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the First Crusade

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Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #180 on: March 02, 2009, 06:01:08 am »

Byzantine-Seljuk Wars

As early as 1090, Alexius had taken reconciliatory measures towards the Papacy, with the intention of seeking western support against the Seljuks. In 1095 his ambassadors appeared before Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza. The help which he wanted from the West was simply mercenary forces and not the immense hosts which arrived, to his consternation and embarrassment, after the pope preached the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont later that same year. Not quite ready to supply this number of people as they traversed his territories, the emperor saw his Balkan possessions subjected to further pillage at the hands of his own allies. Alexius dealt with the first disorganized group of crusaders, led by the preacher Peter the Hermit, by sending them on to Asia Minor, where they were massacred by the Turks in 1096.

The second and much more formidable host of crusaders gradually made its way to Constantinople, led in sections by Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, Raymond IV of Toulouse and other important members of the western nobility. Alexius used the opportunity of meeting the crusader leaders separately as they arrived and extracting from them oaths of homage and the promise to turn over conquered lands to the Byzantine Empire. Transferring each contingent into Asia, Alexius promised to supply them with provisions in return for their oaths of homage. The crusade was a notable success for Byzantium, as Alexius now recovered for the Byzantine Empire a number of important cities and islands. The crusader siege of Nicaea forced the city to surrender to the emperor in 1097, and the subsequent crusader victory at Dorylaion allowed the Byzantine forces to recover much of western Asia Minor. Here Byzantine rule was reestablished in Chios, Rhodes, Smyrna, Ephesus, Sardis, and Philadelphia in 1097–1099. This success is ascribed by his daughter Anna to his policy and diplomacy, but by the Latin historians of the crusade to his treachery and falseness. In 1099, a Byzantine fleet of 10 ships were sent to assist the Crusaders in capturing Laodicea and other coastal towns as far as Tripoli. The crusaders believed their oaths were made invalid when the Byzantine contingent under Tatikios failed to help them during the siege of Antioch; Bohemund, who had set himself up as Prince of Antioch, briefly went to war with Alexius in the Balkans, but was blockaded by the Byzantine forces and agreed to become Alexius' vassal by the Treaty of Devol in 1108.

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