I see Theodoric of Flanders, I'm happy. Now I hope that the Flemings will make more appearances.
Amazing new chapter and can't wait for the second part
Amazing new chapter and can't wait for the second part
The Byzantines will probably place a special importance on Alexandria- it being the principal city of the old Roman Empire, and the seat of a Patriarch. Lower Egypt in general the Byzantines could establish some control over, but Upper Egypt will get more difficult. That's where I expect the Crusaders to dominate.I honestly expected Manuel to have less control over the Crusade, given how rowdy the Crusaders can be.
I imagine that given the distance from the Roman heartland that the Egyptian interior will be divided up between different Crusader lords with some sort of Feudal arrangement.
The Romans retained suzerainty but also gives the Crusders the opportunity to break free when the next inevitable civil war happens.
Tug of war basically since Byzantines could do the same when the crusader states have a moment of weakness or civil war.The Byzantines will probably place a special importance on Alexandria- it being the principal city of the old Roman Empire, and the seat of a Patriarch. Lower Egypt in general the Byzantines could establish some control over, but Upper Egypt will get more difficult. That's where I expect the Crusaders to dominate.
The Byzantines may eventually be completely kicked out of Egypt in a moment of weakness, but I expect immediately after the Crusade they'll have areas they control.
Adverse climate, however, prevented their sea transportation, and thus Manuel’s army became stranded for more than a month in the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia, but Alexios Komnenos and Constantine Kalamanos arrived fairly quickly in Palestine. In the Frankish Outremer, the arrival of these two large armies, the one from Asia, and the one from Europe, was met with a mixture of celebration and apprehension, due to the logistical difficulties of providing food, shelter and other daily resources, but Manuel had foreseen this, and kept a fleet operational to furnish goods from southern Anatolia and from Cyprus to the Levant.
Evidently the armies had been fragmented and sent in distinct parts because of the immense logistical necessities that the movement of such a large army would entail - the largest one to traverse Anatolia and Levant ever since the First Crusade. Food, water and drink were staples, and the difficulties of preserving perishable goods forced them to carry utensils such as jars, ovens and carts to carry grain, liquids, oil, and others. There had to be available textiles for clothing; metals not only for weapons, but also for daily items; plenty of wood for construction and repairs; the presence of beasts of burden, cattle for consumption and for riding, from oxen to horses, and from sheep to camels, created various necessities, to provide forage and shelter. Knowing that the movements of these armies would certainly drain the resources of the provinces through which they marched, the Basileus provided fleets to keep them supplied, but even this, over the course of a whole year, strained the supply network, especially in Asia, and more even by the fact that the summer season in the Orient was significantly dry and hot, circumstances that made the armies march slowly and demand more staples to be able to march. And then, even the usage of naval transports for replenishment was not guaranteed to provide adequate logistical support, because wind-powered vessels were mostly dependent on the goodwill and guidance of Zephyrus.
I devoted some attention here to logistics, which are often ignored when people discuss Medieval warfare. The picture I was trying to portray is: it is a friggin' mess, and the whole success of the expedition depended on an amazing and intricate work of logistics. Remember that Medieval societies, in either Europe or the Near East, produced little food surplus, and it was heavily dependent on the seasons. The Byzantines have specialized state apparatus which allows for better communications and logistics, unlike the Franks or the Crusaders as a whole, and this, IMHO, gives a significant edge in the coordination of such a massive campaign, which should be huge for the standards of the period, comparable to Saladin's campaigns and to the Third Crusade, which involved massive armies and complex operations, but over the course of some years.
Manuel’s strategy was a risky one, at best. Oversea maneuvers against coastal centers demanded a significant logistical investment, not only to secure the necessary resources for the transportation of troops, but also to keep them literally at bay if they failed to disembark and obtain a defined position in the littoral, which, as a consequence, would hinder the acquisition of victuals and other resources. In the meantime, once a beachhead was established, if they failed to obtain a fortified position, the disembarked forces would be vulnerable to the counterattack of the defending forces, and replenishment of casualties would be short of impossible.
As it happened, however, Fortune did favor the bold, in this case, the Christians. After a bad spell of tempestuous weather, the Rhōmaiōi and Italians blockaded Rosetta, a fortified town situated in the western mouth of the Nile. Hundreds of them successfully disembarked in the sandy isthmus situated between the sea and Lake Burullus, and, after crossing the Nile unimpeded, they put the city to siege through its western walls. In short notice, siege engines were employed, likely by assembling prefabricated parts, while the warships assaulted the town with artillery bombardments over its walls. Perhaps due to the fact that the city was relatively far from the national border, and that the main seat of government in the region was Alexandria, Rosetta had only a small garrison, one which, during the assault, remained quartered in the citadel near the shore of the Nile and did little to thwart the Christian advance.
Once Manuel was welcomed in the city, to the surprise of the besieged and probably of the besiegers alike, the Basileus prohibited his soldiers from sacking the metropolis, and, instead, employed them in the immediate reconstruction of the damaged homes and fortifications. It is almost certain, given the record of battles involving hostile religionaries, that it was the magnanimity of the autocrat that prevented further bloodshed - one, that, it must be said, the Damiettans were likely expecting, considering that the reputation of the Crusaders in Egypt was one of bloodthirsty and rapacity. Instead, the Ismaelites were granted safe conduct to abandon the city, while the Christian inhabitants - mostly Copts, but also Armenians and Syrians - were exempted from tribute.
In the second part of this installment: the War continues. Can the Fatimids turn the tide? In the 8th of May we'll find out.