By the time of Jesus Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the first century, Jerusalem had been inhabited for at least 2,000 years, including the kingdoms of David and Solomon 3,000 years ago.

Following Christ's death, resurrection, ascension, and the birth of the church on Pentecost, all occurring in Jerusalem, the fate of Jerusalem Christians has often risen or fallen along with the fortunes of the city.

The early church and Byzantine rule: In the early centuries, Jerusalem Christians were subject to intense persecution from military and civilian authorities. In 202, an edict from Roman Emperor Septimius Severus initiated systematic oppression.

Christians gained religious freedom after the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312. Many of Jerusalem's Christian holy sites were established, and its oldest church buildings were first constructed, under the direction of Helena, the emperor's mother. Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem became commonplace in the fourth century.

Muslim rule and the Crusades: For three centuries after Constantine died, Jerusalem remained under control of Byzantine Christianity. Then, in 638, invading Muslims conquered the city without bloodshed.

Not until four centuries later did Western Christians attempt to "liberate" the city. Pope Urban II launched the Crusades in 1096, and Christian armies from Europe conquered Jerusalem in 1099, brutally slaughtering both Jewish and Muslim natives of the city.

Crusader rule lasted until 1187, when the Muslim armies, under Saladin, conquered Jerusalem, resulting in 700 years of Muslim control, with only brief interims of Christian rule. During this period, different Islamic groups ruled, including the Egyptian Mameluks and the Ottoman Turks.

In 1852, an Ottoman ...

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