chapter  3
21 Pages

Count of Edessa

BySusan B. Edgington

The same historians who perceived Baldwin’s exploits in Cilicia as the product of his personal ambition tended to characterise in similar terms his leaving the main crusading army and striking out towards the river Euphrates. However, even Runciman was prepared to concede that there could be a strategic purpose as well: ‘It is doubtful if he had any planned course of action beyond a general determination to found a principality upon the Euphrates, which might be of profit to himself and to the whole crusading movement.’ 1 Importantly, the territory was in the hands of the Armenians, who were not only friendly, but even eager to welcome an army of western Christians who would defend them against the Turks and at the same time enable them to maintain a degree of independence from their Byzantine overlords. 2 They were already in communication with the crusaders, and it is likely that their appeals had been discussed at Marash and that Baldwin’s expedition towards the Euphrates was approved by his brother and the other leaders, mainly for its strategic value, but also, quite possibly, as a good way of directing Baldwin’s disruptive energies away from the ongoing crusade.