Post-classical history

Crusade of 1101

The Crusade of 1101 consisted of four separate expeditions to the Holy Land launched in 1101 in response to Pope Urban II’s call to arms at the Council of Clermont (1095); it may be regarded as a second wave of armies following the First Crusade (1096-1099) rather than as a separate crusade.

The capture of Jerusalem in July 1099 combined with efforts by Pope Paschal II to encourage further calls to crusade at the synod of Anse in December 1099 and the Council of Poitiers in November 1100; these efforts, together with a vigorous letter-writing campaign, led to a number of new armies departing for Jerusalem in 1101. The motives of the crusaders varied considerably. Some, like Albert, count of Biandrate, desired to emulate the success of the First Crusade, while others such as Welf IV, duke of Bavaria, evidently felt a need to go on pilgrimage after a long and eventful life. Stephen, count of Blois, had been one of the leaders of the First Crusade, but had not fulfilled his vows, having deserted at Antioch; he was pressured into travelling back to Jerusalem by Adela, his wife. William IX, duke of Aquitaine, seems to have gone on crusade for the adventure. The crusading armies were powerful but uncoordinated military enterprises, and included a large number of pilgrims and other noncombatants. Hugh, archbishop of Die, had been appointed as papal legate, but seems to have traveled independently to Jerusalem and took little part in the enterprise. This lack of coordination had important consequences, as a small but mobile Turkish army was able to defeat each crusading army in turn as it attempted to travel across Asia Minor.

The first army to depart for the East left Milan on 13 September 1100. It was composed primarily of northern Italians from Lombardy and was led by Anselm, archbishop of Milan; Albert of Biandrate with his brother Guy and nephew Otto Altaspata; William, bishop of Parma; Guy, bishop of Tortona; Albert, count of Parma; and Albert, bishop of Piacenza. Anselm of Milan had been pressured into taking the cross by Urban II and Paschal II, both of whom had written many letters to him. He had then enthusiastically preached the cross in 1100, leading to the formation of the Lombard army. It comprised 8,000 soldiers (including many pilgrims), most of whom appear to have been interested in emulating the success of the First Crusade. The Lombard army marched swiftly through Hungary, passing the Bulgarian border at Semlin. The Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos made market privileges available to the crusaders at various towns between the Bulgarian frontier and Thrace, but when the crusaders wintered outside Adrianople (mod. Edirne, Turkey), they began to commit numerous atrocities, pillaging, raping, and desecrating Greek shrines. Alexios ordered them to proceed directly to Constantinople (mod. Istanbul, Turkey), which they reached between 15 and 20 March 1101. At the Byzantine capital the Lombard army was joined by a compact force of 2,000 soldiers led by Conrad, constable to the German emperor, Henry IV, which arrived in the second half of April.

A second crusader army of around 3,000 people, commanded by William II, count of Nevers, left for the East at the beginning of February 1101. It went south through Italy to Brindisi, sailed to Avlona (mod. Vlorë, Albania), and then traveled across Macedonia via Thessalonica (mod. Thessaloniki, Greece) to Constantinople, where it arrived around 14 June. Like the other armies, this contingent also contained a large number of noncombatants, including women.

Crusade of 1101

Crusade of 1101

The third group of crusaders to leave was a large combined army from northern France, Flanders, and Burgundy, which departed for Constantinople at the beginning of March 1101. Its leaders were Stephen of Blois; Stephen, count of Burgundy, with his brothers Reginald and Hugh; the archbishop of Besançon; Miles, viscount of Troyes; Guy, count of Rochefort; Baldwin of Grandpré; and Ingilrand, bishop of Laon. They travelled south through Italy and across the Adriatic, arriving in Constantinople at the beginning of May 1101. At the start of the crusade this army was composed of approximately 8,000 soldiers.

The fourth and final army to depart was made up of two originally separate contingents. One was led by William IX of Aquitaine, and included Geoffrey of Vendôme; Herbert, viscount of Thouars; and Hugh of Lusignan. This Aquitanian expedition departed around 20 March 1101 and joined up with a large army of German crusaders in southern Bavaria that was commanded by Welf IV of Bavaria and included Thiemo, archbishop of Salzburg; Ulrich, bishop of Passau; and many of the anti-imperial Bavarian nobility. Welf’s decision to journey to the East was a personal one based on the need to expiate his sins. It was far more in the nature of a pilgrimage than a conscious desire to embark on a crusading venture. The joint Aquitanian-Bavarian army passed through Hungary and after much fighting with Byzantine forces, including a pitched battle outside Adrianople, eventually arrived in Constantinople at the beginning of June 1101. The joint army equalled about 16,000 people.

The crusaders’ opponents in Asia Minor consisted of a compact but powerful Muslim alliance. Their principal enemy was Qilij Arslān I, Saljûq sultan of Rûm. Although he had lost his capital of Nicaea (mod. Iznik, Turkey) to the army of the First Crusade in 1097, his largely nomadic Turks were still a formidable force. He had already proven a dangerous enemy to the crusading movement through his destruction of the People’s Crusade in 1097 and his bitter clashes with the army of the First Crusade at Nicaea and Dorylaion. Having learned to avoid the crusader army in open battle battles and not to rely solely upon his own resources, Qilij Arslān now gathered a number of allies. The main one was Malik-Ghāzī, the Dānishmendid emir of Sebastea, who governed northeast Asia Minor from the cities of Sebastea (mod. Sivas, Turkey), Amaseia (mod. Amasya, Turkey), and Ankara, and since he was holding captive Bohemund I, prince of Antioch, he had as much incentive to defeat this fresh expedition as did Qilij Arslān.

The two other allies were Ridwān of Aleppo and Karaja of Harran, both of whom had fought against the crusader army outside Antioch in 1098. The Muslim armies consisted of approximately 4,000-6,000 cavalrymen.

Following a disturbance in Constantinople, the Lombard army moved to Nikomedia (mod. Izmit, Turkey), where it was joined by Conrad and his German force and the larger northern French army of Stephen of Blois and Stephen of Burgundy. The Franco-Lombard army was also joined at Nikomedia by Raymond of Saint-Gilles, acting on the orders of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. About this time a dispute broke out over the direction of the army across Asia Minor. Alexios advised following the route of the First Crusade, but news had broken of the capture of Bohemund, one of the heroes of that expedition, and the leaders of the Franco-Lombard army instead determined to rescue him from captivity in Paphlagonia. They left Nikomedia around 9 June 1101, traveling along the Pilgrim’s Road, and on 24 June reached Ankara, then held by forces of Qilij Arslān I. The Turkish garrison fled during the night, and the town was handed back to Alexios. From Ankara the crusaders struck northward, arriving at Gangra (mod. Çankiri, Turkey) around 2 July, which they attacked but were unable to capture. The Franco-Lombard army was then forced northward by Saljûq forces, arriving at Kastamoni on 30 July, where a foraging expedition suffered a particularly heavy defeat. Despite intense enemy pressure, the crusaders pushed eastward, hoping to reach Amaseia. However, they were intercepted by the main Turkish army and at Mersivan on 16 August were forced into a protracted engagement lasting over five days.

On the first day the Turkish army attacked the crusader encampment but was driven off with heavy losses. On the second day the Turks successfully ambushed a crusader foraging expedition, capturing all their plunder. The main battle occurred on the fourth day. The crusader army attacked the Turks in five separate divisions, but each was defeated in turn and the crusader encampment besieged. During the night the crusader army fled toward Bafra on the Black Sea coast, but the Turks were able to overtake and massacre the infantry and enslave large numbers of women. Stephen of Blois and Stephen of Burgundy traveled overland back to Constantinople with as many survivors as they could find. Raymond of Saint-Gilles travelled back to Constantinople by ship. Anselm of Milan died at Constantinople on 30 September 1101.

The army of William of Nevers left Constantinople on 1 July 1101 and arrived at Ankara on 25 July, hoping to catch up with the Franco-Lombard army. Failing to find it, the crusaders travelled south to Ikonion (mod. Konya, Turkey), which they found heavily defended by Saljûq troops and were unable to capture. On leaving Ankara the crusaders were constantly harassed by local Turkish forces until the main Saljûq army was able to catch up with them at Herakleia (mod. Eregli, Turkey) around 25-26 August. By this stage the crusader army was suffering terribly, having been unable to find water for three days. Abandoning their usual hit-and-run tactics, the Turks engaged in close combat, and after a fierce engagement the crusader cavalry was forced to flee, leaving the infantry to be massacred. About 1,000 women were taken prisoner. William of Nevers escaped by fleeing to Antioch via Ermanek.

The last army to leave Constantinople was the Aquita- nian-Bavarian expedition, but before its departure rumors had begun to spread that Alexios was in league with the Turks. Fearing treachery, many German crusaders, including the chronicler Ekkehard of Aura, sailed directly from Constantinople in July 1101, reaching the port of Jaffa (mod. Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel) in late August. After fulfilling their vows, many departed for home, Ekkehard leaving Palestine in September 1101. The rest of the crusaders travelled to Nikomedia and from there to Philomelion, which they destroyed, before arriving at Ikonion around 20 August. After leaving Ikonion, the crusader army suffered greatly from Turkish attacks and lack of provisions and water, and after leaving Herakleia was attacked by the main Muslim army commanded by Qilij Arslān. Following a long and bitter contest the crusader army fled; William IX of Aquitaine and Welf IV of Bavaria escaped, but Thiemo of Salzburg was captured and executed. All of the crusading armies had been defeated piecemeal by a mobile and powerful Muslim alliance, whose forces had all fought against the army of the First Crusade and were well versed in crusader military tactics. Later crusader allegations of Greek treachery and collusion with the Turks are unfounded.

After the heavy defeats suffered by all the crusader armies in Asia Minor, the survivors regrouped, using Antioch as a base. The crusading leaders still commanded a powerful army. Raymond of Saint-Gilles had been arrested by Tancred, regent of Antioch, but was allowed to rejoin the army at the request of the crusader leaders. The crusaders left Antioch in mid-February 1102 and besieged Tortosa (mod. Tartûs, Syria). However, Welf IV of Bavaria and Reginald of Burgundy continued on to Jerusalem. Reginald died en route, but Welf fulfilled his vows, only to die in Cyprus on his way home. The main crusader army stormed Tortosa with the help of a Genoese fleet and then massacred the population. Raymond of Saint-Gilles remained in command of Tortosa, taking no further part in the crusade. The crusaders then travelled south, meeting King Baldwin I of Jerusalem at Beirut around 8 March. They arrived in Jaffa on 23 March 1102, and finally fulfilled their vows in Jerusalem in time for Easter.

William of Aquitaine was able to leave by ship, arriving back in Poitiers by 29 October 1102, but all the other crusader leaders were delayed at Jaffa by contrary winds and so were caught up in an Egyptian invasion of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The leaders and their knights fought in the disastrous second battle of Ramla on 17 May 1102, where they formed the majority of Baldwin’s army. Stephen of Blois, Stephen of Burgundy, and Hugh of Lusignan were killed in the fighting. The constable Conrad was captured and held prisoner for three years. Albert of Biandrate survived and was still with Baldwin in 1103. William of Nevers also survived and later refused to join the Second Crusade. Although the crusader knights’ contribution to the defense of Jerusalem had ended in failure, the crusader infantry formed the bulk of Baldwin’s army that decisively defeated the Egyptian army at the battle of Jaffa on 4 July 1110, and thus helped save the kingdom from collapse.

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