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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1861 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2009, 10:59:41 pm »

against the followers of the Cross, and the princes of Aleppo, Damascus, and the other districts of Syria, had been more than once in alliance with the Christian realms of Jerusalem and Antioch. Aboo-’l-Wefa sent therefore and concluded a secret treaty with Baldwin II., king of Jerusalem, in which he engaged, if the Christian warriors would secretly march and appear before Damascus on a i Friday, when the emir and his officers would be at the mosk, to give them possession of the gates of the town. The king was in return to put Tyre into the hands of the Ismaïlites.

The Christian army was assembled; all the barons of the kingdom appeared in arms; the king in person led the host; the newly-formed military order of the Templars displayed for the first time in the field their striped banner Beauséant, afterwards so well known in many a bloody fray. Prince Bernard of Antioch, Count Pontius of Tripolis, the brave Joscelin of Edessa, led their knights and footmen to share in the capture of the wealthy city of Damascus. The mountains which environ Lake Tiberias were left behind, and the host joyfully emerged into the plain watered by the streams Abana and Pharpar. But here defeat awaited them. Taj-al-Molook (Diadem of Kings) Boozi, the emir of Damascus, had in time discovered the plot of his hakem. He had put him and the vizir to death, and had ordered a general massacre of the Ismaïlites in the city *. The Christian army was now at a place named Marj Safar, and the footmen had begun to plunder the villages for food, when a small body of gallant Damascene warriors rushed from the town and fell upon them. The defenceless Christians sank beneath their blows, incapable of resistance. The rest of the army advanced to aid or avenge their brethren, when


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suddenly * the sky became overcast, thick darkness enveloped all objects, the thunder roared, the lightning flashed, the rain poured down in torrents, and, by a rapid transition, peculiar to Eastern climates, the rain and waters turned into snow and ice, and augmented the horrors of the day. The superstitious and conscience-stricken Crusaders viewed in this awful phenomenon the immediate agency of heaven, and deemed it to be sent as a punishment for their sins; and, recollecting that on that very spot but four years before King Baldwin had gained, with a handful of men, a victory over an army of the Damascenes, they were plunged into grief and humiliation. The only advantage which they derived from this expedition was the acquisition of the castle of Banias, which the Ismaïlite governor put into their hands, that under their protection he might escape the fate of his brethren.

Banias was given up to the Christians in the same year in which Alamoot was taken by the Seljookian sultan, and thus the power of the Assassins seemed to be almost gone. But it had in it a conservative principle, and, hydra-like, it grew by its wounds. Alamoot was speedily recovered, and three years afterwards Banias was once more the seat of a Daï-al-Kebir. At the same time the dagger raged with unwonted fury against all of whom the society stood in apprehension, and the annals of the reign of Keäh Buzoorg Oomeid furnish a list of illustrious victims.

The first of these was the celebrated Aksunkur, Prince of Mossul, a warrior equally dreaded by the Christians and by the Assassins. As this prince, on his return from Maärra Mesrin, where the Moslem and Christian hosts had parted without venturing to engage, entered the mosk at Mossul to perform his


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devotions, he was attacked at the moment when Le was about to take his usual seat by eight assassins, disguised as dervishes. Three of them fell beneath the blows of the valiant emir, but ere his people could come to his aid he had received his death-wound and expired. The remainder of the murderers became victims to the vengeance of the people; one youth only escaped. The Arabian historian, Kemal-ed-Deen, relates on this occasion a curious trait of the fanaticism and Spartan spirit which animated the members of the sect of the Ismaïlites. When the mother of the youth above-mentioned heard that the formidable Aksunkur had been slain, she painted her face and put on her gayest raiment and ornaments, rejoicing that her son had been found worthy to die the glorious death of a martyr in the cause of the Imam. But when she saw him return alive and unscathed, she cut off her hair and blackened her countenance, and would not be comforted.

In the following year (1127) fell Moin-ed-deen, the vizir of Sultan Sanjar. In this case the Assassin had engaged himself as a groom in the service of the vizir. As Moin-ed-deen went one day into the stable to look at his horses the Assassin appeared before him, stripped, and holding one of the horses by the bridle. As the vizir, unsuspicious of danger, came near where he was, the false groom made the horse rear, and, under the pretence of soothing and pacifying the restive animal, he took out a small dagger which he had concealed in the horse's mane, and plunged it into the bosom of the vizir.

The slaughter of the Ismaïlites by the Prince of Damascus was not forgotten, and two years afterwards he received two dagger wounds, one of which proved mortal. Their vengeance was not appeased by his blood, and his son and successor, Shems-al-Molook (Sun of Kings), perished by a conspiracy

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with the guilt of which the Assassins were charged. in the catalogue of the victims of this period appear also the names of the Judges of the East and of the West, of the Mufti of Casveen, of the Reis of Isfahan, and the Reis of Tebreez.

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