I work for the Tower of David. I guide there, and translate materials for them, so I am interested in everything surrounding the Citadel and its history. The Tower of David, as one of the main symbols of Jerusalem from the Crusader period until today, has found its way onto numerous maps of the city. In medieval maps, it is marked not by the name “Tower of David” as it is known today, but rather by the name “Pisaner Schloss” – the Pisan castle. Jerusalem is not known for its quarters named after Italian city-states, who had much more influence on the neighborhoods in the port city of Akko.
So, what is the connection between the Tower of David and Pisa?
As the Crusaders stormed the city on July 15, 1099, Jewish and Moslem residents of Jerusalem fled to the Tower of David – the remaining tower on which the observation point stands today. When they were surrounded and the Crusaders controlled the rest of the city, they were given free-passage to Ashkelon by Raymond of Toulouse in exchange for the tower. Raymond was offered the title of King of Jerusalem but refused. How could he rule a city where Jesus had suffered?
Raymond had his sights on Antioch, the great city which he had captured in 1098 – a civilized place with a strategic position on the main roads. Instead, as a deeply religious man and devoted to the Pope, he handed the Citadel to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Daimbert of Pisa. Indeed, Daimbert had much control in the city and had the support of the Pisan fleet which provided backup for the land advance of the Crusaders. The first Crusader King of Jerusalem, Godfrey, was so weak that he ceded the city to the control of the Archbishop on Easter Day, April 1, 1100.
When Godfrey died, his brother Bohemond, a friend of Daimbert, did not become king. Instead, Baldwin became King of Jerusalem and initially accepted Daimbert’s position in the city, pledging homage to him on Christmas Day 1100. Baldwin, seeing in the church a source of power and money, didn’t like sharing the spotlight with Daimbert. The Tower of David, sitting at the top of the city, was a large target for the new king. Upon the arrival of the Genoese fleet and the lessening of the dependence on Pisa, Baldwin saw an opportunity. He extorted money from Archbishop Daimbert who tried to appease the king in order to keep his religious control over the city and agreed to pay. Baldwin subsequently complained that it was not enough money. Daimbert used his religious power and threatened to excommunicate the king. Eventually, these two powerhouses of Jerusalem reached a compromise. Daimbert, however, didn’t hold up his end of the deal and Baldwin accused him of embezzling funds from pilgrims. This last accusation forced Daimbert to surrender his title and his control over the citadel and forced him into exile.
Daimbert returned to Rome to appeal and plead his case to Pope Paschal personally. The Pope stood by Daimbert, who set out to reclaim the title of Archbishop of Jerusalem. However, on his way back to Jerusalem in 1105, he died, thus ending the Pisan influence in Jerusalem. The only remembrance of the connection remained on the maps of Jerusalem.