From 1100 to 1118; and thereafter the county was held in succession by the two Joscelins of Tell-bashir until the conquest of Edessa by Zengi in 1144.
There was an atabeg dynasty in Damascus founded by Tughtigin (1103-1128): there was another to the N.E., that of the Ortokids,, represented by Sokman, who established himself at Kaifa in Diarbekr about i 101, and by his brother Ilghazi, who received Mardin from Sokman about 1108, and added to it Aleppo in 1117.1 But the greatest of the atabegs were those of Mosul on the Tigris - Maudud, who died in 1113; Aksunkur, his successor; and finally, greatest of all, Zengi himself, who ruled in Mosul from 1127 onwards.
Before the accession of Zengi, there had been constant fighting, which had led, however, to no definite result, between the various Mahommedan princes and the Franks of northern Syria.
But when Zengi established himself in Mosul in 1127, the tide gradually began to turn.
In the beginning of the reign of Fulk of Jerusalem (1131-1143) the progress of Zengi was steady.
If Fulk had been left alone to wage the struggle against Zengi, and if Zengi had enjoyed a clear field against the Franks, the fall of the kingdom of Jerusalem might have come far sooner than it did.
4 But there were two powers which aided Fulk, and impeded the progress of Zengi - the amirate of Damascus and the emperors of Constantinople.
4 Stevenson, however, believes that Zengi was not animated by the idea of recovering Jerusalem.
But was not so intended by Zengi (op. cit.
He saw the importance of finding an ally against the ambition of Zengi, who had already attacked Damascus in 1130.
But in 1137 John Comnenus appeared, instigated by the opportunity of dissensions in Antioch, and received its long-denied homage, as well as that of Tripoli; while in the following year he entered into hostilities with Zengi, without, however, achieving any considerable result.
On the whole, the interference of the Comneni, if it checked Zengi for the moment in 1138, may be said to have ultimately weakened and distracted the Franks, and to have helped to cause the loss of Edessa (1144), which marks the turning-point in the history of the kingdom of Jerusalem.
In 1130, his widow Alice headed a party in favour of the marriage of the heiress Constance to Manuel of Constantinople, and did not scruple to enter into negotiations with Zengi of Mosul.
Two years later Zengi died; but he left an able successor in his son, Nureddin, and an attempt to recover Edessa was successfully repelled in November 1146.
His history of the Atabegs was written about 1200, and it presents in a light favourable to Zengi and Nureddin, but unfavourable to Saladin (who thrust Nureddin's descendants aside), the history of the great Mahommedan power which finally crushed the kingdom of J erusalem.'
Gradually, however, Christian enthusiasm had aroused a counter enthusiasm among the Moslems. Zengi, atabeg of Mosul, had inaugurated the sacred war by his campaigns in Syria (1137-1146).
In 1139 Ayyub received Baalbek from Zengi, in 1146 he moved, on Zengi's death, to the court of Damascus.
He came to the throne at a time when the attacks of the Greeks in Cilicia, and of Zengi on Edessa, were fatally weakening the position of the Franks in northern Syria; and from the beginning of his reign the power of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem may be said to be slowly declining, though as yet there is little outward trace of its decay to be seen.
Al-Rashid billah (" the just through God") tried to follow the steps of his father, with the aid of Zengi, the prince of Mosul.
In the west of Atabeg (prince's guardian) Zengi, the prince of Mosul, had extended his dominion over Mesopotamia and the north of Syria, where he had been the greatest defender of Islam against the Franks.
But the great problem with which he had to deal was the progress of the atabeg Zengi of Mosul.
A little later, however, he greatly improved his position by strengthening his alliance with the vizier of Damascus, who also had to fear the progress of Zengi (1140); and in this way he was able to capture the fort of Banias, to the N.
Little, perhaps, need be made of these censures: the real fault of Fulk was his neglect to envisage the needs of the northern principalities, and to head a combined resistance to the rising power of Zengi of Mosul.