Post-classical history

Antioch, Principality of

A Frankish state in northern Syria, established in 1098 by the armies of the First Crusade (1096-1099), and surviving until 1268. With its capital at the city of Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey), the principality of the same name comprised much of the northwest of the modern state of Syria, as well as the province of Hatay in the southeastern part of Turkey.


The prospect of material gain, in addition to the spiritual reward offered by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont, was a strong motivating factor for the leaders of the First Crusade from southern Italy, Bohemund of Taranto (son of Robert Guiscard) and his nephew Tancred of Lecce. Upon his arrival in Constantinople in 1097, Bohemund took the oath required by the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, and promised not to lay claim to any former part of the empire that the crusade might conquer. However, during the siege of the city of Antioch (1097-1098), Bohemund obtained a pledge from the other crusade leaders that he would be allowed to keep Antioch if he could take it and if Alexios would not come in person to reclaim it. Bohemund then used his contacts with Firuz, a military commander in Antioch, to enter and take the city except for the citadel. After the crusaders’ victory over Karbughā of Mosul (28 June 1098), the citadel surrendered. On 5 November 1098, the council of the crusade leaders confirmed Bohemund’s claim to Antioch, and when the main army of the crusade resumed its march south in January 1099, Bohemund stayed in Antioch.

Bohemund’s new territory, the second Frankish state established in the East after the county of Edessa (1098), had been a Byzantine province until the Arab conquest of the seventh century, and in 1085 the Saljûqs had seized the region. In the north, the principality of Antioch was bordered by the plains of Cilicia and the Taurus Mountains; in the west by the Mediterranean Sea; in the south by the future county of Tripoli, the Muslim emirate of Homs, and the lands of the Assassins; and in the east by the county of Edessa and the Muslim emirate of Aleppo. The principality remained the target of Muslim reconquest until the 1170s, when Saladin shifted his attention to the south. Antioch, the capital city, was well fortified, with its 360 towers dating back to the Byzantine period. It was connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the port of St. Simeon (mod. Süveydiye, Turkey). As a commercial center Antioch was not as important as Acre or the coastal cities of Cilicia, but it was famous for its aqueducts, gardens, baths, and sewers, as well as for the good relationship between its various ethnic and religious groups: Franks, Syrians, Greeks, Jews, Armenians, and Muslim Arabs. Bohemund I’s court resembled that of most Western rulers and featured the typical household officers: constable, marshal, chamberlain, and chancellor. The Italo-Norman laws of the principality, known as the Assizes of Antioch, have survived in a thirteenth-century Armenian translation, since Cilician Armenia later adopted these same laws.

The principality of Antioch in the earlier twelfth century

The principality of Antioch in the earlier twelfth century

History, 1099-1149

On Christmas 1099, when Bohemund was in Jerusalem to fulfill his pilgrim’s vow, Patriarch Daibert of Jerusalem invested him with the principality of Antioch, thus completely disregarding the oath that Bohemund had taken before Emperor Alexios. Bohemund had tolerated a Greek Orthodox patriarch in Antioch, but Daibert insisted on installing Latin prelates in Tarsos, Artah, and Mamistra. Consequently, the Greek patriarch, John of Oxeia, retired to Constantinople, and Bernard of Valence became the first Latin patriarch of Antioch. After the death of Godfrey of Bouillon (1100), Daibert tried to prevent Baldwin I (of Boulogne), count of Edessa, from assuming the rulership over Jerusalem by calling on Bohemund to intercept Baldwin’s travel; however, Daibert’s message never reached Bohemund. In August 1100, during an attempt to secure the northern borders of his principality, Bohemund was captured by the Dānishmendids under Malik Ghāzī of Sebasteia.

As early as September 1100, a newly arrived papal legate, Maurice of Porto, offered the regency of the principality to Tancred, who was then ruling Galilee. However, Tancred only agreed on 8 March 1101, after he had received guarantees for his possessions in the kingdom of Jerusalem from King Baldwin I. The Lombard expedition in the Crusade of 1101 intended to free Bohemund I, who was imprisoned at Niksar, but it was crushed east of the Halys River, near Mer- zifon, by the Turks. As regent of Antioch, Tancred conquered Cilicia from Byzantium and managed to take Laodikeia in Syria in the spring of 1103 after a siege of a year and a half. He was, however, unable to stop Raymond of Saint-Gilles from taking Tortosa, south of Laodikeia, and from beginning the siege of Tripoli. Tancred did not actively pursue Bohe- mund’s release from captivity, which was accomplished in 1103 after Baldwin II (of Bourcq), count of Edessa, concerned about Tancred’s increasing power, successfully raised the money for the ransom.

In 1104, as part of a campaign against Ridwān of Aleppo, Bohemund, together with Tancred, Baldwin II of Edessa, and Joscelin I of Courtenay, attacked the fortress of Harran, southeast of Edessa, in order to establish a buffer that would separate eastern Anatolia, Syria, and Iraq. The combined Frankish army suffered a complete defeat, and Baldwin and Joscelin were captured. Tancred became regent in Edessa. The Byzantines took the opportunity to reconquer Cilicia and take the port and lower city (though not the citadel) of Laodikeia. Bohemund saw his principality in danger and decided to return to the West to assemble allies and supplies. He entrusted Tancred with Antioch, who in turn left the regency of Edessa to his cousin Richard of the Principate. In 1107, Bohemund crossed the Adriatic Sea and laid siege to the Byzantine port of Dyrrachion (mod. Durrë, Albania). However, he lacked a fleet that could match that of the Byzantine Empire, and the siege failed. In 1108, in the Treaty of Devol (whose text is given in Anna Komnene’s Alexiad), Bohemund had to agree to return Laodikeia and Cilicia to Alexios, to receive his principality as a vassal of the Byzantine Empire, and to restore the Greek patriarch of Antioch to his see. In return, Alexios promised him the yet-to-be- conquered territories around Aleppo. After this treaty, Bohe- mund did not dare to show his face in the East and returned to Apulia.

Tancred continued his regency over Antioch, ignoring the Treaty of Devol, and he expanded the principality by conquering Artah (1105), Apamea (1106), Mamistra (1107/1108), Laodikeia (1108), Valania, and Jabala (1109). In 1108, when Baldwin II of Edessa and Joscelin I of Courtenay were released from captivity, a quarrel began between them and Tancred over Edessa. For the first time, the Franks entered into opposing alliances with the Turkish emirs of northern Syria. Militarily, Tancred prevailed, but Baldwin II was able to regain control over Edessa. After Bohemund’s death in Apulia in 1111, Tancred continued to rule Antioch on behalf of Bohemund’s son (Bohemund II), who was still a minor. When Tancred died in 1112, Roger of Salerno, the son of Tancred’s cousin Richard of the Principate, succeeded him as regent of Antioch.

Succession to the Principality of Antioch, 1098-1268

Succession to the Principality of Antioch, 1098-1268

At least initially, Roger seems to have continued Tan- cred’s successful military activities. In 1115, the principality was threatened by Bursuq ibn Bursuq of Hamadan, a Turkish general in the service of the Saljûq sultan Muhammad. In a spectacular military expedition, Roger ambushed and defeated Bursuq’s army at Tell Danith, between Apamea and Aleppo (14 September 1115). When Lu’Lu’, the atabeg of Aleppo, was murdered in 1117, Roger tried to prevent the takeover of Aleppo by the city’s Muslim neighbors. In 1119, the Artûqid prince īlghāzi of Mardin first paid for a truce with Antioch but then allied himself with Tughtigin of Damascus and returned to attack the principality. Rather than waiting for help from Jerusalem and Tripoli, Roger decided to respond on his own. He met īlghāzi near al-Balat, west of Aleppo, with 700 knights and 3,000 foot soldiers. On 27 June 1119, the Franks were thoroughly defeated, and almost all, including Roger, were killed. Contemporaries referred to the battle and its site as the Ager Sanguinis (Field of Blood). Details of the campaign are related in Walter the Chancellor’s Bella Antiochena.

The Antiochene nobles called upon King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (the former count of Edessa) to assume the regency. The contract of regency ensured that the principality and its lordships would remain under Antiochene control, held in trust on behalf of Bohemund I’s son, and not be handed over to the nobility of the kingdom of Jerusalem. In April 1123, Baldwin II himself was captured in northern Syria while trying to aid Edessa against Aleppo. In Antioch, the patriarch, Bernard of Valence, took over as regent until the summer of 1124 when the king was released from captivity. In Baldwin’s absence, the Franks allied with the Venetians had managed to conquer Tyre, which brought about new problems between Jerusalem and Antioch. Traditionally, the archdiocese of Tyre had formed part of the patriarchate of Antioch. However, it was the position of the papacy that political and ecclesiastical boundaries should coincide;

the problem was that some of the bishoprics in the archdiocese of Tyre were in the territory of the kingdom of Jerusalem, while others were not. The pope decided in favor of Jerusalem, and the archbishop of Tyre became a subordinate of the patriarch of Jerusalem, while the bishoprics remained divided between Jerusalem and the states of northern Syria.

In 1126, Bohemund II arrived from Apulia to take over his father’s inheritance. The following year, he married Alice of Jerusalem, one of Baldwin II’s daughters. Only four years after his arrival in the east, Bohemund II died fighting in Cilicia (February 1130). In the following years, his widow Alice, left with their infant daughter Constance, repeatedly tried to take over the government. However, her father Baldwin II resumed the regency until his own death (1131). When Alice made an attempt to become regent in 1131, she was aided by Edessa and Tripoli, but the new king of Jerusalem, Fulk, came to Antioch almost instantly to take over the regency (1132). Fulk entrusted the affairs of the principality to one of its chief barons, Reynald Mazoir. In 1133, the Antiochene nobility asked Fulk to select a husband for Constance, and the king’s choice fell upon Raymond of Poitiers, a son of William IX of Aquitaine, but it was three years before he arrived in the East. In 1135, Alice made another attempt to gain control over Antioch. Her ally was the new, uncanonically elected patriarch, Ralph of Dom- front. However, when Alice offered her daughter Constance as a bride to Prince Manuel Komnenos of Byzantium, she encountered resistance from the patriarch, who feared he could be replaced by a Greek. Raymond of Poitiers arrived at Antioch in 1136, and Ralph saw to it that he was married to Constance. Alice retreated to Laodikeia. A few years later (1140), Patriarch Ralph, whose intrigues continued, was deposed by a council and succeeded by Aimery of Limoges. Raymond of Poitiers’s court at Antioch was a cultural center: Les Chétifs, an Old French verse epic, was composed there shortly before 1149.

The Byzantine emperors continued to hope that they could assert their overlordship over the principality, or possibly even annex it outright. As they regarded themselves as protectors of the sizable Greek Orthodox population, another Byzantine aim was to restore a Greek patriarch in the city of Antioch. In 1137, Emperor John II Komnenos intervened to press his claims with regard to the principality. Raymond was forced to negotiate: he had to do homage to John and to agree to hand Antioch over to the emperor should John man age to conquer Aleppo, Shaizar, and Homs, and thus carve out a new territory for Raymond. In 1138, aided by Edessa and Antioch, John launched an attack against ‘Imād al-Dīn Zangī, ruler of Mosul and Aleppo. When it became evident that the Franks were only lending lukewarm support, John returned to Antioch and laid claim to the city. However, Joscelin II of Edessa orchestrated a popular uprising that forced John to leave the city. He retreated to Constantinople, but returned in 1142. This time, the bishop of Jabala, acting on behalf of the pope and the Western emperor, rejected the Byzantine claims, an indication that the states of Outremer were considered the business of Christendom as a whole. In the following year, John died as a result of a hunting accident, and Raymond invaded Cilicia, but in 1144 the new Byzantine emperor, John’s son Manuel I Komnenos, retaliated by invading the principality; Raymond was forced to travel to Constantinople and do homage. With the conquest of the city of Edessa by Zangī on 25 December 1144, Antioch’s eastern border lay open to invasions from its Muslim neighbors. In 1148, during the Second Crusade (1147-1149), Raymond tried to convince King Louis VII of France to join him in a campaign against Zangī’s son and successor, Nûr al-Dīn. However, Louis did not consider their joint forces strong enough, and the alleged affair of his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, with Raymond, her uncle, did not help to build trust. The crusade’s attack on Damascus temporarily distracted Nûr al-Dīn, but in the summer of 1149, he appeared before the Antiochene castle of Inab. Raymond confronted him in battle on 29 June 1149 and was defeated and killed.

History, 1149-1192

Raymond’s widow Constance assumed the regency for their children, who were still minors. Her main advisor was the Latin patriarch, Aimery of Limoges. Despite considerable pressure from King Baldwin III of Jerusalem, Constance refused to take a new husband until 1153, when she married Reynald of Châtillon, a French nobleman. Reynald turned against the patriarch (who may have objected to the marriage), had him imprisoned, and only released him when King Baldwin intervened on his behalf. In 1156, Reynald and Prince T‘oros II of Cilicia attacked the Byzantine island of Cyprus, which they pillaged thoroughly. In February 1158, Reynald, aided by Baldwin III and Count Thierry of Flanders, captured the fortress of Harenc, an important stronghold on the river Orontes. In the fall of 1158, Manuel I Komnenos decided to renew his pressure on Antioch and moved with his troops into Cilicia. In order to preempt the impending humiliation, Reynald traveled to Manuel and promised both to surrender the citadel of Antioch to him and to install a Greek patriarch (the latter did not come to pass). On 12 April 1159, Manuel entered Antioch in triumph. But then, to the shock of the Frankish states, Manuel and Nûr al-Dīn concluded an agreement, an alliance that from Byzantium’s perspective was intended to provide a check to the Franks of Outremer and to keep the Anatolian Turks under control. On 23 November 1161, during a raid against Nûr al-Dīn’sterritory, Reynald was captured. He spent the following sixteen years in prison in Aleppo. Instead of turning to Byzantium, the Antiochene barons asked the king of Jerusalem for assistance. Baldwin III entrusted Patriarch Aimery with the regency, which pleased neither Byzantium nor Constance. To strengthen his claim over Antioch, Manuel married Constance’s daughter Maria. However, in 1163/1164, the Antiochene barons expelled Constance and installed Bohemund III, the son of Constance and Raymond of Poitiers, as prince of Antioch.

Bohemund at first only controlled Laodikeia, but by March 1164 he was successfully established in Antioch. In August 1164, Nûr al-Dīn defeated the armies of Antioch and Tripoli near Artah, capturing Bohemund and Count Raymond III of Tripoli, and regained the fortress of Harenc, thus turning the Orontes into the definite eastern border of the principality. It seems that Manuel was instrumental in bringing about Bohemund’s release from captivity (1165). In return, Bohemund had to install a Greek patriarch in Antioch. The ties between Antioch and Constantinople were further strengthened when Bohemund married Theodora, Manuel’s great-niece. However, after Manuel’s death (1180), Bohemund separated from her and married his mistress Sibylla. Consequently, Patriarch Aimery excommunicated him and placed Antioch under an interdict, whereupon Bohemund laid siege to the castle of Qusair to which Aimery had retreated; an agreement was mediated by Patriarch Era- clius of Jerusalem. Bohemund then turned on the Antiochene nobles who had supported Aimery, but most of them seem to have fled to Cilicia.

Bohemund III’s son Raymond fought at the battle of Hat- tin (1187), where the Franks of Outremer were defeated by Saladin, and managed to escape, together with Raymond III of Tripoli. As Saladin continued his conquests, Bohemund was among the first who called on the West for help. Saladin was unable to take the important Antiochene castle of Margat, which the Hospitallers had just acquired from the Mazoir family. However, since the Muslim reconquest of Laodikeia in 1187, the principality of Antioch had been physically separated from the Frankish states to the south (Tripoli and Jerusalem). The city of Antioch was only saved because a Sicilian fleet arrived just in time. In 1190, the body of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa was buried in the cathedral of Antioch, and his son Duke Frederick V of Swabia, who was married to Constance, a great- granddaughter of Bohemund II, left a contingent of 300 knights and his treasure in Antioch. It seems that Bohemund III entered into a feudal relationship with the Western empire, maybe with the intention of establishing a regnum Antiochenum (kingdom of Antioch); after all, Emperor Henry VI would soon elevate Cyprus (1197) and Cilicia (1198) to the rank of kingdoms. During the Third Crusade (1189-1192), the principality of Antioch as well as the county of Tripoli remained neutral; they were, however, included in the truce between Saladin and King Richard the Lionheart of England (1192).

History, 1192-1268

Count Raymond III of Tripoli died shortly after the battle of Hattin. He had designated his godchild Raymond of Antioch, Bohemund III’s oldest son, as his successor; Bohemund, however, decided to give Tripoli to his youngest son and namesake, Bohemund IV. In 1194, Leon II of Cilicia captured Bohemund III, but was unable to seize the city of Antioch because of the successful resistance of the newly formed commune there. The Antiochenes called on Henry of Champagne, the ruler of the kingdom of Jerusalem, for help, and Henry traveled to Cilicia, where he successfully negotiated Bohemund III’s freedom in exchange for Cilicia’s release from its vassal status toward Antioch. As a token of their reconciliation, Raymond of Antioch married Alice, Leon’s niece, but Raymond died shortly after Alice had given birth to their son, Raymond-Rupen.

When Bohemund III died in 1201, both his youngest son Bohemund IV, count of Tripoli, and Leon of Cilicia, acting on behalf of Raymond-Rupen, his great-nephew as well as Bohemund III’s grandson, laid claim to the principality of Antioch. Raymond-Rupen was supported by Pope Innocent III, who intended to preserve the fragile union between the Roman and Armenian churches (since 1198); the high nobility of Antioch, who emphasized the rule of primogeniture customary in the principality, and Sultan al-‘Adil of Egypt and Syria supported Raymond-Rupen. Bohemund IV had the endorsement of Aleppo (until Innocent III’s call for a new crusade in 1213) and of the commune of Antioch, particularly because its Greek members resented the Armenians. Bohemund IV was able to establish himself in Antioch. Since the overthrow of the Byzantine Empire by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 now made Greek claims on the church of Antioch unlikely, Bohemund lent his support to a Greek patriarch in the city (1207-1213). This and the commune’s taxation plans so antagonized the Latin clergy that they switched over to Leon’s side. Leon then agreed to a marriage between his daughter Stephanie and Raymond-Rupen. In 1216, Raymond-Rupen was able to supplant Bohemund in Antioch. Bohemund then participated in the Fifth Crusade (1217-1221). Raymond-Rupen did not hold Antioch for long. In 1219, he was dethroned by a revolt, whereupon Bohemund IV returned and ruled until his death in 1233. From this time, the county of Tripoli and the principality of Antioch remained under joint rule.

After the death of Leon II (1219), Cilicia was shaken by a succession crisis, and between 1222 and 1224, Philip of Antioch, a son of Bohemund IV, was even married to Isabella, one of Leon’s daughters. The marriage was, however, dissolved when the regent of Cilicia, Constantine of Lampron, decided to have his own son marry Isabella. In 1228, when Emperor Frederick II demanded an oath of homage from Bohemund IV, the latter pretended insanity and thus avoided the oath. Antioch remained neutral in the dispute between Frederick and the Ibelin family that occurred in the kingdom of Jerusalem in the 1230s. For the next three decades, northern Syria nearly disappears from the historical record, and it seems that there was a significant economic decline. Bohemund IV’s son, Bohemund V, who ruled the principality between 1233 and 1251, found himself entangled in the military expeditions of the Templars and Hospitallers who controlled significant portions of the Antiochene frontier. The nobility of Antioch and Tripoli also participated in the battle of La Forbie (1244), the most catastrophic defeat of the Franks of Outremer since Hattin. Bohemund V rarely visited Antioch and preferred Tripoli as his residence.

At the behest of King Louis IX of France, Bohemund V’s son, Bohemund VI, married Sibyl, a daughter of King Het‘um of Cilicia. This marriage alliance drew Antioch into Cilicia’s allegiance to the Mongols. Both Het‘um and Bohe- mund VI assisted with the Mongol conquest of Aleppo and Damascus (1260). In the shadow of the Mongol advance, Bohemund was able to regain Laodikeia, but—since the Mongols realized the importance of the Greeks—he had to accept a Greek patriarch in Antioch; this earned him an excommunication from Rome. Opizo, the Latin patriarch of Antioch, left his see and moved to the West, where he continued to reside with a titular claim until 1292. When the Mamlūks defeated the Mongols at Ayn Jālūt (1260), Antioch lost a powerful ally and became one of the next objectives of Mamlūk retaliation. On 19 May 1268, after a four-day siege, Sultan Baybars I conquered the city of Antioch, destroyed it, and deported its population. In the same year, the Templars abandoned their castles in the Antiochene Amanus march.

Both Bohemund VI (d. 1275) and his son Bohemund VII (d. 1287), who continued to rule Tripoli, maintained their titular claims to the principality of Antioch. The Hospitaller castle of Margat held out until 1285, when it was conquered by Sultan Qalāwūn. Finally, on 20 April 1287, Qalāwūn’s army took Laodikeia, the last significant city of the former principality.

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