hamadan and Hormuz. In there, the social cohesion of the Jewry was preserved by the presence of long-lasting dynasties of religious and political communitarian leaders, such as the Exilarch in Persia (actually established in Baghdad since the early phase of the Abbasid Caliphate), and the Chief Rabbis or Nagid in other Islamic states.

Even though they enjoyed long periods of religious tolerance, by the later period of the Abbasid rule, their social standing degraded, and their situation only worsened after the fragmentation of the Sunni Caliphate, because the successor dynasties in Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia, all too concerned with warfare and with securing their own respective powerbases, usually by enforcing Islamic law, saw no usefulness in fostering religious tolerance as a principle. The situation was aggravated even more after the Seljuk conquest, and the ensuing state of anarchy in the whole of western Asia.

The one regime that actually improved the situation of the Jews, marked by confessional tolerance, was the Fāṭimid Caliphate, and this is why many Mizrahi families migrated from Mesopotamia and Syria to Palestine and Egypt from the late 10th to the early 11th Centuries, and would later witness the Frankish invasions propitiated by the Crusades.


Another ethnic-based identity of the Jewish people developed in relation to the Rhomaniotes, those Jews who Have been living, ever since Antiquity, in Greece and western Anatolia. Their distinctive trait was their relative assimilation into the wider Hellenistic world ever since the age of Alexander the Great - in contrast to the Jews who outright refused “communion with the gentiles'' -, and who were then brought into fold upon the expansion of the Roman Empire and, more importantly, in Late Antiquity, after the reversion to the usage of the Greek language in the Constantinopolitan monarchy. Over the course of all these centuries - more than a millennium in fact, between Alexander and Heraclius - these Hebrew families became integrated as Rhômaîoi citizens, and are considered imperial subjects like any others, even adopting a Greek style to write and communicate, which became known as the Yevanic language. In the beginning of the 12th Century, the Rhomaniotes composed at least a fourth of the Hebrew population of Europe, behind only Sepharad and Ashkenaz.

However, while these peoples generally thrived, especially under the long rule of the Komnenoi dynasty, which brought much needed political stability and economic prosperity, the Rhomaniotes were not genuinely integrated in the Christian society. Forbidden to reside in Constantinople, their territorial presence near the capital was in the other side of the Golden Horn, where they had established a remarkably populous ghetto - but a ghetto nonetheless.

Now, it must be said that, like the Mizhrahim, and unlike the Sephardim and Ashkenazim, the Rhomaniotes are variously urban dwellers or rural settlers - in fact, more of mountain and valley inhabitants, in the case of those living in Greece and in the Haemus region - and more numerous in port-cities such as in Thebes, Thessalonica and Gallipoli, but many preferred to reside in islands, where they could exist in more peaceful isolation, in Mytilene, Chios, Samos and Rhodes, among others.

Despite the prejudice they suffered on the hands of the Rhõmaioi, for a long time Rhõmanía had proved to be the safest place for the Jews to reside in the Mediterranean world, and, as such, many of those who came to languish under oppression of either Catholic or Muslim tyrants would emigrate to the Aegean cities. Thus, by the middle of the 13th Century, in the wake of the Almohad conquests and of the destruction of the Fatimid Caliphate, a number of Sephardim and Mizrahim from Egypt, Levant and Africa, would find under the fairer government of the Komnenoi new homes and livelihoods. Yet, oddly enough, due to their distinctive cultural and linguistic identities, these immigrants would be for centuries regarded as separate peoples towards the acclimatized Rhomaniotes, who would then become paradoxically more proud of coexisting with the Greek gentiles since Antiquity.


At last, a word must be given about the Karaites, who, unlike all the previous categories mentioned, are not an ethnic-based group, but rather exist with a peculiar religious or institutional identity. The Karaites, in short, are those Jews who adopt the Torah alone as being the supreme source of the law and theology, disregarding the oral law - associated with the Rabbinic courts - which came to be developed after the Egyptian Exodus, thus rejecting even the Talmudic legal corpus.

Their historical origins are controversial, with some arguing that they existe from since Biblical times, but it is fairly more accepted among Jewish historians that they became consolidated as a proper intellectual and cultural movement during the Abbasid era, in the “Gaonic period” (7th to 9th Centuries).

By the late 11th Century, in the eve of the Crusades, the Karaites had already obtained formal recognition by the Islamic authorities, especially in Egypt, but also in Lower Mesopotamia, the territorial remnant of the Abbasids, of an institutional autonomy in relation to what became known as Rabbinic Judaism. This explains why they grew with a more distinctive communitarian flavor in Egypt, in Palestine and in Syria, during the height of the Fatimid Caliphate, but it is worth mentioning that the movement heavily influenced the Constantinopolitan Rhomaniotes, whose exponent, in the reign of Manuel Komnenos was Judah Hadassi.

It is worth mentioning, as well, that, by the coming of the first Crusaders to the Levant, there were sizeable Karaite communities in Palestine, especially in the cities nearer the Sinai, such as Ascalon and Darum, and also in Jerusalem and Tiberias, and most of them were expelled from the region between 1099 and 1120, and eventually resettled in Egypt, notably in Fustat and Alexandria.

Of the Crusades and of the Hebrew Gentes

The First Crusade produced a very devastating effect in some Jewish communities in Europe, above all the Ashkenazim inhabiting the Rhineland metropolises, and also the extant Jewish peoples of Palestine.

In Europe, Urban’s summon to the commoners and soldiers to join in peregrinatio to the Holy Land and to fight against the infidels in the Orient, in exchange for the remission of sins, incited an entirely unpredicted and calamitous anti-judaic sentiment, especially during the constitutive movements of the Paupers’ Crusade in 1096 in France and Germany. Supposed ideological arguments involved the infamous and usual accusation of “Christ-killing”, coupled with the acknowledgement of the Jewish communities as being “infidels” in the same vein as the Mohammedans. There were, however, more mundane and venal reasons, not only related to the perceived “foreignness” of these peoples, and especially the fact that, considering that many of them engaged in money-lending and tax-collecting, activities seen as socially detestable, and that many Crusaders became indebted, and eliminating their creditors was seen as a necessary evil.

In that year, the violent sentiment consolidated to the point that the French and German Crusaders joined in riotous mobs to persecute and attack the Jewish quarters, and were either condoned or expressly incited by the leaders, most notably Godfrey of Bouillon and Peter the Hermit. Other rather obscure figures, such as the preachers Folkmar in Saxony and Gottschalk in Lotharingia, incited persecutions against the Jews; their savagery was such that they attacked even Christians in their passage through Hungary, and were all slain by the order of King Coloman [Hung. Kálman].

The most infamous leader of the Paupers who formed in Germany was actually an impoverished nobleman, Emicho of Flonheim, who, joined by others such as William of Melun and Drogo of Nesle, was single-handedly responsible for commanding a series of mob attacks against the Ashkenazim of the Rhineland, and which resulted in the appalling massacres of thousands of Jews. In a single month, May 1096 A.D., Emicho provoked the slaughter of at least some 2.000 Hebrews in Metz, Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the last of which housed the largest Jewish community in Ashkenaz. They were, in fact, protected by the ruling Archbishop, though, despite his best efforts, the infuriated mob perpetrated a massive bloodbath, and many of the victims opted for suicide rather than facing this damned fate. Attempts of bribery by these wealthy communities were repudiated, and the cross-bearing assailants proudly boasted about their “holy labor” in decimating the infidels. Emicho, in particular, affirmed to be guided by god-given visions; accordingly, this divine mandate bade him to either convert or slay the enemies of the Faith. Ultimately, Emicho would fail in this allegedly holy mission, and, after his army was also disintegrated in Hungary, he returned to ignominious obscurity in Germany.


The fate of the Hebrew race inhabiting Palestine, upon facing the Crusaders in 1099, was hardly better than that of the Ashkenazim, but they did attempt to fight back, joining the ranks of the Fatimid soldiers encharged with the defense of Jerusalem. They had fared better under Saracen government than they had lived under the brief rule of the Turks, and the news about the Frankish atrocities in Syria had arrived before their armies did to put the Holy City to siege, so it was no wonder that they chose to pick arms. After Jerusalem fell, most of them were either slain, forcibly converted or in a few cases enslaved. Some were ransomed by the Karaites inhabiting Ascalon, but then, once the Franks became entrenched in Palestine as a whole, having now secured the port-towns, most either voluntarily emigrated or were expelled. It is estimated that the population of Jews plummeted from several tens of thousands to a few thousands [5].

Tyre at the time housed more Jews than Jerusalem herself, and, after Prince Bohemond took the metropolis, most of them surrendered peacefully and were deported to Sicily, where they merged into the Italkim race. Despite having been coerced into servitude to a foreign monarch, they did fare better generally under the Sicilians than under the Franks in the Outremer, enjoying a more significant freedom of religion.

The remainder of them went mostly to neighboring Egypt and others to Iraq, seeing that Islamic rule would be more peaceful than the Frankish one. In this, the descending generations of those who saw the violence of the first Crusaders would also bear witness to the continuation of the barbaric injuries against these offspring of Israel, especially in Egypt.


The succeeding Crusades did not affect significantly the Hebrews living in the Orient, but it did inspire new episodes of persecutions and violence against those living in Zarfat and Ashkenaz; these attacks were motivated not solely by religious and cultural bigotry, but also by greed. During the preparations for the *Second Crusade, mob violence against the Jewish inhabitants of cities such as Orleans and Sens provoked hundreds of deaths. Later on, one king would spoliate the Jewry to raise funds to sustain the famished royal coffers to participate in the *Fourth Crusade. Oppressed by ad hoc taxes and arbitrary expropriations, and then accused of usury and specious offenses, the Jews pleaded for the succor of the bishops, and then, even the Archbishop of Rheims admonished King Hugh II against these acts. In the end, however, Hugh, returning triumphant from Hispania, gave hefty gifts to the bishoprics with Moorish gold and the plight of the Jews was conveniently ignored.

Of the Hebrew peoples under Frankish Rule in the Outremer​

As we have previously said, the Catholic Church’s official stance towards the Jewry was one of relative religious tolerance, in that its main tenet was the prohibition of forced conversions and more even of violent acts against the so-called unbelievers or against their religious liberties. Indeed, twenty years after the First Crusade, in 1120, likely as a response to the Rhineland massacres, Pope Calixtus II issued the Sicut Iudaeis” bull, the first document to express this doctrine of toleration, one that urged the temporal governors, in fact, to protect the Jewry from violence, expropriation and coerced apostasy.

In hindsight, we know that this official doctrine alone did only so much to actually preserve the Hebrew communities in the Catholic-dominated world, including in the Crusader States, not in the least because the “Christ-killers” were reviled by their Christian neighbors and because antijudaism was often used as political tool brandished by unscrupulous rulers to unjustly acquire the wealth of the Jewry.

That being said, after the bloody escalation seen during and in the wake of the First Crusade and of the expansion of the Frankish rulership, the Latin Patriarchs of the Holy Land, in general, became enforcers of the Papal will of protection over the Jewish race. As early as 1106, a ghetto had already been established inside Jerusalem, near the outer walls - the first of such in Jerusalem [6] -, near the tanner workshops, to shelter the Hebrews removed from the towns of Ramla and Ascalon, which became, by the vicissitudes of warfare, frontier strongholds against the Fatimids.

In the larger urban centers, such as Tyre, Tripoli and Caesarea, the few that remained were liable to a significant degree of legal protection, and some of them, being educated, shrewd and knowledgeable about the economic realities of the Orient and about specialized crafts such as dyeing, medicine and alchemy, would be employed by more savvy Christian rulers, such as the Raymondines, and, in some cases, even by the Templar Order, to assist in their banking activities. Those who retired to the more mountainous country of Galilee - many of whom were descendants from the Hebrews who inhabited this land since Biblical times [ancient Yishuv] - would remain generally undisturbed by the absentee Frankish governors, and the local mediators, be them of Melkite, Syriac, or even Saracen blood, were all too indifferent to the Jewry, as long as they complied to their fiscal and military duties. Be in the cities or in the countryside, the Jews were generally left to their own devices, controlled by the rabbinical courts, and, much like the native Muslims, were collectively segregated from the mainstream Catholic-Frankish society.

In more recent academic works, arguments have been posited to demonstrate that the Jewry in the Outremer, compared to those living in Europe, actually suffered less acts of direct hostility or persecution in between the 12th and 16th Centuries due to the expediency that governed contacts between Catholics and Jews and Muslims. A curious example is that of the Samaritans of Nablus, who were allowed to realize their Passover religious festivities, which fomented religious tourism from Jews from the whole of the Orient.

Under the relatively tolerant Crusader rule, the Jewish population in the Levant rebounded, fairly rapidly, indeed, in between the end of the 11th Century and the second half of the 12th one. Nowadays, Scholars attribute this regrowth to the influence of mostly Sephardic thinkers who emphasized the importance of aliyah - foremost among them Judah Halevi - and this explains why some newcomers could be seen at the time, notably from Sepharad, a movement that became stronger after the Almohad annexation of al-Andalus and of Africa, whereupon the Moors forced the Jewry to convert to Islam at swordpoint. In the beginning of the 13th Century, these immigrants ought not to have amounted to a large number; indeed, the movement catered to those of vivid spiritual inclination rather than those with more mundane perspectives and occupations, but, with time, in the same century even, the aliyah became an inspiration to many European Jews, especially as they came to suffer from a new period of persecutions, notably in France, Germany and Italy, during the troubled years of the Mongol invasions and of the *Sixth Crusade, whose economic impacts in continental Europe were profound. Interesting examples are those of the Tosafists from France and of Meir of Rothenburg, who, in the midst of the dynastic wars that degraded Welf rule in Germany, managed to voyage from Germany to Palestine accompanied by his family and circa three hundred followers.

The Wandering Jews​

Judah Halevi’s work and the conceptualization of the aliyah was evidently not a cause of the Jewish pilgrimages and immigrations to Eretz Israel, but rather a symptom of the times. While these movements have been occurring ever since the Roman Era, the period between the end of the 12th Century and beginning of the 14th was deeply animated by religious fervor and messianic expectations, circumstances likely born from the economic hardships and social tribulations endured by the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim due to the nadir of the fortunes of al-Andalus and to the religious violence ushered by the Crusadist discourse. For the first time in many centuries, there was a reclaim, in Jewish collective consciousness, of the idealized and sometimes utopian image of Jerusalem and of the Holy Land.

While the Crusaders had successfully imposed their will and rule over the Holy Land, many contemporary Hebrew intellectuals and thinkers regarded the future with optimism, affirming that God’s plan was to restore their presence to their sacred homeland of Israel. The Christians had been expelled by the Muslims centuries before, and now the same had happened to the Muslims, these being evidences that they were not actually allowed by the divine plan to dwell there for the remainder of the Earth’s years, but rather for certain eras. In fact, it seems that they, especially the rabbis and theologians, believed that the Israelite repopulation of Jerusalem was necessary to suscitate the divine design. Israel was not to be abandoned to the tyranny of the gentiles, but rather to be reclaimed by the Chosen People, even if they, individually, ought to suffer through the injustices of their government and arms. After all, they had already done so after departing from Egypt, and after being released from Assyrian tyranny and Babylonian captivity. Now it would not be different, even if the path of realization might be found by conformation and conciliation instead of by rebellion.

The first and one of the most notable travelers and pilgrims was Benjamin of Tudela, whose extensive travels led him from his birthplace in Hispania to as far as Baghdad. His travelogue is an invaluable document for it provides a numerical description of the Jewish communities in various Mediterranean and Near Eastern cities. He was the first to assess, for example, that, at the middle of the 12th Century, the majority of the Jews, in absolute numbers, actually lived in Baghdad and Mosul under Muslim rule, and also in Aleppo and Constantinople under the Komnenoi, and finally, in Capetian-ruled Damascus, whose population dwarfed that of the whole of Palestine [7].

It is Benjamin himself who records of a most extraordionary and enigmatic character who flourished in the first half of the 12th Century: David Alroy [Arab. Dawûd al-Rūḥī]. He is relevant to our Chronicle, in this regard, because it is evident that he was as much a product of the Mizrahim elite of Mesopotamia as he was of the effervescent messianic fascination so present in Hebrew imaginarium from gilded Sepharad to fallen Khazaria. Born Menahem b. Solomon in Amedi/Amadiya, in the Upper Zab river, he pertained to but one of the various Jewish families who had there established themselves, in a crossroads that connected them to the Kurds, to the Arabs, to the Persians, to the Turks and to the Azeris, and thus made them wealthy. Having studied in Baghdad with Muslim preceptors, he nonetheless remained faithful to his ancestral creed and dabbled with mystical arts and esoteric knowledge. He was still a very young man when his own father, proclaiming to be a reincarnation of the Biblical prophet Elijah, attracted a following to their messianic movement, and Menahem became its centerpiece, being declared the messiah by Ephraim b. Azaria, and later on, helped by the Kurdish Yazidis and natives amazed by his supposed miraculous ministry, they usurped the control of his city, taking advantage of the anarchy resultant of the succession crisis spurred by Saif al-Islam’s death [8]. His followers sent missives to the various Jewish congregations in Mesopotamia, Persia and Syria, summoning them to his command in Amedi, and proclaiming that they would be delivered to Jerusalem by heavenly angels. The messianic movement collapsed as quickly as it arose, when Mujīr ad-Dīn Ābaq - Buri’s grandson and one of the claimants to the Atabeylik of Mosul -, stormed the city and butchered hundreds of its inhabitants in 1161. Even this sinister outcome did not quench the local Jewry’s messianic obsession, and for some decades more David Alroy’s memory was kept alive by the Mehanemites.

Then, the most notorious ones were Petachiah of Regensburg in the late 12th Century - who was one eyewitness of Emperor Manuel’s preparations for the campaign against the Fatimids - and who gives a curious mention to the isolated remnants of the Karaite Khazars in Crimea, soon to be annihilated by the Mongols, and Judah al-Harizi, a Sephardim who, after traveling extensively through Mesopotamia and Persia, later lived in Baghdad [9], where he died. Both of them commented on the restoration of the then vacant office of Exilarch.

And last, but not least, one must say of Moses Maimonides [Hebr. Moshe ben Maimon/Rambam], one of the most influential philosophers and scholars of the [Medieval] Jewish world. After he departed from his homeland of Cordoba, escaping Almohad persecution against the dhimmi in the wake of the downfall of the Almoravids, his travels took him to Tunis in Africa, and then to Cairo in Egypt, both places from which he would eventually depart as well with his friends and family, anxious about the political and military instability seen in these places [10]. He would find in Frankish-ruled Palestine a home for many of his other years, and, despite the usual prejudice suffered at the hands of a mostly anti-jewish society, he became respected in the intellectual and aristocratic circles of the Franks in consideration of his knowledge of medicine. Despite his affirmation, issued in his final years, that he had desired to live and die in Jerusalem, his inquisitive and inquiet spirit drove him to a peripatetic lifestyle for long years while in the Mediterranean Near East, and thusly he visited the various holy sites in Palestine, and then Damascus and Tyre itself - then under Rhõmaîon control -, where his works were translated into Greek. From there, he was met with an unexpected opportunity to serve as a physician in Constantinople, whereupon he was greatly lauded by the educated Rhomaniote elite. Then, perhaps uncomfortable with life in a Christian society, he eventually departed again, and in his elder years became established in Baghdad, where he kept contact with the various Hebrew communities of Asia and Europe, from Yemen and Ethiopia to Sepharad and Ashkenaz, and his works became widely acclaimed, though he would often engage in philosophical contends with the more authoritative Arab doctors. Then, very advanced in years, he finally departed from Baghdad, with only his family and his servants, and attempted to return to Jerusalem, near where he hoped to be buried. He would in fact die in Aleppo, but his promised burial in the outskirts of Jerusalem would be fulfilled by his sons.


Author’s Notes: In my original draft, this chapter was not numbered as part of the TL, but as an interlude. After some writing, considering that it does refers to important parts of the narrative and not only to more conceptual elements, I decided to include it in the current numbering of chapters. The focus here is entirely in (some of) the Jewish societies existent in the world affected by the Crusades. I hope I’ve done justice in the descriptions and portrayal of the respective peoples. As a whole, the Jews have been seldom mentioned in the TL so far, and this has some logic behind it: as a collective group, the Jews were socially invisible to the Christian or Muslim societies, as were the nuances of their referential subgroups.

For anyone who wants to read more on the subject, I reccomend Sam Aronow's channel in YouTube. It is very formative years.

[1] DISCLAIMER: I’m aware that the usage of the term “Hebrew” as a synonym of “Jew” nowadays in some languages is considered pejorative or derogatory. In-TL, the POV of the author of this Chronicle is that of a Christian person, who sees the Jews generally as a distinct, if not alien, community. This means that he is not keen on the subtle terminological and historical differences of the terms “Jews” (related to Judaean) and Hebrews (related to the attributed origin of the Israelites as a culturally-defined nation), and uses the terms interchangeably.
[2] The geographic description of old “Ashkenaz” is a bit complicated, but there is a certain consensus that it comprehended at least the fringe of northeastern France, notably due to the Jewish presence in Troyes and Metz, and in (modern) northwestern Germany, especially in the Rhineland cities. While the geographic concept is interesting to understand the terminological and cultural individuality of the Ashkenazim, their existence as a religious-cultural-ethnic identity is far more important, because they historically spread through the regions of Germany and later Poland-Lithuania, and formed the ancestry of the majority of the European Jewish population, from Central to Eastern Europe.
[3] In the early age of the Capetians, France saw a decades-long wave of persecution against Jews, which, despite being local, often municipal, in nature, nonetheless might have been responsible for a significant decrease of the Jewish populations there, and, not coincidentally, many of them might have the ones that moved to the Rhineland, considering that these Jews were actually invited by the local bishops.
[4] The Radhanim, according to the Wiki, were “Jewish merchants [who] operated in trade between the Christian and Islamic worlds during the early Middle Ages (approximately 500–1000). Many trade routes previously established under the Roman Empire continued to function during that period – largely through their efforts. Their trade network covered much of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of India and China.”. Their apogee was in the later part of the Early Middle Ages, between the 8th and the 9th Centuries C.E., and they declined and eventually disappeared as a distinct identity especially after the collapse of the Tang dynasty in China and of the Khazar Khaganate, events that “closed” the commercial route linking Europe to East Asia by the way of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe.
[5] Compare to OTL, where the Jewish population supposedly fell from about 50,000 to just above 200.
[6] This is an interesting diversion from OTL, where the Jews were outright expelled and prohibited from living inside the city of Jerusalem. Here, considering that the Crusader State is officially a theocratic monarchy governed by a Papal deputy, the official stance of the Catholic Church, as mentioned in the narrative, is one of general tolerance bound by certain discriminatory rules (e.g. usage of distinctive clothing and headdress). I’m not sure if the Papacy would forbid the Jews to live in Jerusalem as it happened IOTL, because this was the policy of French-born temporal monarchs.
[7] I found a useful reference site to assess these numbers. If anyone is curious about it: Keep in mind, though, that, especially in Arabia these numbers might be fabricated or exaggerated.
[8] David Alroy is a rather obscure character, whose narrative might have more mythic then real elements. Nonetheless, compared to the mainstream narrative, there is an important divergence here: IOTL, he never captured Amedia, which then was under Zengid control. ITTL, considering that the Zengids never came to rule Mosul, and that the region is in dynastic war, I figured it could make sense to give Alroy one military victory to boast his messianic pretense. However, when Buri’s grandson arrived, we see that these are clansmen and farmers fighting against the heavily-armed Turkish elite. Short of any more convincing prophecy, the result is predictable.
[9] IOTL, Judah al-Harizi died in Aleppo, then under Ayyubid rule. It seems that he, being from Spain, preferred living under Islamic rule, and as such I adapted his counterfactual biography, considering that ITTL Aleppo is under Rhõmaîon rule.
[10] IOTL, Maimonides went from al-Andalus to Egypt, where he found employment as Saladin’s personal physician during the Ayyubid takeover there. Needless to say, the circumstances are now different enough that Maimonides’ life should diverge significantly from his historical biography. His written works, however, are mostly the same. The main difference from OTL will be the even greater impact that his opus will leave in the Jewish and Christian societies of the Near East, especially because they will be translated to Latin much sooner than they historically did.
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Quite the appropriate update for the final night of Hannukah -- I'm sure the Jewish optimists you described hoped for Hasmoneans of their own day to retake the holy land.
The update is really interesting! The Jews in the Roman empire are quite different from their comtemparies, and considering ittl the ere doesn't seem like they'd die off anytime soon, they'd be a very interesting Jewish community.

PS would we see the Jews colonising America when we get to that point in history?
Hey guys, how are y'all? I have one new chapter written to post, but perhaps I won't be able to revise it still today. Then, I have some great RL news for you. Many of you know that, in late 2020, our first son passed away soon after his birth, and in the beginning of 2021 we discovered another pregnancy. Our second son was born in September 2021 - he's now a year and three months old - and here we are in this year expecting for the third time. This time will be a baby girl (Maria Catarina/Mary Catherine), due to February. Next year, then, we'll also be closing our baby factory x'D, but we're very happy and we feel truly blessed by God. I've had a Catholic Christian upbringing, but I don't consider myself a really religious person, though I have my own set of beliefs and spiritual confidence in our purpose in this world.

Also, happy Holidays to everyone!!

Congratulations on your soon to be born daughter, Rdffigueira.
One could speculate that the at the time very clear divide between the Ashkenaz and Sephardim is as much down to France being antisemitic more consistently than it's neighbours in that period, thus keeping the western and northern diaspora more separate than they might otherwise have been, given the norm of Jews being merchants.

Maimonides being respected by virtually all his patrons throughout the years might lead to an opportunity for the Jews of Jerusalem. With the papal surezanity over the principality of Jerusalem still in place, those Frankish notables whom he impressed might, especially if the Rhomans might fund some of the construction, offer to return one of the previously seized synagogues to Maimonides' descendants and followers if it's also used as a school of medicine. I could definitely see a medical college being both a thing the Jews would want to participate in and help found as a source of security in their ancestral homeland as well as something the Crusaders would very much value as they plan future wars against various islamic states and later possibly the alt-Mongols.
What I would like to happen in India, just a an interesting tidbit of alternative history would be for some King or Rebel in Persianate India(Afghanistan, Sistan, Punjab) to be inspired by the Crusaders, or the Tibetans invadng into those regions, given that they have their own history of religiously justified invasion and a Tibetan warlord or two might want an excuse to leave their fragmented homeland.

This is based off an interesting event where a Turk Shahi named his successor "Caesar of Rome" or Fromo Kesaro in the local.

In 739 CE, Tegin abdicated in favour of his son Fromo Kesaro:[45]

In the 27th year [of Kaiyuan, ie 739 CE], the king Wusan Tela Sa [for Khorasan Tegin Shah] submitted a memorial requesting that due to his old age, his son Fulin Jisuo may succeed him on the throne. The emperor agreed and dispatched an envoy in order to confer the king's title on him through an imperial edict.

— Old Book of Tang, Book 198.[49][23][68]
"Fromo Kesaro" is probable phonetic transcription of "Rome Caesar".[9][69] He was apparently named in honor of "Caesar", the title of the then East Roman Emperor Leo III the Isaurian who had defeated their common enemy the Arabs during the Siege of Constantinople in 717 AD, and sent an embassy to China through Central Asia in 719 AD which probably met with the Turk Shahis.[9][j] In Chinese sources "Fromo Kesaro" was aptly transcribed "Fulin Jisuo" (拂菻罽娑), "Fulin" (拂菻) being the standard Tang Dynasty name for "Byzantine Empire" and Jisuo (罽娑) the phonetic transcription of "Caesar":[70][71][69][72]

Fromo Kesaro appears to have successfully fought against the Arabs.[9][73] His coinage suggests that the Arabs were defeated and forced to pay tribute to Fromo Kesaro, since Sasanian coins and coins of Arab governors were overstruck by him on the rim with the following text in the Bactrian script:[74]

Sasanian drachm with Fromo Kesaro obverse and reverse rim overstrike in Bactrian.[75][76]
Obverse: ϕρoµo κησαρo βαγo χoαδηo κιδo βo ταzικανo χoργo
Reverse: oδo σαo βo σαβαγo ατo ι µo βo γαινδo

Fromo Kesaro, the Majestic Sovereign, [is] who defeated the Arabs and laid a tax [on them]. Thus they sent it.

— Rim legend of Sasanian and Arab coins overstruck by Fromo Kesaro[74][77][76][k]
Since these coins did not come out from Fromo Kesaro's foundries, but were simply pre-existing Arab/Sasanian coins which he overstruck on the rim with his victorious legends in Bactrian, it would seem that in all likelihood the coins underwent this rather simple overstriking procedure in the field, probably during one of his victorious campaigns against the Muslims.[73]

Fromo Kesaro's victories may have forged parts of the epic legend of the Tibetan King whose name appears to be phonetically similar: Phrom Ge-sar.
Friendly Request: Contribute to the newly created Tv tropes Page
Hey guys, this is something I've been wanting to do for a long time... Now AATNSGTI (the acronym is not exactly the easiest one to remember :/ ) has its own TV Tropes Page:

If any of you dear readers is a fellow Trooper, please do contribute, it will be amazing! And for anyone who doesn't knows about this Wiki yet, do check it out. It's very funny and informative.
How much of an economic boon does a stable Jewish community provide to their host Empires? Would imagine additional taxes are levied on them, so the Romans could benefit alot vs their more hostile neighbours.

Thus, by the middle of the 13th Century, in the wake of the Almohad conquests and of the destruction of the Fatimid Caliphate, a number of Sephardim and Mizrahim from Egypt, Levant and Africa, would find under the fairer government of the Komnenoi new homes and livelihoods.
Suggests that the Komnenoi survive at least until the mid-13th Century, which is much better vs OTL. Hopefully Andronikos falls down a flight of stairs & disappears for good!
Love the chapter om the jews. Wonder how the cochin jews in India and other Jewish groups further east will do. Speaking of India, it would be interesting to see either an earlier rise of vijayanagara or a more successful vijayanagari empire, they historically rose up as a reaction to Muslim conquest of the Deccan and beat regionalism by promoting Hinduism as a unifying factor. So in a timeline where the Muslims are on the Back foot I can see them having a quicker rise to power and possibly allying with the Frank's (I'm assuming frankish adventurers since India is quite far from Jerusalem and Egypt) against Muslim powers. Although the pod is far enough back that it probably won't be our world's Harihara and Bukka Raya that rise to power.
I wonder what will happen to Spain. Will the reconquestia still occur? It almost sounds like it won’t. Which doesn’t make sense to me.
Sorry but this has been already asked several times in the thread
6. Will the Reconquista still happen? And if it does, can it expand into North Africa?

Yes and yes. The Reconquista will happen ITTL, meaning that the whole of the Iberian Peninsula will be annexed by Christian polities, eradicating the Islamic rule in the region. It will be finished sooner than OTL, because of the divergences I believe would be happening in a world with a more sophisticated and consolidated Crusading ideology. It will be better detailed in Act VI (still unwritten, as of May 2020).
Considering that we would have a different Iberian crusade than otl would the basques have better fortunes than otl? The Basques got shafted otl and I hope they manage to spread their language downwards as they reconquer Spain back from the Muslims.
Also would there be any divergences in Kievan rus? Since the crusades are much more successful Kievan rus should be stronger as the ere are their main trade partners right?