Post-classical history

Bernard of Valence (d. 1135)

First Latin patriarch of Antioch (1100-1135) after its conquest by the crusaders.

Bernard came from the town of Valence in the Rhône Valley and accompanied Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy on the First Crusade (1096-1099) as one of his chaplains. He was advanced to the see of Artah in Syria in 1100, but after only six months he was appointed by Prince Bohemund I to the patriarchate of Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey) following the abdication of John of Oxeia, a Byzantine Greek.

Little is known about Bernard’s character or spirituality, but he was prominent in secular affairs. He arranged for the ransom of his patron Bohemund from the Dānishmendid Turks in 1103 against the wishes of Bohemund’s nephew Tancred, who was regent at the time. After the death of Bohe- mund’s successor, Roger, and the destruction of the entire Antiochene army at the battle of the Ager Sanguinis (1119), Bernard took charge of the defense of Antioch until Baldwin II of Jerusalem arrived with reinforcements. During Baldwin’s regency (1119-1126) of Antioch, Bernard exercised considerable influence, since the king was necessarily often absent. Even after Bohemund II arrived to take over the principality, Bernard commanded respect: he assisted Baldwin II in negotiating peace between Bohemund II and Joscelin I of Edessa in 1128. Following Bohemund II’s death (1130) he continued to be influential during the minority of Constance. Much earlier in his patriarchate Bernard had also accompanied the armies of Antioch on campaign.

By the time Bernard died in 1135, he had exerted a lasting influence over ecclesiastical affairs in Christian Syria: there had been five Latin bishoprics in the patriarchate of Antioch in 1100; now there were fourteen.

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