The Levant, as an warm yet fertile region at an international crossroads has been settled since early human times. It's position on the north-coast of Himyar led it be a starting point of international trade routes and a center of commerce since early times, and to become a cosmopolitan melting pot of different ethnicities and cultures, which it remains to this day. Crucial to what becomes the modern Levant were the Crusades, during which northern powers invaded the Levant and established what would become the Kingdom of the Levant, and changed the regional balance of power.
Kingdom of ColchisEdit
Kingdom of BabelEdit
Rise of Islam in the LevantEdit
Eastern Christian PrincipalitiesEdit
Barbary Coast PiracyEdit
After a number of conflicts between the Shaddadid Caliphate and other islamic nations and the Talemantine Empire, northern powers decided to intervene kick starting the crusades. In the two centuries between 1095 (the first Crusade) and 1300 (the fall of Dimashq) the Levant becomes engulfed in warfare which will shake up the demographics of the entire region.
Manfred was a Frankish duke who in the first months of the first Crusade managed to distinguish himself in a number of battles, and led Frankish forces into Jerusalem massacring much of it's non-Christian population and crowning himself King of Jerusalem. While his brother and second-in-command Roger took over management of the city and it's surrounding lands, Manfred went on campaigns to the south around the Sea of Sidon in support of the Principality of Antioch. Manfred was killed by Shaddadid armies at the Battle of Karak, leaving the crown of Jerusalem to his brother Roger, who had already laid claim on it in Manfred's absence. Manfred's death led to a large offensive by the Shaddadid Caliphate, whose armies at one point reached Ascalon, while besieging Antioch. At the Battle of Anacopia, on the northern shores of the Sea of Sidon the Shaddadid armies were conclusively defeated, and after a number of offensives lifting the siege of Antioch, taking Beyrouth and securing Phoenicia and Helim, a peace treaty between the Caliphate and the crusader states was drafted, which despite a number of difficulties would generally hold for a number of decades.
In the following years Roger works to consolidate power, rebuilding Jerusalem and improving the port of Edesa and Saone, gateways into the Holy Land. In 1115, during campaigns in the east against the Berber-Khazar Corsairs he would die in battle. Despite his death, the campaigns would not be a failure and a year later the largest Corsair stronghold, at Barca, falls and is annexed into the Kingdom of Jerusalem as the Exarchate of Barca.
In 1145, after years of tensions and a number of border skirmishes, war breaks out between the Principality of Antioch, a small crusader state to the south of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Shaddadid Caliphate. The Kingdom of Jerusalem under Baldwin II is initially reluctanct to intervene, but as the city of Antioch fell and streams of refugees crossed into the Kingdom, Baldwin II's son, who would become Baldwin III a year later gathered support for a new crusade and led armies southward towards Antioch. In 1147 a renewed war broke out between the Shaddadid Caliphate and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1149, Antioch was recaptured, and the crusade began to get underway, Baldwin III's forces organizing and a coalition being assembled, forces from the north landing at Aleppo while the Bagration Kingdom, which stretched across Iberia and parts of Cilicia joined to wage war against the Shaddadid Caliphate.
After a chaotic early campaign resulting in the capture of most of the western lands of the Shaddadid Caliphate the northern forces were stalled in the Mashkita hills to the north of Dimashq, whereas the armies under Baldwin III marching through Gilgamesh got stopped near Daraa, where the Muslim forces managed to win a number of battles quickly turning around the advance. The forces in the north managed to hold against the offensives from the Caliphate, and the Treaty of Tiflis (1152) was signed, annexing the lands of the former Principality of Antioch into the Kingdom of Jerusalem and annexing the Mashkita hills into the Bagration Kingdom.
In 1187, after over three decades of relative peace. Although a concilliatory King (Baldwin IV) held the throne, some of the more militaristic elements within the Kingdom of Jerusalem weren't happy and began provoking a conflict. Baldwin IV, eager to keep the peace with the Caliph, ordered a number campaigns on the Barbary Coast hoping to still the bloodlust of the hawks, who were especially dominant in the religious military orders. After a number of border incidents and attacks against Arabs living in the Levant, war still escalated and the Third Crusade starts. The military orders are happy to start the fight, and Baldwin IV only reluctanctly contributes forces hoping the conflict can be contained. The religious military orders and nobles from overseas form the vanguard in the opening battles, which are lost by crusader forces. As armies of the Shaddadid engulf the Kingdom, the Caliph successfully manages to get most Islamic countries on his side further escalating the conflict.
In 1190, Antioch is captured and Baldwin IV decided to act. He assembles his own coalition, an alliance of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, all minor crusader states, most christian nations, the Talemantine Empire, and the Bagration Kingdom. The initial war is disastrous for the crusaders, in 1192 the city of Jerusalem comes under siege which would last 18 months before being relieved. Over the following years, muslim forces are slowly expelled from the Levant in a campaign which featured widespread massacres and forced conversions on both sides leaving much of the northern Levantine countryside devestated.