Post-classical history

Karbughā (d. 1102)

Karbughā (also Karbuqa, Kerbogha, or Kerbogah) was a leading Turkish military commander under the Great Saljūq sultan Barkyārūq, and also lord of Mosul in northern Iraq (1095-1102).

In 1094 Karbughā and his brother Tuntash were sent by the sultan with a large army to aid Aq Sunqūr of Aleppo against Tutush I, king of Syria, during the civil war for the sultanate. In May 1094 Tutush defeated the Aleppan army, and Karbughā and his brother were held captive at Homs until Tutush was killed in February 1095, when Barkyârûq obtained their release from his cousin Ridwān, the new king of Aleppo. With a force of Turcoman mercenaries, Karbughā captured the city of Mosul after a siege of nine months. He became the first Turkish lord of the city, ending a century of Arab domination by the Banû ‘Uqayl family, and was recognized by the sultan.

In late 1097 the armies of the First Crusade (1096-1099) entered Syria and blockaded the city of Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey). Karbughā marched against the crusaders with a large army from Mosul and Mesopotamia. He was joined by numerous Saljûq and Turcoman allies, including Duqāq of Damascus, Balduk of Samosata, and many others; only Ridwân of Aleppo, whose troops had been defeated by the crusaders on 9 February 1098, did not join in. It seems that Karbughā acted upon his own initiative in order to expand his influence in Syria. Karbughā and his allies unsuccesfully tried to besiege Edessa (mod. Şanlıurfa, Turkey), which was held by the crusader Baldwin of Boulogne and his Armenian allies. They then moved on to Antioch, arriving on 5 June 1098 to find that the crusaders had captured the city two days earlier. The Muslims besieged the city for twelve days, but when the crusaders marched out to fight them, Karbughā’s army was defeated. Many of the Turcoman leaders resented Karbughā’s treatment of them and conspired to retreat when the fighting started, while Ridwān of Aleppo sent messages to the Turcoman commanders, resulting in friction between them and the Arab commanders and the desertion of considerable forces from the army.

Karbughā did not interfere in Syrian affairs again, and was occupied in the civil war between Barkyārūq and his brother Muhammad Tapar in Persia until he died in Azerbaijan in September 1102. He was the origin of the Saracen character called Corbarans who features prominently in the epics of the Old French Crusade Cycle.

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