Battle of Harran

From Academic Kids

Battle of Harran
DateMay 7, 1104
PlaceNear Harran
ResultSeljuk victory
Principality of Antioch
County of Edessa
Seljuk Turks
Baldwin II of Edessa
Bohemond I of Antioch
Tancred, Prince of Galilee
Joscelin of Courtenay
Jerkermish of Mosul
Sukman of Mardin
Unknown Unknown
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Harran took place on May 7, 1104 between the Crusader states of the Principality of Antioch and the County of Edessa, and the Seljuk Turks. It was the first major battle against the newfound Crusader states in the aftermath of the First Crusade.

In 1104, while the Seljuks were harassing the borders of the County of Edessa, count Baldwin II sought help from Bohemond I of Antioch and Tancred, Prince of Galilee. Bohemond and Tancred marched north from Antioch to Edessa to join with Baldwin and Joscelin of Courtenay, and then marched towards Harran, about 20 kilometres away. Bernard of Valence, Patriarch of Antioch, Daimbert of Pisa, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Benedict, archbishop of Edessa, accompanied them. Previously, Baldwin had prevented the citizens of Harran from farming along the Euphrates, so that they were now suffering a famine, and they quickly surrendered.

However, there was a dispute between Bohemond and Baldwin as to who would take possession of the city, and in the meantime a Seljuk army arrived to relieve the siege. The Seljuks, under Jerkermish of Mosul and Sukman, the Ortoqid lord of Mardin, split into two groups, one to bring food into Harran and another to distract the Crusaders, or to engage them in battle. The dispute between Bohemond and Baldwin was already distracting the Crusaders, and was on the point of causing the alliance to collapse. They managed to bring their troops into a battle formation; Baldwin and Joscelin commanded the Edessan left wing while Bohemond and Tancred commanded the Antiochene right.

During the battle itself, the Edessans rushed ahead and engaged the enemy first. They were completely defeated, and Baldwin and Joscelin were captured by Jerkermish. The Antiochene troops suffered only a few casualties and were able to escape to Edessa. Bohemond did not bother to pay a ransom, but instead named Tancred as regent in Edessa.

The battle was one of the first Crusader defeats, and helped convince the Muslims that they were not invincible, as they seemed to be during the First Crusade. The Byzantine Empire took advantage of the defeat to impose their claims on Antioch, and recaptured Latakia and parts of Cilicia. Many of the towns ruled by Antioch revolted and were re-occupied by Muslim forces from Aleppo. Armenian territories also revolted in favour of the Byzantines or Armenia. These events caused Bohemond to return to Italy to recruit more troops, leaving Tancred as regent of Antioch as well.

The 12th century historian William of Tyre wrote that there was no battle more disastrous than this. Although Antioch recovered by the next year, the Byzantine emperor Alexius I imposed the Treaty of Devol on Bohemond, which would have made Antioch a vassal of the empire had Tancred agreed to it. Antioch was again crushed at the Battle of Ager Sanguinis in 1119; Edessa never really recovered and survived until 1144 only because of divisions among the von Harran


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