In 1099, on this day the numerically-superior Fatimid army defeated the crusader army led by Godfrey of Bouillon. This unexpected crushing defeat at the Battle of Ashkelon immediately threatened the security of newly-occupied Jerusalem.
Fatimid Victory at the Battle of AscalonIt was a crippling blow because the crusaders had negotiated with the Fatimids of Egypt during their march to Jerusalem, but no satisfactory compromise could be reached - the Fatimids were willing to give up control of Syria but not Palestine, but this was unacceptable to the crusaders, whose goal was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was captured from the Fatimids on July 15, 1099, after a long siege, and immediately the crusaders learned that a Fatimid army was on its way to besiege them.
The Fatimids were led by vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah, who commanded 50,000 troops of Seljuk Turk, Arab, Persian, Armenian, Kurdish and Ethiopian origin. They easily outflanked the Crusader Army, and despite some heroics from Godfrey, their smaller force of 9,000 men was insufficient to carry the day.