ACRE, aler, Syria (Biblical Accho, Greek Ptolemais, other forms Acco, Akka, Aeon, Accaron; modern French St. Jean d'Acre), a port some miles north of Mt. Carmel, on the Bay of Acre, opposite Haifa on the opposite horn. The harbor is one of the best on the coast; even so, it is much choked with sand. Its interest is chiefly in its varied and pictur esque past; as the chief landing place for inva sion of Syria, it has perhaps suffered more from political revolutions and war ravages than any other place in history. Its name first occurs in a letter of King Burnaburiash of Babylon to Amenhotep IV of Egypt, c. 1400 ac. Senna cherib of Assyria captured it 701 B.C., and his son Esarhaddon about 675 gave it to the King of Tyre. After the break-up of Alexander's empire, Ptolemy Soter of Egypt took possession of it and renamed it Ptolemais; it afterward became part of the Seleucid empire of Syria ; and later the Romans acquired it and made a colony of it. Under the early empire it was a i city of great importance, and remnants of its grandeur in the shape of fine granite and marble pillars still exist. In 635 A.D. the Saracens under Khaled and Obeida captured it and Da mascus. They were expelled from it in 1110 by the Crusaders, who made it their principal port and retained it till 1187, when it was re covered by Saladin. Four years later it was retaken by Richard Cur de Lion and Philip II of France, at the cost of 100,000 lives. They made it a bishopric and gave it to the order of St. John (Fr. St. Jean, from which it took its French title). These held it for just a century, despite continual assaults from the Saracens; and it was a large, rich and powerful city, filled with churches, convents and hospitals. In 1291,
when it had become the last Christian strong hold left in Syria, the Saracens retook it after a bloody siege which injured it greatly. From that time it sank rapidly. In 1517 it fell into the hands of the Turks under Selim I; and at the beginning of the 18th century it was a vast scene of ruin, relieved only by a few cottages, a mosque and the houses of French factors. Toward the end of that century the Turks, especially Djezzar, much strengthened and im proved it, and it rose to some importance again. It is best known in modern times for its brave and successful defense in 1799, by means of a body of English soldiers and marines under command of Sir Sydney Smith, against Napo leon, who, after spending 61 days before it, was obliged to retreat. It continued to prosper and be the seat of a considerable trade till 1832, with consuls from all the great states, though crip pled by the imposts, monopolies and misgov ernment with which the Turks blight every place that endures them. On the revolt of Mehemet Ali, the great Viceroy of Egypt, his son Ibrahim besieged it for five months and 21 days in the winter of 1831-32, and before he captured it its public and private buildings were mostly de stroyed. The Egyptians repaired and improved its fortifications; but on 3 Nov. 1840 a three hours bombardment by a combined English, Austrian and Turkish fleet reduced it to a ruin. The Turks were again put in possession of it in 1841.