Post-classical history

BOOK II

THE ZENITH

CHAPTER I

KING BALDWIN II

There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.’ I KINGS IX, 5

Baldwin I had neglected his final duty as King; he made no arrangement for the succession to the throne. The council of the kingdom hastily met. To some of the nobles it seemed unthinkable that the crown should pass from the house of Boulogne. Baldwin I had succeeded his brother Godfrey; and there was still a third brother, the eldest, Eustace, Count of Boulogne. Messengers were hastily dispatched over the sea to inform the Count of his brother’s death and to beg him to take up the heritage. Eustace had no wish to leave his pleasant country for the hazards of the East; but they told him that it was his duty. He set out towards Jerusalem. But when he reached Apulia he met other messengers, with the news that it was too late. The succession had passed elsewhere. He refused the suggestion that he should continue on his way and fight for his rights. Not unwillingly, he retraced his steps to Boulogne.

Indeed, few of the council had favoured his succession. He was far away; it would mean an interregnum of many months. The most influential member of the council was the Prince of Galilee, Joscelin of Courtenay; and he demanded that the throne be given to Baldwin of Le Bourg, Count of Edessa. He himself had no cause to love Baldwin, as he carefully reminded the council; for Baldwin had falsely accused him of treachery and had exiled him from his lands in the north. But Baldwin was a man of proved ability and courage; he was the late King’s cousin; and he was the sole survivor of the great knights of the First Crusade. Moreover, Joscelin calculated that if Baldwin left Edessa for Jerusalem the least that he could do to reward the cousin who had requited his unkindness so generously was to entrust him with Edessa. The Patriarch Arnulf supported Joscelin and together they persuaded the council. As if to clinch their argument, on the very day of the King’s funeral, Baldwin of Le Bourg appeared unexpectedly in Jerusalem. He had heard, maybe, of the King’s illness of the previous year and thought it therefore opportune to pay an Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Places. He was received with gladness and unanimously elected king by the Council. On Easter Sunday, 14 April 1118, the Patriarch Arnulf placed the crown on his head.

Baldwin II differed greatly as a man from his predecessor. Though handsome enough, with a long fair beard, he lacked the tremendous presence of Baldwin I. He was more approachable, genial and fond of a simple joke, but at the same time subtle and cunning, less open, less rash, more self-controlled. He was capable of large gestures but in general somewhat mean and ungenerous. Despite a high-handed attitude to ecclesiastical affairs, he was genuinely pious; his knees were callous from constant prayer. Unlike Baldwin I’s, his private life was irreproachable. With his wife, the Armenian Morphia, he presented a spectacle, rare in the Frankish East, of perfect conjugal bliss.

Joscelin was duly rewarded with the county of Edessa, to hold it as vassal to King Baldwin, just as Baldwin himself had held it under Baldwin I. The new King was also recognized as overlord by Roger of Antioch, his brother-in-law, and by Pons of Tripoli. The Frankish East was to remain united under the crown of Jerusalem. A fortnight after Baldwin’s coronation the Patriarch Arnulf died. He had been a loyal and efficient servant of the state; but, in spite of his prowess as a preacher, he had been involved in too many scandals to be respected as an ecclesiastic. It is doubtful if Baldwin much regretted his death. In his place he secured the election of a Picard priest, Gormond of Picquigny, of whose previous history nothing is known. It was a happy choice; for Gormond combined Arnulf’s practical qualities with a saintly nature and was universally revered. This appointment, following on the recent death of Pope Paschal, restored good relations between Jerusalem and Rome.

Map 2. Southern Syria in the twelfth century.

King Baldwin had barely established himself on the throne before he heard the ominous news of an alliance between Egypt and Damascus. The Fatimid vizier, al-Afdal, was anxious to punish Baldwin I’s insolent invasion of Egypt; while Toghtekin of Damascus was alarmed by the growing power of the Franks. Baldwin hastily sent him an embassy; but confident of Egyptian help Toghtekin demanded the cession of all Frankish lands beyond Jordan. In the course of the summer a great Egyptian army assembled on the frontier and took up its position outside Ashdod; and Toghtekin was invited to take command of it. Baldwin summoned the militia of Antioch and Tripoli to reinforce the troops of Jerusalem, and marched down to meet them. For three months the armies faced each other, neither side daring to move; for everyone, in Fulcher of Chartres’s words, liked better to live than to die. At last the soldiers on either side dispersed to their homes.

1119: Raids in Transjordan

Meanwhile, Joscelin’s departure for Edessa was delayed. He was more urgently needed in Galilee than in the northern county, where, it seems, Queen Morphia remained, and where Waleran, Lord of Birejik, carried on the government. As Prince of Galilee it was for Joscelin to defend the land against attacks from Damascus. In the autumn Baldwin joined him in a raid on Deraa in the Hauran, the granary of Damascus. Toghtekin’s son Buri went out to meet them and owing to his rashness was severely defeated. After this check Toghtekin turned his attention again to the north.

In the spring of 1119 Joscelin heard that a rich Bedouin tribe was pasturing its flocks in Transjordan, by the Yarmuk. He set out with two leading Galilean barons, the brothers Godfrey and William of Bures, and about a hundred and twenty horsemen, to plunder it. The party divided to encircle the tribesmen. But things went wrong. The Bedouin chief was warned and Joscelin lost his way in the hills. Godfrey and William, riding up to attack the camp, were ambushed. Godfrey was killed, and most of his followers taken prisoner. Joscelin returned unhappily to Tiberias and sent to tell King Baldwin; who came up in force and frightened the Bedouin into returning the prisoners and paying an indemnity. They were then allowed to spend the summer in peace.

When Baldwin was pausing at Tiberias on his return from this short campaign, messengers came to him from Antioch, begging him to hasten with his army northward, as fast as he could travel.

Ever since Roger of Antioch’s victory at Tel-Danith, the unfortunate city of Aleppo had been powerless to prevent Frankish aggression. It had reluctantly placed itself beneath the protection of Ilghazi the Ortoqid; but Roger’s capture of Biza’a in 1119 left it surrounded on three sides. The loss of Biza’a was more than Ilghazi could endure. Hitherto neither he nor his constant ally, Toghtekin of Damascus, had been prepared to risk their whole strength in a combat against the Franks; for they feared and disliked still more the Seldjuk Sultans of the East. But the Sultan Mohammed had died in April 1118; and his death had let loose the ambition of every governor and princeling throughout his empire. His youthful son and successor, Mahmud, tried pathetically to assert his authority, but eventually, in August 1119, he was obliged to hand over the supreme power to his uncle Sanjar, the King of Khorassan, and spent the rest of his short life in the pleasures of the chase. Sanjar, the last of his house to rule over the whole eastern Seldjuk dominion, was vigorous enough; but his interests were in the East. He never concerned himself with Syria. Nor were his cousins of the Sultanate of Rum, distracted with quarrels amongst themselves and with the Danishmends and by wars with Byzantium, better able to intervene in Syrian affairs. Ilghazi, the most tenacious of the local princes, at last had his opportunity. His wish was not so much to destroy the Frankish states as to secure Aleppo for himself, but the latter aim now involved the former.

During the spring of 1119 Ilghazi journeyed round his dominions collecting his Turcoman troops and arranging for contingents to come from the Kurds to the north and from the Arab tribes of the Syrian desert. As a matter of form he applied for assistance from the Sultan Mahmud, but received no answer. His ally, Toghtekin, agreed to come up from Damascus; and the Munqidhites of Shaizar promised to make a diversion to the south of Roger’s territory. At the end of May, the Ortoqid army, said to be forty thousand strong, was on the march. Roger received the news calmly; but the Patriarch Bernard urged him to appeal for help to King Baldwin and to Pons of Tripoli. From Tiberias Baldwin sent to say that he would come as quickly as possible and would bring the troops of Tripoli with him. In the meantime Roger should wait on the defensive. Baldwin then collected the army of Jerusalem, and fortified it with a portion of the True Cross, in the care of Evremar, Archbishop of Caesarea.

1119: The Field of Blood

While the Munqidhites made a raid on Apamea, Ilghazi sent Turcoman detachments south-west, to effect a junction with them and with the army coming up from Damascus. He himself with his main army raided the territory of Edessa but made no attempt against its fortress-capital. In mid-June he crossed the Euphrates at Balis and moved on to encamp himself at Qinnasrin, some fifteen miles south of Aleppo, to await Toghtekin. Roger was less patient. In spite of King Baldwin’s message, in spite of the solemn warning of the Patriarch Bernard and in spite of all the previous experience of the Frankish princes, he decided to meet the enemy at once. On 20 June he led the whole army of Antioch, seven hundred horsemen and four thousand infantrymen, across the Iron Bridge, and encamped himself in front of the little fort of Tel-Aqibrin, at the eastern edge of the plain of Sarmeda, where the broken country afforded a good natural defence. Though his forces were far inferior to the enemy’s, he hoped that he could wait here till Baldwin arrived.

Ilghazi, at Qinnasrin, was perfectly informed of Roger’s movements. Spies disguised as merchants had inspected the Frankish camp and reported the numerical weakness of the Frankish army. Though Ilghazi wished to wait for Toghtekin’s arrival, his Turcoman emirs urged him to take action. On 27 June part of his army moved to attack the Frankish castle of Athareb. Roger had time to rush some of his men there, under Robert of Vieux-Ponts; then, disquieted to find the enemy so close, when darkness fell he sent away all the treasure of the army to the castle of Artah on the road to Antioch.

Throughout the night Roger waited anxiously for news of the Moslems’ movements, while his soldiers’ rest was broken by a somnambulist who ran through the camp crying that disaster was upon them. At dawn on Saturday, 28 June, scouts brought word to the Prince that the camp was surrounded. A dry enervating khamsin was blowing up from the south. In the camp itself there was little food and water. Roger saw that he must break through the enemy ranks or perish. The Archbishop of Apamea was with the army, Peter, formerly of Albara, the first Frankish bishop in the East. He summoned the soldiers together and preached to them and confessed them all. He confessed Roger in his tent and gave him absolution for his many sins of the flesh. Roger then boldly announced that he would go hunting. But first he sent out another scouting-party which was ambushed. The few survivors hurried back to say that there was no way through the encirclement. Roger drew up the army in four divisions and one in reserve. Thereupon the Archbishop blessed them once more; and they charged in perfect order into the enemy.

It was hopeless from the outset. There was no escape through the hordes of Turcoman horsemen and archers. The locally recruited infantrymen, Syrians and Armenians, were the first to panic; but there was no place to which they could flee. They crowded in amongst the cavalry, hindering the horses. The wind suddenly turned to the north and rose, driving a cloud of dust into the Franks’ faces. Early in the battle less than a hundred horsemen broke through and joined up with Robert of Vieux-Ponts, who had arrived back from Athareb too late to take part. They fled on to Antioch. A little later Reynald Mazoir and a few knights escaped and reached the little town of Sarmeda, in the plain. No one else in the army of Antioch survived. Roger himself fell fighting at the foot of his great jewelled cross. Round him fell his knights except for a few, less fortunate, who were made prisoners. By midday it was all over. To the Franks the battle was known as the Ager Sanguinis, the Field of Blood.

1119: Ilghazi wastes his Victory

At Aleppo, fifteen miles away, the faithful waited eagerly for news. About noon a rumour came that a great victory was in store for Islam; and at the hour of the afternoon prayer the first exultant soldiers were seen to approach. Ilghazi had only paused on the battlefield to allot the booty to his men, then marched to Sarmeda, where Reynald Mazoir surrendered to him. Reynald’s proud bearing impressed Ilghazi, who spared his life. His comrades were slain. The Frankish prisoners were dragged in chains across the plain behind their victors. While Ilghazi parleyed with Reynald, they were tortured and massacred amongst the vineyards by the Turcomans, till Ilghazi put a stop to it, not wishing the populace of Aleppo to miss all the sport. The remainder were taken on to Aleppo, where Ilghazi made his triumphant entry at sundown; and there they were tortured to death in the streets.

While Ilghazi feasted at Aleppo in celebration of his victory, the terrible news of the battle reached Antioch. All expected that the Turcomans would come up at once to attack the city; and there were no soldiers to defend it. In the crisis the Patriarch Bernard took command. His first fear was of treason from the native Christians, whom his own actions had done so much to alienate. He at once sent round to disarm them and impose a curfew on them. Then he distributed the arms that he could collect among the Frankish clergy and merchants and set them to watch the walls. Day and night they kept vigil, while a messenger was sent to urge King Baldwin to hurry faster.

But Ilghazi did not follow up his victory. He wrote round to the monarchs of the Moslem world to tell them of his triumph; and the Caliph in return sent him a robe of honour and the title of Star of Religion. Meanwhile he marched on Artah. The Bishop who was in command of one of the towers surrendered it in return for a safe-conduct to Antioch; but a certain Joseph, probably an Armenian, who was in charge of the citadel, where Roger’s treasure was housed, persuaded Ilghazi that he himself sympathized with the Moslems, but his son was a hostage at Antioch. Ilghazi was impressed by the story, and left Artah in Joseph’s hands, merely sending one of his emirs to reside as his representative in the town. From Artesia he returned to Aleppo, where he settled down to so pleasant a series of festivities that his health began to suffer. Turcoman troops were sent to raid the suburbs of Antioch and sack the port of Saint Symeon, but reported that the city itself was well garrisoned. The fruits of the Field of Blood were thus thrown away by the Moslems.

1119: Drawn Battle at Hab

Nevertheless the position was serious for the Franks. Baldwin had reached Lattakieh, with Pons close behind him, before he heard the news. He hurried on, not stopping even to attack an undefended Turcoman encampment near to the road, and arrived without incident at Antioch in the first days of August. Ilghazi sent some of his troops to intercept the relieving army; and Pons, following a day’s march behind, had to ward off their attack but was not much delayed. The King was received with joy by his sister, the widowed Princess Cecilia, by the Patriarch and by all the people; and a service giving thanks to God was held in St Peter’s Cathedral. He first cleared the suburbs of marauders, then met the notables of the city to discuss its future government. The lawful prince, Bohemond II, whose ultimate rights Roger had always acknowledged, was a boy of ten, living with his mother in Italy. There was no representative of the Norman house left in the East; and the Norman knights had all perished on the Field of Blood. It was decided that Baldwin, as overlord of the Frankish East, should himself take over the government of Antioch till Bohemond came of age, and that Bohemond should then be married to one of the King’s daughters. Next, Baldwin redistributed the fiefs of the principality, left empty by the disaster. Wherever it was possible, the widows of the fallen lords were married off at once to suitable knights in Baldwin’s army or to newcomers from the West. We find the two Dowager Princesses, Tancred’s widow, now Countess of Tripoli, and Roger’s widow, installing new vassals on their dower-lands. At the same time Baldwin probably rearranged the fiefs of the county of Edessa; and Joscelin, who followed the King up from Palestine, was formally established as its Count. Having assured the administration of the land, and having headed a barefoot procession to the cathedral, Baldwin led his army of about seven hundred horsemen and some thousand infantrymen out against the Moslems.

Ilghazi had now been joined by Toghtekin; and the two Moslem chieftains set out on 11 August to capture the Frankish fortresses east of the Orontes, beginning with Athareb, whose small garrison at once surrendered in return for a safe-conduct to Antioch. The emirs next day went on to Zerdana, whose lord, Robert the Leper, had gone to Antioch. Here again the garrison surrendered in return for their lives; but they were massacred by the Turcomans as soon as they emerged from the gates. Baldwin had hoped to save Athareb; but he had hardly crossed the Iron Bridge before he met its former garrison. He went on south, and heard of the siege of Zerdana. Suspecting that the Moslems intended to move southward to mop up the castles round Maarat an-Numan and Apamea, he hurried ahead and encamped on the 13th at Tel-Danith, the scene of Roger’s victory in 1115. Early next morning he learnt that Zerdana had fallen and judged it prudent to retire a little towards Antioch. Meanwhile Ilghazi had come up, hoping to surprise the Franks as they slept by the village of Hab. But Baldwin was ready. He had already confessed himself; the Archbishop of Caesarea had harangued the troops and held up the True Cross to bless them; and the army was ready for action.

The battle that followed was confused. Both sides claimed a victory; but in fact the Franks came off the best. Toghtekin drove back Pons of Tripoli, on the Frankish right wing; but the Tripolitans kept their ranks. Next to him Robert the Leper charged through the regiment from Homs and eagerly planned to recapture Zerdana, only to fall into an ambush and be taken captive. But the Frankish centre and left held their ground, and at the crucial moment Baldwin was able to charge the enemy with troops that were still fresh. Numbers of the Turcomans turned and fled; but the bulk of Ilghazi’s army left the battlefield in good order. Ilghazi and Toghtekin retired towards Aleppo with a large train of prisoners, and were able to tell the Moslem world that theirs was the victory. Once again the citizens of Aleppo were gratified by the sight of a wholesale massacre of Christians, till Ilghazi, after interrupting the killing to try out a new horse, grew disquieted at the loss of so much potential ransom-money. Robert the Leper was asked his price and replied that it was ten thousand pieces of gold. Ilghazi hoped to raise the price by sending Robert to Toghtekin. But Toghtekin had not yet satisfied his blood-lust. Though Robert was an old friend of his from the days of 1115, he himself struck off his head, to the dismay of Ilghazi, who needed money for his soldiers’ pay.

1119: Failure of the Ortoqid Campaign

At Antioch soldiers fleeing from Pons’s army had brought news of a defeat; but soon a messenger arrived for the Princess Cecilia bearing the King’s ring as token of his success. Baldwin himself did not attempt to pursue the Moslem army but moved on south to Maarat an-Numan and to Rusa, which the Munqidhites of Shaizar had occupied. He drove them out but then made a treaty with them, releasing them from the obligation to pay yearly dues that Roger had demanded. The remaining forts that the Moslems had captured, with the exception of Birejik, Athareb and Zerdana, were also recovered. Then Baldwin returned to Antioch in triumph, and sent the Holy Cross southward to arrive at Jerusalem in time for the Feast of the Exaltation, on 14 September. He himself spent the autumn in Antioch, completing the arrangements that he had begun before the recent battle. In December he journeyed back to Jerusalem, leaving the Patriarch Bernard to administer Antioch in his name, and installing Joscelin in Edessa. He brought south with him from Edessa his wife and their little daughters; and at the Christmas ceremony at Bethlehem Morphia was crowned queen.

Ilghazi had not ventured to attack the Franks again. His army was melting away. The Turcoman troops had come mainly for the sake of plunder. After the battle of Tel-Danith they were left idle and bored and their pay was in arrears. They began to go home, and with them the Arab chieftains of the Jezireh. Ilghazi could not prevent them; for he himself had fallen ill once more and for a fortnight he hung between life and death. When he recovered it was too late to reassemble his army. He returned from Aleppo to his eastern capital at Mardin, and Toghtekin returned to Damascus.

Thus the great Ortoqid campaign fizzled out. It had achieved nothing material for the Moslems, except for a few frontier-forts and the easing of Frankish pressure on Aleppo. But it had been a great moral triumph for Islam. The check at Tel-Danith had not counterbalanced the tremendous victory of the Field of Blood. Had Ilghazi been abler and more alert, Antioch might have been his. As it was, the slaughter of the Norman chivalry, their Prince at their head, encouraged the emirs of the Jezireh and northern Mesopotamia to renew the attack, now that they were free from the tutelage of their nominal Seldjuk overlord in Persia. And soon a greater man than Ilghazi was to arise. For the Franks the worst result of the campaign had been the appalling loss of man-power. The knights and, still more, the infantrymen fallen on the Field of Blood could not easily be replaced. But the lesson had now been thoroughly learnt that the Franks of the East must always co-operate and work as a unit. King Baldwin’s prompt intervention had saved Antioch; and the needs of the time were recognized by the readiness of all the Franks to accept him as an active overlord. The disaster welded together the Frankish establishments in Syria.

On his return to Jerusalem Baldwin busied himself over the administration of his own kingdom. The succession to the principality of Galilee was given to William of Bures, in whose family it remained. In January 1120 the King summoned the ecclesiastics and tenants-in-chief of the kingdom to a council at Nablus to discuss the moral welfare of his subjects, probably in an attempt to curb the tendency of the Latin colonists in the East to adopt the easy and indolent habits that they found there. At the same time he was concerned with their material welfare. Under Baldwin I an increasing number of Latins had been encouraged to settle in Jerusalem, and a Latin bourgeois class was growing up there by the side of the warriors and clerics of the kingdom. These Latin bourgeois were now given complete freedom of trade to and from the city, while, to ensure a full supply of food, the native Christians and even Arab merchants were allowed to bring vegetables and corn to the city free of customs-dues.

1118-20: Beginnings of the Military Orders

The most important internal event of these years was the foundation of the Military Orders. In the year 1070 some pious citizens of Amalfi had founded a hostel at Jerusalem for the use of poor pilgrims. The Egyptian governor then in possession of the city had allowed the Amalfitan consul to choose a suitable site; and the establishment was dedicated to Saint John the Almsgiver, the charitable seventh-century Patriarch of Alexandria. The hostel was staffed mainly by Amalfitans, who took the usual monastic vows and were under the direction of a Master, who in his turn was under the Benedictine authorities established in Palestine. At the time of the Crusaders’ capture of Jerusalem the Master was a certain Gerard, probably an Amalfitan. With his co-religionists he had been banished from Jerusalem by the Moslem governor before the siege began; and his knowledge of local conditions had been of value to the Crusaders. He persuaded the new Frankish government to make endowments to the Hospital. Many of the pilgrims joined his staff, which was soon released from its obedience to the Benedictines and raised to be an Order of its own, under the name of the Hospitallers, owing direct obedience to the Pope. More lands were conferred on it and most of the great ecclesiastics of the realm offered it a tithe from their revenues. Gerard died in about 1118. His successor, the Frenchman Raymond of Le Puy, had larger ideas. He decided that it was not enough for his Order to guide and entertain pilgrims; it must be ready to fight to keep the pilgrim-routes open. The Order still contained brothers whose duties were purely pacific; but its main function was now to keep up an establishment of knights bound by the religious vows of personal poverty, chastity and obedience, and dedicated to fight against the heathen. About the same time, as though to mark the greater status of the Hospital, John the Almsgiver was imperceptibly replaced as its patron saint by John the Evangelist. The distinctive badge of the Knights Hospitaller was the white cross that they wore on their tunics over their armour.

This transformation was helped by the simultaneous establishment of the Knights Templar. Indeed, the idea of an Order that should be both religious and military probably sprang from the brain of a knight from Champagne, Hugh of Payens, who in 1118 persuaded King Baldwin I to allow him to install himself and a few companions in a wing of the royal palace, the former mosque al-Aqsa, in the Temple area. Like the Hospitallers the Templars first followed the Benedictine rule but were almost at once established as an independent Order, with three classes, the knights, all of noble birth, the sergeants, drawn from the bourgeoisie, who were the grooms and stewards of the community, and the clerics, who were chaplains and in charge of non-military tasks. Their badge was the red cross, worn on a white tunic by the knights and on a black by the sergeants. The first avowed duty of the Order was to keep the road from the coast to Jerusalem free from bandits, but soon they took part in any campaign in which the kingdom was involved. Hugh himself spent much of his time in western Europe, gaining recruits for his Order.

King Baldwin gave the military Orders his full support. They were independent of his authority, owing allegiance only to the Pope. Even the great estates with which he and his vassals began to endow them involved no obligation to fight in the King’s army; but a generation passed before they were rich enough to challenge the royal authority. In the meantime they provided the kingdom with what it most needed, a regular army of trained soldiers, whose permanent presence was assured. In the lay fiefs the sudden death of the lord and the passing of the inheritance to a woman or a child might interrupt the organization of his troops and perpetually involve the suzerain in anxious and tiresome business. Nor could he count on replacing the lords that he lost by new-comers from the West whenever he needed them. But the Military Orders, with their efficient organization and with their glamour and prestige spreading through western Christendom, could ensure a regular supply of devoted fighting-men who would not be distracted by thoughts of personal ambition and gain.

1121: The Georgian Crusade

In 1120 Baldwin returned to Antioch. Ilghazi’s governor of Athareb, Bulaq, had begun to raid Antiochene territory, while Ilghazi himself had marched on Edessa. Both raids were checked; but Ilghazi passed on to the neighbourhood of Antioch. The Patriarch Bernard sent nervously to Jerusalem, to the King; and in June Baldwin started northward, bearing with him once more the True Cross, to the distress of the Church of Jerusalem, which disliked to see its precious relic exposed to the risk of war. The Patriarch Gormond himself accompanied the army, to take charge of the relic. When Baldwin arrived in the north he found that Ilghazi, weakened by desertions from his Turcoman troops, had already retired; and so alarmed were the Moslems that Toghtekin was summoned to Aleppo. During the campaign that followed each side marched to and fro, till at last the Moslems were wearied. Toghtekin retired to Damascus; and Ilghazi made a truce with Baldwin. A definite frontier-line was drawn between their zones of influence, in one place cutting a mill and in another a castle in half so. that by mutual consent the buildings were destroyed. Zerdana, which remained a Moslem enclave, was dismantled. Early next spring Baldwin returned home, having won a bloodless moral victory. He was needed in the south, as Toghtekin, believing him fully occupied in the north, had carried out an extensive raid into Galilee. In July 1121 Baldwin, in reprisal, crossed the Jordan and ravaged the Jaulan, occupying and destroying a fort that Toghtekin had built at Jerash. Meanwhile Joscelin made a profitable razzia in Ilghazi’s lands in the Jezireh.

During the summer of 1121 a new factor made itself felt in eastern politics. Away to the north, in the Caucasian foothills, the Bagratid Kings of Georgia had established their hegemony over the Christian peoples there that still remained independent of Moslem domination; and King David II had extended his rule to the south of the Araxes valley, where he came into conflict with the Seldjuk prince, Toghrul, governor of Arran. After a defeat by David’s forces Toghrul invited Ilghazi to join him in a Holy War against the impudent Christian. The campaign that followed was disastrous for the Moslems. In August 1121 the united army of Toghrul and Ilghazi was almost annihilated by the Georgians; and Ilghazi barely escaped with his life as he fled back to Mardin. King David was able to establish himself in the old Georgian capital of Tiflis, and by 1124 he had acquired northern Armenia and the metropolis of Ani, the ancient home of his house. Henceforward the whole Turkish world was desperately conscious of the danger that Georgia, with its superb strategic position, presented to them; nor was the danger lessened by David II’s death in 1125. His successors inherited his vigour. Their prowess, by keeping the Moslems perpetually nervous of their northern flank, was of great value to the Franks, though there seems to have been no direct contact between the two Christian powers. The Georgians, bound by links of religion and tradition to Byzantium, had no liking for the Franks; and the chilly treatment accorded to their religious establishments at Jerusalem was not such as would please a proud people.

Nevertheless, Ilghazi’s fate at their hands gave Baldwin an opportunity that he did not miss. Ilghazi’s son, Suleiman, recently appointed governor of Aleppo by his father, rashly profited by his father’s defeat to declare his independence, and, finding himself unable to meet the attack that Baldwin at once launched against him, he made peace with the Franks, ceding to them Zerdana and Athareb, the fruits of Ilghazi’s victory. Ilghazi hastened to punish his disloyal son, but judged it prudent to confirm the treaty with Baldwin; who returned to Jerusalem, well pleased with the year’s achievements.

1122: Capture of Count Joscelin

Early in 1122 Pons, Count of Tripoli, suddenly refused to pay allegiance to the King. The reason for his insubordination is unknown. It is difficult to see what support he hoped to find that would enable him to maintain it. Baldwin was furious and at once summoned his vassals to come and punish the rebel. The royal army marched up from Acre; and on its approach Pons submitted and was forgiven. His submission was timely; for Ilghazi, urged on by his nephew Balak, formerly prince of Saruj and now lord of Khanzit, was on the warpath once more. Baldwin, when the news was brought to him, refused to believe it. He had made a treaty with Ilghazi, and he believed that a gentleman — the Arab chronicler uses the word ‘sheikh’ — kept his word. But Ilghazi was no gentleman; and he had the promise of Toghtekin’s help. He laid siege to Zerdana, which the Franks had rebuilt, and had captured part of the fortifications when Baldwin approached. There followed another campaign without a battle, as Baldwin refused to be lured by the habitual Turkish stratagem of a feigned flight. Once again the Moslems were the first to weary of the marching to and fro and returned to their homes. Baldwin contentedly sent the Cross back to Jerusalem and himself went to Antioch.

Before the Cross had reached its destination, bad news came from Edessa. On 13 September 1122, Count Joscelin and Waleran of Birejik were riding with a small force of horsemen near Saruj when they suddenly came across Balak’s army. They charged the enemy; but a heavy shower of rain turned the plain into mud. The horses slid and stumbled; and the light-armed Turcomans had no difficulty in surrounding the Franks. Joscelin, Waleran and sixty of their comrades were captured. Balak at once offered them their liberty in return for the cession of Edessa. On Joscelin’s refusal to listen to such terms, the prisoners were taken by Balak to his castle of Kharpurt.

Joscelin’s capture did not much affect the man-power of the Crusading states. We find the knights of Edessa successfully raiding Moslem territory during the following month. But it was a blow to Frankish prestige; and it forced Baldwin to add to his labours by taking over once more the administration of Edessa. Fortunately, in November, Ilghazi died at Mayyafaraqin, and his sons and nephews divided up the Ortoqid inheritance. His elder son Suleiman took Mayyafaraqin and the younger, Timurtash, Mardin. Aleppo went to a nephew, Badr ad-Daulah Suleiman; and Balak increased his possessions in the north and took Harran to the south.

The Moslems had recently reoccupied Athareb; and in April next year Baldwin took advantage of the present confusion to force the feeble new ruler of Aleppo to give it back once and for all. After recapturing Birejik, the King then proceeded to Edessa to make arrangements for its government. He placed Geoffrey the Monk, lord of Marash, at the head of its administration, and went on with a small force north-eastward, to reconnoitre the scene of Joscelin’s captivity. He encamped on 18 April not far from Gargar on the Euphrates. As he prepared to enjoy a morning’s sport with his falcon, Balak, of whose proximity he knew nothing, fell upon the camp. Most of the army was massacred, and the King himself was taken prisoner. He was treated with respect and sent under escort to join Joscelin in the fortress of Kharpurt.

1123: Baldwin and Joscelin attempt to escape

Once again Baldwin and Joscelin found themselves together in captivity. But it was more serious than in 1104, for Baldwin now was king, the centrepiece of the whole Frankish fabric. It was a testimony to his administrative ability that the structure remained standing. Geoffrey the Monk continued to govern in Edessa. At Antioch when the news came there the Patriarch Bernard once more made himself the responsible authority. At Jerusalem it was first rumoured that the King was killed. The Patriarch Gormond summoned the council of the kingdom to meet at Acre. By the time that it assembled the truth about his captivity was known. The council elected Eustace Gamier, lord of Caesarea and Sidon, to act as constable and bailiff of the kingdom till the King should be delivered. In all three territories administrative life went on undisturbed.

The emir Balak had acquired a vast prestige; but he used it, not to deliver a death-blow against the Franks, but to establish himself in Aleppo. It was a harder task than he expected, for he was unpopular there. By June he was its master; and he then attacked the Frankish possession farther south, capturing Albara in August, only to be summoned north again by extraordinary news from Kharpurt.

Joscelin had always been well-liked by the Armenians. Soon after his arrival in the East he had, like Baldwin I and Baldwin II, married an Armenian wife, the sister of the Roupenian Thoros, and she, unlike the two Queens of Jerusalem, was not born Orthodox but of the Separated Armenian Church and therefore in greater sympathy with most of her compatriots. She was dead now, and Joscelin had remarried; but his intimacy with the Armenians had continued and he had never shown against them the severity shown by his predecessor Baldwin II. The castle of Kharpurt lay in Armenian country; and a local peasant agreed to take a message to Joscelin’s Armenian friends. Fifty of them came in various disguises to Kharpurt and were allowed entry as being monks and merchants of the district with a grievance that they asked to lay before the governor. Once inside the fortress they produced arms from beneath their garments and overpowered the garrison. Baldwin and Joscelin suddenly found themselves the masters of their prison. After a brief conference it was decided that Joscelin should leave the fortress before the Ortoqid army came up and should seek help, while Baldwin should try to hold the fortress. Joscelin slipped out with three Armenian comrades. When he had managed to pass between the gathering Turkish forces, he sent one of his men back to reassure the King. He himself went on through the dangerous enemy country, hiding by day and tramping wearily by night. At last the fugitives reached the Euphrates. Joscelin could not swim; but he had two wineskins in which he had carried water. Blowing them up with his breath he used them as floats; and his two companions, both strong swimmers, were able to push him across through the darkness. Next day they were found by a peasant, who recognized the Count and welcomed him with joy; for Joscelin had given him alms in the past. With the help of the peasant and his family Joscelin travelled on cautiously to Turbessel, where he revealed himself to his wife and the court. He would not stay there but hurried to Antioch to raise troops to rescue the King. But the army of Antioch was small and the Patriarch Bernard was nervous. At his suggestion Joscelin rode at full speed to Jerusalem. His first act was to offer his chains at the altar of Calvary. Then he summoned the council of the kingdom and told his story. With the eager help of the Patriarch Gormond and of the Constable Eustace, troops were collected and, with the True Cross at their head, set out under his leadership by forced marches to Turbessel. But when they arrived there they heard that it was too late.

When the news of the revolution at Kharpurt reached Balak he at once brought his army up from the south at a speed that astounded contemporaries. On his arrival he offered Baldwin a safe-conduct to his home if he would surrender the castle. Baldwin refused, either distrusting the emir or not wishing to abandon his comrades. But the castle was less impregnable than he had thought. Balak’s engineers soon undermined a wall, and the Ortoqid army broke in. Balak now showed no mercy. His harem had been in the castle and its sanctity had been violated. Every defender of the castle, Frank or Armenian, and every woman who had aided them — there were, probably, Armenian slaves in the harem — was hurled over the battlements to death. Only the King, a nephew of his and Waleran were spared. They were moved for greater safety to the castle of Harran.

1124: Death of Balak

Joscelin could not risk the hazards of a campaign against Harran. After utilizing his army for a successful raid in the neighbourhood of Aleppo he dismissed it and returned to Turbessel. But Balak was equally unable to profit by the situation. His lieutenant in Aleppo could only answer the Franks by converting the churches of Aleppo into mosques, thereby outraging the local Christians and in no way harming the Latins. Balak himself came to Aleppo to organize a fresh campaign. But, early in 1124, the governor of Menbij revolted against his authority. He was arrested by the Ortoqid Timurtash, whom Balak asked to crush the rebellion; but the rebel’s brother Isa held the citadel and appealed to Joscelin for help. Balak met Joscelin’s army and defeated it, slaying Geoffrey the Monk. He went on to Menbij, eager to restore order there as he had just received an urgent summons from the south, from Tyre. But a stray arrow from the citadel ended his life, on 6 May. He died murmuring that his death was a mortal blow for Islam. He was right; for of all the Turkish leaders that the Crusaders had encountered he had shown the greatest energy and wisdom. The power of the Ortoqids did not long survive him.

In the kingdom of Jerusalem itself Baldwin’s absence in captivity had had no harmful effect. It had tempted the Egyptians once more to invade the country. In May 1123 a large Egyptian army moved out from Ascalon towards Jaffa. Eustace Gamier at once led the army of Jerusalem to oppose it. With him went the True Cross; while the Christian civilians of Jerusalem made barefoot processions to the churches. These pious precautions were barely needed; for when the Franks came up with the Egyptians at Ibelin, on 29 May, the enemy, despite his vast numerical superiority, turned and fled, leaving his camp to be plundered by the Christians. It was Eustace’s last achievement. On 15 May he died. Following the custom of the kingdom, his widow, the Patriarch Arnulf’s rich niece Emma, promptly took a new husband, Hugh of Le Puiset, Count of Jaffa, in order that her lands should not lack an effective tenant. The office of Constable of the Kingdom was given by the council to William of Bures, Prince of Galilee.

1123: Venetian Squadron arrives at Acre

In 1119, just after the Field of Blood, King Baldwin had written to the Republic of Venice to plead for its help. The Egyptians might not be formidable on land, but their fleet still dominated Palestinian waters. In return he offered Venice commercial advantages. The Pope supported his appeal; and the Doge, Domenico Michiel, decided to answer it. Nearly three years passed before the Venetian expedition was ready. On 8 August 1122, a fleet of well over a hundred great men-of-war set sail from Venice, carrying a number of men and horses and siege-material. But it did not sail direct for Palestine. Venice had recently quarrelled with Byzantium, over an attempt of the Emperor John Comnenus to reduce its trading privileges. So the Venetians paused to attack the Byzantine island of Corfu. For some six months, throughout the winter of 1122-3, the Doge laid siege, ineffectively, to the city of Corfu. At the end of April a ship sailing swiftly from Palestine told the Venetians of the disaster to the King. Reluctantly the Doge lifted the siege and took his armada eastward, merely stopping to attack whatever Byzantine ships he met. He arrived at Acre at the end of May and heard that the Egyptian fleet was cruising off Ascalon. He sailed down to meet it and, to lure it to battle, sent his lighter-armed ships ahead. The Egyptians fell into the trap. Thinking to have an easy victory they sailed out only to find themselves caught between two Venetian squadrons and outnumbered. Scarcely an Egyptian ship escaped from disaster. Some were sunk, others captured; and the Venetians added to their triumph when, sailing back to Acre, they met and captured a merchant-fleet of ten richly laden vessels.

The presence of the Venetians was too valuable to be wasted. There was a debate whether their fleet should be used to capture Ascalon or Tyre, the two remaining Moslem strongholds on the coast. The nobles of Judea favoured the attack on Ascalon, those of Galilee that on Tyre. The Venetians finally decided upon Tyre. Its harbour was the best along the coast and it was now the port of the rich lands of Damascus; it was a far more important trading-centre than Ascalon, with its open roadstead and its poor hinterland. But they insisted on their price. Negotiations about the terms dragged on throughout the autumn. At Christmas 1123, the Venetian commanders were sumptuously entertained at Jerusalem and attended the services at Bethlehem. Early in the new year a treaty was signed at Acre between the representatives of the Republic on the one hand and the Patriarch Gormond, the Constable William and the Chancellor Pagan on the other, in the name of the captive King. The Venetians were to receive a street, with a church, baths and a bakery, free of all customary obligations, in every town of the kingdom. They were to be free to use their own weights and measures in all their transactions, not only amongst themselves. They were to be excused all tolls and customs-duties throughout the kingdom. They were to receive additional houses in Acre and a third of the cities of Tyre and Ascalon, if they helped in their capture. In addition they were to be paid an annual sum of three hundred Saracen besants, chargeable on royal revenues at Acre. They agreed in return to continue the customary payment of a third of the fare charged for pilgrims to the royal treasury. The Venetians further demanded that the kingdom should not reduce the customs-dues charged on other nationals without Venetian consent. The Patriarch Gormond swore on the Gospel that King Baldwin would confirm the treaty when he was released. This was in fact done two years later, though Baldwin refused to accept the last clause, which would entirely have subordinated the commerce of the kingdom to Venetian interests. When the treaty was signed the Frankish army moved up the coast to Tyre and the Venetian fleet sailed parallel to it. The siege of Tyre was begun on 15 February 1124.

1124: Siege of Tyre

Tyre still belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate. In 1112 its citizens, shocked by the little support that they had received from Egypt during the siege of the city in 1111, had allowed Toghtekin to install a governor. He sent one of his ablest captains, the emir Mas’ud, to take over the city. At the same time the suzerainty of Egypt was recognized and prayers in the mosques were made for the Fatimid Caliph, who was periodically asked to send naval help to the city. The dyarchy worked smoothly for ten years, largely because the vizier al-Afdal was anxious to keep on good terms with Toghtekin, whose friendship was needed against the Franks. But in December 1121 al-Afdal was murdered by an Assassin in the streets of Cairo. The Caliph al-Amir, who then at last became his own master, wished to recover control of Tyre. He sent a fleet to Tyre in 1122, as though to strengthen its defences. The admiral invited Mas’ud to inspect the ships and, when he came, kidnapped him and brought him to Cairo. He was well received there and sent with every mark of honour to Toghtekin, who agreed not to dispute the Fatimid restoration. But when the Franks approached the city, al-Amir, declaring that with his fleet destroyed he could do nothing to save it, formally handed over its defences to Toghtekin; who rushed up seven hundred Turkish troops and provisions against the siege.

The city of Tyre was joined to the mainland only by the narrow isthmus that Alexander the Great had constructed; and its fortifications were in good order. But it had one weakness; the drinking water came through an aqueduct from the mainland, for there was no well on the peninsula. The day after their arrival the Franks cut this aqueduct. But winter rains had filled the city cisterns; it was some time before the shortage of water made itself felt. The Franks settled down in a camp in the gardens and orchards where the isthmus joined the mainland. The Venetians beached their vessels alongside of them, but always kept at least one galley at sea to intercept any vessel that might attempt to sail through to the harbour. The supreme commander of the army was the Patriarch Gormond, who was felt to possess greater authority than the Constable. When the Count of Tripoli came up with his army to join the besieging forces, he showed himself willing to obey the Patriarch in everything, a concession that he would not probably have made to William of Bures.

The siege lasted on throughout the spring and early summer. The Franks kept up a steady bombardment of the walls across the isthmus from engines whose material had been brought up by the Venetians. The defenders on their side were well equipped with machines for hurling stones and Greek fire on their assailants. They fought magnificently; but they were not sufficiently numerous to attempt sorties. Fearing lest hunger and thirst and shortage of man-power might force them to capitulate, their messengers slipped out of the city to urge Toghtekin and the Egyptians to hurry to their rescue. An Egyptian army attempted a diversion against Jerusalem itself and reached the outskirts of the Holy City. But its civilians, merchants, clerks and priests, hastened to man its tremendous walls; and the Egyptian commander did not venture to attack them. Soon afterwards a second Egyptian army sacked the little town of Belin, or La Mahomerie, a few miles to the north, and massacred its inhabitants. But such isolated raids would not save Tyre. Toghtekin was even less enterprising. When the siege began he moved with his army to Banyas, by the source of the Jordan, waiting for news of an Egyptian fleet with which he could concert his attack on the Frankish camp. But no Egyptian fleet sailed up the coast; the Caliph could not muster one. The Franks had feared this combination. The Venetian fleet lay for some weeks off the Ladder of Tyre to intercept the Egyptians; and the Patriarch detached Pons of Tripoli and William of Bures with a considerable army to go to meet Toghtekin. When they approached towards Banyas, Toghtekin decided not to risk a battle and retired to Damascus. The only hope of the besieged city now lay in Balak the Ortoqid, the renowned captor of the King. Balak planned to come to their aid; but in May he was killed at Menbij.

1124: Ransom of King Baldwin

By the end of June the situation inside Tyre was desperate. Food and water were alike running out, and many of the garrison had fallen. Toghtekin was warned that it must surrender. He sent to the Frankish camp offering its capitulation on the usual terms; that those of the inhabitants that wished to leave the city should do so in peace with all their movable belongings and those that wished to remain should keep their rights as citizens. The Frankish and Venetian leaders accepted the offer, though the common soldiers and sailors were furious to hear that there would be no looting and threatened mutiny. On 7 July 1124 the gates were opened and the Christian army took over the city. The King’s standard was hoisted over the main gate, and the Count of Tripoli’s and the Doge’s over towers on either side. The leaders kept their word. There was no looting; and a long procession of Moslems passed safely through the Crusader camp. The last Moslem town on the coast north of Ascalon thus passed to the Christians. Their army returned rejoicing to Jerusalem; and the Venetians sailed back to Venice, having extracted their pound of flesh.

The good news reached King Baldwin at Shaizar. On Balak’s death his custody had passed to Ilghazi’s son Timurtash, who disliked the responsibility of it and preferred the idea of a rich ransom. He asked the emir of Shaizar to open negotiations with the Franks. Queen Morphia had journeyed to the north to be as near as possible to her husband; and she and Count Joscelin arranged terms with the emir. The price demanded was high. The King was to pay Timurtash eighty thousand dinars and was to cede to Aleppo, where Timurtash had succeeded to Balak’s power, the towns of Athareb, Zerdana, Azaz, Kafartab and the Jasr; he must also help Timurtash in suppressing the Bedouin leader Dubais ibn Sadaqa, who had settled in the Jezireh. Twenty thousand dinars were to be paid in advance; and hostages were to be deposited at Shaizar for the payment of the remainder. As soon as they were handed over to the Moslems, Baldwin would be freed. For hostages Timurtash demanded the King’s youngest child, the four-year old Princess Joveta, and the son and heir of Joscelin, a boy of eleven, and ten scions of the nobility. The emir Sultan of Shaizar, to show his good faith, sent various members of his family to Aleppo. At the end of June 1124 Baldwin left Harran, on his own charger, which had been restored to him by Timurtash, together with many costly gifts. He went to Shaizar, where the emir, who remembered him kindly for his remission of the money due from Shaizar to Antioch five years before, offered him lavish entertainment. He met there his daughter and her fellow-hostages. On their arrival he was allowed to proceed to Antioch, which he reached in the last days of August.

Now that he was free Baldwin did not honour the terms that he had accepted. The Patriarch Bernard pointed out to him that he was only the overlord and regent of Antioch; he had no right to give away its territory, which belonged to the youthful Bohemond II. Baldwin was willingly convinced by the argument and sent to tell Timurtash very apologetically that most unfortunately he could not disobey the Patriarch. Timurtash, who was more concerned to receive money than territory, forgave the offence for fear of losing the remainder of the ransom. Discovering Timurtash to be so compliant, Baldwin next dishonoured the clause by which he had promised to aid him against the Bedouin emir Dubais. Instead, he received an embassy from Dubais to plan common action against Aleppo. An alliance was made; and in October the armies of Antioch and Edessa joined Dubais’s Arabs before the walls of Aleppo. Their coalition was soon strengthened by the arrival in their camp of the Seldjuk claimant to the throne of Aleppo, Sultanshah, who had recently escaped from an Ortoqid prison, together with his cousin Toghrul Arslan, brother of the Sultan of Rum, who had recently been evicted from Melitene by the Danishmends and was searching for allies.

1125: Battle of Azaz

Timurtash made no attempt to defend Aleppo. His brother Suleiman of Mayyafaraqin was dying; and he wanted to make sure of the inheritance. He remained at Mardin, leaving the notables of the city to hold out as best they could. For three months they resisted, while their emissaries, ill-received by Timurtash, who had no wish to be further bothered about them, went on to Mosul and aroused the interest of its atabeg, Aqsonqor il-Bursuqi, who had led the Sultan’s armies against the Franks in 1114. Il-Bursuqi, who hated the Ortoqids, sent officers to take over the citadel of Aleppo, and himself, though ill, set out with an army and with the Sultan’s blessing. When he approached Aleppo he ordered the emir of Homs, Khirkan, and Toghtekin of Damascus to join him; and both sent contingents. Before this display of force the Franco-Bedouin alliance broke up. Dubais moved with his tribe eastward, while Baldwin retired to the fortress of Athareb. At the end of January il-Bursuqi entered Aleppo, but made no attempt to pursue the Franks. Seeing this, the King returned to Antioch and went on to Jerusalem, where he arrived in April 1125, after two years’ absence.

He did not remain there for long; for il-Bursuqi was more formidable than the Ortoqids. Master of Mosul and Aleppo, and backed by the Sultan’s authority, he was able to coalesce the Moslems of northern Syria under his rule. Toghtekin and the emir of Homs submitted to his hegemony. In March he visited Shaizar, whose emir Sultan, always anxious to be the friend of everyone of importance, handed over to him the Frankish hostages, the Princess Joveta and young Joscelin and their comrades. In May, at the head of a new Moslem alliance, he attacked and captured the Frankish fort of Kafartab and laid siege to Zerdana. Baldwin hastened northward and led the armies of Antioch, Tripoli and Edessa, eleven hundred horsemen and two thousand foot-soldiers, to save Zerdana. The Moslems moved on to Azaz; and there, at the end of May, took place one of the most bloodthirsty battles in the history of the Crusades. The Moslems, relying on their superior numbers, attempted a hand-to-hand contest; but the superior armour and physique of the Franks was too much for them, and they were decisively beaten. From the rich booty that he acquired, Baldwin was able to amass the eighty thousand dinars owing for the ransom of the hostages, each Frankish knight giving up a portion of his share to rescue the King’s daughter. Though the money was really due to Timurtash, il-Bursuqi accepted it and returned the hostages. Another sum, sent to Shaizar, redeemed prisoners and hostages that were still detained there. On their release, they were attacked by the emir of Homs; but the Munqidhites hurried to their rescue and sent them on their way.

After the battle a truce was made. The Moslems kept Kafartab, which was given to the emir of Homs, but no other territorial changes were made. After leaving a garrison in Aleppo, il-Bursuqi returned to Mosul. For eighteen months the north was left in peace.

Baldwin went back to Palestine, where in the autumn of 1125, he conducted a raid on Damascene lands and a demonstration against Ascalon. In January 1126 he decided to lead a serious expedition against Damascus and invaded the Hauran. Toghtekin came out to meet him. The armies clashed at Tel es-Saqhab, some twenty miles south-west of Damascus. At first the Moslems had the better of the fight, and Toghtekin’s Turcoman regiment penetrated to the royal camp; but in the end Baldwin won the victory. He pursued the enemy half-way to Damascus, but in view of his heavy losses he judged it prudent to abandon the campaign and retired, laden with booty, to Jerusalem.

1126: Arrival of Bohemond II

In March 1126 Pons of Tripoli attacked the Moslem fortress of Rafaniya, which dominated the entry to the Buqaia from the Orontes valley. It had long been a Christian objective since its recapture by Toghtekin in 1105. While its governor appealed for help to Toghtekin and to il-Bursuqi, Pons applied for King Baldwin’s aid. The two Christian princes marched quickly on the fortress, long before the Moslems were ready to come to its rescue; and it surrendered to them after a siege of eighteen days. Its capture was valuable to the Franks; for it safeguarded not only the county of Tripoli itself but communications between Jerusalem and Antioch.

Meanwhile the Egyptians had rebuilt their fleet. In the autumn of 1126 it set sail from Alexandria to ravage the Christian coast. Hearing of this il-Bursuqi planned a simultaneous attack in the north and laid siege to Athareb. Baldwin rightly decided that the latter was the greater danger and hurried to Antioch. In fact the Egyptians, after attempting a costly raid on the suburbs of Beirut, found the coastal cities so well garrisoned that they soon returned to the Nile. In the north Baldwin, who was joined by Joscelin, obliged the Moslems to retire from Athareb. Neither side would risk a battle; and the truce was soon re-made. Il-Bursuqi, after installing his son Izz ed-Din Mas’ud as governor of Aleppo, went home to Mosul. On the very day of his arrival, 26 November, he was stabbed to death by an Assassin.

Il-Bursuqi’s death brought chaos to the Moslems, which worsened when his son Mas’ud, with whom Toghtekin had already quarrelled, died, probably of poison, a few months later. Aleppo passed to and fro between Mas’ud’s nominee Tuman, a Mameluk sent by the Sultan called Kutluh, the Ortoqid Badr ad-Daulah Suleiman, and a son of Ridwan’s, Ibrahim the Seldjuk.

About the same time Baldwin gladly found himself relieved of the regency of Antioch. The young Bohemond II was now aged eighteen and came to take over his inheritance. Abandoning his lands in Italy to his cousin, Roger II of Sicily, he sailed from Otranto in September 1126 with a squadron of twenty-four ships, carrying a number of troops and horses. He landed at Saint Symeon early in October, and came straight up to Antioch, where King Baldwin welcomed him with every mark of honour. He made an excellent impression. He had his father’s magnificent appearance, being tall, fair-haired and handsome, and he showed an air of high breeding that came from his mother Constance, daughter of King Philip I of France. King Baldwin at once handed over the principality, with all its possessions, into his hands, with the utmost scrupulousness. The ambassador from Shaizar was deeply impressed to see that the King henceforward paid cash to the Prince for the corn consumed by the horses of the army of Jerusalem. With him the King had his second daughter, the Princess Alice; and, in conformity with the plan that had been made, the young couple were married. Bohemond began his reign brilliantly, with an attack on Kafartab, which he recovered from the emir of Homs; and soon afterwards we hear of his gallantry in skirmishes against the army of Shaizar.

1128: The Succession to the Throne

King Baldwin could at last return to the south feeling that the death of il-Bursuqi and the coming of Bohemond would leave him free to see to his own kingdom. He spent the year 1127 so peacefully that we know nothing of his movements, except for a short campaign east of the Dead Sea in August. Early in 1128 his faithful friend, the Patriarch Gormond, died. His successor was another French priest, Stephen of La Ferte, abbot of Saint-Jean-en-Vallee at Chartres, a man of noble birth, related to King Baldwin. If Baldwin had hoped that the ties of cousinhood would make for cordial co-operation, he was soon disillusioned. The new Patriarch at once revived the question of the agreement that Godfrey had made with the Patriarch Daimbert. He claimed Jaffa as the autonomous possession of the Patriarchate; and he reminded the King that as soon as Ascalon should be conquered Jerusalem itself must be yielded up to him. Baldwin refused to listen to these demands but did not know how to deal with them. Relations between the royal Court and the Patriarchate worsened throughout 1129; but an open breach was avoided by Stephen’s death after a short illness, early in 1130. His friends suspected poison. When the King came to visit the dying Patriarch, to ask how he was, the latter bitterly remarked: ‘Sire, I am faring as you desire.’ Indeed, his death was desirable. As his successor Baldwin secured the election of the Prior of the Holy Sepulchre, William of Messines, a man of great piety and goodness, though a little simple and ill-educated. He had no political ambitions and was glad to do whatever the King wished. In consequence he became universally beloved.

Baldwin’s next important task was to arrange for the succession to the throne. Queen Morphia had borne him no sons; but there were four daughters, Melisende, Alice, Hodierna and Joveta. Alice was now Princess of Antioch, Hodierna and Joveta still were children. Melisende was to be his successor in conjunction with a suitable husband. In 1128, after consulting his council, he sent William of Bures, together with the lord of Beirut, Guy Brisebarre, to France, to ask the King of France, Louis VI, to select from the French nobility a man suitable for this high position. Louis recommended the Count of Anjou, Fulk V. Fulk was aged about forty, the son of Fulk IV, Rechin, and of Bertrada of Montfort, notorious for her adultery with King Philip I of France. He was the head of a great house that during the last two centuries had built up one of the richest and most formidable appanages in France; and he himself, by war, marriage and intrigue, had considerably added to its extent. That very year he had achieved a family triumph in marrying his young son and heir, Geoffrey, to the Empress Matilda, the only surviving legitimate child of Henry I of England and heiress of England and Normandy. A widower now himself, he had decided to abandon the family lands to his son and to dedicate himself to the service of the Cross. He had already been to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 1120 and was therefore personally known to Baldwin. So notable a candidate, backed by the King of France and endorsed by the Pope, Honorius II, was readily accepted by King Baldwin, who had been anxious that his arrangements for the succession should be to the liking of the barons of his kingdom. It would be impossible for any of them to dispute the claims of a warrior-prince of such eminence, married to their King’s eldest daughter.

Fulk left France in the early spring of 1129, accompanied by William of Bures and Guy Brisebarre. They landed at Acre in May and went on to Jerusalem. There, at the end of the month, Fulk and Melisende were married amid great festivities and rejoicing. The arrangement had the approval of the whole country, with perhaps one exception. The Princess Melisende herself was unmoved by the short, wiry, red-haired, middle-aged man whom political advantages had forced upon her.

1126: The Assassins at Banyas

With Fulk to aid him Baldwin embarked in 1129 on the great project of his reign, the conquest of Damascus. Toghtekin of Damascus died on 12 February 1128. He had been for many years the complete master of the city and the most respected Moslem figure in western Syria. Some years previously a leader of the Assassins, Bahrain of Asterabad, had fled from Persia to Aleppo and established himself as leader of the underground Ismaili movement in northern Syria. But, though he enjoyed the support of Ilghazi, the people of Aleppo loathed the sect; and Bahram was obliged to move on. Armed with a recommendation from Ilghazi, he came to Damascus, where Toghtekin received him graciously. He settled there, gradually gathering adherents round him, and he won the sympathy of Toghtekin’s vizier, al-Mazdaghani. The sect grew in power, to the disapproval of the Sunni population of Damascus. Bahram therefore asked al-Mazdaghani for protection; and at the vizier’s request Toghtekin handed over to the sect, in November 1126, the frontier-fortress of Banyas, which was menaced by the Franks, hoping thus to make good use of its energies. Bahram re-fortified the castle and gathered all his followers round him. Soon they began to terrorize the neighbourhood; and Toghtekin, though he still officially protected them, began to plan their elimination, but he died before he found any suitable opportunity. A few months afterwards Bahram was killed in a skirmish with an Arab tribe near Baalbek, whose sheikh he had murdered. His position was taken over by another Persian, called Ismail.

Toghtekin’s successor as atabeg of Damascus was his son Taj al-Mulk Buri. Buri determined to rid himself of the Assassins. His first step, in September 1129, was suddenly to have their protector, the vizier al-Mazdaghani, murdered as he sat in council in the Rose Pavilion at Damascus. At once riots, prepared by Buri, broke out in Damascus; and every Assassin found there was slaughtered. Ismail, at Banyas, was alarmed. To save his sectaries he opened negotiations with the Franks.

This was the occasion for which King Baldwin had been waiting. On hearing of Toghtekin’s death he sent Hugh of Payens, Grand Master of the Templars, to Europe, to recruit soldiers there, stating that Damascus was his objective. When Ismail’s emissaries arrived, Frankish troops set out to take over Banyas from the Assassins and to settle Ismail and his sect within Frankish territory. There Ismail fell ill of dysentery, dying a few months later; and his followers dispersed. Baldwin himself came to Banyas early in November, with the whole army of Jerusalem, swelled by newly arrived men from the West. He marched on without serious opposition and encamped at the Wooden Bridge, some six miles south-west of Damascus. Buri drew up his army opposite to them, with the city at its rear. For some days neither army moved. Baldwin meanwhile sent detachments, mainly composed of the new-comers, under William of Bures, to collect food and material before he should venture to close in round the city. But William was unable to control his men, who were more interested in securing booty for themselves than in systematically gathering supplies. Buri learnt of this. Early one morning in late November his Turcoman cavalry fell on William twenty miles south of the Frankish camp. The Franks fought well but were overwhelmed. Only William himself and forty-five comrades survived to tell the news to the King.

Baldwin decided to march at once against the enemy while they were celebrating their victory, and gave the order to advance. But at that moment rain began to fall in torrents. The plain became a sea of mud, with deep rivers cutting across the roads. In such conditions an attack was impossible. Bitterly disappointed, the King abandoned all idea of continuing the siege. The Frankish army retreated slowly in perfect order back to Banyas and into Palestine, where it dispersed.

1127: Quarrel between Bohemond II and Joscelin

Events in the north made the disappointment particularly cruel. Baldwin had hoped that Bohemond II and Joscelin would profit by the chaos in Aleppo to take possession at last of the great Moslem city. But, though each in turn successfully raided its territory during the autumn of 1127, they would not co-operate. Each was jealous of the other. Joscelin had obtained by a truce with il-Bursuqi districts that had been held for a while by Antioch. Worse still, Joscelin’s second wife, Roger of Antioch’s sister Maria, had been promised as her dowry the town of Azaz. Bohemond considered that Roger had only been a regent in his name and had no right to give away Antiochene territory. He denounced the agreement. Joscelin thereupon led his troops, aided by Turkish mercenaries, to raid Antiochene villages near his borders. An interdict hurled by the Patriarch Bernard against the whole county of Edessa did not deter him. News of the quarrel was brought to King Baldwin, who was furious. He hurried north, early in 1128, and forced the two princes to make peace with each other. Fortunately, Joscelin, who was the more truculent, fell suddenly ill and saw his illness as a punishment from heaven. He agreed to restore to Bohemond the booty that he had taken, and apparently abandoned his claim to Azaz. But it was too late. As at Damascus the following year, a golden opportunity was missed and would never recur. For Islam had found a new and greater champion.

During the last months of 1126 the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustarshid, who succeeded the amiable poet al-Mustazhir in 1118, thought to utilize the family quarrels of the Seldjuk Sultans to free himself of their control. The Sultan, Mahmud, in whose dominions Baghdad lay, was obliged to interrupt his hunting to send an army there; and he placed it under his captain, Imad ad-Din Zengi. Zengi, whose father Aqsonqor had been governor of Aleppo before the period of the Crusades, had already made a name in wars against the Franks. After a brief campaign he routed the Caliph’s forces at Wasit and reduced the Caliph to obedience. His tactful behaviour after the victory pleased al-Mustarshid; and when on il-Bursuqi’s death it was necessary to appoint a new atabeg for Mosul, Mahmud, who had first thought of naming the Bedouin leader Dubais, agreed with the Caliph that Zengi was a better candidate. The Sultan’s youthful son Alp Arslan was installed as governor of Mosul with Zengi as his atabeg. Zengi spent the winter of 1127 at Mosul organizing his government there. In the spring of 1128 he marched on to Aleppo, claiming it as part of il-Bursuqi’s dominions. The citizens of Aleppo, tired of the anarchy through which they had passed, received him gladly. He made his solemn entry there on 28 June.

Zengi saw himself as the champion of Islam against the Franks. But he was unwilling to strike until he was ready. He made a truce with Joscelin, to last for two years, while he consolidated his power in Syria. The emirs of Shaizar and Homs hastened to acknowledge his suzerainty. He had no fears of the former. The latter was induced to assist him on a campaign against the Damascene possession of Hama, with the promise of its reversion. But as soon as Hama was conquered, Zengi seized it for himself and imprisoned Khirkan of Homs, though he was unable to secure Homs itself. Buri of Damascus, who had promised to join him in a Holy War against the Christians, was too fully occupied by his war against Jerusalem to make any active protest. By the end of 1130 Zengi was unquestioned master of Syria as far south as Homs.

1130: Death of Bohemond II

That same year the Franks suffered a great disaster. It was the ambition of Bohemond II to restore to his principality all the lands that it had ever contained. In Cilicia Antiochene power had declined. Tarsus and Adana were still in Frankish hands; they formed, it seems, the dower of Roger’s widow Cecilia, King Baldwin’s sister; and a Frankish garrison remained at Mamistra. But farther inland Anazarbus had fallen into the possession of the Armenian prince, Thoros the Roupenian, who had established his capital at Sis, close by. Thoros died in 1129 and his son Constantine a few months later, in the course of a palace intrigue. The next prince was the brother of Thoros, Leo I. Bohemond thought that the moment had come to recover Anazarbus. In February 1130 he marched with a small force up the river Jihan towards his objective. Leo was alarmed and appealed for help to the Danishmend emir, Ghazi, whose lands now reached the Taurus mountains. Bohemond knew nothing of this alliance. As he progressed carelessly up the river, meeting only light resistance from the Armenians, the Danishmend Turks fell on him and massacred the whole of his army. It was said that had they recognized the Prince himself, they would have saved him for the ransom that he would bring. As it was, his head was brought to the Danishmend emir, who had it embalmed and sent it as a gift to the Caliph.

It was due to Byzantine intervention that the Turks did not follow up their victory; and Anazarbus remained in Armenian hands. But Bohemond’s death was a disaster for Antioch. Bohemond had succeeded to Antioch by hereditary right. Sentiment demanded that his rights should pass to his heir. But his marriage with Alice had produced only one child, a daughter two years old, called Constance. Without waiting for her father the King to appoint a regent, according to his right as overlord, Alice at once assumed the regency. But she was ambitious. It was soon rumoured in Antioch that she wished to rule not as a regent but as a reigning sovereign. Constance was to be immured in a convent or, as soon as might be, married off to some ignoble husband. The unnatural mother lost popularity in the principality, where already many men felt that in such times a warrior was needed as regent. When she heard that the King was already on his way from Jerusalem, Alice saw power slipping from her grasp, and took a desperate step. A messenger leading a splendid horse splendidly caparisoned was sent to Aleppo, to the atabeg Zengi, to whom she announced that she was ready to pay homage if he would guarantee her possession of Antioch.

On the news of Bohemond’s death King Baldwin hastened northward with his son-in-law Fulk, to take over the custody of its heiress and to nominate the regent. As he approached the city his troops captured Alice’s envoy to Zengi. The King at once had him hanged. When he appeared before Antioch he found that his daughter had shut the gates in his face. He summoned Joscelin to his aid and encamped before the city. Within, Alice had won temporary support by a lavish distribution of money from the princely treasury to the soldiers and people. It is possible that with her Armenian blood she was popular amongst the native Christians. But the Frankish nobility would not support a woman against their sovereign. After a few days a Norman knight, William of Aversa, and a monk, Peter the Latin, opened the Gate of the Duke to Joscelin and the Gate of Saint Paul to Fulk. Next day the King entered. Alice barricaded herself in a tower, and only emerged when the notables of the city guaranteed her life. There was a painful interview between Baldwin and his daughter, who knelt in terrified shame before him. The King wished to avoid a scandal; and doubtless his father’s heart was touched. He forgave her; but he removed her from the regency and banished her to Lattakieh and Jabala, the lands that had been settled on her by Bohemond II as her dower. He himself assumed the regency and made all the lords of Antioch take an oath to him and to his granddaughter jointly. Then, after charging Joscelin with the guardianship of Antioch and its child-princess, he returned to Jerusalem in the summer of 1130.

1131: Deaths of Baldwin II and Joscelin I

It was his last journey. A long life of endless activity only interrupted by two miserable periods of captivity had worn him out. In 1131 his health began to fail. When August came he was clearly dying. At his wish he was moved from the Palace at Jerusalem to the Patriarch’s residence, attached to the buildings of the Holy Sepulchre, that he might die as near as possible to Calvary. As the end approached he summoned the nobles of the realm to his room, and with them his daughter Melisende and her husband Fulk and their little one-year-old son, called Baldwin after him. He gave Fulk and Melisende his blessing and bade all present to accept them as their sovereigns. Then he himself assumed the robe of a monk and was admitted a canon of the Holy Sepulchre. The ceremony was barely done before he died, on Friday, 21 August 1131. He was buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, amid mourning worthy of a great king.

His cousin and old comrade, Joscelin of Edessa, did not long survive him. About the time of Baldwin’s death he went to besiege a small castle north-east of Aleppo; and while he was inspecting his lines a mine that his men had laid collapsed beneath him. He was horribly wounded, and there was no hope of his recovery. As he lay dying, news came that the Danishmend emir, Ghazi, had marched against the town of Kaisun, the great fortress where Joscelin had recently installed the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch. Kaisun was hard pressed by the Turks; and Joscelin ordered his son to go to its rescue. But the younger Joscelin replied that the army of Edessa was too small to be of use. Thereupon the aged Count hoisted himself from his bed and was carried in a litter at the head of his army to fight the Turks. The news of his coming startled Ghazi, who had thought him already dead. Disquieted, he raised the siege of Kaisun. A messenger rode hurriedly to tell Joscelin; who had his litter laid on the ground that he might thank God. The effort and the emotion were too much for him; and he died there by the roadside.

With Baldwin and with Joscelin dead, the old generation of pioneer Crusaders was ended. In the years to come we find a new pattern of conflict between the Crusaders of the second generation, men and women like Joscelin II, like the Princess Alice, or like the house of Tripoli, ready to fit themselves into the eastern way of life and seeking only to hold what they possessed, and the new-comers from the West, aggressive, unadapted and uncomprehending, like Fulk, like Raymond of Poitiers, or like the fatal Reynald of Chatillon.

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