Τετάρτη, 25 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Today in Military History: November 27, 1095:"Deus vult!" [God wills it]: Pope Urban II Calls for a Crusade at Council of Clermont

"Deus vult!" [God wills it]: Pope Urban II Calls for a Crusade at Council of Clermont

 
 
"Deus vult!" [God wills it]: Pope Urban II Calls for a Crusade at Council of Clermont
Pope Urban II (background) at the Council of Clermont, late 15th century illustration
From the Livre des Passage d'Outre-mer, in National Library of France, Paris
(Unless otherwise noted, all illustrations/images are from Wikipedia)

Today's walk through military history is not very warlike or martial. It involves the beginning of the Crusading movement and the Pope who got the ball rolling.
Background
Byzantine Empire in 1091, 20 years after battle of Manzikert; Image courtesy of http://www.ict.griffith.edu.au/wiseman/Roman/Decline&Fall.html
Byzantine Empire in 1091, 20 years after battle of Manzikert
Image courtesy of http://www.ict.griffith.edu.au/wiseman/Roman/Decline&Fall.html
Since the advent of the forces of Islam sweeping out of the Arabian Desert, two major empires tried to stop their roaring tide of conquest. The Sassanid Persians were forcibly absorbed by the Islamic armies. Resisting somewhat more solidly, the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire lost Egypt, North Africa, and Syria to the Muslim armies. During the eleventh century, Anatolia and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) were the center of attempted conquest by the Seljuk Turks and the Byzantines. The defining event occurred in August of 1071, when a Turkish army defeated a Byzantine force at Manzikert. As a result, nearly all Asia Minor was lost to the Turks, except the area immediately in the vicinity of the capital Constantinople, and some cities on the western and northern coast of the peninsula.
Prelude to the Council
Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (reigned 1081-1118); Artist unknown, from a Greek manuscript, 12th or 13th century; Currently in the Vatican Library, Rome, Italy
Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (reigned 1081-1118)
Artist unknown, from a Greek manuscript, 12th or 13th century
Currently in the Vatican Library, Rome, Italy
Beginning in 1081, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus began retaking areas of the empire which had fallen away. The islands of Crete and Cyprus were recaptured, as were Serbia, many of the islands in the Aegean Sea, and the province of Paradunavum, which allowed the East Romans to once more control the Danube River's southern bank. Early in his reign, he sought to stop an invasion of the Balkans by Sicilian-Norman forces, but was defeated at the battle of Dyrrhachium in 1082.] After flexing the empire's military muscles in these campaigns, Alexius felt he was ready to take on the Turks.