History of War

BATTLE OF ANTIOCH

A mighty Seljuk Turkish army rode out of Mosul in Upper Mesopotamia in late spring 1098 on a mission to rescue a Turkish garrison besieged in the citadel of Antioch by an army of Latin crusaders from Western Europe. At its head rode Kerbogha, the grizzled, grey-bearded Seljuk governor of the great Mesopotamian city. Behind him rode thousands of white-robed bowmen and heavily armoured ghulam lancers. Black banners swayed over the long columns of horsemen as they rode west.

Yaghi-Siyan, the commander of the beleaguered Seljuk garrison that had retreated into Antioch’s citadel, breathed a sigh of relief when word reached him that Kerbogha had declared a jihad against the Latin crusaders who’d fought their way into the city on 2 June. It had taken the crusaders seven months to capture Antioch. During that time, their numbers had dwindled considerably owing to skirmishing, disease and desertion.

Although approximately 100,000 men had responded to Pope Urban’s call for a crusade in 1095 to liberate Jerusalem from the ‘infidels’, only half that number were soldiers. The calibre of those troops varied considerably: many of those from the lower strata of society had little military training, whereas those of wealth and prestige had been

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