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First Crusade: March down the Mediterranean coast

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First Crusade: March down the Mediterranean coast

The First Crusade march down the Mediterranean coast, from captured Antioch to Jerusalem, started on 13 January 1099. During the march the Crusaders encountered little resistance, as local rulers preferred to make peace with them and furnish them with supplies rather than fight, with a notable exception of the aborted siege of Arqa. On 7 June, the Crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuqs by the Fatimids only the year before.



After the successful Siege of Antioch in June 1098, the Crusaders remained in the area for the rest of the year. The papal legate Adhemar of Le Puy had died, and Bohemund of Taranto had claimed Antioch for himself. Baldwin of Boulogne remained in Edessa, captured earlier in 1098. There was dissent among the princes what to do next. Raymond of Toulouse, frustrated, left Antioch, and captured the fortress of Maarat. By the end of the year the minor knights and infantry were threatening to march to Jerusalem without the princes.

March to Jerusalem

At the end of December or early in January, Robert of Normandy and Bohemond's nephew Tancred agreed to become vassals of Raymond, who was wealthy enough to compensate them for their service. Godfrey of Bouillon, however, who now had revenue from his brother's territory in Edessa, refused to do the same. On 5 January, Raymond dismantled the walls of Maarat. On 13 January he began the march south, barefoot and dressed as a pilgrim, followed by Robert and Tancred. Proceeding south along the coast, they encountered little resistance.

Raymond planned to take Tripoli for himself to set up a state equivalent to Bohemund's Antioch. First however, he besieged nearby Arqa. Meanwhile, Godfrey, along with Robert of Flanders, who had also refused vassalage to Raymond, joined together with the remaining Crusaders at Latakia and marched south in February. Bohemond marched out with them but quickly returned to Antioch. At this time Tancred left Raymond's service and joined with Godfrey, due to some unknown quarrel. Another separate force, though linked to Godfrey's, was led by Gaston IV of BĂ©arn.

Godfrey, Robert, Tancred, and Gaston arrived at Arqa in March, but the siege continued. The situation was tense not only among the military leaders, but also among the clergy. Since Adhemar's death there had been no real leader, and ever since the discovery of the Holy Lance by Peter Bartholomew in Antioch, there had been accusations of fraud among the clerical factions. Finally, in April, Arnulf of Chocques challenged Peter to an ordeal by fire. Peter underwent the ordeal and died of his wounds, which discredited his Holy Lance as a fake. This also undermined Raymond's authority over the Crusade.

The siege of Arqa lasted until 13 May, when the Crusaders left having captured nothing. The Fatimids had attempted to make peace, on the condition that the Crusaders not continue towards Jerusalem, but this was ignored. Iftikhar ad-Daula, the Fatimid governor of Jerusalem, was aware of the Crusaders' intentions. Therefore, he expelled all of Jerusalem's Christian inhabitants. He also poisoned most of the wells in the area. On 13 May the Crusaders came to Tripoli, where the ruler gave them money and horses. According to the anonymous chronicle Gesta Francorum, he also vowed to convert to Christianity if the Crusaders captured Jerusalem from his Fatimid enemies. Continuing south along the coast, the Crusaders passed Beirut on 19 May and Tyre on 23 May. Turning inland at Jaffa, on 3 June they reached Ramlah, which had been abandoned by its inhabitants. The bishopric of Ramlah-Lydda was established there at the church of St. George (a popular crusader hero) before they continued on to Jerusalem. On 6 June, Godfrey sent Tancred and Gaston to capture Bethlehem, where Tancred flew his banner from the Church of the Nativity.

On 7 June, the Crusaders reached Jerusalem and began the siege.


First Crusade: March down the Mediterranean coast Wikipedia

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