On 18 October 1009, Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – which is on the site where Christians believe is on the site where Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead – to be destroyed. After the destruction, only the foundations of the church remained.
The reason why Al-Hakim destroyed the church remains unknown. At the time of the church’s destruction some speculated that it was in response to the large number of Christian pilgrims who were visiting the church, one Christian historian at the time speculated that Al-Hakim destroyed the church to quench rumors that he was secretly a Christian.
Europeans were horrified when they heard about the destruction of the church built by Emperor Constantine. Some blamed the Jews, leading to their expulsion from several French towns. The destruction of the church would also serve to motivate the later Crusades. Indeed Pope Sergius IV would reportedly issue a bull calling for Muslims to be expelled from the Holy Land.
For many years, Christians were forbidden to pray on the site of the former church. In 1027-28, the Fatimids and the Byzantine Empire forged an agreement to allow the church to be rebuilt by Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos in 1048.