National Geographic : 1963 Dec
Crusader wall in the ancient city of Byblos was reared between 1103 and 1187. The word an immediate assault upon the city. Raymond of Aguilers, his chaplain, writes that his master was confident that God, who had pro tected the Crusaders on the long march from their homes, would surely give them victory. But his colleagues did not share his faith. Winter approached. In November a Geno ese squadron of 13 ships appeared at the near by port of St. Simeon, opening a sea lane to Europe and to nearby Cyprus (page 816). Overconfident, the Crusaders failed to con serve their supplies. By Christmas of 1097 they were almost out of provisions. Hunger and Desertion Weaken Siege In January, men driven by hunger began to desert the camp. Even Peter the Hermit fled and took the road home, only to be captured by Tancred and returned to the siege. In February the Christian forces smashed a Turkish attempt to relieve the garrison, and in March the defeat of one of Yaghi-Siyan's raiding parties enabled the blockade of the city to be drawn tight. Spring and new crops, plus supplies from Cyprus and some sent by Alexius from Constantinople, eased the Cru saders' own commissary problems. But as summer came on, a new threat loomed. Kerbogha, atabeg of Mosul, rein forced with troops from Persia, Baghdad, and Mesopotamia, was marching to the re 828 Costumed folk dancers of Lebanon per form at a festival amid the ruins of Roman built monuments in Baalbek (opposite). Antiquity's bequest, Baalbek's magnifi cent but battered temples reminded Crusad ers that other conquerors from Europe, the legions of Rome, had marched this way and stayed for a time to build. When the knights arrived in January, 1100, they found "a very strong city... surrounded by high walls." After driving off 400 Turkish troops, the Christians camped before the town.