Post-classical history



They shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour.’ ISAIAH XIX, 2

Some years before he died, King Baldwin I had established himself as the unquestioned leader of the Franks in the East. It had not been an easy achievement; and Baldwin succeeded in it by his subtle use of circumstances.

The capture of Baldwin of Le Bourg and Joscelin of Courtenay at Harran and the departure of Bohemond to the West had left Tancred without a rival among the Franks of northern Syria; and dissensions amongst the Moslems had enabled him to take full advantage of his opportunities. The Seldjuk empire was crumbling to pieces, less from pressure from outside than from the quarrels of its princes. The victory at Harran had brought Jekermish, the atabeg of Mosul, to the fore amongst the Turkish magnates in northern Syria and the Jezireh. The disastrous failure of his attempt to pursue the offensive against the Franks had not weakened his position among his fellow-Moslems. His former ally and rival, Soqman the Ortoqid of Mardin, had died early in 1105, on his way to help beleaguered Tripoli; and Soqman’s brother Ilghazi and son Ibrahim disputed the inheritance. Ridwan of Aleppo had hoped that the victory of Ilghazi, who had formerly served under him, would give him influence in the Jezireh; but Ilghazi forgot past loyalties; and Ridwan himself was too deeply involved against the Franks of Antioch to assert his old overlordship. The great Danishmend emir, Malik Ghazi Gumushtekin, died in 1106, leaving his dominions divided. Sivas and his Anatolian lands went to Ghazi, his elder son, and Melitene and his Syrian lands to the younger, Sangur. Sangur’s youth and inexperience tempted Kilij Arslan, who had recently made peace with Byzantium, to turn eastward and to attack Melitene, which he captured in the autumn of 1106. He then attempted to have his self-assumed title of Sultan recognized throughout the Turkish world and was ready to make friends with anyone that would humour him in this.

Jekermish did not enjoy his pre-eminence for long. He was inevitably involved in the quarrels of the Seldjuk Sultanate of the East. When the Sultan Barkiyarok in 1104 was obliged to share his dominion with his brother Mohammed, Mosul was allotted to the latter’s sphere. Jekermish tried to achieve independence by declaring that his allegiance was to Barkiyarok alone, and defied Mohammed’s troops; but in January 1105, Barkiyarok died and his inheritance passed in its entirety to Mohammed. Jekermish was deprived of his excuse and hastened to submit to Mohammed; who for the moment professed friendship and retired eastward without venturing to make a triumphant entry into Mosul. Probably at Mohammed’s request, Jekermish then set about the organization of a new campaign against the Franks. He formed a coalition with Ridwan of Aleppo and Ridwan’s lieutenant, the aspahbad Sabawa, Ilghazi the Ortoqid, and his own son-in-law, Albu ibn Arslantash of Sinjar. The allies suggested to Ridwan and Albu that it would be more politic and profitable to please the Sultan by an attack on Jekermish. They marched together on his second city, Nisibin; but there his agents succeeded in embroiling Ridwan with Ilghazi, whom Ridwan kidnapped at a banquet before the walls of Nisibin and loaded with chains. The Ortoqid troops then attacked Ridwan and forced him to retire to Aleppo. Jekermish was thus saved, and then himself attacked Edessa; but after successfully defeating a sortie of Richard of the Principate’s troops, he returned home, to face fresh trouble.

Map 1. Northern Syria in the twelfth century.

Meanwhile Kilij Arslan, who had just taken over Melitene, in his turn made an attempt against Edessa; but, finding it too strongly defended, he moved on to Harran, which was surrendered to him by Jekermish’s garrison. It was clear that the Seldjuks of Rum sought to expand their power in the Moslem world at the expense of their Persian cousins.

The Sultan Mohammed had never forgiven Jekermish for his independent airs, and he suspected some collusion between him and Kilij Arslan. In the winter of 1106 he officially deprived him of Mosul and gave it, with the lordship of the Jezireh and Diarbekr, to a Turkish adventurer called Jawali Saqawa. Jawali led an army against Jekermish, who advanced to meet him but was defeated just outside the city and was himself captured. The inhabitants of Mosul, where Jekermish had been a popular ruler, at once proclaimed his young son Zenki as atabeg; while friends outside the city summoned the help of Kilij Arslan. Jawali thought it prudent to retire, especially as Jekermish, whom he had hoped to use as a bargaining counter, suddenly died on his hands. Mosul opened its gates to Kilij Arslan, who promised to respect its liberties.

Jawali established himself in the Euphrates valley and from there he entered into negotiations with Ridwan of Aleppo. They agreed first to displace Kilij Arslan and then together to attack Antioch. In June 1107 they led four thousand men against Mosul. Kilij Arslan, operating far from his home, had an even smaller army, but he came out to meet the allies on the banks of the river Khabar. Despite his personal bravery, he was utterly defeated, and himself perished when fleeing across the river.

1107: Release of Joscelin

The elimination of Kilij Arslan affected the whole Oriental world. It removed a potential danger from Byzantium at the crucial moment when Bohemond was about to attack the Balkans; it enabled the Seldjuk Sultanate of Persia to endure for nearly a century; and it was the first serious stage in the severance of the Anatolian Turks from their brothers farther east. At the moment it deprived Moslem Syria of the one force capable of bringing it unity.

Jawali was now able to enter Mosul, where he soon made himself odious by the savagery of his rule. Nor did he show more deference to his overlord the Sultan Mohammed than Jekermish had shown. After a year Mohammed planned to replace him, and sent against him an army led by the Mameluk Mawdud, who for the next few years became the chief protagonist of Islam.

During all this commotion Baldwin of Le Bourg had been living as a prisoner at Mosul, while his cousin, Joscelin of Courtenay, had passed at Soqman’s death into the hands of Ilghazi, who was planning to turn his nephew Ibrahim out of Mardin. Ilghazi needed money and allies. He therefore agreed to release Joscelin for the sum of twenty thousand dinars and the promise of military aid. Joscelin’s subjects at Turbessel willingly promised the ransom-money; and Joscelin was released in the course of 1107. Thanks to the arrangement, Ilghazi was able to capture Mardin. Joscelin then sought to secure the release of Baldwin, who, with all Jekermish’s belongings, was in Jawali’s power. The moment was well chosen; for Jawali needed help against the coming attack of Mawdud. He demanded sixty thousand dinars, the release of the Moslem captives held at Edessa, and a military alliance. While the negotiations were in progress, Jawali was driven from Mosul, where he had found no support from the citizens, who opened their gates to Mawdud. He established himself in the Jezireh, taking Baldwin with him.

Joscelin succeeded in finding thirty thousand dinars without great difficulty. He came himself with the money to the castle of Qalat Jabar, on the Euphrates, where Jawali now lived, and he offered himself as hostage if Baldwin might be released to raise the remainder of the ransom. Jawali was moved by the gesture and impressed by the gallantry of the Frankish prince. He accepted Joscelin in Baldwin’s place, then, a few months later, partly from chivalry and partly from self-interest — for he greatly desired this Frankish alliance — he set Joscelin free, relying on his word that the money would be paid. His trust was justified.

1108: Christian and Moslem against Christian and Moslem

Tancred had now been for four years the master of Edessa, where his cousin, Richard of the Principate, governed in his name. He had no wish to give it up to Baldwin. When Baldwin appeared at Edessa, he agreed to raise the required thirty thousand dinars, but he refused to hand back the town unless Baldwin swore allegiance to him. Baldwin, as vassal to the King of Jerusalem, could not agree, and went angrily to Turbessel, where Joscelin joined him; and they sent to Jawali for help. Tancred marched on Turbessel, where there was a slight skirmish, after which the combatants sat down to an embarrassed banquet together, to discuss the question once more. No settlement was reached; and Baldwin, after sending as a present to Jawali a hundred and sixty Moslem captives whom he freed and re-equipped, moved north to find other allies. Richard’s government of Edessa was harsh and extortionate and was particularly resented by the Armenians. Baldwin therefore went to visit the leading Armenian prince of the neighbourhood, Kogh Vasil of Kaisun, who had recently enhanced his prestige by inducing the Armenian Catholicus to live under his protection. Kogh Vasil received Baldwin at Raban and promised him aid; while the Armenian Oshin, governor of Cilicia under the Byzantines, glad to take any action against Tancred, sent three hundred Petcheneg mercenaries to Baldwin. With these confederates Baldwin returned to Turbessel. Tancred was not prepared to offend the whole Armenian world; and the Patriarch of Antioch, Bernard, brought his influence to bear on Baldwin’s behalf. With a bad grace Tancred withdrew Richard of the Principate from Edessa, where Baldwin was received with rejoicing.

It was only a temporary truce. Baldwin was faithful to his friendship with Jawali. He sent him back many Moslem captives; he allowed the mosques to be rebuilt in the town of Saruj, whose population was mainly Moslem; and he disgraced and executed the chief magistrate of Saruj, who was particularly unpopular as a renegade from Islam. This alliance alarmed Ridwan of Aleppo. Jawali threatened his possessions on the Euphrates. He countered by raiding a convoy of merchandise, including some of Baldwin’s ransom-money, sent from Turbessel to Jawali’s court. In September 1108 Jawali attacked and captured the town of Balis, on the Euphrates, only fifty miles from Aleppo, and crucified Ridwan’s chief supporters in the town. Ridwan at once sought help from Tancred. Early in October Baldwin and Joscelin brought their knights, a few hundred in number, to join Jawali’s army at Menbij, between Aleppo and the Euphrates. Jawali had with him some five hundred Turks and rather more Bedouins, who were under the son of the emir Sadaqa of the Banu Mazyad. The united army numbered about two thousand men. Ridwan had about six hundred men to oppose to them; but Tancred came up with a force of fifteen hundred. The battle, Christian and Moslem against Christian and Moslem, was hard contested. Jawali’s troops were gradually pushing the Franks of Antioch back with heavy losses, when the Bedouin noticed the horses that Baldwin’s knights kept in reserve and could not resist the temptation that they offered. They deserted the field in order to steal and ride off with them. Seeing them go, Jawali’s Turks turned and fled; and Baldwin and Joscelin were left almost alone. They, too, were obliged to fly with the remnant of their troops, each of them barely escaping capture. The Christian losses on the battlefield were said to have numbered nearly two thousand.

Joscelin retired to Turbessel and Baldwin to Dulak, north of Ravendel, where Tancred made a half-hearted attempt to besiege him, but desisted on the rumour of Jawali’s approach. Eventually Baldwin and Joscelin regained Edessa. They found the city in a panic. The citizens, fearing that Baldwin was dead and that they might again be subjected to the hated rule of Richard of the Principate, had held an assembly in the Church of St John, where the Latin bishop was invited by the Armenians of the city to join in the establishment of an interim government, till the situation should be clearer. When Baldwin arrived two days later he suspected treason; he believed that the Armenians had been planning to regain their independence. He struck swiftly and severely. Many Armenians were arrested and some were blinded. The Armenian bishop only saved his eyes by paying a heavy fine subscribed by his flock. There was a forced exodus of Armenians from the city. What had really happened is unknown; but it is clear that Baldwin must have been thoroughly alarmed so drastically to reverse his Armenian policy.

1109: Reconciliation of Frankish Princes

In spite of his own victory and in spite of Jawali’s decision a few months later to reconcile himself with his overlord the Sultan, who gave him a command far away in Persia, Tancred did not attempt any further move to evict Baldwin from Edessa. Instead, in the autumn of 1108, he led an expedition against Shaizar, where after miraculously slaying a small company of the enemy whom he caught in a cave, he allowed himself to be bought off by the gift of a superb horse. Next spring he became involved in the quarrel between William-Jordan and Bertrand of Toulouse for the possession of the Frankish lands in the Lebanon. His acceptance of William-Jordan as his vassal was countered by King Baldwin’s speedy intervention as overlord of all the Franks in the East. When the King summoned Tancred with the other Frankish leaders to accept his arbitration in the camp before Tripoli, he did not dare to disobey. Before the assembled princes the King not only divided the Toulousain inheritance, but he obliged Tancred and Baldwin of Edessa and Joscelin to be reconciled and to work together against the infidel. Tancred, in admitting the King’s right to arbitrate, acknowledged his suzerainty. In return, he was allowed to retain William-Jordan as his vassal, and he was given back the title of Prince of Galilee, and the ownership of the Temple at Jerusalem, with the promise that he could resume the government of the fief were Bohemond to return to Antioch. These advantages were lessened when William-Jordan was murdered and his lands passed to Bertrand, who recognized King Baldwin alone as his overlord. Tancred was, however, encouraged to attack Jabala, the last possession of the Banu Ammar, which he captured in July 1109, thus bringing his frontier down to march with Bertrand’s.

A reconciliation of the Frankish princes under King Baldwin’s leadership was needed; for early in 1110 the atabeg Mawdud of Mosul, in obedience to the instructions of his master the Sultan, organized an expedition against the Franks. With the help of Ilghazi the Ortoqid and his Turcoman troops and of the emir of Mayyafaraqin, Soqman el-Qutbi, who was popularly known as the Shah of Armenia, he marched on Edessa in April. On the news that the Moslem troops were mustering Baldwin of Le Bourg sent Joscelin to Jerusalem to beg urgent help from King Baldwin and to voice his suspicion that Tancred was encouraging the enemy. Tancred’s friends, for their part, made a similar, but less convincing, charge against Baldwin. The King was engaged in the siege of Beirut, and would not move till he had captured it. Then he hurried north, avoiding Antioch, partly to save time and partly because he did not trust Tancred, and arrived before Edessa at the end of June. As he approached the city he was joined by Armenian forces sent by Kogh Vasil and by the lord of Birejik, Abu’lgharib, chief of the Pahlavouni. Mawdud had been besieging Edessa for two months, but had not been able to penetrate its fortifications. When the knights of Jerusalem came into sight, their banners waving and their armour gleaming in the sun, he retired to Harran, hoping to lure them to make a rash offensive.

Baldwin of Le Bourg emerged gladly from his fortress to meet his cousin and overlord, and at once complained of Tancred. The King therefore sent to Antioch to demand that Tancred should come in force to join the Christian coalition and to answer these accusations. Tancred himself hesitated; but his Great Council insisted that he should obey the summons. On his arrival he promptly made a counter-claim against Baldwin of Le Bourg. The province of Osrhoene, in which Edessa was situated, had always, he said, depended upon Antioch throughout history, and he was its rightful overlord. King Baldwin answered sternly that as the chosen king he was leader of eastern Christendom, in whose name he demanded that Tancred be reconciled with Baldwin of Le Bourg. If Tancred refused and preferred to continue his intrigues with the Turks, he would no longer be considered as a Christian prince but would be combatted mercilessly as an enemy. The assembled knights approved the royal words; and Tancred was obliged to make his peace.

1110: Evacuation of Edessene Countryside

The united Frankish army then marched in pursuit of Mawdud, who retreated farther to draw it on into hostile territory, intending to outflank it by a sudden swerve to the north. King Baldwin was warned in time and stopped to besiege the castle of Shinav, to the north-west of Harran. But there the coalition dispersed. Tancred heard rumours that Ridwan of Aleppo was preparing to attack Antioch. Messengers came from Palestine to tell the King of a threatened Egyptian move against Jerusalem. The campaign in the Jezireh was abandoned. Tancred retired to Samosata; and Baldwin of Le Bourg, on the King’s advice, took the decision that it was useless to try and protect the country east of the Euphrates. He had wept to see how it was ravaged by Mawdud while he was besieged at Edessa. He planned to keep garrisons only in the two great fortresses of Edessa and Saruj and in a few smaller castles, but to make no attempt to guard the frontiers. The Christian population was advised to leave the land for the safer territory on the right bank of the great river. The advice was taken. The Christians of the countryside, mostly Armenians, collected their belongings and moved slowly westward. But spies had informed Mawdud of what was being planned. He came up quickly on their tracks. When he reached the Euphrates he found the Frankish leaders already across the river; but their two great ferry boats had been overladen with soldiers and had sunk before the civilians had crossed. He fell on them, unarmed as they were; and scarcely a man, woman or child survived. The fierce elimination of these Armenian peasants, politically unreliable but prosperous and hardworking, who had been settled in Osrhoene since before the opening of the Christian era, dealt the province a blow from which it never fully recovered. Though Frankish Counts might rule on in Edessa itself for a few more years, it had been proved that the Frankish dominion beyond the Euphrates was doomed to inevitable failure; and the failure brought ruin to the miserable native Christians who had submitted to its government.

In his fury Baldwin of Le Bourg led back a contingent across the river, to take vengeance upon Mawdud. But his men were hopelessly outnumbered and would have been annihilated had not King Baldwin hastened up, together with a rather unwilling Tancred, to rescue him.

King Baldwin returned to the south; and Tancred turned to punish Ridwan whose attack on his territory he considered as treachery. He took by assault the castle of Naqira, just over the frontier, then marched on Athareb, only some twenty miles from Aleppo. Ridwan obtained no help from his fellow-Moslems. He attempted to buy off Tancred, whose terms were too high; and the negotiations were dropped when Ridwan’s own treasurer fled with part of his master’s treasure to Tancred’s camp. At last, when Tancred’s engines had pounded the walls of Athareb to pieces, the town surrendered in December 1110. Ridwan purchased peace at the price of the loss of Athareb and Zerdana, a little to the south, the sum of twenty thousand dinars, and ten of his best Arab horses. Next, Tancred moved on against Shaizar and Hama. The Munqidhite emir of Shaizar bought a few months’ respite at the cost of four thousand dinars and another horse; but when the truce was ended, in the spring of 1111, Tancred advanced again and built on a neighbouring hill a strong castle at Ibn Mashar, from which he could watch every movement to and from the city. Soon afterwards he occupied the fort of Bisikra’il, on the road from Shaizar to Lattakieh. The emir of Homs paid two thousand dinars and was left in peace.

The Spread of the Assassins

Tancred’s successes were helped by two factors. First, the Byzantines were not ready to counter-attack. The death of Kilij Arslan in 1107 had left the situation in Anatolia fluid. His eldest son, Malik Shah, had been captured in the battle of the Khabar and was now in the power of the Sultan Mohammed. His widow seized Melitene and the eastern provinces for her youngest son, Toghrul. Another son, Mas’ud, was living at the Danishmend court; while a fourth, Arab, seems to have held Konya. The Sultan Mohammed, fearing that either Mas’ud or Toghrul would take over the whole inheritance, added to the confusion by releasing Malik Shah, who established himself in Konya and ungratefully assumed the title of Sultan. The breakdown of the central Seldjuk government in Anatolia was not entirely beneficial to the Byzantines, as it led the Seldjuks to make numerous irresponsible raids into Byzantine territory; but it enabled the Emperor Alexius to occupy various fortresses on the frontier. He was not, however, willing to risk a campaign in Cilicia or Syria. His enforced inaction benefited not only Tancred but also the Armenian Kogh Vasil; who, probably with imperial approval, succeeded in strengthening his principality in the Anti-Taurus and in warding off Turkish attacks. The Roupenian princes in the Taurus, more exposed to Seldjuk aggression and prevented by Tancred’s troops from expansion into Cilicia, were unable to increase their power; and Kogh Vasil was thus without a rival in the Armenian world.

More helpful to Tancred, and more disastrous for any Moslem counter-Crusade, was the appearance of a new and disruptive sect in the Islamic world. During the last decades of the eleventh century the Persian Hasan as-Sabah founded and organized the religious body known later as the Hashishiyun or the Assassins. Hasan had been converted to the Ismaili doctrine, of which the Fatimid Caliphs were the patrons, and had become an adept in the batanya, its esoteric lore. Wherein exactly his teaching improved on the mystical and allegorical theology of the Ismaili is obscure. His outstanding achievement was more practical. It was to build up an Order, united in strict obedience to himself as Grand Master, which he used for political purposes, directed against the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad, whose legitimacy he challenged, and more especially against their Seldjuk masters, whose power enabled the Caliphate to endure. His chief political weapon was one for which his followers were to provide the name, assassination. Murder in the interest of religious belief had often been practised by heterodox sects in Islam, but in Hasan’s hands it reached a high efficiency; for the unquestioned devotion of his disciples and their readiness to travel far and to risk their own lives at his orders enabled him to strike at any adversary throughout the Moslem world. In 1090 Hasan set up his headquarters in Khorassan, in the impregnable citadel of Alamut, the Eagle’s Nest. In 1092 the first of his assassinations took place, that of the great vizier Nizam al-Mulk, whose ability had been the main prop of the Seldjuk dynasty in Iran. Later legend enhanced the horror of the deed by declaring that Nizam and Hasan, together with the poet Omar Khayyam, had been pupils together of the learned Muwaffaq of Nishapur, and each had sworn to aid the others throughout life. The Seldjuk Sultans were well aware of the danger that the Assassins created; but all their attempts to reduce Alamut were unavailing. Soon after the turn of the century lodges of the Assassins were set up in Syria. Ridwan of Aleppo, permanently on bad terms with his Seldjuk cousins, and perhaps genuinely impressed by Assassin doctrines, gave them his patronage. A Persian goldsmith, Abu Tahir, who had great influence over Ridwan, was their chief. To the Assassins, the Christians were no more odious than the Sunni Moslems; and Ridwan’s readiness to co-operate with Tancred may have been largely due to his sympathy with their doctrine. Their first achievement in Syria was the murder of the emir of Homs, Janah ad-Daulah, in 1103. Three years later they slew the emir of Apamea, Khalaf ibn Mula’ib; but it was only the Franks of Antioch who profited by his death. Though as yet the Assassins only revealed their policy by isolated murders, they were an element in Islamic politics that even the Christians would have to respect.

1111: New Moslem Coalition

In 1111 Mawdud of Mosul once again prepared to lead an army against the Franks, at the demand of his master the Sultan. Early that year a deputation from the citizens of Aleppo, angered by the heterodoxy of their ruler and his subservience to Tancred, arrived at the Caliph’s court at Baghdad to urge a holy war to free them from the Frankish menace. When they were put off with empty promises they stirred up the people of Baghdad to riot before the mosque of the palace. At the same time the Caliph received an embassy from the Emperor at Constantinople. There was nothing unusual in this; Constantinople and Baghdad had a common interest in their hostility to the Seldjuk dynasty of Rum; but it seems that Alexius instructed his envoys to discuss with the Moslem authorities the possibility of joint action against Tancred. These negotiations enabled the rioters to denounce the Caliph as being a worse Moslem than the Christian Emperor. Al-Mustazhir was alarmed by all this enthusiasm, especially as the disorders had prevented him from receiving his wife in proper state when she returned from a visit to her father, the Sultan Mohammed, at Ispahan. He sent to his father-in-law; who at once instructed Mawdud to form a new coalition, whose nominal leader was to be his own young son Mas’ud. Mawdud enlisted the help of Soqman of Mayyafaraqin, of Ilghazi’s son Ayaz, of the Kurdish princes Ahmed-Il of Maragha and Abu’l Haija of Arbil, and of some Persian lords headed by Bursuq ibn Bursuq of Hamadan. In July the allies were ready and marched swiftly across the Jezireh to besiege Joscelin’s fortress of Turbessel. On the news the emir Sultan of Shaizar sent to beg them to hurry to his rescue; and Ridwan thought it politic to tell them to hasten as he could not hold out long against Tancred. Mawdud was impressed by Ridwan’s change of heart; and on the suggestion of Ahmed-Il, with whom Joscelin had established secret relations, he raised the siege of Turbessel and led the army off to Aleppo. But Ridwan’s message had not been sincere. On the approach of the Moslem allies, he closed the gates against them and took the precaution of imprisoning many of the leading citizens as hostages to prevent riots. Mawdud was thwarted; so, after ravaging the country round Aleppo, he moved south to Shaizar. There he was joined by Toghtekin of Damascus, who came to seek his help for the reconquest of Tripoli.

Tancred, who had been encamped before Shaizar, retired to Apamea and sent to King Baldwin for help. The King responded and summoned all the chivalry of the Frankish East to join him. With him came the Patriarch Gibelin and the chief vassals of the kingdom, Eustace Gamier of Sidon and Walter of Hebron. Bertrand of Tripoli joined him on his way. From the north came Baldwin of Edessa with his two great vassals, Joscelin of Turbessel and Pagan of Saruj. Tancred brought his vassals from the perimeter of the Antiochene principality, Guy, surnamed the Goat, from Tarsus and Mamistra, Richard of Marash, Guy, surnamed the Beech, of Harenc, Robert of Suadieh, Pons of Tel-Mannas, Martin of Lattakieh, Bonaplus of Sarmeda, Roger of Hab and Enguerrand of Apamea. Kogh Vasil and the Roupenians sent an Armenian detachment; and even Oshin of Lampron provided a few men, whose role was probably to spy on behalf of the Emperor. The north was denuded of troops, to the advantage of Toghrul Arslan of Melitene, who at once captured Albistan and the neighbourhood from its small Frankish garrison and carried out a raid into Cilicia.

1111: Mawdud’s Failure

Before the Frankish concentration, which numbered some sixteen thousand men, Mawdud cautiously retired behind the walls of Shaizar and refused to be drawn out to fight a pitched battle. Things were not going well in his army. Toghtekin would not provide help unless Mawdud undertook to campaign farther south, a move that was strategically far too risky. The Kurd Bursuq was ill and wished to return to his home. Soqman suddenly died; and his troops retired north with his corpse. Ahmed-Il promptly deserted, to try to snatch some of the inheritance. Ayaz the Ortoqid remained; but his father, Ilghazi, attacked the cortege carrying Soqman’s bier, hoping, in vain, to secure his treasure. With his forces daily diminishing, Mawdud could not take the offensive; and he was unwilling to winter so far from his base. In the autumn he retreated back to Mosul.

His failure showed that the Moslems were in no condition to counter-attack the Franks so long as the Franks were united; and King Baldwin had achieved the task of forcing union upon them. For the moment the Frankish establishments were saved. Mawdud carried out a profitable but inconclusive raid into Edessene territory next summer; while Toghtekin patched up an alliance with Ridwan, somewhat generously, for Ridwan had tried to persuade his Assassin friends to murder him. But for the moment the Moslem menace was lessened. Inevitably the Christians began to quarrel once more. First, the Franks decided to attack Kogh Vasil, of whose growing power both Baldwin of Edessa and Tancred were jealous. Tancred invaded his lands and captured Raban and was preparing to besiege Kaisun before peace was made. Next, Baldwin of Edessa suddenly turned against his cousin Joscelin. When Mawdud had attacked Edessa in the summer of 1112 Joscelin discovered an Armenian plot to hand the city over to the Moslems and had saved Baldwin by warning him and joining him in prompt action against the traitors. But during the following winter Baldwin heard rumours that Joscelin talked of supplanting him. The fief of Turbessel was rich, whereas the land of Edessa had suffered terribly from raids and forced emigration. The Armenians liked Joscelin, whereas they now hated Baldwin. There was nothing in Joscelin’s own conduct to account for Baldwin’s suspicions, which were, perhaps, based on jealousy. At the end of the year Joscelin was summoned to Edessa; Baldwin said that he was ill and must discuss the succession. On his arrival, all unsuspecting, he was accused of having failed to supply Edessa with sufficient food from his territory and was thrown into prison. It was only when he promised to give up his fief that he was released. He retired southward, about the new year, to Jerusalem, where King Baldwin enfeoffed him with the principality of Galilee.

1112: Death of Tancred

The year 1112 saw many other changes in northern Syria. Kogh Vasil died on 12 October. His widow hastily sent presents to Tancred, including her own diadem for the Princess Cecilia, to secure his help for the succession of her adopted son, Vasil Dgha; but Tancred himself coveted the inheritance. Among the Franks, Richard of the Principate had died some time in the spring and Bertrand of Tripoli in January or February. Bertrand’s young son and successor, Pons, did not share his father’s liking for the Byzantines nor his hatred for Tancred; and his council probably thought that Tancred’s good-will was necessary if the youthful count was to hold his position. There was a reconciliation between the Courts of Tripoli and Antioch, which added to Tancred’s influence. With Joscelin in disgrace, the Count of Tripoli his friend, and the great prince of the Armenians dead, Tancred’s supremacy seemed sure. He was planning an expedition to conquer Kogh Vasil’s land when suddenly he fell ill. There were inevitable whispers of poison; but the illness was probably typhoid. When it was certain that he would not recover he named his nephew Roger of Salerno, son of Richard of the Principate, as his heir, but he forced Roger to swear to hand over his power to Bohemond’s young son, should the boy come to the East. At the same time he requested Pons to marry his girl-widow, Cecilia of France. He died on 12 December 1112, aged only thirty-six.

Tancred’s personality does not shine clearly through the mists of history. He was immensely active and able, a subtle diplomat and a brilliant soldier; and he grew wiser as he grew older. But he never acquired the glamour that surrounded his uncle, Bohemond; nor does he seem to have been popular with his men, apart from his sycophantic biographer, Radulph of Caen. He was hard, self-seeking and unscrupulous, correct and yet disloyal towards Bohemond and a faithless colleague to Baldwin of Edessa. But for the intervention of King Baldwin, his equal in relentlessness and his superior in width of vision, his particularism might have gone far to wreck the Frankish East. His aim was the firm establishment and the aggrandizement of the Antiochene principality; and therein he was superbly successful. Without his work Bohemond’s foundation would have crumbled. The long history of the princes of Antioch was the fruit of his energy. Of all the princes of the First Crusade, only King Baldwin, a penniless adventurer like himself, enjoyed a more impressive career. Yet, when he was being taken to his burial in the porch of the Cathedral of St Peter the chroniclers could find few scenes of grief to report. Only the Armenian Matthew of Edessa wrote warmly of him and lamented his death.

The accession of Roger as Prince of Antioch — for, notwithstanding his acknowledgement of the claims of Bohemond’s son, he took the princely title — brought harmony to the Franks. He was married to Baldwin of Edessa’s sister, Cecilia; and, though he was a notoriously unfaithful husband, he was always on affectionate terms with his brother-in-law. His sister Maria became the second wife of Joscelin of Courtenay. Pons of Tripoli, who, following Tancred’s wishes, at once married Tancred’s widow, Cecilia of France, remained his constant friend. And all three princes united in regarding King Baldwin as their overlord. This rare solidarity, combined with fresh quarrels among the Moslems, brought the Frankish dominion in northern Syria to its apogee.

1113: Deaths of Mawdud and Ridwan

In 1113 King Baldwin began a campaign against Toghtekin of Damascus, who succeeded at last in securing the aid of Mawdud and of Ayaz the Ortoqid. The Moslem allies lured the King into Damascene territory, to Sennabra on the upper Jordan, where, forgetting for once his usual caution, he was attacked and suffered a severe defeat. He had summoned Pons and Roger to his aid; and their arrival with all their chivalry enabled him to extricate himself. The enemy advanced as far as the neighbourhood of Tiberias, but would not venture to face the whole Frankish army. After a few weeks of hesitation, Mawdud retired with Toghtekin to Damascus. There on the last Friday in September, as he was entering the Great Mosque with his host, he was stabbed to death by an Assassin. Toghtekin promptly put the murderer to death, to dissociate himself from the crime. Public opinion held him guilty, but gave him the excuse that Mawdud had designs on Damascus.

Mawdud’s death freed the Franks of a formidable adversary. It was followed two months later, on 10 December 1113, by the death of Ridwan of Aleppo. His chilly relations with his fellow-Moslems had done much to help the establishment of the Franks in Syria; but his elimination did not greatly benefit Islam. He was succeeded by his son, Alp Arslan, a weak, vicious and cruel boy of sixteen, completely in the hands of his favourite eunuch, Lulu. The Assassins, whom Ridwan had protected, found themselves cold-shouldered by the new administration, at the express orders of the Sultan Mohammed. His envoy, the Persian Ibn Badi, forced Alp Arslan to issue a warrant for the execution of Abu Tahir and the other leaders of the sect; and the populace of Aleppo, who had long loathed the Assassins, set about massacring all that they could catch. In self-defence the Order had tried unsuccessfully to capture the citadel while Ridwan lay dying. Soon afterwards sectarians tried to surprise the citadel at Shaizar, when the emir’s family were out watching the Christian Easter festival; but the townsfolk joined with the emir against them. Their one success was to take the fortress of Qolaia, near Balis, where the road from Aleppo to Baghdad approaches the Euphrates. Elsewhere they went underground, or fled to the protection of the Franks; but they were still powerful and began to turn their attention to the Lebanon. Alp Arslan’s reign was short. He paid a friendly visit to Damascus, where Toghtekin received him with royal honours; but in September 1114 his wanton behaviour induced the eunuch Lulu, terrified for his life, to have him murdered in his bed and to place on the throne his six-year-old brother, Sultanshah. For the next few years Lulu and his general Shams as-Shawas, ex-emir of Rafaniya, held the citadel and controlled the army of Aleppo; but the real power was in the hands of the notables of the city, whose wishes Lulu did not dare to disregard. Its lack of a strong prince and the small size of its army left Aleppo powerless to do more than defend its own walls; while, though the Assassins had been banished, the new authorities were considered by their neighbours to have dangerously Shian tendencies, due to the influence of Persians in the city. In consequence Lulu was ready to carry on Ridwan’s policy of subservient friendship with the Franks of Antioch.

On Mawdud’s death the Sultan gave Mosul to his representative at the Caliph’s court, Aqsonqor il-Bursuqi, a Turkish soldier of fortune like his predecessor. It became his duty to direct operations against the Franks. In May 1114 he led an army of fifteen thousand men against Edessa. With him were the Sultan’s son, Mas’ud, Temirek, emir of Sinjar, and a young Turk called Imad ed-Din Zengi, son of an earlier Aqsonqor who had been governor of Aleppo and Hama in the years before the Crusade. Ilghazi of Mardin had been summoned to join the expedition but refused. Its first step therefore was to march on Mardin; whereupon Ilghazi agreed to send his son Ayaz with a detachment of Turcoman troops. For two months the Moslems sat before Edessa; but the city was well garrisoned and well provisioned, whereas the ravaged countryside could not feed the besieging forces. Il-Bursuqi was obliged to lift the siege and contented himself with ravaging the countryside, till the Armenians offered him new scope for action.

1116: Fall of Vasil Dgha

The Armenian plot to hand over Edessa to Mawdud in 1112 had been followed by a similar plot next year, when Mawdud was about to invade Frankish territory and Baldwin was at Turbessel, taking over Joscelin’s fief. It was discovered in time; and Baldwin firmly transferred the whole Armenian population of his capital to Samosata. Having taught the Armenians a lesson, he allowed them to return early in 1114; but some had gone on into the territory of Vasil Dgha, Kogh Vasil’s heir, who was anyhow alarmed by Frankish attempts on his inheritance. He and his adopted mother now invited Il-Bursuqi to deliver them from the Franks. Il-Bursuqi sent one of his generals, Sonqor the Long, to negotiate with Vasil Dgha at Kaisun. The Franks heard of it, and vainly attacked Sonqor and the Armenians. But before the Moslems could take advantage of the new alliance Il-Bursuqi quarrelled with Ayaz the Ortoqid and imprisoned him. Ayaz’s father, Ilghazi, therefore summoned his clan and his Turcomans and marched against Il-Bursuqi, whom he severely defeated and forced to retreat back to Mosul. Once again the Moslem counter-Crusade ended in a fiasco.

The Armenians paid for it. The Franks advanced to punish Vasil Dgha. They were unable to take his fortress capital at Raban; but he thought it wise to seek the alliance of the Roupenian prince Thoros. Thoros, after inviting him to come to discuss a marriage alliance, imprisoned him and sold him to Baldwin of Edessa. Vasil was only released on a promise to cede all his lands to Baldwin. He then was allowed to retire to Constantinople. Having thus annexed Raban and Kaisun in 1116, Baldwin decided to suppress the remaining Armenian principalities in the Euphrates valley. In 1117 he first displaced Abu’lgharib, lord of Birejik, who had been established there with the help of Baldwin during the First Crusade. He gave Birejik to his cousin, Waleran of Le Puiset, who married Abu’lgharib’s daughter. Next he attacked Baldwin I’s old friend and later enemy, Bagrat, Kogh Vasil’s brother, who now possessed a small lordship at Khoros, west of the Euphrates. Finally, he overran the territory of another of Baldwin’s allies, Prince Constantine of Gargar, whom he captured and imprisoned at Samosata, where the unfortunate victim soon perished in an earthquake. The Roupenian prince soon found himself, to his satisfaction, the only independent Armenian potentate that remained. But, apart from the Roupenians, the Armenian people lost confidence in the Franks.

Baldwin of Edessa’s Armenian conquests were helped by a diminution of danger from the East. The previous years had been full of anxiety. A tremendous earthquake in November 1114 had devastated Frankish territory, from Antioch and Mamistra to Marash and Edessa. Roger of Antioch hastily toured his chief fortresses to repair their walls; for there was a rumour that the Sultan Mohammed was preparing a new expedition.

Mohammed was the last of the great Seldjuk Sultans. He had taken over a decadent state from his brother Barkiyarok, and he had restored order in Iraq and Iran, suppressing the rebel Arabs of the eastern desert in 1108 and keeping the Assassins in check. The Caliph al-Mustazhir, indolently writing love-poems in his palace at Baghdad, obeyed his authority. But his attempts to organize a campaign to drive the Franks from Syria had failed one after the other; and he realized that to succeed he must establish his authority over the Moslem princes there, whose jealousies and insubordination had regularly ruined his cause. In February 1115, after securing the loyalty of Mosul by sending his son Mas’ud to take charge of its government, he dispatched a large army westward, under the governor of Hamadan, Bursuq ibn Bursuq, with Juyush-beg, former governor of Mosul, and Temirek, emir of Sinjar, to aid him.

1115: Expedition of Bursuq ibn Bursuq

The Moslem princes of Syria were as alarmed as the Franks. The Sultan’s only reliable vassals there were the Munqidhites of Shaizar and Ibn Qaraja, emir of Homs. On the rumour of the expedition the Ortoqid Ilghazi hastened to Damascus to confirm his alliance with Toghtekin, but on his return he was waylaid and captured by the emir of Homs; who, however, threatened by Toghtekin, let him go on condition that he sent his son Ayaz in his place. Ilghazi was able to return to Mardin and collect his troops. Then he retired westward again to join up with Toghtekin. The eunuch Lulu, regent in Aleppo, after promising support to both sides, decided that the Sultan’s victory would not suit him and ranged himself with Toghtekin and Ilghazi. Meanwhile Roger of Antioch had collected his forces and took up a position by the Iron Bridge across the Orontes. There, on whose initiative we cannot tell, he made a pact with Toghtekin and his allies and invited their army to join his own before the walls of Apamea, a good vantage-point for watching Bursuq’s movements when he should cross the Euphrates and advance towards his friends at Shaizar. The Franks provided some two thousand knights and infantrymen and their Moslem allies about five thousand.

Bursuq met with no opposition as he led his great army through the Jezireh. He had hoped to make his headquarters at Aleppo, but, hearing that Lulu had joined his enemies and that Toghtekin was at their head, he turned southward against the latter. With the help of the emir of Homs he made a surprise attack on Hama, which belonged to Toghtekin and contained much of his baggage. The town was captured and pillaged, to the fury of the local Moslems; and he then marched on the Frankish fort of Kafartab. Roger would have liked to make a diversion, but Toghtekin persuaded him that it would be too risky. Instead, the allies appealed for help to Baldwin of Jerusalem and Pons of Tripoli, who hastened northward, the former with five hundred knights and a thousand infantrymen, the latter with two hundred knights and two thousand infantrymen. They entered the camp at Apamea to the fanfare of trumpets. Bursuq, who was now based on Shaizar, thought it prudent to retreat towards the Jezireh. His ruse was effective. Baldwin and Pons considered the danger to be ended and returned home; and the allied army broke up. Bursuq then suddenly swept back again to Kafartab. After a short struggle he took the castle and handed it over to the Munqidhites. Lulu of Aleppo, whether from treachery or cowardice, at once wrote to him apologizing for past sins and asking him to send a detachment to occupy Aleppo; and Bursuq weakened his forces by dispatching Juyush-beg and his corps. Roger had not disbanded his army. He could not wait for help to arrive from King Baldwin nor from Pons, nor even from Toghtekin. After summoning Baldwin of Edessa to his rescue and asking the Patriarch Bernard to bless the troops and to send with them a fragment of the True Cross, he left Antioch on 12 September and marched southward up the Orontes to Chastel Rouge, while Bursuq marched northward along a parallel line further inland. Neither army knew the other’s position, till a knight named Theodore Berneville came galloping to the camp at Chastel Rouge from a scouting expedition to say that he had seen the Sultan’s army moving through the forest towards the hill of Tel-Danith, near to the town of Sirmin. On the morning of the 14th the Frankish army crept over the intervening ridge and fell upon Bursuq as his troops were carelessly marching on. The baggage animals were in the van; and already detachments had stopped to erect tents for the noonday halt. Some of the emirs had taken parties to forage in the neighbouring farms; others had gone off to occupy Biza’a. When the battle began Bursuq was without his best lieutenants.

1115: Frankish Victory at Tel-Danith

The Franks’ attack was quite unexpected. They sprang out suddenly from the trees and quickly stormed the half-prepared camp. Soon the whole Moslem army was in disorder. Bursuq could not rally his men. He himself barely avoided capture and retired with a few hundred horsemen to a spur of the hill of Tel-Danith. There he beat off the enemy for a while and sought to be killed in the fighting rather than face the disgrace of such a defeat. At last his bodyguard persuaded him that nothing more could be done; and he rode off in flight to the east. The emir of Sinjar, Temirek, had at first been more successful and had driven back the Frankish right. But Guy Fresnel, lord of Harenc, brought up fresh troops; and soon the men of Sinjar were surrounded, and only the swiftest horsemen escaped alive. By evening the remnants of the Moslem army were hastening in disorder towards the Jezireh.

The Frankish victory at Tel-Danith ended the last attempt of the Seldjuk Sultans of Iran to recover Syria. Bursuq died a few months later, humiliated and ashamed; and the Sultan Mohammed was not prepared to risk a further expedition. The only danger to the Franks from the East came now from the semi-independent emirs, who for the moment were disunited and discouraged. The prestige of Roger, Prince of Antioch, was at its height. His men quickly reoccupied Kafartab, which had been given to the Munqidhites by Bursuq. The rulers of Aleppo and Damascus were seriously alarmed. The latter, Toghtekin, hastened to make his peace with the Sultan Mohammed, who forgave him but provided him with no material aid. At Aleppo the eunuch Lulu watched helpless while the Franks consolidated their positions around him. He sought to make a closer alliance with Toghtekin. But he was generally discredited; and in May 1117 he was murdered by Turks of his garrison. His successor was a fellow-eunuch, the Armenian renegade Yaruqtash, who at once sought Frankish support by yielding to Roger the fortress of al-Qubba, on the road from Aleppo to Damascus used by the pilgrims to Mecca, and the right to levy tolls on the pilgrims. The concession did Yaruqtash no good. Lulu’s murderers had acted in the name of Ridwan’s youngest son, Sultanshah, who would not recognize him. Yaruqtash appealed for help to Ilghazi the Ortoqid; but when Ilghazi’s troops arrived at Aleppo they found Yaruqtash fallen and the government directed by Sultanshah’s minister, the Damascene Ibn al-Milhi. Ilghazi therefore retired, leaving his son Kizil as his representative in Aleppo and taking over the fortress of Balis on the Euphrates, which was granted him as the price of his help should il-Bursuqi, who was now established at ar-Rahba and claimed to have been allotted Aleppo by the Sultan, try to make good his claim. Ibn al-Milhi then decided that Ilghazi was too uncertain an ally and handed over Aleppo and Kizil to Khirkan, emir of Homs, and prepared with Frankish help to recover Balis. But Ilghazi’s alliance with Toghtekin held good. While the latter marched on Homs and obliged Khirkan to retire, Ilghazi relieved Balis and entered Aleppo in the summer of 1118. Ibn al-Milhi had already been displaced by a black eunuch, Qaraja, who, together with Ibn al-Milhi and the prince Sultanshah, were imprisoned by the Ortoqid. During all these movements and intrigues Frankish intervention had been sought by all parties in turn; and though Roger was never master of Aleppo itself, he was able to occupy the territory to the north of the city, occupying Azaz in 1118 and early in 1119 Biza’a, thus cutting off Aleppo from the Euphrates and the East.

About the same time Roger improved his southern frontier by capturing the castle of Marqab, on its high hill overlooking the sea behind Buluniyas.

1118: Schism in the Jacobite Church

Thus, by the end of 1118, there was an equilibrium in northern Syria. The Franks had become an accepted part of the pattern of the country. They were still far from numerous, but they were well-armed and were building fortresses, and were learning to adapt themselves to local life. Moreover, for the moment they were united. Roger of Antioch was by far the greatest of the northern Christian princes; but his hegemony was not resented by Baldwin of Edessa nor by Pons of Tripoli; for he made no attempt to be their overlord but like them acknowledged the suzerainty of the King of Jerusalem. The Moslem princes were numerically stronger, but they were disunited and jealous. Only the alliance between Toghtekin of Damascus and the Ortoqids kept them from chaos. The balance thus was slightly tilted in favour of the Franks. No external power was in a position to upset this balance. King Baldwin of Jerusalem, with the Fatimid menace in his rear, could not often intervene in the north. The Seldjuk Sultan of Iran, after the disaster at Tel-Danith, abstained from further practical attempts to assert authority in Syria. The two chief powers of Anatolia, Byzantium and the Seldjuks of Rum, for the moment were balanced against each other.

Even the native Christians maintained a balance. The Armenian subjects of Edessa and Antioch were disillusioned and disloyal; but the only free Armenian state that remained, the Roupenian principality on the Taurus, was ready to work in with the Franks. Its prince, Leo, had brought a contingent to help Roger of Antioch at the siege of Azaz. A schism divided the Jacobite Church. In about 1118, its head, the Patriarch Athanasius, who resided at Antioch, quarrelled with his metropolitan at Edessa, Bar-Sabuni, over the possession of some sacred books, and placed him under an interdict. Bar-Sabuni, to make trouble, appealed for help to the Latin Patriarch of Antioch, Bernard; who summoned Athanasius to discuss the matter at a synod held in the Latin cathedral. Athanasius came protesting. The incompetence of an interpreter led Bernard to believe that the dispute was over a private debt between the two prelates, and he pronounced that it was simoniacal of Athanasius not to forgive the debtor. Athanasius was infuriated by a decision whose validity he did not recognize and whose sense he did not understand. He protested rudely; whereupon Bernard ordered him to be scourged. On the advice of an Orthodox friend, the philosopher Abd’ al-Massih, Athanasius appealed to Roger, who had been away at the time. Roger angrily reproved Bernard for interfering in a matter that did not concern him, and permitted Athanasius to leave Antioch for his former home, the monastery of Mar Barsauma. There Athanasius was in the territory of the Ortoqids, who gave him their protection. He excommunicated Bar Sabuni and placed the Jacobite Church of Edessa under an interdict. Many of the Edessene Jacobites, thus deprived of the services of their Church, went over to the Latin rite. Others obeyed the Patriarch. Peace was not restored for many years, till after the death of Athanasius.

The Orthodox congregations in Antioch and Edessa disliked Latin rule, but, unlike the Armenians and Jacobites, they were never tempted to intrigue with the Moslems. They only sighed for the return of Byzantium. But the loathing which Armenians and Jacobites united in bearing to them limited their power.

1111-13: Byzantine Negotiations with the West

Nevertheless, though the Franks in Edessa might rightly fear that some new danger would arise in the East, to the Franks of Antioch Byzantium remained the chief enemy. The Emperor Alexius had never forgotten his claim to Antioch. He was prepared to recognize a Latin kingdom at Jerusalem; and he had shown his good-will by his generous ransom of the Frankish prisoners taken by the Fatimids at Ramleh in 1102 and by the presence of his ships at the ineffectual siege of Acre in 1111. King Baldwin on his side always acted courteously and correctly towards the Emperor, but refused to put any pressure on Tancred to carry out the terms of the Treaty of Devol. Ever since the Crusade of 1101 Franco-Byzantine relations had been darkened by suspicion; while Pope Paschal’s intervention on Bohemond’s behalf in 1106 had never been forgiven by Constantinople. Alexius was too supple a statesman to allow resentment to colour his policy. During the years 1111 and 1112 he carried on a series of negotiations with the Pope, using the Abbot of Monte Cassino as an intermediary. With the promise to settle the outstanding differences between the Roman and Greek Churches he induced the Roman authorities to offer the imperial crown of the West to him or to his son, and he suggested that he would visit Rome himself. Paschal, who was at that moment in great difficulties with the Emperor Henry V, was willing to pay a high price for Byzantine support; but Turkish wars and his own ill-health prevented Alexius from carrying out his project. The negotiations came to nothing. The Archbishop of Milan, Peter Chrysolan, visited Constantinople in 1113 to discuss Church affairs; but his theological argument with Eustratius, Bishop of Nicaea, did not restore better feeling between the Churches. It is probable that Alexius himself never took his ambitious Italian scheme very seriously. Papal friendship was of value to him mainly as a means of putting a break on Norman ambitions and of enhancing his authority over the Latins in the East.

In the meantime there was little that the Byzantines could do to recover Antioch. The Emperor’s treaty with Bohemond remained a dead letter. Tancred had not only disregarded it but had increased his territory at Byzantine expense. Roger had continued Tancred’s policy. Alexius had hoped that the Counts of Tripoli would be his agents in Syria, and he had provided money to be kept at Tripoli for joint Byzantine and Tripolitan enterprises. But on Bertrand’s death his son Pons worked in co-operation with the Antiochenes. The Byzantine Ambassador-at-large to the Latin states, Butumites, therefore demanded the return of the money; and it was only when he threatened to cut off the provisions that Tripoli obtained from Cyprus that it was handed over to him. He then judged it prudent to give back to Pons the gold and precious stuffs that had been promised personally to Bertrand. In return Pons took an oath of allegiance to the Emperor, probably the oath of non-injury that his grandfather Raymond had taken. The money recovered by Butumites was used to buy for the Byzantine army horses from Damascus, Edessa and Arabia.

1112-15: Seldjuk Wars against Byzantium

It was clear that Pons could not be inveigled to act against Antioch; while Turkish action prevented the Emperor from making a direct intervention in Syria. Since the death of the Danishmend Malik Ghazi Gumushtekin in 1106 and that of the Seldjuk Kilij Arslan in 1107, there had been no great Turkish potentate in Anatolia; and Alexius was able, as far as he was not distracted by the Normans, slowly to restore his authority in its western districts and along the south coast. The leading Moslem emir was now the Cappadocian Hasan, who in 1110 attempted to raid Byzantine territory, even advancing towards Philadelphia, with Smyrna as his goal. Eustathius Philocales had recently been given a land-command in south-west Anatolia, with orders to clear the province of the Turks. He managed, with the small forces that he controlled, to catch Hasan’s army when it was divided up into various raiding-parties, which he defeated one by one. Hasan speedily retired; and the Aegean coasts were spared further raids. But that same year Kilij Arslan’s eldest son, Malik Shah, was released from his Persian captivity. He made Konya his capital and soon held the bulk of his due inheritance, defeating Hasan and annexing his lands. Warned by his father’s fate he avoided entanglement in the East, but as soon as he felt strong enough, he set out to recover the territory lost by Kilij Arslan at the time of the First Crusade. During the early months of 1112 he began incursions into the Empire, marching on Philadelphia, where he was checked by the Byzantine general, Gabras. He sued for a truce, but in 1113 he attacked again, sending a hurried expedition through Bithynia to the very walls of Nicaea, while his lieutenant Mohammed penetrated to Poemamenum, farther to the west, where he defeated and captured a Byzantine general, and another lieutenant, Manalugh, raided Abydos on the Hellespont, with its rich custom-houses. Malik Shah himself attacked and captured Pergamum. The Emperor set out to meet the invaders, but waited to catch them on their return, heavily laden with booty. Coming south through Dorylaeum he fell on them near Cotyaeum. He won a complete victory and recovered all the loot and prisoners that they had taken. In 1115 there was news that Malik Shah was preparing to renew the attack; and Alexius spent much of the year in patrolling the Bithynian hills. Next year, though he was already very ill, he decided himself to take the offensive. He marched southward towards Konya and met the Turkish army near Philomelium. Once again he was victorious; and Malik Shah was forced to sign a peace in which he promised to respect the frontiers of the Empire, which now controlled all the coast from Trebizond to Cilician Seleucia and the interior west of Ankara, the Salt Desert and Philomelium. Malik Shah’s attempts at reconquest had failed; and a few months later he was dethroned and killed by his brother Mas’ud, in alliance with the Danishmend. But the Turks remained firmly entrenched in the centre of Anatolia, and Byzantium was still unable to take effective action in Syria. The chief beneficiaries of these wars were the Armenians in the Taurus and the Frankish Prince of Antioch.

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