Monday, May 22, 2023

The Crusade of 1101

Because the First Crusade was successful, in 1100-1101 several of those who had avoided going on the First (or started and turned back because of the difficulties in traveling such distances) decided to conduct their own Crusade. Because they had avoided the First, this Crusade is sometimes called the Crusade of the Faint-Hearted. Stephen, Count of Blois (1045 - 1102), fled from the Siege of Antioch, for instance, and was so strongly criticized that his wife refused to allow him to stay home. This new Crusade was an opportunity for him and others to redeem themselves.

Pope Urban had died before the First Crusade was completed, but his successor, Pope Paschal II, called for reinforcements to supplement the armies who remained in the Holy Land. His urging resulted in three separate groups deciding to take up the Cross.

One group was from Lombardy, led by the Archbishop of Milan, Anselm IV. They were untrained and undisciplined peasants who, when they reached Constantinople, pillaged the city (even killing Emperor Alexios I's pet lion) until they were gathered and shipped to a camp at Nicomedia.

A second group met them there in May 1101. These were led by Stephen of Blois and other nobles, bringing French, Germans, and Burgundians. They were joined by Raymond IV of Toulouse, who had been successful on the First Crusade and had been offered the position of "King of Jerusalem," which he refused (the title went to Godfrey of Bouillon).

The largest contingent in this combined army was Lombards, who wanted to march the army north where they could rescue Bohemond I of Antioch, who was held captive by a Turkish dynasty, the Danishmends. The Seljuk Turks, realizing that combining forces was necessary to defeat the intruders, persuaded the Danishmend Turks to join them. This proved disastrous for these new Crusaders, but that is a story for tomorrow.

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