Battle of Dorylaeum, 1 July 1097
Battle during the First Crusade that nearly ended in disaster for the crusaders. The Crusade was crossing the interior of Anatolia, lost by the Byzantines after the battle of Manzikert (1071), in two separate columns, almost disastrously far apart, with no overall command. Moreover, the terrain, a high plateau, was almost perfect for the light Turkish mounted archers, making it almost impossible for the Crusaders to catch them. About an hour into their march on 1 July the left hand column under Bohemond encountered a Turkish force, and formed up to fight. However, before the Crusaders were fully formed up, they were attacked from all sides by the entire army of Kilij Arslan, Seljuk Sultan of Rum, probably 50,000 strong, although reported by the Crusaders at anywhere between 150,000 and 350,000. The entire Turkish army consisted of mounted archers, who attacked in swarms, without coming close to the Crusaders. Bohemond was unable to restrain the Crusaders, some of whom charged out to attack the Turks, but were massacred. Over several hours of fighting, the Crusaders were forced back into their camp, and it seemed that they were inevitably going to be wiped out. Luckily, messengers had reached the second column, and when Duke Godfrey arrived on the scene, he found the Turks crowded in to a small area around Bohemond's camp. He was thus able to charge a mass of Turks, doing great damage to the Turkish left and centre. The morale of the Turkish army broke at this unexpected turn, and the mass of the Turkish army fled the field. The second column had arrived just in time to prevent really heavy casualties amongst Bohemond's column, and Kilij Arslan was unable to challenge the Crusaders again, allowing them free passage across Anatolia. Even better, they managed to capture the Turkish camp intact, and for a brief period were free of supply problems.
Nicolle, David, The First Crusade 1096-1099: Conquest of the Holy Land , Osprey Campaign Series, vol 132. The Osprey volume for the first crusade. Nicolle had a great depth of knowledge of middle-eastern history, which is reflected in this book.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (3 April 2001), Battle of Dorylaeum, 1 July 1097, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_dorylaeum.html