First Crusade

   The First Crusade was called by Pope (q.v.) Urban II in 1095 at the Council of Clermont, in France (q.v.). In support of an earlier appeal by Alexios I Komnenos (q.v.) for mercenaries to fight the Seljuks in Asia Minor (qq.v), the pope announced a yet broader project: an expedition of armed pilgrims to recapture Jerusalem (q.v.) from the forces of Islam (q.v.). The First Crusade's conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 was a great victory, but its passage through Constantinople (q.v.) in 1097 on the way to Jerusalem was greeted with skepticism by Alexios I. Peter the Hermit's (q.v.) followers were undisciplined, and among the contingents of knights that passed through the city (q.v.) were Normans under Bohemund (qq.v.), an arch enemy of Byzantium (q.v.). Bohemund's subsequent refusal to return Antioch (q.v.) to Byzantium was resolved only by the Treaty of Devol (q.v.). The conquest of Jerusalem was an obvious victory for the First Crusade, but thereafter relations between Byzantium and the West deteriorated significantly. In retrospect, Alexios I was correct to view papal-sponsored western armies with suspicion, in light of the harm done Byzantium by the Second, Third, and especially Fourth Crusades (qq.v.). The chief sources for the First Crusade include Albert ofAachen, Fulcher ofChartres, and Raymond of Aguilers (qq.v.).

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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