Post-classical history

CHAPTER III

THE NORMAN PRINCES OF ANTIOCH

These all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar’ ACTS XVII, 7

Bohemond’s defeat and capture by Malik Ghazi the Danishmend, alarming though it had seemed at the time, had not been without its compensations for the Frankish princes. Antioch was in need of a regent; and Tancred was the obvious candidate to take his uncle’s place. King Baldwin was thus enabled to rid himself of his most dangerous vassal in Palestine; while Tancred was glad to extricate himself from a position that was embarrassing and insecure and to move to a sphere that offered greater scope and independence. Tancred left Palestine in March 1101, only stipulating that if his uncle returned from captivity within three years and Antioch needed him no more, his fief of Galilee should be restored to him. It was therefore to Baldwin’s interest as well as to Tancred’s that Bohemond should not be released from his prison too soon. No attempt was made to negotiate with his captor.

1101: Tancred and Byzantium

Tancred was a correct regent. He did not assume the title of Prince of Antioch. Though he struck coins, the legend, written in bad Greek, merely entitled him the ‘servant of God’; and at times he called himself the ‘Grand Emir’. It is probable that public opinion in Antioch would have restrained him had his ambitions carried him farther. The Normans still regarded Bohemond as their leader; and Bohemond had a loyal friend in the Patriarch whom he had appointed just before his captivity, the Latin Bernard of Valence, in whose favour he had ejected the Greek, John the Oxite. Tancred’s policy was the same as Bohemond’s, internally to consolidate the administration of the principality and to Latinize the Church, and externally to enrich himself at the expense of the Byzantines and of the neighbouring Moslem princes. But his ambitions were more local and less world-wide than his uncle’s.

His first preoccupation was to guard himself against any attack from Byzantium. The disastrous Crusades of 1101 greatly helped him; for the resurgence of the Anatolian Turks meant that the Emperor could not venture for some time to send an army right across the peninsula to the far south-east. Tancred believed that attack was the best defence. So, in the summer of 1101, probably as soon as the news of the battle at Mersivan reached him, he sent troops into Cilicia to recapture Mamistra, Adana and Tarsus, which the Byzantines had reoccupied three years before. The local Byzantine forces were not strong enough to oppose him. When William of Aquitaine and Hugh of Vermandois arrived as fugitives at Tarsus at the end of September they found Tancred’s lieutenant, Bernard the Stranger, in command of the city.

Next, Tancred turned his attention to Lattakieh, the Byzantine port that the Normans had long coveted. It was more formidable; for its Byzantine garrison was reinforced by Raymond’s Provencal troops and was protected by a squadron of the Byzantine navy. Before he dared attack, Tancred negotiated to secure the aid of Genoese ships. Meanwhile he occupied the hinterland, and attempted to capture Jabala, to the south. Bohemond had sent a small unsuccessful expedition against Jabala in the summer of 1100, in the course of which his Constable had been taken prisoner. Tancred’s expedition in the summer of 1101 was equally ineffective. But it induced Ibn Sulaiha, the qadi of Jabala, to hand the city over to the atabeg of Damascus; and he himself retired to Damascus to enjoy a quiet old age. The atabeg, Toghtekin, sent his son Buri as Governor. But Buri was an unpopular ruler; and the citizens of Jabala after a few months ejected him and put themselves under the protection of the Banu Ammar of Tripoli. Tancred then withdrew his troops from the district.

His capture of Raymond’s person enabled Tancred to resume his scheme against Lattakieh. He had incarcerated Raymond at Antioch; but the Patriarch Bernard and Raymond’s Crusading colleagues were shocked by his behaviour. At their request he set him free; but Raymond had first to swear an oath that he would never again interfere in northern Syrian affairs. On his release Raymond marched southward, to attack Tortosa. In conformity with his oath, as he passed by Lattakieh he gave orders to his troops and to his Countess to evacuate the town and join him. The Byzantine garrison was left without Provencal support. Then, in the early spring of 1102 Tancred advanced on Lattakieh. But its walls were strong and the garrison fought well, while units of the imperial navy ensured their supplies. The siege lasted for nearly a year; but during the first weeks of 1103 Tancred, who had by now hired ships from the Genoese with which to interrupt communications between Lattakieh and Cyprus, lured the men of the garrison by a stratagem outside the city walls and there fell on them and made them prisoners. The city then capitulated to him.

1102: The Malevolence of Bishop Manasses

Such actions did not please the Emperor Alexius. He had already been angered by the exile of the Greek Patriarch of Antioch, John the Oxite, and by the news that all the higher Greek clergy were now being dismissed and replaced by Latins. Early in 1102 he received a letter from King Baldwin, who had heard the rumour that Byzantine non-co-operation had helped to wreck the Crusades of 1101, and who wrote to beg the Emperor to give his full support to any subsequent Crusade. The letter was conveyed by a Bishop called Manasses, who had gone to Palestine with Ekkehard in 1101 and was returning from Jerusalem. It seems to have been courteously worded and was accompanied by gifts; and Alexius therefore thought that he could talk frankly to the Bishop and tell him all his grievances. But herein he misjudged his man. The Bishop was a better Latin than Christian, and had no sympathy with the Greeks. At the Emperor’s request he went on to Italy and reported to the Pope everything that had been said to him; but he did so in such terms that the Pope’s fury was roused against Byzantium. Had Pope Urban II still been alive, no harm would have been done; for Urban had large views and no wish to quarrel with eastern Christendom. But his successor, Paschal II, was a smaller man, short-sighted and easily influenced. He readily fell in with the vulgar Frankish view that the Emperor was an enemy. Alexius obtained no redress.

Tancred next attempted to interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of Jerusalem. King Baldwin banished the Patriarch Daimbert in 1101. Tancred at once welcomed him to Antioch, where he put the Church of St George at his disposal. When, a few months later, Baldwin was defeated by the Saracens at Ramleh and asked for help from the princes in the north, Tancred refused to come unless Daimbert were reinstated at Jerusalem. Baldwin agreed; and Tancred’s reputation was thereby enhanced. But it fell when Daimbert was condemned by a council and exiled once more. Tancred again offered him hospitality but did not continue to press his cause.

1102: Baldwin II pledges his Beard

Tancred’s activities were not altogether to the liking of his neighbour at Edessa, Baldwin of Le Bourg. Baldwin’s father, Count Hugh I of Rethel, was related to the house of Boulogne; and Baldwin, who was a younger son, came out to the East with his cousins, Godfrey of Lorraine and King Baldwin. When Baldwin I established himself at Edessa he had stayed behind with Bohemond and served as intermediary between the two princes. On Bohemond’s imprisonment he had taken over the government of Antioch, until Baldwin of Edessa was summoned to Jerusalem. Baldwin of Le Bourg was then enfeoffed with Edessa by his cousin, to rule there autonomously, but under the suzerainty of Jerusalem. It was not an easy position that he inherited. His lands had no natural frontiers and were constantly liable to invasion. He could only rule by garrisoning the principal towns and castles; and for that he needed servants and comrades whom he could trust. Being ill-provided with men of his own race he made it his business to be on excellent terms with the native Christians. Almost his first action as Count of Edessa was to marry a local princess, Morphia, the young daughter of the ancient Gabriel, lord of Melitene, an Armenian by race but an adherent of the Orthodox Church. At the same time he wooed and won the support of the Armenians of the separated Gregorian Church, whose great historian, Matthew of Edessa, was full of praise for his amiable nature and the purity of his private life, though he regretted his ambition and avarice. Baldwin particularly favoured the Armenians, because they could be used as soldiers; but he was kindly also towards his Syrian Jacobite subjects and even succeeded in healing a schism within their Church. The only complaint against him was his rapacity. He was perpetually in need of money and raised it wherever he could. But his methods were less arbitrary and more gentle than Baldwin I’s. His knights were particularly delighted when he managed to extort 30,000 besants from his father-in-law by declaring that he owed that sum to his men and had sworn to them that if he could not pay them he would shave off his beard. The Armenians, like the Greeks, considered a beard necessary to manly dignity and were shocked at the shaven faces of so many Crusaders. Gabriel thought that a beardless son-in-law would be damaging to his prestige; and when Baldwin’s men, entering into the comedy, corroborated that their master had indeed sworn such an oath, Gabriel hastened to hand over the necessary cash to prevent so dreadful an humiliation, and made Baldwin swear a fresh oath that never would he pledge his beard again.

Early in his reign Baldwin II had to face an attack from the Ortoqids of Mardin. The emir Soqman led an army against Saruj, a Moslem town which Baldwin I had captured and placed under Fulcher of Chartres. Baldwin II hastened to help Fulcher; but in the ensuing battle he was defeated and Fulcher slain. The town was taken by the Moslems; but the citadel held out under Benedict, Latin Archbishop of Edessa, while Baldwin hastened to Antioch to hire troops to replenish his army. On his return he was more fortunate. Soqman was driven out of the town with heavy losses. The inhabitants that had had dealings with the Ortoqids were massacred; and many prisoners were made, whose ransom enriched Baldwin’s exchequer.

Soon afterwards Baldwin acquired a useful lieutenant in the person of his cousin, Joscelin of Courtenay. Joscelin, whose mother was Baldwin’s aunt, was the younger and penniless son of the lord of Courtenay and had probably come to the East with his close neighbour, the Count of Nevers. On his arrival Baldwin enfeoffed him with all the land of the county that lay to the west of the Euphrates, with his headquarters at Turbessel. He proved to be a valiant friend; but his loyalty was later to be questioned.

As time went on, Baldwin seems to have grown suspicious of Tancred’s ambitions, and desired Bohemond’s restoration to Antioch. Together with the Patriarch Bernard he began negotiations with the Danishmend emir to secure his release. Tancred took no part in the transaction. The emir had already been offered the large sum of 260,000 besants from the Emperor Alexius in return for Bohemond’s person, and would have accepted, had not the Seldjuk Sultan, Kilij Arslan, come to hear of it. Kilij Arslan, as official overlord of the Anatolian Turks, demanded half of any ransom that the Danishmend might receive. The resultant quarrel between the two Turkish princes prevented the immediate acceptance of the Emperor’s offer, but it served the useful purpose of breaking their alliance. Bohemond, in his captivity, was aware of these negotiations. He was still a handsome and glamorous man; and the ladies of the emir’s household took an interest in him. Perhaps with their assistance, he was able to persuade his captor that a private arrangement with the Franks of Syria and the promise of their alliance was preferable to a deal with the Emperor, in which the Seldjuks intended to interfere. The emir agreed to release Bohemond for the sum of 100,000 besants.

1103: Bohemond’s Release

While the negotiations were continuing, the Danishmend army attacked Melitene. Its ruler, Gabriel, must have appealed to his son-in-law, Baldwin, for help; but Baldwin did nothing, probably because he was unwilling at this juncture to offend the emir. Gabriel’s subjects disliked him for his Orthodox faith. The Syrians, in particular, had never forgiven him for having once put one of their bishops to death for treason. He and his capital were captured; but one of his castles held out. Gabriel was told by his captors to order it to capitulate. When the garrison disobeyed him, he was executed before its walls.

It was at Melitene, a few months later, in the spring of 1103, that Bohemond was handed over to the Franks. His ransom money had been raised by Baldwin and by the Patriarch Bernard, with the help of the Armenian princeling, Kogh Vasil, and of Bohemond’s relatives in Italy. Tancred did not contribute to it. Bohemond at once went to Antioch, where he was reinstated in his authority. He publicly thanked Tancred for having administered the principality during his absence, but privately there was some friction between the uncle and the nephew, as Tancred did not see why he should hand over to Bohemond the conquests that he himself had made as regent. Public opinion forced him to give way; and he was rewarded by a small fief within the principality. He could legally have demanded the return of Galilee from Baldwin I, but he did not think it worth his while.

The Franks celebrated Bohemond’s return by a general offensive against their neighbours. In the summer of 1103 Bohemond, with Joscelin of Courtenay, raided the territory of Aleppo. They captured the town of Muslimiye, to the north of Aleppo itself, and extracted a large tribute from the Moslems of the district, which was used to repay the Franks who had lent money to Baldwin and the Patriarch for Bohemond’s ransom. Next, they turned against the Byzantines. Alexius, after writing to Bohemond to require him to give back the Cilician cities, sent his general Butumites to recover them. But Butumites’s force was unreliable. He entered Cilicia in the autumn of 1103 but soon decided that the task was beyond him; and he learnt that the Franks were planning to expand northward against Marash, which the Armenian Thatoul held for the Emperor. He hastened there himself, and, probably, by so doing, he saved Thatoul for the moment. But he was recalled to Constantinople. Early next spring Bohemond and Joscelin marched on Marash. Thatoul was powerless. The Byzantine army was far away. The Danishmend Turks were now on good terms with the Franks. He surrendered his city to Joscelin, who allowed him to retire to Constantinople; while Bohemond took the town of Albistan, to the north of Marash.

1104: The Importance of Harran

The Franks now felt secure from attacks from Anatolia. They could turn against the Moslems of the east. In March 1104 Bohemond reinvaded the lands of Ridwan of Aleppo and took the town of Basarfut, on the road from Antioch to Aleppo; but his attempt against Kafarlata, to the south, failed owing to the resistance of the local tribe of the Banu Ulaim. Joscelin meanwhile cut the communications between Aleppo and the Euphrates. But, if the Moslems of Syria were to be effectively cut off from the Moslems of Iraq and Persia, the great fortress of Harran, situated between Edessa and the Euphrates, in the northern Jezireh, would have to be occupied by the Christians. If they held Harran, the Franks could even contemplate an expedition against Mosul and into Mesopotamia. In the spring of 1104 conditions seemed to be favourable. During 1103 the whole eastern Moslem world had been torn by a civil war between the Seldjuk Sultan Barkiyarok and his brother Mohammed. Peace was made between them in January 1104 by which the Sultan retained Baghdad and the western Iranian plateau. His third brother, Sanjar, already had obtained Khorassan and eastern Iran; and Mohammed obtained northern Iraq and the Jezireh and the suzerainty rights over Diarbekir and over all Syria. It was an uneasy arrangement. Each of the brothers hoped soon to upset it and in the meantime intrigued for allies amongst all the Turkish and Arab princes. In the Jezireh itself the death in 1102 of the atabeg of Mosul, Kerbogha, whom the Franks had defeated at Antioch, had provoked a civil war. The Ortoqid prince of Mardin, Soqman, had failed to secure the succession for his candidate and was at war with the new atabeg, Jekermish, appointed by the Seldjuk Mohammed. Harran itself had belonged to a Turkish general, Qaraja, who had been a mameluke in Malik Shah’s service; but his brutal behaviour had caused the inhabitants to rise against him and to hand over the government to a certain Mohammed of Isfahan. Mohammed in his turn was murdered by a former page of Qaraja’s, called Jawali, with whom he had rashly become intimate. But Jawali’s authority was very insecure; while Harran itself began to suffer severely from raids by the Franks of Edessa, who devastated its fields and interrupted its trade. It was clear that they intended soon to go farther.

Both Soqman at Mardin and Jekermish at Mosul were alarmed. Their common danger induced them to forget their quarrel and to unite in an expedition against Edessa, to attack before they were attacked. Early in May 1104 they marched together on Edessa; Soqman with a considerable force of Turcoman light cavalry and Jekermish with a slightly smaller force composed of Seldjuk Turks, Kurds and Arabs. Baldwin II heard that they were massing at Ras al-Ain, some seventy miles from his capital. He sent for help to Joscelin and to Bohemond, and suggested that they should turn the attack by themselves making an attempt on Harran. Leaving a small garrison at Edessa he made his way to Harran with a small company of knights and of Armenian infantry levies. The Archbishop of Edessa, Benedict, accompanied him. Close to Harran he was joined by Joscelin, with the troops of his lands, and by the Antiochene army under Bohemond, Tancred, the Patriarch Bernard, and Daimbert, ex-Patriarch of Jerusalem. The whole Frankish army numbered nearly three thousand knights and perhaps three times that number of infantry. It represented the full fighting force of the Franks of northern Syria, apart from the garrisons of the fortresses.

The army assembled before Harran while the Moslem princes were still at some distance to the north-east, marching on Edessa. Had the Franks attempted to take the fortress by assault, Harran would have been theirs; but they were unwilling to damage the fortifications, which they hoped to use later themselves. They thought that the garrison could be frightened into surrender. It was a reasonable hope. The Moslems within the town were weak; almost at once they entered into negotiations. But thereupon Baldwin and Bohemond quarrelled over the question, whose standard should first be raised over the walls. The delay caused their downfall. Before they had settled the quarrel the Turkish army had swung southward and was upon them.

1104: The Disaster at Harran

The battle took place on the banks of the river Balikh, close to the ancient field of Carrhae, where, centuries before, Crassus and the Roman legions had been annihilated by the Parthians. The Frankish strategy was for the army of Edessa, on the left, to engage the main enemy force, while the Antiochene army lay hidden behind a low hill about a mile to the right, ready to intervene at the decisive moment. But the Moslems made similar plans. A portion of their army attacked the Frankish left, then turned and fled. The Edessenes thought that they had won an easy victory and hurried in pursuit, losing contact with their comrades on the right. They crossed the river and fell straight into an ambush laid by the main Moslem army. Many of them were slaughtered on the spot; the remainder turned and fled. When Bohemond, who had driven off the small detachment opposed to him, prepared to join in the battle, he only found a stream of fugitives pouring from the distance and scrambling back across the river, where fresh bands of Turks fell upon them. He saw that all was lost and moved quickly away, rescuing only a few of the Edessenes. As the combatants passed beneath the walls of Harran, the garrison fell on them and in the confusion enthusiastically killed as many of the Moslem pursuers as of the Franks. The army of Antioch escaped without heavy losses; but the troops of Edessa were almost entirely captured or slain. The Patriarch Bernard was so frightened that as he fled he cut off his horse’s tail lest some Turk should catch him by it, though by then none of the enemy was in sight.

Amongst the first to be taken prisoner was the Archbishop Benedict. But, owing either to the compliance of his jailer, a renegade Christian, or to an Antiochene counter-attack, he was soon rescued. Baldwin and Joscelin fled together on horseback but were overtaken in the river-bed. They were brought as prisoners to Soqman’s tent.

Rightly fearing that the Turks would next attack Edessa, Bohemond and Tancred hastened there to organize its defence. Once again the misfortune of a colleague turned to Tancred’s advantage. The knights remaining in Edessa, with the Archbishop at their head, begged him to take over the regency till Baldwin should be released from captivity. Tancred gladly accepted the offer; and Bohemond, like Baldwin I four years previously, was relieved to see him go. Tancred stayed on in Edessa with the remnants of the Edessene army and with such troops as Bohemond could spare, while Bohemond himself moved back to Antioch, whose neighbours were preparing to take advantage of the Frankish disaster.

The battle of Harran was the complement to the Crusades of 1101. Together, they destroyed the legend of Frankish invincibility. The defeats of 1101 had meant that northern Syria was deprived of the reinforcements from the West that were needed if Frankish domination was to be firmly established there; and Harran meant in the long run that the county of Edessa was doomed and that Aleppo would never pass into Frankish hands. The wedge that the Franks had intended to maintain between the three Moslem centres of Anatolia, Iraq and Syria was insecurely driven in. And not only the Moslems would benefit. The Emperor was watching angrily in Byzantium and was not sorry to hear of the Frankish discomfiture.

1104: Bohemond and Tancred leave Baldwin in Captivity

The immediate consequences were not as fatal as might have been feared. The alliance between Soqman and Jekermish did not long survive their victory. The former’s Turcoman troops had obtained most of the prisoners and the booty; and the latter was jealous. His Seldjuk regiment attacked Soqman’s tent and carried off Baldwin. The Turcomans were furious; but Soqman showed sufficient self-control to restrain them from counter-attacking. He reconciled himself to the loss of his valuable prisoner; but, after reducing a few small Christian frontier-forts by the simple ruse of dressing up his soldiers in their Frankish victims’ clothes, he retired to Mardin and took no further part in the war. Jekermish fought on. First, to secure himself against Soqman, he overwhelmed the Frankish castles in the Shahbaqtan, to the east of Edessa, then marched on the capital. Frankish delay had saved Harran for Islam. Now the Moslems’ delay saved Edessa for Christendom. Tancred had time to repair the city’s defences and was able to resist Jekermish’s first attack, thanks largely to the loyalty and valour of the local Armenians. But he was so hard pressed that he sent urgently to Bohemond for help. Bohemond had his own problems; but the threat to Edessa must be given precedence. He marched at once to his nephew’s assistance; but the poor condition of the roads delayed him. Tancred, in despair, ordered a sortie of his garrison to take place before dawn. In the darkness his men fell upon the sleeping and confident Turks; and their victory was completed by Bohemond’s arrival. Jekermish fled in panic, abandoning the treasures of his camp. Harran was avenged, and Edessa was preserved.

Amongst the prisoners that fell into Tancred’s hands was a high-born Seldjuk princess from the Emir’s household. So highly did Jekermish value this lady that he at once offered either to pay 15,000 besants to ransom her or else to exchange Count Baldwin himself for her. News of the offer reached Jerusalem; and King Baldwin hastened to write to Bohemond to beg him not to lose this opportunity for obtaining the Count’s release. But Bohemond and Tancred needed money, while Baldwin’s return would have thrown Tancred out of his present post back on his uncle’s hands. They answered that it would be undiplomatic to appear too eager to accept the offer; Jekermish might raise his price if they hesitated. But meanwhile they arranged with the emir to have the money payment; and Baldwin remained in captivity.

Having thus enriched themselves by sacrificing their comrade, Bohemond and Tancred turned to meet the enemies that were pressing round them. Jekermish did not again attempt to attack Edessa; and Tancred was able to repair the city’s defences. But Bohemond had at once to face an invasion by Ridwan of Aleppo into the eastern districts of his principality. In June the Armenian inhabitants of Artah handed over their town to the Moslems, delighted to escape from Antiochene tyranny. The towns of Maarrat, Misrin and Sarman on the frontier followed suit; and the small Frankish garrisons of Maarat an-Numan, Albara and Kafartab, who were thus isolated, withdrew back to Antioch. Meanwhile Ridwan ravaged the principality as far as the Iron Bridge. In the far north Bohemond’s garrison at Albistan only maintained itself by imprisoning the leading local Armenians, who were plotting with the Turks. The whole of Bohemond’s state might have been endangered had not Duqaq of Damascus died towards the end of June 1104 whereupon Ridwan’s attention was taken up by the struggle for the succession between Duqaq’s two sons, Buri and Iltash.

Bohemond’s failure to meet Ridwan’s attack was due to his preoccupation with Byzantine affairs. The Emperor Alexius was now on good terms with the Frankish states farther to the south. Raymond of Toulouse was still his close friend; and he had won the good-will of King Baldwin by himself paying for the ransom of many distinguished Franks who were held captive in Egypt. His generosity had been wisely calculated. It was in striking contrast to Bohemond and Tancred’s behaviour over Baldwin of Edessa; and it reminded the Franks that he had influence and prestige that the Fatimids respected. When therefore he took action against Antioch, its prince received no help from his colleagues. Alexius had already fortified Corycos and Seleucia on the Cilician coast, to prevent Antiochene aggression into western Cilicia. In the summer of 1104 a Byzantine army, under the general Monastras, reoccupied without difficulty the east Cilician cities, Tarsus, Adana and Mamistra; while a naval squadron under the Emperor’s admiral, Cantacuzenus, which had come to Cyprian waters in pursuit of a Genoese raiding fleet, took advantage of Bohemond’s situation to sail on to Lattakieh, where his men captured the harbour and the lower city. Bohemond hastened with the Frankish troops that he could muster to reinforce the garrison in the citadel and to replace its commander, whom he distrusted. But, lacking sea-power, he did not try to expel the Byzantines from their position.

1104: Bohemond leaves for the West

By the autumn Bohemond felt desperate. In September he held a council of his vassals at Antioch, to which he summoned Tancred. There he told them frankly of the dangers that surrounded the principality. The only solution was, he said, to secure reinforcements from Europe. He would go himself to France and use his personal prestige to recruit the needed men. Tancred dutifully offered to take on this task; but his uncle replied that he did not command sufficient authority in the West. He must remain behind as Regent of Antioch. Arrangements were soon made for Bohemond’s departure. Late in the autumn he set sail from Saint Symeon, taking with him all the gold and silver, jewels and precious stuffs that were available, and copies of the Gesta Francorum, the anonymous history of the First Crusade told from the Norman point of view. In these copies Bohemond inserted a passage suggesting that the Emperor had promised him the lordship of Antioch.

Tancred then took over the government of Antioch, at the same time taking an oath that he would restore Edessa to Baldwin immediately on his release from captivity. Meanwhile, as Tancred could not rule Edessa satisfactorily from Antioch, he appointed his cousin and brother-in-law, Richard of Salerno, as his deputy across the Euphrates.

Bohemond reached his own lands in Apulia early in the new year. He remained there till the following September, seeing to his personal affairs, which needed his supervision after his nine years’ absence, and organizing parties of Normans to join their fellows in the East. Then he went to Rome, where he saw Pope Paschal. To him Bohemond emphasized that the great enemy of the Latins in the East was the Emperor Alexius. Paschal had already been prejudiced against Alexius by Bishop Manasses and fell in readily with his views. When Bohemond went on into France he was accompanied by the papal legate, Bruno, who was instructed to preach a Holy War against Byzantium. It was a turning-point in the history of the Crusades. The Norman policy, which aimed to break the power of the eastern Empire, became the official Crusading policy. The interests of Christendom as a whole were to be sacrificed to the interests of Frankish adventurers. The Pope was later to regret his indiscretion; but the harm was done. The resentment of the western knights and populace against the haughtiness of the Emperor, their jealousy of his wealth and their suspicions of Christians who used a ritual that they could not understand were all given official sanction by the western Church. Henceforward, though the Pope might modify his views, they felt justified in every hostile action against Byzantium. And the Byzantines, on their side, found their worst suspicions realized. The Crusade, with the Pope at its head, was not a movement for the succour of Christendom, but a tool of unscrupulous western imperialism. This unhappy agreement between Bohemond and Pope Paschal did far more than all the controversy between Cardinal Humbert and Michael Cerularius to ensure the separation between the eastern and western Churches.

1107: Bohemond invades the Empire

Bohemond was well received in France. He spent some time at the Court of King Philip, who gave him permission to recruit men throughout the kingdom; and he enjoyed the active support of that eager Crusader-by-proxy, Adela, Countess of Blois. Adela not only introduced him to her brother, Henry I of England, whom he saw in Normandy at Easter 1106, and who promised to encourage his work, but she also arranged for him to make an impressive marriage-alliance with King Philip’s daughter, Constance, the divorced Countess of Champagne. The wedding took place in the late spring of 1106; and at the same time King Philip agreed to offer the hand of his younger daughter, Cecilia, child of his adulterous union with Bertrada of Montfort, to Tancred. Constance never went to the East. Her married life and widowhood were spent in Italy. But Cecilia sailed for Antioch about the end of the year. These royal connections added to the prestige of the Norman princes.

Bohemond remained in France till late in 1106, when he returned to Apulia. There he planned his new Crusade, which was to begin uncompromisingly with an attack on the Byzantine Empire. Cheered by the news that under Tancred’s rule Antioch was in no immediate peril, he did not hurry. On 9 October 1107 his army landed on the Epirote coast of the Empire at Avlona; and four days later he appeared before the great fortress of Dyrrhachium, the key to the Balkan peninsula, which the Normans had long coveted and had held for a while a quarter of a century before. But Alexius, too, had had time to make his preparations. To save Dyrrhachium he was ready to sacrifice his south-eastern frontier; and he made peace with the Seldjuk Sultan, Kilij Arslan, from whom he hired mercenaries. Finding the fortress too strong and too vigorously defended by its garrison to be taken by assault, Bohemond settled down to besiege it. But, as in his earlier wars against Byzantium, lack of sea-power was his ruin. Almost at once the Byzantine navy cut off his communications with Italy and blockaded the coast. Then, early next spring, the main Byzantine army closed in round him. As the summer came on, dysentery, malaria and famine weakened the Normans; while Alexius broke their morale by spreading rumours and sending forged letters to their leaders, devices that his daughter Anna described with loving admiration. By September Bohemond knew that he was beaten, and he surrendered to the Emperor. It was a tremendous triumph for Byzantium; for Bohemond was by now the most renowned warrior in Christendom. The sight of this formidable hero, towering personally over the Emperor yet suppliant before him and obedient to his dictation, bore witness which no one could forget to the invincible majesty of the Empire.

Alexius received Bohemond at his camp, at the entrance to the ravines of the river Devol. He was courteous but cold to him, and wasted no time in setting before him the peace treaty that he was to sign. Bohemond hesitated at first; but Nicephorus Bryennius, Anna Comnena’s husband, who was in attendance on his father-in-law, persuaded him that he had no option.

1108: The Treaty of Devol

The text of the treaty is preserved in full in the pages of Anna Comnena. In it Bohemond first was made to express contrition for the breach of his former oath to the Emperor. Then he swore with the utmost solemnity to become the vassal and liege-man of the Emperor and of the Emperor’s heir, the Porphyrogennete John; and he would oblige all his men to do likewise. That there might be no mistake the Latin term for liege was employed, and the duties of a vassal were enumerated. He was to remain Prince of Antioch, which he would govern under the Emperor’s suzerainty. His territory would include Antioch itself and its port of Saint Symeon, and the districts to the north-east, as far as Marash, together with the lands that he might conquer from the Moslem princes of Aleppo and other inland Syrian states; but the Cilician cities and the coast round Lattakieh were to be restored to the Emperor’s direct rule, and the territory of the Roupenian princes was not to be touched. An appendix was added to the treaty carefully listing the towns that were to constitute Bohemond’s dominion. Within his dominion Bohemond was to exercise the civil authority, but the Latin Patriarch was to be deposed and replaced by a Greek. There were special provisions that if Tancred, or any other of Bohemond’s men, refused to comply with the demands of the treaty, Bohemond was to force them into obedience.

The Treaty of Devol is of interest because it reveals the solution that Alexius now contemplated for the Crusader question. He was prepared to allow frontier districts and even Antioch itself to pass into the autonomous control of a Latin prince, so long as the prince was bound to him by ties of vassalage according to the Latin custom, and so long as Byzantium kept indirect control through the Church. Alexius, moreover, felt himself to be responsible for the welfare of the eastern Christians, and even wished to safeguard the rights of his unsatisfactory Armenian vassals, the Roupenians. The treaty remained a paper agreement. But it broke Bohemond; who never dared show himself again in the East. He retired humble and discredited to his lands in Apulia, and died there in 1111, an obscure Italian princeling, leaving two infant sons by his French marriage to inherit his rights to Antioch. He had been a gallant soldier, a bold and wily general and a hero to his followers; and his personality had outshone all his colleagues’ on the First Crusade. But the vastness of his unscrupulous ambition was his downfall. The time had not yet come for the Crusaders to destroy the bulwark of eastern Christendom.

As Alexius well realized, the Treaty of Devol required the co-operation of Tancred; and Tancred, who was not sorry to see his uncle eliminated from eastern affairs, had no intention of becoming the Emperor’s vassal. His ambition was less extensive than Bohemond’s, but it was for the creation of a strong independent principality. His prospects were unhopeful. Bohemond had left him with few men and quite without ready money. Nevertheless he decided to take the offensive. A forced loan from the wealthy merchants of Antioch replenished his funds and enabled him to hire local mercenaries; and he summoned all the knights and cavalrymen that could be spared from Edessa and Turbessel as well as from Antiochene territory. In the spring of 1105 he marched out to recover Artah. Ridwan of Aleppo had been preparing to go to the assistance of the Banu Ammar in their struggle against the Franks farther to the south; but on the news of Tancred’s advance he turned to defend Artah. The two armies met on 20 April, at the village of Tizin near Artah, on a desolate plain strewn with boulders. Alarmed by the size of the Turkish host, Tancred suggested a parley with Ridwan, who would have agreed, had not his cavalry commander, Sabawa, persuaded him to attack without delay. The terrain prevented the Turks from using their usual tactics. When their first cavalry onrush was driven back by the Franks they retired to lure the enemy on; but they were unable to re-form their ranks for a second charge, and meanwhile their infantry was cut down by the Frankish knights. At the failure of their plans they panicked. Ridwan and his bodyguard rode off in flight to Aleppo, and most of his cavalry followed. The remainder and the foot-soldiers were butchered on the battle-field.

The victory enabled Tancred to reoccupy all the territory lost in the previous year. The Seldjuk garrison abandoned Artah to him, while his troops pursued the fugitives to the walls of Aleppo and plundered many of the civilian population as they fled in terror from the city. Ridwan sued for peace. He agreed to give up all his territory in the Orontes valley and to pay a regular tribute to Tancred. By the end of 1105 Tancred’s dominion stretched once more as far south as Albara and Maarat an-Numan.

1106: The Capture of Apamea

In February 1106 the emir of Apamea, Khalaf ibn Mula’ib, who had been not unfriendly to the Franks, was assassinated by fanatics from Aleppo. The murderers then quarrelled with their chief ally within the town, Abu’l Fath, who had assumed its government, and now asked for help from Ridwan. Tancred, invited by the local Armenians, judged it opportune to intervene. He marched south and began to besiege the town. But Abu’l Fath restored order; and the emirs of Shaizar and Hama promised help. Tancred was obliged to retire after three weeks, giving as his excuse that he must succour the garrison at Lattakieh, which, after an eighteen months’ blockade by the Byzantines, was faced with famine. He revictualled it and returned to Antioch. A few months later one of Khalaf’s sons, Musbih ibn Mula’ib, who had escaped his father’s fate, appeared at Antioch with a hundred followers and persuaded Tancred to attack Apamea once again. With Musbih’s help he reinvested the town, digging a ditch all round to prevent ingress or egress. None of the neighbouring emirs came to Abu’l Fath’s assistance; and after a few weeks, on 14 September 1106, the Moslems capitulated on the condition that their lives should be spared. Tancred agreed to their terms and entered the town; whereupon, to please Musbih, he put Abu’l Fath and three of his companions to death. The other Apamean notables were taken to Antioch, where they remained till Ridwan arranged for their ransom. A Frankish governor was installed at Apamea; while Musbih was enfeoffed with an estate near by. Soon afterwards the Franks reoccupied Kafartab. It was put into the charge of a knight called Theophilus, who soon made himself the terror of the Moslems of Shaizar.

With his eastern and southern frontiers thus secured, Tancred could turn against the foe that he hated the most, Byzantium. In the summer of 1107, when Bohemond’s attack on the European provinces was imminent, Alexius was obliged to remove troops from the Syrian frontier in order to face what was a more serious menace. Cantacuzenus was recalled with many of his men from Lattakieh, and Monastras from Cilicia, which was put under the control of the Armenian prince of Lampron, the Sbarabied Oshin. In the winter of 1108, or early in 1109, soon after Bohemond’s humiliation in Epirus, Tancred invaded Cilicia. The Emperor’s judgment of men had failed him. Oshin came of high lineage and had been famed in his youth for his courage; but now he had become luxurious and lazy. The key to Cilicia was the fortress of Mamistra, on the river Jihan. When Tancred’s forces advanced by land over the Amanus range and by water up the river to besiege the town, Oshin did nothing to stop them. Mamistra fell after a short siege; and it seems that during the next months Tancred re-established his rule over Adana and Tarsus, though western Cilicia remained in imperial hands. Oshin himself retired to his lands in the Taurus.

Lattakieh had already been reconquered. Hitherto the Normans had been hampered by lack of sea-power. But the Byzantine navy was now concentrated far away in the Adriatic; and Tancred was able to purchase the aid of a Pisan squadron. The price that Pisa demanded was a street in Antioch, and a quarter in Lattakieh, with a church and a godown. Petzeas, who had succeeded Cantacuzenus as Byzantine commander there, was powerless to offer resistance. Lattakieh was finally incorporated into the Antiochene principality in the spring of 1108. Next year Tancred extended his dominion farther to the south, taking Jabala, Buluniyas and the castle of Marqab from the dissolving dominions of the Banu Ammar.

1109: Tancred at the Height of his Power

Thus, when Bohemond surrendered to the Emperor and signed away his independence, Tancred was reaching the height of his power and was in no way disposed to obey the imperial decree. From the Taurus to the Jezireh and central Syria his was the chief authority. He was ruler of Antioch and Edessa, only their regent, it is true; but Prince Bohemond now lived discredited in Italy and would never return to the East, and Count Baldwin languished in Turkish captivity, from which Tancred would make no effort to rescue him. The Prince of Aleppo was his virtual vassal and none of the neighbouring emirs would venture to attack him. And he had triumphantly defied the heir of the Caesars at Constantinople. When the Emperor’s ambassadors came to Antioch to remind him of his uncle’s engagements, he dismissed them with arrogance. He was, as he said, Ninus the great Assyrian, a giant whom no man could resist.

But arrogance has its limitations. For all his brilliance, Tancred was distrusted and disliked. It was by his own Crusading colleagues that his power was challenged and checked.

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