First Crusade: Siege of Antioch

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Siege of Antioch, 1098. Photograph Source: Public Domain

June 3, 1098 - After an eight-month siege, the city of Antioch (right) falls to the Christian army of the First Crusade. Arriving at the city on October 27, 1097, the three principal leaders of the crusade, Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, and Raymond IV of Toulouse disagreed over what course of action to follow. Raymond advocated a frontal assault on the city's defenses, while his compatriots favored laying siege.

Bohemund and Godfrey ultimately prevailed and the city was loosely invested. As the crusaders lacked the men to completely surround Antioch, the southern and eastern gates were left unblockaded allowing the governor, Yaghi-Siyan, to bring food into the city. In November, the crusaders were reinforced by troops under Bohemund's nephew, Tancred. The following month they defeated an army sent to relieve the city by Duqaq of Damascus.

As the siege dragged on, the crusaders began to face starvation. After defeating a second Muslim army in February, additional men and supplies arrived in March. This allowed the crusaders to completely surround the city while also improving conditions in the siege camps. In May news reached them that a large Muslim army, commanded by Kerbogha, was marching towards Antioch. Knowing that they had to take the city or be destroyed by Kerbogha, Bohemund secretly contacted an Armenian named Firouz who commanded one of the city's gates.

After receiving a bribe, Firouz opened gate on the night of June 2/3, allowing the crusaders to storm the city. After consolidating their power, they rode out to meet Kerbogha's army on June 28. Believing that they were led by visions of St. George, St. Demetrius, and St. Maurice, the crusader army charged the Muslim lines and put Kerbogha's army to rout saving their newly captured city.