Anatolian Routes of the Crusading Armies
Keywords: Crusades, Anatolia, Sultanate of Rum, Danishmendids, Byzantium
In the age of the Crusades (1096-1291), nine great Eastern campaigns were mounted. Only the armies of the First Crusade succeeded in crossing Anatolia by the diagonal route to the south that led through Dorylaion-Konya-Ereğli-Kayseri-Maraş. In the year 1101 the Crusading armies were foiled by the Turks in their attempts to pass through the territories of the Seljuqs of Rum and the Danishmendids: the first army, which was advancing along the route İznik-Osmaneli-Gölpazarı-Nallıhan-Ayaş-Ankara-Çankırı, was routed in proximity to Merzifon while the second army was destroyed after reaching the outskirts of the Seljuq capital of Konya by proceeding from Ankara to Gölbaşı-Kulu-Cihanbeyli and the third army which was following the same route taken in the First Crusade was totally annihilated near the streams at Ereğli. The armies of the Second Crusade were unsuccessful in trying to cross the lands of the Seljuqs of Rum in 1147-8 and were able to reach Antalya only by keeping to the lands of the Aegean region that belonged to the Byzantines, so that, after Esseron near Balıkesir, they followed the route Edremit-Pergamum-İzmir-Ephesus-Denizli. In 1190, the German army which joined the Third Crusade descended to the plain of Silifke after crossing the Taurus Mountains by passing partly through Turkish lands and partly through Byzantine territories by marching along the route marked by Alaşehir-Denizli-Akşehir-Konya-Karaman. As a result, the transit route from Anatolia to Syria was closed to the Crusading armies at the very outset of the Crusades. Subsequently, the Crusading armies no longer constituted a threat to the lands in the hands of the Turks in Anatolia.