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The foundation of the Crusader states

This map is part of a series of 12 animated maps showing the history of Crusades.

Following Pope Urban II’s call to free the Holy Places, many Latin warriors took up the cross and headed for Jerusalem. In October 1097, they arrived at Antioch, a heavily fortified city governed at the time by a Turkish emir.

The siege dragged on and some crusader lords grasped the opportunity to expand their influence in the region. One of these was Baldwin of Boulogne, the younger brother of Godfrey of Bouillon.

Taking advantage of a plea for help from the Armenian lord of Edessa, Baldwin seized control of the city and set about progressively conquering the surrounding towns. This episode marked the birth of the county of Edessa, the first of the Crusader states.

Antioch fell in June 1098. After a long hiatus, the Crusaders resumed their march to Jerusalem. The Count of Provence besieged the town of Ma’arrat al-Numan and after its capture, destroyed its ramparts.

While the Crusader armies slowly made their way south to Jerusalem, Bohemond of Taranto remained in Antioch. He took over Ma’arrat and quickly conquered the Jabal as-Summaq plateau. This became the heart of the second of the Crusader states, the Principality of Antioch.

During their march south, the crusaders captured the town of Tortosa. The Count of Provence left a large garrison of Provençals there; this would form the core of the new county of Tripoli.

The capture of Tortosa was an exception. Most coastal towns, which were governed by independent emirs, preferred to negotiate with the crusaders. The prince of Tripoli, for instance, paid a large tribute to the Latin lords, who then bypassed the city.

However, the Crusaders took advantage of the withdrawal of the Fatimid troops to seize the port of Jaffa. Control of this port proved highly strategic as it facilitated the arrival of reinforcements, mainly from Italian cities.

On their way to Jerusalem, the crusaders captured the town of Lydda, where they established a Catholic bishop.

The Holy City was captured on 15 July 1099 after a brief siege. The crusaders plundered the city but sought above all to shore up their power base. They thus embarked on several campaigns of conquest which led to the creation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the fourth Crusader state.

Godfrey of Bouillon, elected prince of the city, and Tancred seized several villages in Galilee, Samaria and Judea, including Nazareth, Nablus, Beit She’an, Tiberias and Hebron.

In 1100, Baldwin I succeeded his brother Godfrey and concentrated his efforts on controlling the coast of the kingdom: Arsur, Haifa and Caesarea were taken between 1100 and 1101, followed by Acre in 1104 with the help of Western pilgrims.

To the north, Tancred became regent of the principality of Antioch and expanded its territory considerably.

Meanwhile, Raymond de Saint Gilles seized several towns around Tripoli. But it was not until 1109 that his cousin William Jordan finally captured the city.

By this time, the four Crusader states were firmly established in the political and geopolitical landscape of the medieval Middle East.