Today in Catholic History – The Defeat of Kerbogha of Mosul

On 28 June 1098, the armies of the First Crusade defeated Kerbogha/Curbara of Mosul outside of the city of Antioch.

Kerbogha was one of the best Muslim generals and he led a force of 30,000 troops.

Kerbogha and his armies had hoped to lift the Crusader siege of Antioch but his force was weakened by dissention among his soldiers and the desertion of the Fatimid soldiers who feared that Kerbogha would become too powerful should he prove to be victorious.

According to a later legend, the Christian forces were able to obtain victory through the aid of St. George, St. Demetrius and St. Mercurius who fought the forces of the Turks with them.

With the defeat of Kerbogha, the Crusaders were able to obtain control over Antioch.

This is the account of the defeat of Kerbogha from the Gesta Francorum:

After Curbara saw the lines of the Franks, so beautifully formed, coming out one after the other, he said: “Let them come out, that we may the better have them in our power!” But after they were outside the city and Curbara saw the huge host of the Franks, he was greatly frightened. He straightway sent word to his Emir, who had everything in charge, that if he saw a light burn at the head of the army he should have the trumpets sounded for it to retreat, knowing that the Turks had lost the battle. Curbara began immediately to retreat little by little toward the mountain, and our men followed them little by little. At length the Turks divided; one party went toward the sea and the rest halted there, expecting to enclose our men between them. As our men saw this, they did likewise. There a seventh line was formed from the lines of Duke Godfrey and the Count of Normandy, and its head was Reinald. They sent this (line) to meet the Turks, who were coming from the sea. The Turks, however, engaged them in battle and by shooting killed many of our men. Other squadrons, moreover, were drawn out from the river to the mountain, which was about two miles distant. The squadrons began to go forth from both sides and to surround our men on all sides, hurling, shooting, and wounding them. There came out from the mountains, also, countless armies with white horses, whose standards were all white. And so, when our leaders saw this army, they were entirely ignorant as to what it was, and who they were, until they recognized the aid of Christ, whose leaders were St. George, Mercurius, and Demetrius. This is to be believed, for many of our men saw it. However, when the Turks who were stationed on the side toward the sea saw that that they could hold out no longer, they set fire to the grass, so that, upon seeing it, those who were in the tents might flee. The latter, recognizing that signal, seized all the precious spoils and fled. But our men fought yet a while where their (the Turks) greatest strength was, that is, in the region of their tents. Duke Godfrey, the Count of Flanders, and Hugh the Great rode near the water, where the enemy’s strength lay. These men, fortified by the sign of the cross, together attacked the enemy first. When the other lines saw this, they likewise attacked. The Turks and the Persians in their turn cried out. Thereupon, we invoked the Living and True God and charged against them, and in the name of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Sepulchre we began the battle, and, God helping, we overcame them. But the terrified Turks took to flight, and our men followed them to the tents. Thereupon, the knights of Christ chose rather to pursue them than to seek any spoils, and they pursued them even to the Iron Bridge, and then up to the fortress of Tancred.

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