Post-classical history

Dorylaion, Battle of (1097)

A battle fought between the armies of the First Crusade (1096-1099) and the forces of Qilij Arslān I (1092-1107), Saljûq sultan of Rûm, and his allies on the edge of the Anatolian plateau near the city of Dorylaion (mod. Eskisehir, Turkey).

Qilij Arslān had been absent from his capital of Nicaea (mod. Iznik, Turkey) when the crusader siege began on 14 May 1097, and his attempt to relieve it failed on 16 May. On 19 June Nicaea surrendered, and on 26 June the crusaders began their march across Anatolia.

Neither the reasons for their choice of direction nor the precise nature of their route are known. The sources make clear that, as a result of divided command, their army divided into a vanguard, led by Bohemund of Taranto, and a larger main force, with substantial elements straggling between the two. This gave Qilij Arslān the opportunity to destroy the vanguard, which was outnumbered by his army of around 6,000, and thus to defeat the whole crusade in detail. On 1 July the Turks ambushed the vanguard; Bohe- mund rallied the troops and sent for help, but the cavalry were driven back on their camp in a confused mass of tents, horses, and people. The Turks were drawn into a close-quar- ter fight lasting from early morning till noon, when the main crusader force routed them. The sources are vague on the precise location but speak of a battle near Dorylaion. The crusaders could hardly have reached that city in the time available, but the encounter was certainly where two valleys meet, and the most likely place is north of modern Bozüyük.

Battle of Dorylaion.

Battle of Dorylaion.

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