Crusader States Outremer

Tancred recovers lost ground
1105 Apr 20

Tancred recovers lost ground

Reyhanlı, Hatay, Turkey

After the great Crusader defeat at the Battle of Harran in 1104, all of Antioch's strongholds east of the Orontes River were abandoned. In order to raise additional Crusader reinforcements, Bohemond of Taranto embarked for Europe, leaving Tancred as regent in Antioch. The new regent began to patiently recover the lost castles and walled towns.

In mid-spring 1105, the inhabitants of Artah, which is located 25 miles (40 km) east-northeast of Antioch, may have expelled Antioch's garrison from the fortress and allied with Ridwan or surrendered to the latter upon his approach to the fortress. Artah was the last Crusader-held fortress east of the city of Antioch and its loss could result in a direct threat to the city by Muslim forces. It is unclear if Ridwan thereafter garrisoned Artah.

With a force of 1,000 cavalry and 9,000 infantry, Tancred laid siege to the castle of Artah. Ridwan of Aleppo tried to interfere with the operation, gathering a host of 7,000 infantry and an unknown number of cavalry. 3,000 of the Muslim infantrymen were volunteers. Tancred gave battle and defeated the army of Aleppo. The Latin prince is supposed to have won by his "skillful use of ground." Tancred proceeded to consolidate the Principality's control of its eastern frontier regions, precipitating the flight of local Muslims from the areas of the Jazr and Loulon, although several were slain by Tancred's forces. After his victory, Tancred expanded his conquests east of the Orontes with only minor opposition.