chapter  2
17 Pages

Nicaea to Edessa

BySusan B. Edgington

The Saljūq Turks had captured Nicaea (İznik, mod. Turkey) from the Byzantines in 1092 and made it the capital city of their sultanate of Rūm. The proximity of Nicaea to Constantinople made its recapture the primary goal for Alexios Komnenos; in addition, as the place where the first council of the Christian Church met in ce 325, it had religious significance for both Byzantines and crusaders. The western crusaders and a Byzantine contingent were shipped across the Bosphoros, and one after another they converged on the city to besiege and capture it. Godfrey’s army, with Baldwin, was the first to arrive there in May 1097. There seems to have been no concerted plan for the siege, and the piecemeal arrival of the different contingents could well have led to their serial destruction. In fact, they profited from the disaster that had befallen Peter the Hermit’s ill-disciplined followers in the same region the previous year. As Albert of Aachen recounted in detail, this vast rabble had ignored the emperor’s warnings and pillaged and provoked the Turks, who defeated and massacred them with ease. 1 This misled the Turkish leader Qilij Arslān into seriously underestimating the Christian threat, and thus when Godfrey’s army arrived outside Nicaea the Saljūqs were far to the east besieging Danishmendid Melitene.