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The First conflicts Between The Crusaders and The Emirs of The East

In the autumn of 1099 the army which remained with Godfrey for the defence of the Holy Sepulchre and the completion of the work of the first crusade did not exceed 3000 men When this became obvious, the emirs of the coast towns, who had hitherto anxiously avoided conflict with the crusaders, began to recover confidence. Arsuf lay nearest to the Latin settlements and was the first to challenge its new neighbours to a trial of strength. Godfrey besieged the town for 7 weeks, from the end of October to. the middle of December His failure was due principally to the want of a fleet. At Christmas Bohemond of Antioch and Baldwin of Edessa visited Jerusalem in company with archbishop Daimbert (Dagobert) of Pisa. A large Pisan fleet with the archbishop on board had landed in Laodicea three months before. Daimbert was now elected patriarch of Jerusalem and he and the town of Pisa received special rights in Jafa, which had lain in ruins up till now and was rebuilt by Godfrey and the Italians in the early part of next year 1100. In February and March there were skirmishes with the troops of Arsuf supported by horsemen from Ascalon and Arabs from the south of Palestine. The garrison of Ramla, which numbered 100 knights and 200 foot-soldiers, was active on the Latin side. It may be supposed that the visit of the knights of Antioch and Edessa and especially the arrival of the Pisan fleet convinced the Moslems that the Latin power was not to be estimated merely by the strength of Godfrey's army. At all events about Easter 1100 first the emir of Arsuf and then those of Ascalon, Caesarea and 'Akka offered tribute in return for a period of truce. Their proposals were accepted and turned out much to the advantage of the Latins. After Easter there was a perfect exodus of crusaders from the country, and many of those who remained were induced to do so with the greatest difficulty. During the summer pestilence broke out, owing, it is said, to the number of unburied bodies which polluted the country. There was a general failure of the Syrian crops, also, and therefore a great scarcity of food. Many of the natives went down to Egypt in consequence of the pestilence and famine. The Latins found welcome markets in the Moslem towns with which they had peace and received large supplies especially from Ascalon.

Whilst there was peace with the towns on the coast Godfrey assisted Tancred, who was now establishing his authority in the district beyond Jordan nearest to Tiberias. The inhabitants of Nablus had voluntarily submitted to him immediately after the fall of Jerusalem and Baisan was one of his early acquisitions. Possibly before the size of Arsuf in 1099 Godfrey assisted him in the fortification of Tiberias and there he had remained as the king's vassal, with 60-80 knights in his service. The two expeditions in which Godfrey now took part were both against the same sheikh or emir. The first lasted a week early in the spring of 1100 the second occupied a fortnight about the end of the following May. The Latin army in the former case included 200 knights and a 1000 foot soldiers, and its rear-guard was attacked on the way home by some hundreds of horsemen from Damascus. The main purpose and effect of the expeditions was to secure that the revenues of the district should be paid to Tancred.

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