Battle of Dorylaeum, July 1, 1097

The Battle of Dorylaeum was a very crucial battle fought during the First Crusade. The battle took place on July 01, 1097, at Dorylaeum (located near the modern-day city of Eskişehir, Turkey), and concluded with the victory of the Crusaders over the Seljuks of Rum led by Sultan Kılıç Arslan I. The defeat of the Seljuks ensured the safe passage of the Crusaders across Anatolia for the Holy Land.

Battle of Dorylaeum | Photo: Wikimedia

Background

After Pope Urban II called for the Crusades in 1095, a mob of peasant zealots led by Peter the Hermit and Walter left for the Holy Land. Known as the people’s Crusade, it was crushed by Seljuk Sultan Kılıç Arslan I in the Battle of Civetot on October 21, 1096. But the Crusader army was yet to arrive.

When Kilij Arslan heard of another army coming from the west, thinking of his previous easy victory over the mob, he felt that the second wave of crusaders was not a threat. But this was the main army that had professional warriors coming from all around Europe.

When the main Crusader army landed in Anatolia, they first besieged the Seljuk capital city of Nicaea on May 14, 1097. At this moment Sultan Kılıç Arslan was busy fighting in the east. Thus, in Sultan’s absence, the city surrendered on June 19, 1097. (See Siege of Nicaea)

As the Crusaders left the city on June 29, Sultan now planned to ambush them. In order to ease the problem of supplies, the Crusaders decided to divide their armies into two parts. The one group was to precede the other at about a day’s interval.

The first army was led by Bohemond of Taranto and the second one by Raymond of Toulouse. As soon as the division was made, Bohemond’s army set out along the road to Dorylaeum. Eventually, both the armies met in the Battle of Dorylaeum on July 1.

The Battle takes place

After his failure to relieve Nicaea the Sultan Kilij Arslan had withdrawn eastward, to gather his own forces and to conclude peace and an alliance with the Danishmend Emir against this new menace. On 30 June, he was waiting in
a valley by Dorylaeum, ready to attack the Crusaders as they came down over the pass.

On the morning of July 01, both the camps got ready for the battle. Meanwhile, a messenger was sent galloping down to the second army, urging it to make haste and reinforce the first army. The Turkish archers bombarded the arrows over the Crusaders.

As the hot July morning advanced, the Crusaders began to doubt whether they could hold out against the ceaseless rain of missiles. Around 7 hours later, they saw the arrival of the second army, Godfrey, and Hugh, and their men in front and Raymond and his men close behind.

Arslan almost destroyed Bohemond’s contingent, but help arrived just in time. Kilij Arslan’s army could not stand in front of the superior numbers of the Crusaders and thus, he lost this very crucial battle. The victory was achieved by cooperation between the separate Western contingents and the Greeks.

The Crusaders rested for two days at Dorylaeum, to recover from the battle and to plan the next stages of the march. With this victory, they were allowed to march virtually unopposed through Anatolia on their way to Antioch. It took almost three months to cross Anatolia in the heat of the summer, and on October 21, 1097, they began the siege of Antioch.

To be continued….

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