Successes of the First Crusade



The main aim of the Crusaders was to capture Jerusalem.

Pilgrimage was also important to Christians.

Cluniac reforms had raised the piety at the time.

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Muslim Weakness


  • Killij Arslan underestimated the strength of the crusader army.
  • This underestimation came after Peter the Hermit's People's Crusade.
  • Arslan didn't send many people to Nicaea and they got smashed.


  • After the defeat of the Seljuks at Dorylaeum, Arslan was unable to challenge the crusaders again
  • This gave them free passage over Anatolia.

Sunni/Shi'ite Divide

  • The Muslims were fighing their own Sunni/Shi'ite battles
  • This made it hard for them to work together against the crusaders.
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Muslim Weakness Cot'd


  • The turks were trapped by two sections of the crusader army, led by Bohemond.
  • The rest of the Turks fled instead of helping.

Fatimids and Seljuks

  • The Fatimids were Shi'ite and the Seljuks were Sunni.
  • The Fatimids took over Jerusalem from the Seljuks in 1098.

Helping Crusaders

  • Some Muslims were unhappy with the current rule, and helped Crusaders along the way.

"Muslims Disunity is key to crusader success" - Foss.

"The Shi'ite Fatimids had no intention of helping the Sunni Seljuks against the crusaders" - Mayer.

"The Muslims lacked unity in politics, race and religion" - Tyreman.

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Crusader Strengths


  • They were vastly outnumbered at Antioch.
  • They still managed to win.


  • They trekked across some of the harshest conditions on earth.
  • They still won battles after these hard conditions.


  • The turks vastly outnumbered them again.
  • They still managed to win.


  • They defeated the mercenary army outside Jerusalem after travelling thousands of miles.
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Crusader Strengths Cont'd

"Nicaea was a glorious Victory" - Anna Comnena

"Crusaders lacked a unifies leadership and an agreed military plan" - Tyreman.

"80% of the knights were without horses on the march to Antioch" - Riley-Smith.

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Religious Zeal


  • Piety was high at this point.
  • They were kept motivated by the idea that they would get into heaven if successful.

Holy Lance

  • They found the Holy Lance at Antioch Cathedral
  • This religiously kept moral high, as they felt they were backed by God.

"Religious enthusiasm was fundamental to the success of the first crusade" - France.

"The miracles en-route to Jerusalem spurred them on" - Mayer.

"The crusaders did not experience continual intensity of belief." - Bartlett.

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Crusader States


  • The crusaders capatured Nicaea, Dorylaeum and Antioch.
  • This helped them build a supply chain to get them food and water.


  • As they kept going, they had the states behind them so they could fall back and retreat onto them.
  • This also meant the Muslims could not sneak up on them from behind.
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Byzantine and Genoese Aid


  • Alexius let the crusaders camp outside Nicaea.


  • The Byzantines transported them free of charge across the Bosporus.


  • The Byzantines sent soldiers to help them with the siege of Antioch.


  • Genoese Aid brought raw materials for the crusaders to make siege engines.
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Sheer Luck


  • The crusaders found a whole stash of timber in a cave outside Jerusalem
  • This meant they could build the siege engines they desperately needed.

Holy Lance

  • They found the Holy Lance at Antioch Cathedral.
  • This helped keep them motivated as they were backed by God.
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