Post-classical history

Richard of the Principate (d. 1112/1114)

A participant in the First Crusade (1096-1099) and later regent of the county of Edessa.

Richard (also known as Richard of Salerno) was born around 1060, a younger son of William, lord of the principality of Salerno, and a grandson of Tancred of Hauteville, the ancestor of the most distinguished family in Norman Italy. Excluded by elder brothers from the possibility of succession to family commands in Salerno and Sicily, he joined the Italian contingent in the First Crusade commanded by his cousin Bohemund of Taranto.

During the crusade, Richard served as an interpreter at the siege of Antioch, presumably having learned Arabic in childhood through exposure to the translation school in Salerno, and was twice taken prisoner: by the Greeks after crossing the Adriatic Sea (in late 1096), and by his fellow- crusader Baldwin of Boulogne at Tarsos (in summer 1097). By 1100 he had become second-in-command to Bohemund, but in the same year both men were captured by the Dānish- mendid Turks near the Black Sea, who then turned him over to the Emperor Alexios in Constantinople.

Richard traveled extensively after he and Bohemund were freed in 1103: he donated a set of silver chains to the shrine of Saint-Leonard-du-Noblat in the Limousin to celebrate their release from captivity, and he arranged Bohemund’s marriage to Princess Constance at the court of King Philip I of France. He ruled the county of Edessa as regent for the captive Baldwin II (1104-1108) before becoming lord of Marash (mod. Kahramanmaraş, Turkey) in Cilicia, the northernmost Frankish lordship in the Near East. His son Roger succeeded to the principality of Antioch in 1112.

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