Fatimids and Seljuks (970–1099)
The start of the first Fatimid period (970–1071) saw a predominantly Berber army conquer the region. After six decades of war and another four of relative stability, Turkish tribes invade the region, starting off a period of permanent upheaval, fighting against each other and the Fatimids and, in less than thirty years of warfare and vandalism, destroyed much of Palestine, bringing terrible hardships, particularly on the Jewish population. However, the Jewish communities stayed in their places, only to be uprooted after 1099 by the Crusaders. Turkish rule totalled more than a quarter of a century of constant warfare, negatively affecting the local Christian communities, as well as eventually blocking the access of pilgrims from Europe, which is seen as a factor in initiating the Crusades. We know however also about a visitor from Muslim Spain, who left us a report about the intense activity in Jerusalem's Sunni madrasas and his interaction with Jews and Christians in the years 1093–95.
Between 1071 and 1076, Palestine was captured by Turkman or Turcoman tribes, with Jerusalem falling in 1073. The Turcomans acted in the region as free agents, but became known as Seljuqs, after the primary rulers among the Turkish invaders of the Arab Muslim realm, the Seljuk dynasty, whom they were associated with. Seljuk emir Atsiz ibn Uvaq al-Khwarizmi, leader of the Turkic tribe of the Nawaki, besieged and captured Jerusalem in 1073 and held it for four years. Atsiz placed the territory he captured under the nominal control of the 'Abbasid caliphate. In 1077, on his return from a disastrous attempt to capture Cairo, the capital of the Fatimid caliphate, he found that in his absence the inhabitants of Jerusalem had rebelled and forced his garrison to shelter in the citadel, capturing the families and property of the Turcomans. Atsiz besieged Jerusalem and promised the defenders the aman, pardon and safety, at which they surrendered. Atsiz broke his promise and slaughtered 3000 inhabitants, including those who had taken shelter in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and only sparing those inside the Dome of the Rock. In 1079, Atsiz was murdered by his nominal ally Tutush, who subsequently established firmer 'Abbasid authority in the area. After Atsiz other Seljuk commanders ruled over Jerusalem and used it as a power base in their unceasing wars. A new period of turbulence began in 1091 with the death of Tutush's governor in Jerusalem, Artuq and the succession of his two sons, who were bitter rivals. The city changed hands between them several times, until August 1098, when the Fatimids, seizing the opportunity presented by the approach of the First Crusade, regained control of the city and ruled it for a less than a year.