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Outremer

Capture of Tyre

painting
Tyre

Baldwin I and Baldwin II had built well, for despite the king's captivity, the kingdom not only did not disintegrate but continued to expand. In both Edessa and Jerusalem, regents were chosen and stepped up to the task before them. The Patriarch of Antioch had already assumed that role in Antioch. And, once again, an Italian fleet appeared in the midst of crisis to help.

This time it was the Venetians. The Doge himself had sailed in 1122 in response to a combined plea from Jerusalem and from the Pope, following the disaster at the Field of Blood. The Venetians had followed a course that they would follow time and again, pursuing their own interests in conjunction with the general interests of Outremer. In this case, the fleet stopped to besiege Corfù and was still there when word reached it that Baldwin had been captured. The Doge raised the siege and sailed to Acre, where it was decided that together the Franks and Venetians would besiege Tyre. Venice received extraordinary privileges, but its fleet of a hundred warships was believed to be worth the price. The siege of Tyre began on February 15, 1124.

The city surrendered on July 7, 1124. The Prince of Antioch was dead, the lords of Jerusalem and Edessa were in Turkish prisons, and the greater part of the Frankish strength was assembled before the great walls of Tyre.

What were the Muslims doing? Toghtekin, the lord of Damascus, moved an army up to Damascus, but when Pons of Tripoli and the Constable William rode out to meet him, he retired without a fight. An Egyptian army marched into the suburbs of Jerusalem, but its citizens defended the walls and the Egyptian commander withdrew. Another Egyptian army sacked a nearby town and killed all its inhabitants, but then likewise withdrew. The Egyptian Caliph was completely unable to raise a fleet, so the Venetians were able to isolate Tyre from the sea. The Ortoqid Turk, Balak, the man who had captured Baldwin and Joscelin, was murdered that spring even as he was planning to relieve Tyre. Time and again during these years we see the same combinations: the Egyptians were too weak, the Syrians were too cautious, and the Turks were too divided. And when one or the other of these groups united, or grew bold or brave, chance or courage managed to save the Christians. And every few years, the Crusaders captured another stronghold.

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