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the First Crusade

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Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #165 on: March 02, 2009, 05:39:42 am »

Wars between Antioch and the Byzantine Empire

The town of Malatia, which guarded one of the Cilician Gates through the Taurus Mountains in the period after the First Crusade, had been by 1100 captured by an Armenian soldier of fortune. Reports were received that the Malik Ghazi Danishmend (Danishmend Emir), Ghazi Gümüştekin of Sivas, was preparing an expedition to capture Malatia, and the Armenians sought help from Bohemond.

Afraid to weaken his forces at Antioch, but not wishing to avoid the chance to extend his domain northwards, Bohemond in August 1100, marched north with only 300 knights and a small force of foot soldiers. Failing to send scouting parties they were ambushed by the Turks, and completely encircled at the Battle of Melitene. Bohemond managed to send one soldier to seek help from Baldwin of Edessa, but was captured and laden with chains, was confined in prison in Neo-Caesarea (modern Niksar). He languished in prison until 1103.

Hearing of Bohemond's capture, Alexius I, incensed that Bohemond had broken his sacred oath made in Constantinople and kept Antioch for himself, offered to redeem the Norman commander and ransom Bohemond for 260,000 dinars, if Ghazi Gumushtakin would hand the prisoner over to Byzantium. When Kilij Arslan I, the Seljuk overlord of the Emir, heard of the proposed payment, he demanded half, or threatened to attack. Bohemond proposed instead a ransom of 130,000 dinars paid just to the Emir. The bargain was concluded and Ghazi and Bohemond exchanged oaths of friendship. Ransomed in 1103 by Baldwin of Edessa, he returned in triumph to Antioch in August 1103.

His nephew Tancred, who for three years and taken his uncle's place, had during that time attacked the Byzantines and added Tarsus, Adana and Massissa in Cilicia, but was now deprived of his lordship by Bohemond's return. Buoyed by Bohemond's return, the northern Franks over the summer of 1103 attacked Ridwan of Aleppo in order to gain supplies and compelled him to pay tribute. Meanwhile Raymond had established himself in Tripoli with the aid of Alexius, and was able to check the expansion of Antioch to the south, and so early in 1104, Baldwin and Bohemond passed Aleppo to move eastward and attack Harran.

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