Crusaders’ siege of Nicaea, May 14-June 19, 1097

In the year 1077, Suleiman Shah ibn Qutalmish captured the Byzantine city of Nicaea and founded his own independent state from the Great Seljuks. This state came to be known as the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum or the Seljuk Sultanate of Anatolia.

After Suleiman’s death, his son Kilij Arslan I ascended the throne of Anatolia. But soon, Kilij Arslan I was going to face a grave threat coming from the west, the Crusaders. He, thus, would become the first Muslim commander to fight against the Crusaders.

In 1095 when Pope Urban II called for a crusade, the People’s Crusade led by Peter the Hermit and Walter left for the Holy Land. Made of a mob of peasant zealots, the people’s Crusade was crushed by Seljuk Sultan Kılıç Arslan I in the Battle of Civetot on October 21, 1096.

When Kilij Arslan heard of another army coming from the west, considering his previous success, he felt that the second wave of crusaders was not a threat. But this was the main army that had professional warriors coming from all around Europe.

Eventually, Sultan left his capital Nicaea in order to fight in the east. On the other hand in April 1097, the Crusaders of the official First Crusade crossed the Bosporus into Anatolia. They reached outside Nicaea on May 6 and started besieging it on May 14.

When Sultan heard of the siege, he rushed back towards his capital but was pushed back by the Crusaders. In his absence, the city surrendered on June 19 and the Byzantines without the knowledge of the Crusaders took control of the city.

As the Crusaders left the city on June 29, Sultan now planned to ambush them. Eventually, both the armies met in the Battle of Dorylaeum on July 1. Kilij Arslan’s army could not stand in front of the superior numbers of the Crusaders and thus, he lost this very crucial battle.

With the fall of Nicaea, the Seljuks of Rum would establish their capital in Konya.

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