The First Crusade


May 20, 2022

The first crusade in history was proclaimed in 1095 at the Council of Clermont by Pope Urban II. and headed to the Holy Land to reclaim God's tomb from Muslims. The announcement of the expedition was partly a reaction to the gradual penetration of Turkish invaders into Anatolia, where they conquered large areas of the Byzantine Empire and weakened the power of the empire. The Byzantine Emperor Alexios turned to the pope to help him recruit volunteers to his mercenary army, which would allow him to reconquer the lost territories in the east. The announcement of the expedition was also motivated by the efforts of Pope Urban II. on alleviating the schism between the Western and Eastern Catholic Churches. Urban II. at the same time he could use the announcement of the expedition to gain the upper hand over Emperor Henry IV, his adversary in the fight for the investiture. The pope's appeal for help to Eastern Christians turned into a declaration of holy war for the liberation of holy places, which was well received by European peasants, who as early as 1096 set out for the Holy Land. Encouraged by popular preachers, they arrived from northern France to the Byzantine Empire and plundered and plundered along the way. Emperor Alexios was disappointed that these pilgrims were not the knights he had expected. He therefore quickly transported them to the mainland of Asia Minor, where they began to raid Turkish territories. However, the Turks retaliated and killed almost all the Crusaders. Meanwhile, other herds of people have gathered in the German lands to start organizing Jewish pogroms. However, the German crusaders were already dispersed by King Koloman on the Hungarian border. In the second half of 1096, knightly troops set out. Their commanders were mainly French and Norman nobles, who at the turn of 1096-1097 reached Constantinople, where they took the oath of office of Emperor Alexius. By swearing in, the Crusaders undertook to return all territories under the rule of the Byzantine Empire, for which they had the promised share of booty and support during the expedition by the emperor. The Crusaders conquered Nikaya and defeated the Turks at the Battle of Dorylae, conquered Edessa and Antioch, and in 1099 the very goal of the crusade - Jerusalem. The Crusaders did not honor their obligations to the Byzantine emperor, they did not return to him the once Byzantine territories on which they founded their crusader states, modeled after Western European feudal monarchies, which became the focus of tensions between the Byzantines and the Western Franks who settled in the Middle East.

Circumstances of calling the expedition

In the middle of the 11th century, Turkish tribes began to infiltrate Central Asia into the Middle East, plundering civilized countries. In Jazeera, the Turks became Islamized and entered the service of the Caliph of Baghdad, which, however, became only a puppet dependent on the will of his Turkish viziers and advisers. In the service of the Abbasids, the Turks began to attack the territory of the Byzantine Empire. The Turkish troops consisted mainly of light cavalry, which made them very mobile and the Byzantine army seldom caught up with them and fought them. Therefore, the Byzantine Emperor Roman IV. Diogenes decided to go east with the whole army and fight a regular battle with the Turks. The emperor's army of 100,000 fought the Turkish Sultan Alpazslan at the Battle of Mantzikert, where it was defeated on the head. With the defeat, the empire plunged into chaos, while the Turks could invade Anatolia, the center of Byzantine power, without anyone being able to stop them. Turkish tribes plundered and burned the whole of Anatolia, until this most important part of Byzantium became practically a desert. The Empire never fully recovered from the defeat at Manzikert. Emperor Alexios I. Komnenos, who conquered the Byzantine throne in 1081, tried to regain Anatolia, but lacked an army,