637 CE/16 AH (Capitulates to Muslim Armies)

Hims (Homs in the English and French colonial pronunciaiton) is a small city located at the east bank of the Orontes River. It is situated between the road from Damascus to Aleppo in a shelf at the foothills of the Jebel Ansayriah and the Lebanon Mountains. This favorable geographic position brings the city Mediterranean winds and an average annual rainfall of eighteen inches. It is also a crossroad between north-south and east-west which adds to its early settlement as a caravan stop. Hims also has a large agricultural plain which grows grain, cotton, sugar beets, and a variety of vegetables through means of irrigation which has been a characteristic of the city throughout its history. Hims' agriculture is supported by Lake Hims (Qattinah), an artificial lake created from by the means of a dam built at its northern end. This structure was built by the Romans and the reservoir which formed as a result allowed Hims to maintain a constant agricultural economy.   

The city was called Emesa in the third century BCE and rose to prominence during the first century CE when it gained Roman citizenship and its rulers were given the title of king in return for giving military aid to Rome. The wife of the Roman emperor Septimus Severus was from Emesa and this union also brought prosperity to the city during the third century CE.  Throughout late antiquity, Emesa became a trading link and market center, probably on account of trade coming from Palmyra. In the fifth century CE Emesa was promoted to the rank of an ecclesiastical metropolis, formerly being a bishopric, when the head of Saint John the Baptist was discovered nearby in 452.

Many Arab tribes, particularly the Banu Kalb from Yemen, had settled near Emesa and thus in the city's early history it became a center for Yemeni migrants in the region. When the battle of Yarmuk took place in 636, resulting in the victory of the Muslim armies over the Byzantines, Heraclius abandoned the city. In 637, Emesa, now called Ḥimṣ, capitulated to the Muslim armies. The church of St. John was converted into the city's main Jāmiʻ mosque, now the Jāmiʻ al-Umawi al-Kabir. After the conquest, Ḥimṣ became a center of piety, which is consistent with a traditional reporting that five-hundred companions of the Prophet Muhammad had settled there. During the reign of Yazīd ibn Muʻāwiyya, Ḥimṣ became a center for the Syrian jund and continued to remain an Umayyad stronghold.

During the Abbasid period, the long established Yemeni inhabitants of Ḥimṣ revolted against them, and from the reign of Hārūn Rashīd (d. 809) onwards, the Abbasids repeatedly took several military measures against the city. When the Abbasids weakened in the middle of the ninth century, Ḥimṣ fell to the Tulunids and then to Hamdanids of Aleppo, with a brief period in which the Qarmatians took control. It remained under Hamdanid control between 944 - 1016 during which it became a constant battleground and coveted territory in the struggle to gain control of Syria between the Byzantines and the Hamdanids, falling in and out of the control of both powers. When the Hamdanids were removed from power by the Mirdasids of the Banū Kilāb in the eleventh century, Ḥimṣ fell to Fatimid control. The Seljuks, however, were able to capture Ḥimṣ in 1090. 

As the eleventh century ended with the signaling of the First Crusade in 1096, Ḥimṣ became a heavily fortified fortress which would be used to block incoming armies desiring to penetrate deeper into Syria. The Crusaders tried to capture it during the First Crusade, but their attempted siege failed. The First Crusade resulted in the establishment of several Crusader States in the region and in 1109 the County of Tripoli was established and was located opposite Ḥimṣ, making the city an even more vital location for defence of Muslim Syria. In 1149 Ḥimṣ was conquered by Nūr al-Dīn al-Zengi and during the Second Crusade, in which Nūr al-Dīn played an important role, Ḥims once more became very important for the defense of the region from the Franks. In 1164, Nur al-Din briefly gave the city to Asad al-Dīn Shirkuh as an iqṭāʻ, however, took it back five years later. Shirkuh's nephew gained control of Ḥimṣ in 1175. When Salah al-Din brought Syria under Ayyubid control he reinstated the same family to rule over Ḥimṣ and they continued to do so until 1262 as the Amīrs of Ḥimṣ.  Throughout the Ayyubid period, Ḥimṣ retained its strategic importance in the war against the Franks and continuously served as a militarily power during conflicts between the Mamluks and the Mongols.

When the Mamluk Sutlan Baybars (r. 1260 - 1277) was able to overcome the Frankish and Mongol incursions in Syria and eliminate their threats, a more secure Syria meant that Ḥimṣ did not retain the same political vitality that it once did. By the fourteenth century, the city served as a capital for the smallest province of Syria and was included under the niyabah or province of Damascus. Although its political strength and significance had now waned, the city still was able to retain its agricultural and pastoral character. During this period, Ḥimṣ was known for its production of wool, silk, and specialized textiles. Olives, wheat, sesame, grapes, and rice also grew in the marshlands surrounding the city. In this respect, Ḥimṣ retained its vitality as a market center between Aleppo and Damascus. 

The Ottomans replaced the Mamluks in 1516, and this political change did not reverse the decline of the city. In the Ottoman era, Ḥimṣ became a liwas (district) attached to Tripoli. The Ottomans made no attempt to revitalize the city and its historic buildings began to become dilapidated. Insecurity in the area led to constant raids on its marketplace during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Ḥimṣ great walls were also disassembled and torn down by the Ottomans. Between 1831 and 1840 the city fell to the authority of Ibrāhīm Pasha, the Egyptian viceroy representing the rule of his father Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt. Ḥimṣ rebelled against its new Egyptian authority and in an attempt to suppress the revolt the Egyptians destroyed the city's historic citadel. In 1840 the city returned to Ottoman rule.

In modern times, Ḥimṣ still remains an important agricultural center and also is the location of several industries. It is currently the main city of the Muḥāfaẓa of Ḥimṣ (Homs Governorate) and the population was recorded at 652,609 people in 2004. A Syrian Military School is established there. It is an important contributor to the Syrian economy. 

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