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Study Crusader Syria As A Feudal Military Frontier. Identify The Principle Weaknesses Of The Crusader States. How Were These Weaknesses Overcome?

1040 words - 5 pages

The Latin states established during the First Crusade were under constant attack from the invading Islams from the east; therefore, causing the organization of military forces on the Syrian frontier to adapt. The most pressing concern for the Christian cause was manpower--and what manpower was readily available was usually of little military value. Europeans crusaded in great numbers, eager to fight for the Holy Land, but very few Europeans actually stayed behind or emigrated to the East to actually develop Christian settlements. Therefore, the raising of feudal armies became difficult because of a lack of Christian pool from which to pull, and the Christians that were already present had ...view middle of the document...

After a rise in unified Moslem efforts, the Christians continued to lose territory--further reducing the amount of fiefs from which additional manpower could be drawn. As the realization of the futility of securing their Christian frontier with minimal manpower came to bear, the Latin states reverted to the one obvious choice in insuring the presence of skilled and tried soldiers filled their ranks--the mercenary. Much like the armies in England following William the Conqueror's rise to power, the true feudal sources were so lacking that the reliance on mercenaries was the only course of action that could promise the security of a new frontier. In fact, their use became so wide-spread, that it was difficult to find enough financial resources to maintain their employment, and in 1124 and 1183 levies were passed specifically for the purpose of hiring both foot and horse mercenaries.Another resource of manpower that the rulers of the Christian East utilized was the influx of pilgrim expeditions to the Holy Land. As the pilgrimages contained common men and attachments of knightly guards, they proved a very valuable resource--and were even pressed into service in 1102, 1113, 1153, and 1183, helping to form the greatest army ever mustered in the Latin east. Usually the arrival of a very large expedition led to an immediate military assemblage and assault against the Moslems, showing the desperate need of manpower and its use in the defense of the frontier. Occasionally there were also pilgrimages of knights, searching for the glory of participating in a campaign or two against the 'infidel' and thus securing themselves a position closer to God.However, there was not always pilgrims to force into the ranks, nor knights searching to campaign with no fee, and there was not, of course, an endless amount of funds to insure the permanent employment of mercenaries. It was in the twelfth century, around 1150, when another source of manpower presented itself, and it was, ironically, in the form of knights who were...

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