Ibn al-Qalanisi

Abu Ya‘la Hamzah ibn Asad ibn al-Qalanisi (Arabic: ابو يعلى حمزة ابن الاسد ابن القلانسي; c. 1071 – 18 March 1160) was an Arab politician and chronicler in 12th-century Damascus.

Ibn al-Qalanisi
ابن القلانسي
Abu Ya‘la Hamzah ibn Asad ibn al-Qalanisi
ابو يعلى حمزة ابن الاسد ابن القلانسي

Years active1071-1160


Abu Ya‘la ('father of Ya‘la'), whose surname was al-Qalanisi ('the Hatter'), descended from the Banu Tamim tribe, and was among the well-educated nobility of the city of Damascus.[1] He studied literature, theology, and law, and served firstly as a secretary in, and later the head of, the chancery of Damascus (the Diwan al-Rasa'il).[1] He served twice as ra'is of the city, an office equivalent to mayor.[1]

"Chronicle of Damascus"Edit

His chronicle, the Dhail or Mudhayyal Ta'rikh Dimashq ('Continuation of the Chronicle of Damascus') was an extension of the chronicle of Hilal bin al-Muhassin al-Sabi', covering the years 1056 to al-Qalanisi's death in 1160.[2] This chronicle is one of the few contemporary accounts of the First Crusade and its immediate aftermath from the Muslim perspective, making it not only a valuable source for modern historians, but also for later 12th-century chronicles, including Ali ibn al-Athir.[2] He also witnessed the siege of Damascus in 1148 during the Second Crusade, which ended in a decisive crusader defeat.[3]

The entire material of his chronicle covers the time span of two generations, his father's and his own, al-Qalanisi having experienced the First Crusade at a mature age, although apparently not as a fighter.[2] Analysing the text, H. A. R. Gibb, his first English translator, reaches the conclusion that al-Qalanisi has extracted his information both from eyewitnesses and documents, a fact strengthened by al-Qalanisi's own description of his modus operandi.[2] As a result of al-Qalanisi's careful work, a chief quality noted by Gibb is the accuracy of the chronology of events, for which he even offers the day of the week.[2]

Gibb extracted from the chronicle and translated to English the material covering the period 1097–1159, which he published in 1932.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Gibb (1932), p. 8, citing Ibn 'Asakir.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gibb (1932), "Introduction", pp. 7-14.
  3. ^ "The Second Crusade: The Siege of Damascus, 1148". cornell.edu.
  4. ^ Gibb (1932), "Contents", p. 1.