World Bulletin / News Desk
Antioch was a city was a fortress with over 450 towers in the walls, which also had a citadel in the south of the city - without control of Antioch, the Crusaders could not have moved on to Jerusalem.
The first Muslims who had to deal with the Crusaders were the Turks in Anatolia. A Seljuk emir of the Sultanate of Rum, Kilij Arslan, was able to win some early victories over the first Crusaders to cross into his territory. However, the sheer size of the Crusader army was too much for the Turks to handle. As the Crusaders marched through Anatolia, they simply looted and pillaged the countryside to get the supplies they needed, even though the vast majority of the population there was Christian.
By 1097, the Crusaders reached the fortress city of Antioch, which is in present-day southern Turkey, very close to the Syrian border and now known as Antakya. The city was defended by it’s Seljuk emir, Yaghi-Siyan and around 6000 troops. Normally, 6000 Turkish soldiers against a Crusader army of over 30,000 would be no contest. But the city of Antioch was almost unconquerable. The city was surrounded by some of the strongest walls in the Muslim world, as well as a river, a mountain, and a steep valley that perfectly protected it from invaders.
The crusaders arrived outside the city on 21 October and began the siege. After stripping the surrounding area of food, the crusaders were forced to look further for supplies, opening themselves to ambush. While searching for food on 31 December, a force of 20,000 crusaders encountered a relief force led by Duqaq of Damascus, heading to Antioch and defeated the army. By this time supplies had dwindled and by early 1098 one in seven of the crusaders were dying from starvation and people began deserting in January.
A second relief force, this time under the command of Ridwan from Aleppo advanced towards Antioch, arriving on 9 February. This army was also defeated. Antioch was captured on 3 June, although the citadel remained in the hands of the Muslim defenders. The city of Antioch was one of the first major cities over run by the Crusaders, and once the Crusaders had taken over the city, it became a base for them to re-group before the next step taken by the Crusaders, which was to take the city of Jerusalem. In 1099, the city was under complete Christian control. Once the Crusaders were satisfied with their conquests of several other towns, they set up four Kindoms in the area and ended the first Crusade
Kerbogha began the second siege, against the crusaders who had occupied Antioch, which lasted from 7 June to 28 June 1098. The second siege ended when the crusaders exited the city to engage Kerbogha's army in battle and succeeded in defeating them. On seeing the Muslim army routed, the defenders remaining in the citadel surrendered.
Source: Lost Islamic History
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