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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years

XII: The Foundation of the Latin States, 1099-1118,   pp. 368-409 PDF (16.5 MB)

Page 389

of Le Bourg in 1103 apparently alarmed Ridvan's nominal overlord, the Selchükid
sultan Mul~iammad. In January 1104, the latter had been allotted Syria and
northern Iraq as a share in a division of his paternal inheritance. Certainly
two powerful Mesopotamian emirs, Shams-ad-Daulah Chökürmish of
Mosul and Sokman ibn-Artuk of Mardin, were moved to act. They composed their
differences, gathered a large force, and advanced upon Edessa in the spring
of i ioz~. Baldwin of Le Bourg called for help. Bohemond, accompanied by
Tancred, united with Le Bourg's chief vassal, Joscelin of Tell Bashir, and
marched to the aid of Baldwin. The four leaders then moved to attack Harran,
a strategic stronghold twenty-three miles south of Edessa. This move created
a diversion in favor of Edessa, for it brought down the Turkish army. 
 Chökflrmish and Sokman employed the old ruse of pretended flight which
the Parthians had used against Crassus and the Romans at the same place in
53 B.C., and with the same decisive result. The Turks retreated south for
three days, causing the Franks to separate into two bodies, which were successively
annihilated May 7, 1104. Baldwin of Le Bourg and Joscelin were captured.
Bohemond and Tancred escaped with difficulty to Edessa with a handful of
 The Frankish defeat at Harran had far-reaching results. As in the time of
Crassus it put a limit to Latin conquests eastward. It ended forever any
chance the Franks might have had to penetrate Iraq. It ruined Bohemond's
hope of building up a major power around Antioch. It saved Aleppo and the
Moslem position in north Syria by preventing Antioch and Edessa from using
the strategic location of Harran to cut off contact with the east. 
 The immediate results of the battle of Harran were several. Tancred became
regent of Edessa. Bohemond, his uncle and patron, though shaken was now without
question the dominant Latin prince in the north. Thus out of general disaster
the two Normans snatched some personal gain. The return of Baldwin of Le
Bourg would have disturbed this situation. Consequently Bohemond and Tancred
seem to have neglected the matter of Baldwin's ransom, although the subject
was broached both by the Turks and by king Baldwin in Jerusalem. As a result
Le Bourg endured a captivity of four years. On the other hand Chökürmish
and Sokman profited little from their victory. They conquered nothing although
the former tried to take Edessa. Their chief gain was two valuable prisoners,
Joscelin who was held 

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