"The whole world is coming battling here." - even the faint-hearted in the Crusade of 1101

23 June 1101, during the so-called “Crusade of the Faint-Hearted”, French and Bavarians captured the Turkish city of Ancyra (Ankara) with Byzantine support.

“Kristen juden und die heiden / jehent daz dis ir erbe sî / got müesse ez ze rehte scheiden / dur die sîne namen drî / al diu werlt diu strîtet her“ (Christians, Jews and Heathens claim this to be their heritage. God has to assign it in the right way, for His three names. The whole world is coming battling here. Walter von der Vogelweide, “Palästinalied”, around 1220)

A late 12th century imagination of Crusaders assaulting a Muslim-held city from a contemporary chronicle.

“Crusade of the Faint-Hearted” or, less poetical, the “Crusade of 1101” was an afterthought of the First Crusade that ended with the capture of Jerusalem two years before. Met with scorn at home, some returnees of the First Crusade who had left the expedition before it reached the Holy City as well as men who somehow didn’t participate on its spoils and decided to give it another try gathered with the same type of people that made up the disastrous Peasant’s Crusade five years before and marched towards Constantinople late in 1100.

Gustave Doré's (1832 - 1883) imagination of
Godfrey of Bouillon meeting survivors of the Peasant's Crusade

Their approach in the Byzantine Empire and crossing into Asia Minor held by the Seljuk Turks saw the same chronic circumstances as the First Crusade itself, even though the results from three years before were quite well known in Christendom by then – Christian allies were plundered and slaughtered, continuous harassment by Seljuk light horse while en route claiming many victims, perpetual infighting between the so-called leaders and the Byzantines that accompanied the march, hunger, thirst and disease.

Gustave Doré's vivid depiction of crusaders perishing in the middle of nowhere

Deviating from the original course set for marching through Anatolia by insistence of the largest contingent of the hotchpotch army, Lombard commoners who wanted to free Bohemond, now Prince of Antioch and currently held captive by Danishmend Turks at Niksar in the north east – as far away from the Levant as you can possibly get – the Crusade ended up before the gates of Ancyra. They managed to capture the city after a brief siege and returned it to the Roman Emperor Alexios, having sworn the same oath as their predecessors to yield their conquests of originally Byzantine possessions. 
The Crusade then staggered further north-east and was finally worn down by the Seljuk Sultan Kilic Arslan and his Danishmend allies. The Crusade of 1101 thus forecasted the fate of the Second and Third Crusade that ended up the same way in the middle of Anatolian nowhere during the following 100 years.

More on: