And All Nations Shall Gather To It - A Crusades TL

"And All Nations Shall Gather To It" - A Crusades TL

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Hello, friends,

This is a story I've been writing, bit a bit, for some months now, focused on the Crusaders (with a PoD in the First Crusade), and in an alt-Kingdom of Jerusalem (let's abreviate "KOJ" to facilitate). For a set of circumstances and divergences that will be explained along the way, I believe this scenario can justify a more long-lived KOJ, and also, an even more lasting Byzantine Empire. For now, I'm focused on the First Crusade and its consequences, but later I'd love to develop this into a full-fledged centuries-long thread.

Some months ago I posted this thread discussing the possibility that another of the leaders of the First Crusade might become King of Jerusalem instead of Godfrey of Bouillon. In one of the last posts of the thread, I explained in detail the plans I had for a TL in which Raymond of St. Giles becomes the first de facto ruler of Jerusalem, and this brings very interesting butterflies, both in the Orient and in Europe. If you want to see the point I want to get to, just check the thread linked in this paragraph.

In short, the Point of Divergence occurs in 1099, during the Siege of Antioch. IOTL, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos was marching to Antioch to assist the Crusaders in their battle against the Turkish coalition led by the Atabeg of Mosul, but decided to turn back when he was met in Tarsus by Stephen of Blois, a deserter from the Crusade, who claimed that the Crusaders were about to be annihilated. Alexios abandoned the Crusaders and, after their surprising victory over the Turks, they considered him a traitor and oathbreaker. This was but the first of a series of grievances between the Crusaders and the Byzantine Empire, out of many others that sometimes thwarted prospects of alliances between Constantinople and Jerusalem. ITTL, Stephen of Blois does not defects from the siege of Antioch, and Alexios goes all the way to relieve the Crusaders, thus preserving the seeds for a genuine alliance between Byzantium and the future KOJ. Butterflies ensue...


For new readers, I kindly ask for you to read this topic before going into the TL itself. Here I’ll answer some questions that often pop up in the discussions between the chapters. Obviously, considering we have more than 100 pages deep into the thread, it is hard for new readers to catch up with everything we have discussed, so I believe it is useful to read this piece firstly, so that the topics of discussion can be narrowed down to more specific issues.

1. What is the “Butterfly Criteria” used in the TL? Will a historical person X or Y appear in the TL? Will place A or B, or peoples C or D be affected by the POD?

The TL uses a “direct causality” when we are considering butterflies: divergences will happen if they are directly affected by the POD and the causality developments that happen after the initial divergences, with spatial and temporal limitations. This means that Europe and the Middle East will be initially the only ones affected by the POD, and, even then, only in certain spaces and for a certain period. Once the divergences escalate and mount up, we’ll be seeing how this affects other parts of the world, and the TL gradually becomes more complex. The main rule is: things will remain the same and happen exactly like IOTL unless I mention that it happen differently, and this will be considered a divergence. And, from there onwards, divergences will happen more frequently, until we see an absolute distinction from our historical reality.

Sometimes, due to narrative and storyline options, I’ll be putting other divergences which I believe are somewhat related to the POD and the initial chains of causality, and which permit me to create a more plausible scenario exploring a surviving Crusader State. This means that sometimes persons who died in year X might live longer, or might pass away earlier even, and persons who were born long after the POD most likely won’t be born, and so forth. Once any of these historical or historically-based characters enter in direct contact with the events or the circumstances related to the alt-Outremer, they will be directly affected. As a rule of thumb, if any historical individual participates in some action inside the TL, he and whatever of his relations he has (spouse, collateral relatives, descendants, etc.) might be affected. This means, for example, that any character that participates in any of the Crusades mentioned in-TL, even if they don't actually remain in the Crusader State, are automatically included into the divergence, and his individual life might (or not) diverge from what happened IOTL.

I am also fond of the concept of "Alternate History Siblings" (used in Thande's Look to the West) - in which people may be shaped by circumstances in different ways, be mergers of different individuals, have different names and lead different lives, but are fundamentally familiar to historical individuals. Such characters, and other dramatically different things having the same name, are indicated with an asterisk (*), short for "alternate".

2. How long will the TL last in-story?

I’ll be taking the TL to last as much as I can take farther from the POD. My immediate objective is to reach the alternate 16th C. My ultimate objective is to take it, in-timeline, to the 20th Century C.E.

3. Do you have maps demonstrating the situation of the Levant during the TL?

Please, check the threadmarks, there are at least three installments in which I published reference maps. In any case, I simply suck at map drawing, and I have not even basic knowledge about image-editing programs, so I won’t be taking my chances there. If anyone volunteers to help in mapmaking, please PM me ;)

4. Will the Crusaders conquer and hold Islamic Egypt? What about the Copts, Ethiopians and other Christian East African peoples?

Yes, they will. As has been discussed various times in the thread, I believe, as do many readers, that the Crusaders could have militarily occupied Egypt and establish their own politico-administrative regime there, and that this circumstance would have ensured the long-term survival of the Crusader polities. The conquest of Egypt by the Crusaders will happen in the late 12th C. to the middle of the 13th C.C.E., and will be detailed in Act VII (still unwritten, as of April 2020).

The Crusader State of Egypt will probably coincide, geographically speaking, with the format of Fatimid Egypt, meaning that they will not expand into the territory of the Christian polities that historically existed south of Egypt, in modern Sudan (Axum, Abyssinia, Ethiopia, etc.). Their relations with non-Catholic Christians will be one of conciliation and vassalization, that is, the latter will find themselves in second place in the socio-cultural pyramid, but still privileged in relation to the Islamic communities, which will often be marginalized.

The relations between the Catholics, Syriacs, Copts, and other Christian denominations, as well as between all of them and the Muslims, will always be a prominent aspect of the TL.

5. What about the Mongols?

Genghis Khan’s life and the creation of the Mongol Empire will happen ITTL exactly like they historically did, due to the aforementioned butterfly regime, up until they arrive in the Levant and in alt-Europe, in the late 13th C.C.E. The formation of the splintered Khanates will most likely happen in a similar fashion to OTL, as will their invasion patterns, into Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and, finally, the formation of the Pax Mongolica. Once they become entrenched in the Middle East and in Russia, and enter a long-lasting contact with the alternate then, we’ll be seeing the divergences unfold, but, suffice to say, without spoilering too much, their impact on global geopolitics will be massive, much like OTL.

6. Will the Reconquista still happen? And if it does, can it expand into North Africa?

Yes and yes. The Reconquista will happen ITTL, meaning that the whole of the Iberian Peninsula will be annexed by Christian polities, eradicating the Islamic rule in the region. It will be finished sooner than OTL, because of the divergences I believe would be happening in a world with a more sophisticated and consolidated Crusading ideology. It will be better detailed in Act VI (still unwritten, as of May 2020).

Regarding the Islamic Maghreb, we will see that the Christian polities of the Mediterranean will launch consecutive campaigns to occupy and colonize North Africa, especially Tunisia and Libya, not unlike what they attempted to do IOTL. This means that the Barbary States as we saw historically won’t be appearing, at least not in the way they did in our reality. Islam will likely not, however be eradicated from North Africa, and this will play an important role in the assessment of the power relations between the Crusader regimes and the Islamic communities. I estimate that by the late 14th C. to the 15th C.C.E., the whole Mediterranean coast will be, if not entirely, mostly under Crusader-inspired European entities.

7. What about the Baltic and Northern Crusades?

All of the historical Crusades in the European continent will happen on schedule and, in general, they will mirror the events of OTL, in the first centuries (13th and 14th C.). Later on, we’re bound to see some divergences, and we’ll be seeing in detail how the European Crusaders will interact with the Latin-Levantine ones, and with the

8. Will the Crusaders go to India and further?

They will, once Egypt is secured, and the venues of the Red Sea are open to voyages. The “Franks” will likely venture into the Indian Subcontinent as early as the 13th C.C.E., into Southeast Asia and into the Far East. Due to the historically high demand for spices and other goods that Europeans acquired from eastern Asia, we’ll certainly be seeing an anticipation of the processes of economic complexification and proto-globalization that we saw happen, IOTL, after the late 15th C.C.E.

9. What about the discovery and colonization of the Americas and other continents?

They will most likely happen, but certainly not in the way it did historically; suffice to say that we won’t be seeing Columbus or Vespucci or the likes. It might be delayed some decades or centuries, or even anticipated, in comparison to OTL. The point that must be stressed is that the circumstances that led to the Great Discoveries in our reality can’t be replicated with perfection ITTL, and that with divergences piling up from the late 11th C., we are bound to see a very different Europe, and very different societies and relations.

10. And what about the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the World Wars, etc?

As a rule, I can say that events that historically happened later than the 15th C. will not happen, or, if they do, they won’t happen like they did OTL. What I know for certain is that, considering the basic premises of the TL, and the idea that divergences become increasingly more complex and more substantial as we advance in time, by then the world by then will have diverged so much that it is very improbable that they will happen, if only in a similar, but not exact, way.

All the dates below are set in the Common Era system. Particularly irrelevant years will go unmentioned.
  • 1095 – Council of Clermont. Pope Urban II calls the First Crusade;
  • 1098 – Siege of Antioch. POINT OF DIVERGENCE: Emperor Alexios I Komnenos arrives in Antioch with reinforcements and defeats the combined Muslim army led by Radwan of Aleppo, Duqaq of Damascus and Kerbogha of Mosul;
  • 1099 – The Crusaders march through Syria and Lebanon into Palestine. Siege, capture and massacre of Jerusalem. Raymond of Toulouse becomes Prince of Jerusalem/Duke of Galilee and Adhemar of Le Puy becomes (Latin) Archbishop of Jerusalem. The Crusaders defeat the Fatimids in Gaza and take Ascalon with the help of a Genoese Fleet;
  • 1100 – Pope Paschal II summons the “After-Crusade” (or Crusade of the Faint-Hearted). Armies coming mainly from southern and central France, northern Italy and southern Germany/Austria go to the Outremer.
  • 1101 – The Lombards are massacred by the Rûm Seljuks in Anatolia. The newly arrived French and German Crusaders, assisted by a “Byzantine” force, in turn inflict a decisive defeat upon the Seljuks, allowing the Empire to reconquer Cappadocia and Paphlagonia, and to reinforce the suzerainty over the Armenians of Cilicia. Later that year, the new Crusader army helps the Latin-Levantine force of Prince Raymond in expelling another large Egyptian army, led by Vizier al-Malik al-Afdal Shāhanshāh in Gaza and Rafah;
  • 1102 – The reinforced Crusader army, having previously secured Jaffa, captures Acre and Tyre;
  • 1103 – Radwan of Aleppo becomes the ruler of Homs and Mosul, and the suzerain over Tripoli in Lebanon. Duqaq raids Palestine, but fails to expel the Crusaders. In Jerusalem, Alfonso-Jordan, Raymond’s second son, is born, and Adhemar of Le Puy dies.
  • 1104 – Gerard of Amalfi becomes Archbishop of Jerusalem, and some reinforcements arrive from France, with Bertrand, the son of Raymond, arriving in the same time. Duqaq of Damascus dies, succeeded by Tutush II. In Anatolia, the Danishmends defeat the remnant of the Rûm Seljuks and slay Kilij Arslan, reducing them to a rump state in the northern part of the peninsula. The “Byzantines” form an alliance with the Danishmends’ enemies and contain them, retaking Paphlagonia to the empire;
  • 1109 – The Sunni Caliph forges an alliance between Radwan of Aleppo, Ilghazi of the Artuqids, Sökmen of the Shah-Armens and the Fatimids, with the intent of invading Jerusalem. The “Syrian Jihad”, as it becomes known, is initially successful, with the Fatimids besieging Jerusalem with the Damascenes, and the Turco-Syrians besieging Tyre after defeating Raymond’s Crusader army in Tebnine. An army of Italo-Normans and “Byzantines” arrive and relieve Tyre, later to defeat the main body of the Muslim army besieging Jerusalem. The Komnenoi fleet destroys the Fatimid navy off the coast of Egypt. The counterattack of the Crusaders expels the Turks from Palestine, but they remain in Lebanon and Syria.
  • 1110/1111 – King Sigurd of Norway arrives [Norwegian Crusade]. With this reinforcement, the Crusaders capture Sidon and Beirut and then march into eastern Lebanon, attacking Toghtekin’s newly created Emirate of Baalbek. He is defeated and the Crusaders obtain the surrender of Zahlé and Baalbek. Raymond dies in early 1101. Bohemond becomes Prince of Jerusalem by the consent of the nobles.
  • 1113 – Toghtekin is assassinated. His son Buri becomes Emir of Homs, but is soon dethroned and forced to flee to the court of the Great Seljuks. The Turco-Syrian aristocrat Al-Himsi becomes the Emir instead.
  • 1115/1116 – Bohemond leads the Crusaders to besiege Damascus, now ruled by Baktash, Tutush II’s uncle. After almost a year of failed attempts of taking it by storm, the Crusaders lift the siege, accepting tribute from Damascus.
  • 1120 - Bohemond dies. First Conclave of Jerusalem is held, electing his distant cousin Robert of the Marquisate (Marchisus or of Buonalbergo) to be the third Prince of Jerusalem and Duke of Galilee. The results are disputed by the sole surviving Hauteville nobleman in the Outremer, Humphrey of Cannae, but his rebellion in Tyre ends in failure.
  • 1121/1123 - The Latin Principality obtains the vassalage of some Syrian provinces in the upper Orontes valley, and later its noblemen orchestrate expeditions in northwestern Syria, capturing Masyaf, Maarat al-Nu'maan and Apamea, all of which are incorporated into the Bavarian March of Tortosa, but fail to take Shayzar. Prince Robert dies during a raiding incursion.
  • 1124 - Another Italo-Norman lord related to the Hautevilles, Richard of Salerno, is elected. A treaty establishes the border between the Crusaders and the "Byzantine" Empire in Laodicea ad Mare.
  • 1124/1127 - The Latin Principality annex the main cities in Oultrejordain (Amman, Madaba, Ajloun and Ma'an), consolidating their hold over Palestine.
  • 1126 - Baldwin of Boulogne, Count of Edessa, assumes the County of Tiberias, and de facto forfeits Edessa to his cousin Baldwin of Rethel. The Lorrainer House of Boulogne becomes entrenched in Tiberias.
  • 1129 - Gregorio Papareschi (OTL Pope Innocent II) becomes Archbishop of Jerusalem
  • 1130 - The Normans annex Tripoli, the last significant Islamic holdout in the Levant. William of Sant'Angelo, Count of Balbac, becomes Count of Tripoli. || Signing of the "Michielian Pact", an alliance between the Principality of Jerusalem and the Republics of Venice and Amalfi (Interlude 3).
  • 1131 - Basileus John II Komnenos makes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his imperial entourage, and reasserts the suzerainty of the Empire over the Crusader State.
  • 1134 - Death of Prince Richard of Salerno. His son Roger becomes the Duke of Galilee and Prince of Jerusalem.
  • 1137 - the Second Crusade is officially summoned by Pope Anacletus I. Later in the same year, Damascus is captured as the first target of the Crusade, by a combined Outremerine and Sicilian army.
  • 1138 - the Crusaders from Flanders and Hainaut arrive in the Orient, led by Theodorich of Flanders. The Crusaders briefly conquer the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, but are expelled. || A massive earthquake destroys Aleppo.
  • 1139 - a Great Seljuk army invades Edessa in retaliation for the capture of Damascus, and devastates the region. Later in the same year, a Seljuk army from Mosul attacks Damascus and lays waste to the country as well.
  • 1140 - the Crusaders annex Homs and Shayzar. In the same year, King *Phillip II of France arrives in the Orient with a large army, joined by Basileus John II Komnenos. They declare war on the Seljuks and invade Armenia.
  • 1141 - Amida is captured by the Crusaders and Byzantines. The Crusade is joined by Hungarian and Serbian noblemen.
  • 1142 - Battle of Hasankeyf results in a decisive defeat for the Seljuks and marks the high-point of the Crusader-Byzantine advance into Armenia. || The Kingdom of Georgia, allied to Byzantium, annexes the Armenian metropolis of Ahlat in Lake Van.
  • 1143/1144 - the great dukes of Germany arrive in the East and undertake a disastrous invasion of Egypt. End of the Second Crusade.

I tried to use all the English versions of both persons and places' names. In other stories I've written, I always tried to use the "native" name by which the person or place would be known in the specific period and culture it is inserted (like, for example, the name "William" in Medieval Normandy was used as "Williame", but in southern France would be "Guilhèm", and in Italy "Guglielmo". ITTL, all of them will be named simply as William, and the same goes for "Toulouse" instead of "Tolosa", for example, and "Egypt" instead of "Misr"). This might sometimes get a bit repetitive, as names such as William, Henry, Conrad, and others were very common in the Middle Ages, but it will be better for reasons of uniformity.

The only single exception to this rule is the reference to the Byzantine Empire, Byzantium and the Byzantine people. The term, as many in this board are keen to point out, is an anachronism created in the 16th Century, and the Byzantines always referred to themselves as "Romans". Nevertheless, to avoid confusion with anything related to the ancient Roman civilization or the Roman Catholic Church, I prefered to use the terms "Rhomania" to designate the Byzantine Empire, and "Rhomaioi" or "Rhomaion".

Also, pardon the fact that I sometimes use anachronistic terms such as "knight" (the correct in the 11th Century would be Miles), or squadron and division, and, regarding place-names, Lebanon and Iran. It is purely out of convenience to facilitate reading.
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ACT I - DEUS VULT (1099-1100 A.D.)

At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.

(Bible. Jeremiah 3:17)



In the year of 1095 Anno Domini, Pope Urban II assembled a council in the French city of Clermont, aggregating nobles, clergymen and commoners to discuss various matters, including the excommunication of the then King of France, Phillip I, and the formalization of a series of rules and setlines to withhold the Truce of God. In the last of a series of synods held in these cold November days, facing hundreds of spectators in an expansive field outside the walled city, the Pope made an inflamed speech, describing the plight and suffering of their siblings in the distant Orient, in the land of mystical Jerusalem, in the hands of the infidels, and heeded the faithful of Christ to cease fratricide wars among themselves and to join arms against the pagans in the Orient, and to liberate the sacrosanct places from their hold.

Pope Urban II, according to his latter correspondence with the bishops and abbots of France and Germany, admitted that, in these cold November days of 1095, even he could not have fathomed the repercussions of his summon, which sparked the very first Crusade.

Militarized expeditions agglomerating a multitude of peoples with the single purpose of achieving a spiritual reward, the Crusades were extraordinary episodes, and would for centuries shape the worldview of monarchs, popes and peasants. The concept of a “holy war” was not new, of course, and it had been adopted as a pretext by Charlemagne in his bloody wars against the Saxons and Avars, and by various Iberian, Italian and German lords to prosecute campaigns against their non-Christian neighbors, be them Moors, Saracens or Slavs. In 1095, however, a new kind of “holy war” was conceived and developed, directly associated with the archaic concept of “just war”, and conjoined the ultimate paradox of the Christian Medieval Europe: the conciliation of the Christian theological dogmas of peace and spiritual candidness with the sociopolitical structures orbited around violence and war. For the first time in Christian history, war itself became the path to salvation and redemption. The shedding of blood of the so-called “infidels” was a righteous task that allowed both commoner and aristocrat to achieve the final reward in the otherworld.

In this context, the First Crusade was perhaps one of the most extraordinary of these exalted expeditions, congregating at first an army of plebeians led by charismatic preachers, and, later, by highborn magnates with their private armies, that went on foot from the confines of Latin Europe all the way to the Orient, and, after years of tribulations, facing the mightiest Islamic potentates, succeeded in wrestling the Holy City by fire and sword.

A detailed map of the First Crusade (in French). Right-click it and open in another tab to see it full size.


To their contemporaries, the victory of the Crusaders was nothing short of miraculous, and many believed that God himself had bestowed his favor on the pilgrims to prosecute His divine work. Indeed, whatever battle that they might have lost, whatever help that they might have not received, whatever new enemy that they might have to fight, any of these, if it had occurred differently, might have spelt the end of the Crusade. Yes, the First Crusade could have been terminated in the battlefields of Nicaea and Dorylaeum, where they triumphed over the mighty Seljuk Turks; it could have been disintegrated by petty ambitions and contempt between the magnates in their journey through Asia Minor; it could have ended with a starving and exhausted bunch of men and women exterminated by the combined armies of the princes of Syria near the walls of Antioch; it could have been finished in the very end, if they had failed to wrestle holy Jerusalem from the infidels, as the grand army of the Caliph of Egypt came from the Nile.

Yet, the Crusaders triumphed in every of these clashes, their indomitable will and their spiritual resolve unshaken by famine, deprivation, tiredness, and so forth.

Perhaps the most miraculous of these episodes was the victory in Antioch, after the Crusaders withstood a protracted and exhausting siege, only to be, afterwards, besieged by a vast army of Turkish barbarians. In these fateful days, in 1098, the Crusade might have ended, if it was not for the fortuitous arrival of a relief army led by Basileus Alexios I Komnenos, the Caesar of Constantinople, and greatest ally of the Crusaders.
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Thanks for the support, I appreciate it, and hope that it achieves your expectations, my friends :)

Now, we'll see the details about the PoD itself.
2. The Siege of Antioch and the Battle on the Orontes (1097-1098)
Battle of Antioch.jpg

The mighty and proud metropolis of Antioch, cradled in the gentle flow of the Orontes River, for eight arduous months withstood a siege conducted by these Frankish invaders, between October 1097 and June 1098.

The Crusaders, in two amazing victories attributed to the charismatic leadership of the Italo-Norman prince Bohemond of Taranto, had surprised and routed a relief force led by Abu Nasr Shams al-Muluk Duqaq, the Emir of Damascus [Dimashq] (31 December 1097) and afterwards vanquished an army led by his older brother, Fakhr al-Mulk Radwan, the Sultan of Aleppo [Halab] (9 February 1098).

The greatest battle of the whole Crusade, however, had yet to come. In the month of May 1098, the ambitious Atabeg of Mosul, a lowborn Turkish warlord named Kerbogha, arrived with a vast army from Mesopotamia, allied with Radwan of Aleppo and Duqaq of Damascus, his former rivals.

By then, the Crusaders had successfully entered Antioch, because of the deceit of an Armenian traitor named Firouz, who had contacted Bohemond weeks earlier and agreed to open the gates in exchange for a prize. The Crusaders, heeded by a gleeful Bohemond, penetrated the city and slaughtered its inhabitants, leaving the streets and house walls stained with blood. The bloodied head of the governor, Yaghi-Siyan, was given to the triumphant Italo-Norman prince.

Now, however, the Crusaders saw themselves forced into a defensive position, trapped inside the walls of Antioch like easy preys, and Atabeg Kerbogha, confident in his numerical superiority and in the dwindling resources of the defenders, simply erected a camp for his troops and encircled the metropolis, expecting the Latins to starve to death. Alas, after months of hardships and tribulations, and the violent delights exacted upon the hapless citizens of Antioch, it appeared that the ancient city founded by Antiochus the Great would also become the cemetery for the whole pilgrimage.

What the Turkish warlords did not know, however, was that the Rhomaion Basileus Alexios I Komnenos – to whom the Crusader princes owed nominal vassalage – was coming from Cilicia to assist his Latin allies and relieve the siege.


The Rhomaioi vanguard, led by the emperor’s trusted general Tatikios, came in middle June to harass the besieging forces, and successfully dislodged them from their position, buying the Crusaders some time until the main Rhomaioi column arrived. The Franks themselves were unaware about Alexios’ approach, and were surprised by the sudden departure of the Turkish besiegers.

In late June 1098, the Turks under Atabeg Kerbogha, now assembled in a promontory near the shore of the Orontes River, gave battle to the combined Latin and Rhomaioi forces, and were soundly defeated. The Muslims were expecting to fight against exhausted and starving bands of Crusaders, but were instead attacked by veteran Tagmata of the Empire, whose mobile forces, assisted by the mercenary Pecheneg horse cavalry, cut off the enemies’ retreat and permitted the heavy infantry to prosecute a massacre against the disorganized Turkish and Syrian spearmen. In the shores of the Orontes, the Rhomaioi gleefully avenged the humiliation suffered in Manzikert, barely a generation earlier.

Radwan of Aleppo deserted his allies in the fray, and later would benefit from a convenient truce with the Christian enemies, and Duqaq of Damascus escaped, while Atabeg Kerbogha of Mosul was made prisoner, and forced to accept the emperor’s suzerainty. He would soon lose his throne in a coup orchestrated by the elite of Mosul – whose aristocrats despised him for his barbarian origins and invited the deceitful Sultan of Aleppo to become the ruler of the province – and would die in 1100, after failing to restore his rule over Mosul against Radwan’s troops.

Some revisionist interpretations – mostly critics of Anna Komnena’s chronicle that describes her father Alexios I as the ultimate guardian of the Crusade – have questioned the strategical purpose of the emperor’s campaign to Syria. It seems, indeed, that he was tempted to leave the Crusaders to their own fate, feeling that they had already outlived their usefulness to the Empire. It is almost certain that the whole expedition would have been bloodily terminated in the shores of the Orontes River if they did not receive relief from Constantinople [Konstantinoúpolis]. The odds against the Latins were overwhelming, even more than in Nicaea, Dorylaeum and later in Gaza.

At the time, Rhomanía was struggling to recover its lost territories in Asia Minor, which had been conquered and settled by the Turkish nomads led by the Seljuk warlords. Alexios’ military and diplomatic efforts warranted the recovery of Bithynia, Ionia, Lycia and recently Pamphylia, with Cilicia inhabited mostly by non-hostile Armenians in nominal vassalage (but de facto independence). Thus, a thin stretch of disintegrated land along the coast of Anatolia held the connection between Constantinople and Syria, the transport, communication and supply lines preserved only by the incessant activity of the Imperial navy. The destruction or subjugation of the Turks in Asia Minor was a much more urgent necessity for the welfare of the empire than the recapture of Antioch, whose geographic situation made it more of a liability than an aspiration.

Nevertheless, this assessment is not entirely correct. In fact, it glosses over some points brought forward by the contemporary sources.

First of all, we must never forget that Alexios I Komnenos, much like his predecessors who wore the purple toga, was very serious about his self-ascribed role as protector of the eastern Christians (including the Antiochene and Jerusalemite churches), and the preservation of stability in the pilgrimage routes to the Holy Land (which invariably put Antioch in its path) was a genuine political and religious concern of his. Besides, western Syria, even after the generations of warfare and destruction caused by the Turkish invasion, was still a prosperous and fertile region, and a focal point of the commercial routes coming from Persia and Arabia, thus making it convenient to have a politico-administrative presence in the region. Finally, one must take notice that the Turkish power in Asia Minor was rapidly deteriorating, in the wake of the dynastic quarrels between Alp Arslan’s successors. By employing shrewd diplomacy and bestowing promises and fictive support among the contenders, Alexios ensured a state of grave division between the Turks, and their weakness permitted him to steadily resume the Rhomaion hegemony over western Asia. This also means that solidifying his hold over Syria and pledging support for a friendly Christian army in the Levant created a very convenient state of turmoil in the Near East.


The PoD is this, then. IOTL, Aléxios was marching to Antioch to relieve the Crusaders, but was informed by Stephen of Blois, himself a deserter, that the Crusade was undone. ITTL, Stephen remained in Antioch – after all, he departed back to Europe a single day before Bohemond successfully obtained the entrance of the Crusaders with the collaboration with Firouz. Thus, Aléxios, who had designs on Antioch and trusted the Empire would benefit from the weakening of the Turkish princes in the Near East, arrives just in time to save the Latins.

Also, IOTL, the Crusaders fought and defeated the Egyptian Fatimids in the battle of Ascalon, barely a week after the bloody capture of Jerusalem. ITTL, due to the diverging circumstances, the decisive battle against the Egyptians will occur near the fort of Gaza (so far a Fatimid outpost), as we’ll see later.

And, for those who don't know, the Christian peoples of Western Europe were usually put in the same bag as "Franks" in the point of view of the Byzantines and the Muslims in general. So, don't be surprised if you see Italians, Germans and English called "Franks". The name went well beyond the French people.
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This is quite interesting so far.
I appreciate recapping the period beforehand so that people not that familiar with the period can follow what's going on.
This is certainly interesting.

Have you considered what the impact of Stephen of Blois not deserting might have further down the line. IOTL he ended up joining the minor 1101 crusade and died at the Battle of Ramla. His son would go on to become Stephen I of England with the Anarchy and all that. If he stays till the end of the crusade without the shame of deserting, which was given as the cause for him participating in the 1101 crusade, he might end up messing with things in France. It seems like Stephen was closer to his oldest son William and with him potentially living a while longer you might end up with William succeeding him instead of his younger brother Theobald who was put forward by his mother. Lots of potential shenanigans in France and England
This is certainly interesting. Have you considered what the impact of Stephen of Blois not deserting might have further down the line. IOTL he ended up joining the minor 1101 crusade and died at the Battle of Ramla. His son would go on to become Stephen I of England with the Anarchy and all that. If he stays till the end of the crusade without the shame of deserting, which was given as the cause for him participating in the 1101 crusade, he might end up messing with things in France. It seems like Stephen was closer to his oldest son William and with him potentially living a while longer you might end up with William succeeding him instead of his younger brother Theobald who was put forward by his mother. Lots of potential shenanigans in France and England
Thanks for the input, that's a very interesting observation. One of the worst things about writing a TL is that many times we simply fail to consider interesting divergences that might spring about from the PoD. I certainly had not forgotten about Stephen of Blois and, indeed, he goes all the way to the end of the First Crusade. Afterwards, as we'll see soon enough in future chapters, the Crusade of 1101 will have a lot more significance than IOTL (where it basically failed after the battles against Kilij Arslan in Asia Minor), but Stephen of Blois will not be participating on it, so, indeed, his death in Ramla is avoided altogether. From there onwards, I must confess I hadn't considered how this might affect the feudal succession in Blois, and much less the succession in Norman England. One thing we can be certain: the sheer distance and timeliness of the PoD will not prevent William Adelin's death, and so Anarchy might happen similar to OTL.

Now, my approach in writing this TL is to point my absolute focus in the Crusading expeditions, in the KOJ itself, and, if necessary, on the affairs of their neighbors (Byzantium, Egypt, Syria and Armenian Cilicia). I'll try to avoid going into deep details about European feudal politics, only if they are necessary to understand the developments in Jerusalem. Don't get me wrong, I'm not discarding the points you raised (on the contrary, I'm really thankful for it) it's just a matter of narrative focus for me. I tend to get really bogged down in details if I indulge myself (as my first abortive TL atests), and I've found out that creating a more focused path helps in creating a more stable narrative. But I'll surely take in consideration your suggestions, as I liked them very much.

Also, this post goes for any of the readers: any interesting divergences and implications you can bring to improve the narrative, will be very much welcomed. I have a general timeline sketched, but the filling of the details is extremely important, and I'd love to depend on you guys for it.
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Very interesting!
(Could we see a marriage between Bohemond and Anna Komnene? Not very serious, but it could be something to see.)
I have some plans for Bohemond, and, like OTL, it involves the attempt of establishing a personal realm for himself in the Orient, but it will take some time. His warpath won't be as destructive as OTL, and won't make him a persona non grata in Byzantium because of the fact that he never becomes Prince of Antioch. Nevertheless, his relationship with Alexios isn't really good, and the Byzantine emperors as a rule will seek alliances directly with the rulers of Jerusalem. In this regard, a marriage between Anna and Bohemond doesn't yields a lot of fruits for Byzantium.

About Anna Komnene herself, that would be harder... she was married to Nikephoros Bryennios (the Younger) since she was 14 years-old (in 1097, shortly after the PoD), and after he died, in 1137, she retired to a convent. Unless I kill off poor Nikephoros (which I confess it's not something I considered so far), there wouldn't be a window of opportunity allowing a marriage between Bohemond and the Byzantine princess.
Awesome story. Subbed. One question though are you going to be using the Chaos Theory Butterfly Affect or the Cause and Effect one?
Great start. It'll be interesting how you balance a even more resurgent ERE with a stronger Crusader states. Even in OTL the Emperors always held designs on the Holy Land and Egypt, providing the Empire a stronger foothold in the levant will more closely intertwine them with the KoJ.
In late June 1098, the Turks under Atabeg Kerbogha, now assembled in a promontory near the shore of the Orontes River, gave battle to the combined Latin and Rhomaioi forces, and were soundly defeated. The Muslims were expecting to fight against exhausted and starving bands of Crusaders, but were instead attacked by veteran legionaries of the Empire, whose mobile forces, assisted by the mercenary Pecheneg horse cavalry, cut off the enemies’ retreat and permitted the heavy infantry to prosecute a massacre against the disorganized Turkish and Syrian spearmen. In the shores of the Orontes, the Rhomaioi gleefully avenged the humiliation suffered in Manzikert, barely a generation earlier.
Legionaries? I think the Empire is centuries removed from using that language to describe its troops. But for stylistic/narrative purposes I think Tagmata sounds just as cool :)
Awesome story. Subbed. One question though are you going to be using the Chaos Theory Butterfly Affect or the Cause and Effect one?
There we have the million-dollar question, my friend.

Well, in short, I intend to use the "Cause of Effect" theory, even if I personally believe that the Chaos Theory makes more sense from a philosophical perspective (my opinion, I know many members don't agree). My point is that things are likely to stay the same as IOTL unless a divergence is mentioned, and, at least in the few centuries more close to the divergence, the impact of the PoD remains fairly contained.

From a narrative standpoint, I'd like to have a TL where we see similar patterns of historical developments (like many scientific discoveries such as that of gunpowder, ocean-worthy sailing, etc.), and world-changing events (such as the Mongol Invasions, the discovery of the Americas, and so forth), even if they happen due to different set of circumstances. As Practical Lobster uses to say in his excellent "White Huns" TL, the more interesting about Alt-Hist is to have a world that is at the same time recognizable due to the existence of some patterns and premises, but at the same completely alien due to a series of accumulated divergences.
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Great start. It'll be interesting how you balance a even more resurgent ERE with a stronger Crusader states. Even in OTL the Emperors always held designs on the Holy Land and Egypt, providing the Empire a stronger foothold in the levant will more closely intertwine them with the KoJ.
For now, the Empire is still in dire straits, with the Turks roaming in Asia Minor, and the threat of the Cumans looms in Europe. Even if I suppose that Alexios would be favorable to adopting a policy of establishing a minor occupation in Syria - at least in Antioch, St. Symeon and Latakya - he for now has no purpose of wasting the Empire's resources to prosecute wars in the Levant and Mesopotamia (excepting naval operations in the eastern Mediterranean), so the Crusaders are, for the time being, in their own in Jerusalem.

I do not believe that a resurgent Empire will necessarily be hostile towards the Crusader States, but I see that once both powers become safer from foreign threats, complications might appear in their relationship. As long as the Latins don't alienate the native Orthodox populations in Asia, the Empire won't see them as a concern, but as an asset against the Muslims.

Legionaries? I think the Empire is centuries removed from using that language to describe its troops. But for stylistic/narrative purposes I think Tagmata sounds just as cool :)
I supposed that "legionaries" even outside of a Roman context might be a convenient sinonym for "soldier", but yea, you are right, it does sounds a bit anachronistic. I'll change the text above, thanks for the suggestion.