Part 12: XII. Anselm I 1354-1366 A.D.
Young Anselm had never been the most outgoing or aggressive of children. He had spent most of his childhood reading books in the quiet and peace of his home. Oddly, his father Simoun had not seen fit to give the boy a more martial upbringing. When he arrived in Jerusalem it quickly became obvious that the new King did not fit in terribly well with the rest of the court. He shunned dinner parties and large prayer meetings. The boy was obviously shy.
Still, as a man of faith he had the respect of his vassals.
That fall, when Anselm turned sixteen, a marriage was arranged for him with a young woman from the Duchy of Arabia Felix. She was reckless, indulgent, and brilliant in the arts of subterfuge.
Almost as soon as she arrived in court, however, the young queen was seen being overly friendly and flirty with other men then her new husband.
King Anselm confronted Juliana about this, becoming reckless himself in the process. Fortunately however, she ceased such activities and started to fit into the court better.
After Anselm had ruled for a year, it became obvious that he was more then just a dabbler in the ways of the Lord. He was recognized by all as a Master Theologian.
Life at court did not agree with the King. Everywhere there was gossip and intrigue and political maneuvering. Furthermore, despite trying for two years, Queen Juliana had yet to become pregnant. Anselm became quite stressed by all the different directions he was being pulled in.
He had to get away for a while. Fortunately, he had a plan. The Kwarizmain Turks still held a few provinces in central Persia and to the north of the Kingdom. Anselm resolved to crush them. Most of his advisors strongly recommended against war, but before long Anselm had brought them around. After all, as the King of Jerusalem, was it not his sacred duty to liberate those lands from the Muslims and bring the Gospel to those who might otherwise never hear it? To ignore the islands of the unfaithful in their midst would be a sin.
Here you can see the Kwarizmain strongholds in dark gray.
As the armies were being mustered, however, sad news came. The King's aunt, the wife of Florenc, had committed suicide without any previous sign or warning.
She had made a fine Chancellor and it was difficult to find a replacement. Uncle Florenc was, of course, devastated.
But even the death of the Chancellor of the Kingdom could not slow the preparations for war. Although he had only read of war in books, King Anselm, found army life did not disagree with him. Most of his time was spent reading or planning tactics, far from the intrigues of the Capitol.
The core heartland of the Kwarizmain Turks lay far to the north, within Byzantine territory. The hope was that the Byzantine Empire would join in the war and remove the Kwarizmain from their midst as well.
Early in 1357, the Kingdom attacked!
Armies moved in the north…
and in the south.
The strongest Kwarizmain resistance came in the north. There they had more troops and larger castles. The Persian provinces fell almost insultingly easily.
War it seemed, was also good for the Kingdom, and helped to unite it behind the young King.
There was also glorious news that summer. Queen Juliana had accompanied her husband on campaign, and during the siege of Azerbaijan, became pregnant.
Once Azerbaijan had fallen, King Anselm readied twenty thousand troops to move north, across the Black and Caspian seas, through Byzantine territory, to the far northern steppes of the Kwarizmain Rus. Forty years before, under Emperor Guiraud, the Kwarizmain had refused all attempts at peace, fighting Jerusalem to a standstill, and holding on to their Persian possessions. King Anselm was resolved that history would not repeat itself.
Amazingly however, the invasion of the north was unnessecary. Perhaps understanding how much things had changed over the last few decades, the Kwarizmain willingly agreed to cede all the land that the Kingdom of Jerusalem had conquered. The troops, many in the process of boarding ships on the Caspian, were recalled. The war was over.
The next spring Queen Juliana gave birth to a boy, christened Balian. The next year, in 1359, she had another, christened Baldwin. King Anselm chose to raise both boys himself.
Despite the conquests of the Kwarizmain territories in Persia, Anselm was still short of the amount he needed if he wanted to claim the title of King of Persia. Even though Jerusalem controlled most of the country, Byzantium still held a strip in the north that they had taken from the Il-Khanate ages ago. King Anselm decided to declare himself the Catholic Protector of All Persia, giving him a right to Byzantine territory in the north of the country. This did not do wonders for his reputation or his relations with the Byzantines, but he felt it was his duty as the defender of the Christian Faith in the east.
Although there was no sign of plague, many in Jerusalem seemed to be falling ill. In 1362, King Anselm's eldest son, Balian, sickened and died. The King was devastated, but there was nothing to be done. It was the will of God. At least, he thought, he still had one strong son, and a wife who could bear more.
Around this time, King Anselm also began to reorganize the territories in Persia. Much of the south of the country, all along the Persian Gulf was owned by the powerful Duchy of Basra. Although it lowered his reputation even more, Anselm stripped the Duke of Basra of much of power and titles, reorganizing the Gulf under independent counties.
In the spring of 1363, assassins attacked King Anselm.
Fortunately, the King escaped injury, but there was no sign of which of rivals had sent the murderers.
By that summer, his son Baldwin had fallen ill as well. Worse, the boy had developed a club foot and could not yet walk.
Perhaps it was a mercy then, that just before Christmas, young Baldwin died. King Anselm was now without sons, where once he had had two.
Baldwin was not the only child to die. Quite a few children in the court seemed to be contracting illness or dying suddenly. Yet there was still no sign of widespread plague or other sickness in the city. God's will was mysterious.
Unable to sit around the empty court where his boys had once played, King Anselm resolved to finish securing the Kingdom's position in Persia. It would mean war against his giant Byzantine neighbor, but they were already involved in several northern wars and had stripped their Persian territories of troops.
In the summer of 1364, Anselm attacked. He would also strike at a small pair of Byzantine counties in Syria, surrounded by Kingdom territory. A strike force also left Alexandria to attack the Emperor's holdings in western Anatolia and convince him of the wisdom of peacefully surrendering his Persian holdings.
Most of the Byzantine territory in Persia was owned by small, independent counties who rapidly folded before the might of the assembled Kingdom armies. By September of that year, King Anselm had clearly gained enough Persian land to be widely recognized as the King of that realm.
In January of 1365, the relationship between Anselm and his Queen became much closer. The death of their boys and made them cling to each other for comfort and solace.
The Byzantines, meanwhile, were not out of the fight. That spring their relief armies began to arrive in northern Persia.
Another Byzantine army moved south, toward Jerusalem. King Anselm rushed back towards the city and gathered his army in the path of the advancing Byzantines.
However, despite outnumbering the enemy, King Anselm lost the battle. The Byzantines had both better training and technology.
The one consolation was that even if defeat, the Kingdom army had killed enough Byzantines that they drew back from an assault on Jerusalem and retreated to Anatolia to rest and reorganize.
Countless Byzantine troops were also moving into Persia.
Things were not looking good for the Kingdom. Despite their great initial gains they had lost almost every major field engagement against the Byzantines. Fortunately, the Kingdom had managed to hold onto their conquests so far, but their armies were rapidly being pushed back.
Good news came in the August of 1366. The upper command of the Byzantine Empire was split. Even though they were winning the war, the Kingdom of Jerusalem obviously had large untapped reserves they could mobilize, and few in Constantinople saw the wisdom of dragging out or escalating a war against a long-time ally over a handful of poor and distant Persian provinces.
King Anselm happily accepted peace with his northern neighbor, who within a year was quietly asking to resign their old alliances and treaties of mutual assistance. Although he had not conquered all the lands he had hoped to take, he had still won a great victory over his northern neighbor. It was a peace that had come just in the nick of time.
The peace treaty, combined with the newfound love for his wife lifted a great weight from his heart. He was longer stressed.
The Kingdom of Jerusalem in the year 1366: