Post-classical history

CHAPTER IV

THE POSSESSION OF ANTIOCH

‘He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.’ PSALMS LV, 20

The capture of Antioch was an achievement that gladdened Christian hearts. But when their triumphant frenzy died down and the Crusaders took stock of their position, they found themselves little better off than before. Great advantages had been gained. They had the city fortifications, undamaged in the battle, to protect them from Kerbogha’s hosts; their civilian followers, numerous still in spite of disease and desertion, were sheltered and no longer the liability that they had been in the camp. The Turkish army that the city had contained was almost annihilated and no longer a steady threat. But the defence of the long line of the walls needed more men than they could now afford. The citadel was untaken and must be picketed. Though its garrison was too weak to take the offensive, from its summit every movement in the city could be watched; and it was impossible to prevent it from establishing a liaison with Kerbogha. In the city the Crusaders found none of the stores of food that they had hoped for, and themselves in their intoxication had destroyed most of its wealth. And though the Moslems were slain the native Christian population could not be trusted. The Syrians, in particular, had been treacherous in the past and had little sympathy for the Latins. Their treachery provided a far greater risk to an army defending the city than to one encamped outside. Moreover, the victory brought to a head a question that already showed signs of splitting the Crusade: to whom should the city be given?

Kerbogha’s Approach

At first there was no time to spare to debate the city’s future. Kerbogha was advancing; and it must be defended against this present attack. Bohemond, whatever he might be planning, had not the troops to man the walls without the help of his colleagues. All must share in the defences; and each of the princes took over a section of the fortifications. The army’s immediate task was to clear up the city and to bury the dead quickly, before the decaying corpses started an epidemic. While the soldiers were thus engaged, the Bishop of Le Puy arranged for the Cathedral of St Peter and the other churches that the Turks had desecrated to be cleaned and restored to Christian worship. The Patriarch John was released from his prison and replaced on the Patriarchal throne. John was a Greek, who disliked the Latin rite; but he was the legitimate Patriarch of a see still in full communion with Rome. Adhemar was certainly not going to offend against legitimacy and local sentiment by ignoring his rights. Nor did any of the Crusaders, aware of John’s sufferings for the Faith, resent his restoration; except, perhaps, Bohemond, who may have foreseen its inconvenience to himself.

The Crusaders were barely able to install themselves in the city before Kerbogha came up. On 5 June he reached the Orontes at the Iron Bridge; and two days later he encamped before the walls, on the very positions that the Franks had recently occupied. Shams ad-Daula at once sent envoys from the citadel to ask for his help. But Kerbogha insisted that the citadel should be taken over by his own troops. Shams begged to be allowed to retain command till the city should be retaken, but in vain. He was obliged to hand over the fortress and all its stores to Kerbogha’s trusted lieutenant, Ahmed ibn Merwan.

Kerbogha’s first plan was to penetrate into the city from the citadel. Foreseeing the danger, Bohemond and Raymond had constructed a rough wall to cut it off from the city fortifications. As it was the most vulnerable sector of the defence, it seems that the princes took turns to man it. After a little reconnoitring Ahmed ibn Merwan launched an assault on this sector, probably early on 9 June. Hugh of Vermandois, the Count of Flanders and the Duke of Normandy were in charge of its defence, and were almost overpowered; but in the end they drove him back with heavy loss. After this Kerbogha decided that it would be less costly to blockade the Franks more closely and attack them later when they were weakened by starvation. On the 10th he moved in to encircle the city completely. The Crusaders sought to hinder him and made a fierce sortie but were soon forced to retreat again to the safety of the walls.

The failure of their effort cast the Crusaders into gloom. Their morale, raised for a while a week before by the capture of the city, sank now to its lowest depths. Food was again short. A small loaf cost a bezant, an egg two bezants and a chicken fifteen. Many men lived only on the leaves of trees or on dried hides. Adhemar of Le Puy vainly tried to organize relief for the poorer pilgrims. Amongst the knights there were many who thought that Stephen of Blois had chosen the wisest course. During the night of the 10th a company led by William and Aubrey of Grant-Mesnil and Lambert, Count of Clermont, managed to pass through the enemy lines and hurried down to the sea at St Symeon. There were Frankish ships in the harbour, probably some Genoese and some belonging to Guynemer’s fleet. When the fugitives arrived and announced that the Crusading army was inevitably doomed, they hastily weighed anchor and set out for a safer port. The fugitives sailed with them for Tarsus. There they joined forces with Stephen of Blois, who had planned to return to Antioch when he heard of its capture but had been deterred by a distant view of Kerbogha’s army. William of Grant-Mesnil had married Bohemond’s sister Mabilla; and the defection of so close a relative of the Norman chief could not fail to impress the army.

Alexius on the Road to Antioch

It seemed now to the men inside Antioch that their only chance of salvation would be the arrival of the Emperor and his forces. It was already known that Alexius had started out from Constantinople. During the spring John Ducas had advanced from Lydia into Phrygia as far as the main road down which the Crusaders had travelled and at some time had reopened the road to Attalia. Alexius therefore judged it safe to take his main army on into the heart of Asia Minor in order to bring help to the Crusade, though many of his advisers disliked an expedition that would take him so far from his capital through country that was not yet cleared of the enemy. By the middle of June he was at Philomelium. While he was preparing to march on, Stephen and William appeared at the camp. They had sailed from Tarsus together, and on their journey, probably at Attalia, they heard of the Emperor’s whereabouts. Leaving their men to go on by sea they hurried northward to Philomelium to tell him that the Turks by now were certainly in Antioch and the Crusader army annihilated. About the same time he was joined by Peter of Aulps, who had deserted his post at Comana, east of Caesarea, to report that a Turkish army was advancing to strike at Alexius before he could reach Antioch. Alexius had no reason to doubt their stories. Stephen had been a loyal and reliable friend in the past; and such a disaster was by no means improbable. The news forced him to reconsider his plans. If Antioch was taken and the Franks had perished, the Turks would certainly continue their offensive. The Seldjuks would undoubtedly attempt to regain what they had lost and they would have the whole victorious Turkish world behind them. Under such circumstances it would be madness to proceed with the expedition. As it was, his left flank was dangerously exposed to Turkish attacks. To lengthen his communications at this juncture, for a cause that was already lost, was unthinkable. Even had he been an adventurer such as the princes of the Crusade, the risk would hardly have been worth while. But he was responsible for the welfare of a great and vulnerable Empire; and his first duty was to his subjects. He summoned his council and told them that it was necessary to retire. There was a Norman prince on his staff, Bohemond’s half-brother Guy, who had been for many years in his service. Guy was moved by the thought of the Crusaders’ plight and begged the Emperor to march on, on the chance that they could still be saved. But no one supported his plea. The great Byzantine army retreated north-ward, leaving a cordon of waste land to protect the newly-won territory from the Turks.

It would have been well for the Empire and for the peace of eastern Christendom had Alexius listened to Guy’s pleading; though he could not have reached Antioch before the decisive battle had been fought. For when the rumour came to the Crusaders that the imperial army had turned back, their bitterness was intense. They saw themselves as the warriors of Christ against the infidel. To refuse to hurry to their aid, however hopeless it might seem, was an act of treason towards the Faith. They could not appreciate the Emperor’s other duties. Instead, his neglect seemed to justify all the suspicion and dislike that they already felt for the Greeks. Byzantium was never forgiven; and Bohemond found it all to the profit of his ambition.

The Intervention of the Supernatural

The Crusaders realized that Stephen of Blois was also to be blamed. Their chroniclers talked angrily of his cowardice; and the story soon reached Europe. He himself returned by easy stages home, to a wife who was furiously ashamed of him and who never rested till she had sent him out again to the East, to make atonement.

Meanwhile Kerbogha continued to press on Antioch. On 12 June a sudden attack almost gave him the possession of one of the towers on the south-west wall; which was preserved only by the bravery of three knights from Malines. To avoid the recurrence of such risks, Bohemond burnt down whole streets of the city near to the walls, thus enabling the troops to manoeuvre with greater ease.

At this juncture the spirits of the Christians were raised by a series of events which seemed to them to show God’s special favour. The soldiers were hungry and anxious; the faith that had hitherto sustained them was wavering, but it was not broken. It was an atmosphere in which dreams and visions thrived. To the men of the Middle Ages the supernatural was not considered impossible nor even very rare. Modem ideas of the power of the subconscious were unknown. Dreams and visions came from God, or, in some cases, from the devil. Scepticism was confined to a flat disbelief in the word of the dreamer. This attitude must be remembered in considering the episode that follows.

On 10 June 1098, a poorly dressed peasant came to Count Raymond’s tent and demanded to see him and the Bishop of Le Puy. His name was Peter Bartholomew, and he had come on the Crusade as the servant of a Provencal pilgrim called William-Peter. He was not entirely illiterate, despite his humble origin, but he was known to his fellows as a rather disreputable character, interested only in the grosser pleasures of life. His story was that during the last months he had been tormented by visions in which Saint Andrew had revealed to him where one of the holiest relics in Christendom could be found, the Lance that had pierced the side of Christ. The first vision had occurred at the time of the earthquake of 30 December. He had been praying in terror when suddenly there appeared an old man with silver hair, accompanied by a tall and wonderfully beautiful youth. The old man, saying that he was Saint Andrew, bade him go at once to see the Bishop of Le Puy and Count Raymond. The Bishop was to be reproved for his neglect of his duties as a preacher; while to the Count was to be revealed the hiding-place of the Lance, which the saint now proposed to show to Peter Bartholomew. Peter then found himself borne, dressed as he was only in his shirt, to the interior of the city to the Cathedral of St Peter, which the Turks were keeping as a mosque. Saint Andrew led him in through the south entrance to the southern chapel. There he vanished into the ground to reappear carrying the Lance. Peter wished to take it at once but was told to return with twelve companions after the city was taken and to search for it in the same place. He was then wafted back to the camp.

Peter Bartholomew’s Visions

Peter disregarded the saint’s commands; for he feared that no one would listen to so poor a man. Instead, he went off on a foraging expedition to Edessa. At cock-crow on 10 February, when he was staying in a castle near Edessa, Saint Andrew and his companion appeared to him again, to reprove him for his disobedience, for which he was punished with a temporary malady of the eyes. Saint Andrew also lectured him about God’s special protection of the Crusaders, adding that all the saints longed to resume their bodies to fight by their side. Peter Bartholomew admitted his guilt and returned to Antioch; but there his courage failed again. He did not dare accost the great princes, and was relieved when in March his master, William-Peter, took him on a journey to buy food in Cyprus. On the eve of Palm Sunday, 20 March, he was sleeping with William-Peter in a tent at St Symeon, when the vision occurred once more. Peter repeated his excuses; and Saint Andrew, after telling him not to be afraid, gave instructions which Count Raymond was to follow when he came to the river Jordan. William-Peter heard the conversation but saw nothing. Peter Bartholomew then returned to the camp at Antioch but was unable to obtain an audience with the Count He therefore left for Mamistra in order to continue his journey to Cyprus. Saint Andrew came to him there and angrily ordered him back. Peter wished to obey; but his master made him embark to cross the sea. Three times the boat was driven back and at last went ashore on an island near St Symeon; where the journey was abandoned. Peter was ill for a while; when he recovered Antioch had been captured; and he entered the city. He took part in the battle on 10 June and he narrowly escaped death from being crushed between two horses; whereupon Saint Andrew made another appearance and spoke to him so sternly that he could no longer disobey. He first told the story to his comrades. Despite the scepticism with which it was received, he came now to repeat it to Count Raymond and the Bishop of Le Puy.

Adhemar was not impressed. He considered Peter Bartholomew to be a disreputable and unreliable character. Possibly he resented the criticism of his own zeal as a preacher. Possibly he remembered having seen at Constantinople a Holy Lance whose claim of authenticity was longer established. As an experienced churchman he distrusted the visions of the ignorant. But Raymond, whose piety was simpler and more enthusiastic, was ready to be convinced. He arranged to attend at a solemn search for the Lance in five days’ time. In the meantime he confided Peter Bartholomew to the care of his chaplain.

Visions breed rapidly. That evening all the princes were gathered in the upper city, by the wall guarding the citadel, when a priest from Valence called Stephen demanded to see them. He told them that on the previous evening, believing that the Turks had taken the city, he had gone with a group of clerics to the Church of Our Lady to hold a service of intercession. At the end of it the others had fallen asleep; but as he lay wakeful there, he beheld before him a figure of marvellous beauty, who asked him who were these men and who seemed glad to learn that they were good Christians and not heretics. The visitor then asked Stephen if he recognized him. Stephen began to say No, but noticed a cruciform halo surrounding his head, as in the picture of Christ. The visitor admitted that he was Christ and next asked who was in command of the army. Stephen replied that there was no one commander but that the chief authority was given to a bishop. Christ then told Stephen to inform the bishop that his people had done evil with their lusts and fornication, but if they returned to a Christian way of life he would send them protection in five days’ time. A lady with a brilliant countenance then appeared, saying to Christ that these were the people for whom she had so often interceded; and Saint Peter also joined them. Stephen tried to waken one of his comrades to bear witness to the vision; but before he succeeded the figures were gone.

Adhemar was prepared to accept this vision as genuine. Stephen was a reputable cleric and moreover swore on the Gospel that he had told the truth. Seeing that the princes were impressed with the story, Adhemar at once induced them to swear by the Holy Sacrament that none of them would henceforward leave Antioch without the consent of all the others. Bohemond swore the first, then Raymond, then Robert of Normandy, Godfrey and Robert of Flanders, followed by the lesser princes. The news of the oath raised the spirits of the army. Moreover Stephen’s mention of a sign of divine favour due to come after five days gave support to Peter Bartholomew’s claim. Expectation ran high in the camp.

The Discovery of the Lance

On 14 June a meteor was seen which seemed to fall on to the Turkish camp. Next morning Peter Bartholomew was conducted to St Peter’s Cathedral by a party of twelve, which included Count Raymond, the Bishop of Orange and the historian, Raymond of Aguilers. All day long workmen dug into the floor and found nothing. The Count went away in disappointment. At last Peter himself, clad only in a shirt, leapt into the trench. Bidding all present to pray, he triumphantly produced a piece of iron. Raymond of Aguilers declared that he himself embraced it while it was still embedded in the ground. The story of its discovery soon spread round the army and was received with excitement and with joy.

It is useless to attempt now to judge what really happened. The cathedral had recently been cleaned on its reconsecration. Peter Bartholomew may have worked on the job after his return to Antioch, the date of which he never revealed, and would thus have had the chance of burying a piece of iron below the floor. Or he may have had the diviner’s gift that can tell the presence of metal. It is remarkable that even in that age when miracles were universally considered to be possible, Adhemar clearly kept to the view that Peter was a charlatan; and, as the sequel was to show, this distrust was shared by many others. But it was not yet voiced. The finding of the relic had so heartened the Christians, even including the Greeks and Armenians, that no one wished to spoil its effect. Peter Bartholomew himself, however, somewhat shook his supporters two days later, when he announced another visit from Saint Andrew. Jealous, perhaps, of Stephen’s direct conversation with Christ, he was pleased to hear from the saint that the silent companion in his visions was indeed Christ. Saint Andrew then gave him careful instructions of the services to be held in celebration of the discovery and on its anniversaries. The Bishop of Orange, made suspicious by all the liturgical detail, asked Peter if he could read. In reply Peter thought it wiser to declare that he was illiterate. This was shown to be a lie; but his friends were soon reassured; for thence-forward he was no longer able to read. Saint Andrew soon reappeared, to announce a forthcoming battle with the Turks that should not be long delayed, as the Crusaders were menaced with starvation. The saint recommended five fast-days, as a penance for the people’s sins; then the army should attack the Turks, and it would be given the victory. There was to be no pillaging of the enemy’s tents.

Bohemond, now in supreme command as Count Raymond was ill, had already decided that the only course was to launch a full assault on Kerbogha’s camp; and it was possible that Saint Andrew had been inspired from earthly sources in his latest advice. While the Crusaders’ morale was improving, Kerbogha was finding increasing difficulty in keeping together his coalition. Ridwan of Aleppo still held aloof from the expedition; but Kerbogha now felt the need for his help. He began to negotiate with him, and thus offended Duqaq of Damascus. Duqaq was nervous about Egyptian aggression in Palestine and was anxious to return to the south. The Emir of Homs had a family feud with the Emir of Menbij and would not co-operate with him. There was friction between the Turks and the Arabs in Kerbogha’s own forces. Kerbogha himself attempted to maintain order by the use of autocratic authority which all the Emirs, who knew him to be a mere atabeg, resented. As the month went on there were more and more desertions from his camp. Large numbers of Turks and Arabs alike returned to their homes.

Peter the Hermit’s Embassy

Kerbogha’s difficulties were undoubtedly known to the Crusading leaders, who made an attempt to persuade him to abandon the siege. On 27 June they sent an embassy composed of Peter the Hermit and a Frank called Herluin, who spoke both Arabic and Persian, to his camp. The choice of Peter indicates that he had recovered from the disrepute caused by his attempted flight five months before. It was probably because they feared that the envoys’ immunity would not be respected that none of the leaders could be allowed to go on the mission; and Peter was chosen as the best-known non-combatant with the army. His acceptance of the task showed courage and did much to restore his prestige. We do not know what terms Peter was empowered to offer; for the speeches put into his and Kerbogha’s mouth by later chroniclers are clearly fictional. Possibly, as some of the chroniclers say, it was suggested that a series of single combats might decide the issue. Kerbogha, despite his growing weakness, still demanded unconditional surrender; and the embassy returned empty-handed. But in the course of it Herluin may have acquired some useful information about the state of affairs in the Turkish camp.

After the failure of the embassy there could be no alternative to battle. Early on Monday morning, 28 June, Bohemond drew up the Crusading troops for action. They were divided into six armies. The first was composed of the French and Flemish, led by Hugh of Vermandois and Robert of Flanders; the second of the Lotharingians, led by Godfrey; the third of the Normans of Normandy, under Duke Robert; the fourth of the Toulousans and the Provencals, under the Bishop of Le Puy, as Raymond was seriously ill; and the fifth and sixth of the Normans of Italy, under Bohemond and Tancred. To keep watch on the citadel, two hundred men were left in the city, for Raymond to command from his sickbed. While some of the priests and chaplains of the army held a service of intercession on the walls, others marched with the troops. To the historian Raymond of Aguilers was given the honour of carrying the Holy Lance into the battle. Each prince could be distinguished by his banner; but the panoply of the knights was a little tarnished. Many had lost their horses and had to go on foot or ride inferior beasts of burden. But, strengthened by the recent signs of divine favour, the soldiers’ courage was high as they marched out, one after the other, across the fortified bridge.

The Victory over Kerbogha

As they emerged out of the gate, Kerbogha’s Arab commander, Watthab ibn Mahmud, urged him to attack at once. But Kerbogha feared that to strike too soon would only destroy the Crusaders’ advance-guard, whereas if he waited he might dispose of their whole forces in one stroke. In view of the temper of his troops he could not afford that the weary siege should go on. But when he saw the full array of the Franks he hesitated and sent a herald to announce, too late, that he would now discuss terms for a truce. Ignoring his messenger, the Franks advanced; and Kerbogha adopted the usual Turkish technique of retiring and luring them on into rougher ground, where suddenly his archers poured arrows into their ranks. Meanwhile he sent a detachment round to out-flank them on the left, where they were unprotected by the river. But Bohemond was ready for this, and composed a seventh army, under Rainald of Toul, to hold this attack. On the main front the fighting was hard; among the slain was Adhemar’s own standard bearer. But the Turkish archers could not stop the Crusaders’ advance; and the Turkish line began to waver. The Christians pressed on, encouraged by a vision on the hill-side of a company of knights on white horses, waving white banners, whose leaders they recognized as Saint George, Saint Mercury and Saint Demetrius. More practical aid was given them by the decision of many of Kerbogha’s Emirs to desert his cause. They feared that victory would make him too powerful and they would be the first to pay for it. With Duqaq of Damascus at their head they began to leave the field; and their going spread panic. Kerbogha set fire to the dry grass in front of his line, in a vain attempt to delay the Franks while he restored order. Soqman the Ortoqid and the Emir of Homs were the last to remain faithful to him. When they too fled he saw that the game was up and abandoned the battle. The whole Turkish army broke up in panic. The Crusaders, following Saint Andrew’s advice not to delay to sack the enemy camp, followed the fugitives as far as the Iron Bridge, slaying vast numbers of them. Others who tried to seek shelter in the castle of Tancred were rounded up and perished. Many of the survivors of the battle were massacred in their flight by the Syrians and Armenians of the countryside. Kerbogha himself reached Mosul with a remnant of his forces; but his power and prestige were lost for ever.

Ahmed ibn Merwan, the commander of the citadel, had watched the battle from his mountain-top. When he saw that it was lost, he sent a herald to the city to announce his surrender. The herald was taken to Raymond’s tent; and Raymond dispatched one of his own banners to be raised over the citadel-tower. But when Ahmed learnt that the banner was not Bohemond’s, he refused to display it; for he had, it seems, already made a secret arrangement with Bohemond to be carried out in event of a Christian victory. He did not open his gates till Bohemond himself appeared, when the garrison was allowed to march out unharmed. Some of them, including Ahmed himself, became converts to Christianity and joined Bohemond’s army.

The Crusaders’ victory was unexpected but complete. It decided that Antioch should remain in the possession of the Christians. But it did not decide to which of the Christians its possession would pass. The oath that all the princes except Raymond had sworn to the Emperor clearly demanded that the city should be handed over to him. But Bohemond had already shown his intention to retain it; and his colleagues, with the exception of Raymond, were ready to consent, as it was he who had planned the capture of the city and he to whom the citadel had surrendered. They were a little uncomfortable at flouting their oaths. But the Emperor was far away. He had not come to their aid. Even his representative had left them; and they had taken the city and defeated Kerbogha without his help. It seemed to them impracticable to keep a garrison there till Alexius should deign to appear himself or send a lieutenant; and it seemed impolitic to waste time and to risk the enmity and perhaps the desertion of their most eminent soldier in defending the rights of an absentee. Godfrey of Lorraine clearly thought it foolish to stand in the way of Bohemond’s ambitions. Raymond, however, was always bitterly jealous of Bohemond. And it would be unfair to regard his jealousy as his only motive in supporting the claims of Alexius. He had made friends with Alexius before he left Constantinople; and he was shrewd enough to see that by failing to restore Antioch to the Empire the Crusaders would forfeit the Emperor’s goodwill, which was necessary for them if their communications were to be adequately maintained and if the inevitable Moslem counter-action was to be kept in check. The Crusade would no longer be an effort of united Christendom. Adhemar of Le Puy shared Raymond’s point of view. He was determined to co-operate with the eastern Christians, as his master, Pope Urban, undoubtedly wished, and he saw the danger of offending Byzantium.

Frayed Tempers

It was probably due to Adhemar’s influence that Hugh of Vermandois was sent to explain the situation to Alexius. Now that Antioch was secure, Hugh wished to return home and to travel by way of Constantinople. The Crusaders still believed that Alexius was on his way across Asia Minor. News of his retreat after his interview with Stephen of Blois had not yet reached them. Adhemar and Raymond hoped that Hugh’s mission would cause Alexius to hurry on to them. At the same time it was resolved that the Crusade should wait at Antioch till 1 November, before it attempted to march on to Jerusalem. It was a natural decision; for the army was tired, and to advance in the full heat of the Syrian summer, along little-known roads where water might be scarce, would be an act of folly. Moreover the question of Antioch must first be settled; and Adhemar doubtless hoped that the Emperor would have come by then. Hugh set out early in July, accompanied by Baldwin of Hainault. On the road through Asia Minor his party was attacked and severely mauled by the Turks. The Count of Hainault disappeared and his fate was never known. It was already autumn before Hugh arrived at Constantinople and could see the Emperor to tell him the full story of Antioch. By then the season was too late for a campaign across the Anatolian mountains. It was not feasible for Alexius to reach Antioch before the coming spring.

Meanwhile in Antioch tempers grew frayed. At first the citadel had been occupied jointly by Bohemond, Raymond, Godfrey and Robert of Flanders, but Bohemond retained the chief towers in his control. Now he succeeded in ejecting his colleagues’ troops, probably with the consent of Godfrey and Robert, so that Raymond’s objections were overruled. Raymond was furious, and in reply kept sole control of the fortified bridge and the palace of Yaghi-Siyan. But Raymond was still too ill to be active; and now Adhemar fell ill. With their two leaders in retirement, the southern French found themselves maltreated by the other troops, particularly by the Normans; and many of them longed for Raymond to be reconciled with Bohemond. Bohemond behaved as though he were already master of the city. Many Genoese had hastened to Antioch as soon as Kerbogha’s defeat was known, eager to be the first to capture its trade. On 14 July Bohemond gave them a charter, allowing them a market, a church and thirty houses. Henceforward the Genoese would advocate his claims; and he could count on their assistance to keep open his communications with Italy. They agreed to support him in Antioch against all comers, except only the Count of Toulouse. In such a combat they would remain neutral.

While Raymond and Bohemond warily watched each other, the lesser nobles rode off to join Baldwin at Edessa or made expeditions to capture plunder or even to set up fiefs in the country around. The most ambitious of these raids was conducted by a Limousin in Raymond’s army, called Raymond Pilet, who set out on 17 July across the Orontes to the east, and three days later occupied the town of Tel-Mannas, whose Syrian population received him gladly. After capturing a Turkish castle in the neighbourhood he moved on to attack the larger town of Maarat an-Numan, with an army composed mainly of native Christians. But they were unused to bearing arms; and when they met the troops sent by Ridwan of Aleppo to save the town they turned and fled. But Ridwan was unable to eject Raymond Pilet from Tel-Mannas.

In the course of July a serious epidemic broke out in Antioch. We cannot tell its precise nature, but it was probably typhoid, due to the effect of the sieges and battles of the last month and the Crusaders’ ignorance of the sanitary precautions necessary in the East. Adhemar of Le Puy, whose health had for some time been failing, was its first distinguished victim. He died on 1 August.

The Death of Adhemar of Le Puy

Adhemar’s death was one of the greatest tragedies of the Crusade. In the chroniclers’ pages he is rather a shadowy figure; but they show him to have wielded greater personal influence than any other Crusader. He commanded respect as the Pope’s representative; and his own character won him the affection of the whole army. He was charitable and cared for the poor and the sick. He was modest and never aggressive; but he was always ready to give wise advice, even on military matters; as a general he was both courageous and shrewd. The victory at Dorylaeum had been largely due to his strategy; and he presided over many of the army councils during the siege of Antioch. Politically he worked for a good understanding with the Christians of the East, both with Byzantium and with the Orthodox churches of Syria. He had been in Pope Urban’s confidence and knew his views. While he lived, the racial and religious intolerance of the Franks could be kept in check, and the selfish ambitions and quarrels of the princes restrained from doing irreparable harm to the Crusade. Though he had been careful never to attempt to dominate the movement, he was considered, as the priest Stephen reported to Christ in his vision, to be the leader of the Crusade. After his death there was no one that possessed any overriding authority. The Count of Toulouse, who had also long ago discussed Crusading policy with Pope Urban, inherited his views. But Raymond was not so able a man, and he could only argue with Bohemond as an equal, not as the spokesman of the Church. And none of the princes, in his absence, had sufficient breadth of outlook to see to the preservation of the unity of Christendom. Adhemar’s charity, his wisdom and his integrity were never questioned by his comrades, even by those whose ambitions he opposed. Bohemond’s followers mourned his loss as sincerely as did his own men from France; and Bohemond himself swore to carry his body to Jerusalem. The whole army was moved and disquieted by his death.

There was, however, one man that felt no sorrow. Peter Bartholomew had never forgiven the legate for showing disbelief in his visions. Two days later he took his revenge. He announced that he had been visited again by Saint Andrew who was on this occasion accompanied by Adhemar. Adhemar announced that, as punishment for his incredulity, he had spent the intervening hours since his death in hell, from which he had only been rescued by the prayers of his colleagues and especially of Bohemond, and by his gift of a few coins for the upkeep of the Lance. He was forgiven now, and asked that his body should remain in St Peter’s Cathedral at Antioch. Then Saint Andrew delivered himself of advice to Count Raymond. Antioch, he said, should be given to its present claimant, if he were proved to be a righteous man. A Patriarch of the Latin rite should be elected to decide on his righteousness. The Crusaders should repent of their sins and march on to Jerusalem, which was only at ten days’ distance; but the journey would take ten years if they did not return to godlier habits. That is to say, Peter Bartholomew and his friends among the Provencals considered that Bohemond should be allowed to have Antioch, so long as he undertook to help the Crusade further; that the army should set out soon for Jerusalem; and that there should be no truck with the Byzantines and the local Orthodox churches.

These revelations were embarrassing to Raymond. He honestly believed in the Holy Lance; and its possession by his troops gave him prestige. For though many might say that the battle against Kerbogha was won by Bohemond’s strategy, many others gave the credit of the victory to the relic, and so indirectly to Raymond. But Raymond’s other main source of authority sprang from his long association with Adhemar. If the divine messenger who had revealed the position of the Lance were now to question Adhemar’s judgement and to repudiate the policy which Raymond had inherited from him and which fitted with Raymond’s own views, one or other of Raymond’s props must be discarded. He temporized. While remaining loyal to his belief in the Lance, he indicated that he doubted whether Peter Bartholomew’s visions continued to be genuine. For, in spite of Saint Andrew’s words, he, and others with him, still maintained that Antioch should be given to the Emperor. He found himself in consequence in opposition to most of his troops.

Among the army in general the posthumous attack on Adhemar made a bad impression. Publicizing as it did the legate’s disbelief in the relic, it revived the doubt that many had originally felt. In particular, the Normans and the northern French, who had always disliked the Provencals, began to decry the relic and to use the scandal of the forgery to discredit Count Raymond and his plans. In defending Adhemar’s reputation they were thus enabled to work against the policy that he had advocated. We may assume that Bohemond enjoyed the situation.

The Question of Lattakieh

As the epidemic spread through Antioch, the leading Crusaders sought refuge in the country. Bohemond crossed the Amanus mountains into Cilicia, where he strengthened the garrisons left there by Tancred the previous autumn and received their homage. He intended that his principality of Antioch should include the Cilician province. Godfrey went northward, to the towns of Turbessel and Ravendel, which his brother Baldwin handed over to him. Godfrey was jealous of his brother’s success; and, as all the princes were seeking territory near Antioch, he wished to have his share. He probably undertook to return the towns to Baldwin, if the army marched on to Palestine. Raymond’s movements are uncertain; while Robert of Normandy went to Lattakieh.

Before the Turkish invasions Lattakieh had been the southern-most port of the Byzantine Empire. It had been taken by the Turks about the year 1084 but had later passed under the suzerainty of the Arab Emir of Shaizar. In the autumn of 1097 Guynemer of Boulogne descended upon the port and captured it. His garrison remained in possession over the winter; but in March the fleet commanded by Edgar Atheling, after unloading supplies for the Crusaders at St Symeon, sailed on to Lattakieh. Guynemer’s men were driven out and the town taken over in the name of the Emperor. But Edgar could only leave a small detachment to guard the town; so an appeal was made to the Crusading army to supplement the defence. Soon after the victory over Kerbogha Robert of Normandy came in answer to the appeal; and Lattakieh was handed over to him in trust for the Emperor. But Robert’s only idea of government was to extract as much money as possible from the governed. So unpopular was his rule that after a few weeks he was forced to retire from the town, which was now given a garrison by the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, Eustathius Philocales.

In September the epidemic abated, and the princes returned to Antioch. On the nth they met together to draft a letter to Pope Urban to give him the details of the capture of Antioch and to announce the death of his legate. Feeling the need of a supreme authority to overrule the quarrelling factions, they urged him to come in person to the East. Antioch, they pointed out, was a see founded by Saint Peter, and he as Saint Peter’s heir should be enthroned there; and he should visit the Holy City itself. They were ready to wait his arrival before marching on into Palestine. Bohemond’s name headed the list of princes; and the letter was probably written in his secretariat. The effect of Adhemar’s absence was shown by the implied rejection of the rights of the Patriarch John and by a note of hostility towards the native Christian sects, which were denounced as heretical. The Crusaders can hardly have expected that the Pope would be able to journey to the East; but the appeal enabled them to postpone once more the need to decide upon the fate of Antioch; while the Pope would no doubt send a legate who could be given the responsibility for the decision. It was clear by now that the Emperor would not penetrate into Syria this season. Possibly his retreat from Philomelium was already known.

Crusader Raids

Among the soldiers and pilgrims of the army conditions were very bad. Owing to the fighting no crops had been harvested in the plain of Antioch; and food was still short. Largely to secure supplies Raymond began to organize a raid into Moslem territory. Before he had decided upon his objective he was invited by Godfrey to come on a joint campaign to the town of Azaz, on the main road from Edessa and Turbessel to Antioch. The Emir of Azaz, Omar, was in revolt against his overlord, Ridwan of Aleppo, who was marching to punish him. One of Omar’s generals had captured and fallen in love with a Frankish lady, the widow of a Lorrainer knight; and it was on her suggestion that Omar appealed for help to Godfrey. Godfrey responded gladly; for it was inconvenient for him that Azaz should be in Ridwan’s hands. Raymond accepted Godfrey’s invitation though he insisted that Omar’s son should be handed over as a hostage; and Baldwin sent troops from Edessa. At the approach of the Christian army Ridwan retired from Azaz; and Omar was confirmed by Godfrey in its possession, and paid him homage. Raymond was able to collect provisions in the neighbourhood, but suffered heavy losses from Turkish ambushes on the return journey. The episode showed that not only were the Moslem princes prepared now to use Frankish help in their own quarrels, but that the Franks, modifying their militant faith, were prepared to accept Moslem vassals.

In October, in spite of Peter Bartholomew’s report that Saint Andrew had again demanded an early departure for Jerusalem, Raymond set out on another raid to secure provisions. He had already occupied Rugia on the Orontes, some thirty miles from Antioch. From there he attacked the town of Albara, a little to the south-east. The inhabitants, who were all Moslem, capitulated, but were either massacred or sold as slaves in Antioch; and the town was repeopled with Christians. The mosque was converted into a church. To the delight of his army Raymond then appointed one of his priests, Peter of Narbonne, to be its bishop. The appointment was only made because there was no Orthodox bishopric already established in the town. No one yet conceived of a schism between the Greek and Latin churches that would involve a duplication of bishoprics. The new bishop, Latin though he was, was consecrated by the Greek Patriarch, John of Antioch. But Peter of Narbonne’s elevation marked the beginning of a Latin church resident in the East, and encouraged those of the Crusaders who, like Peter Bartholomew, were now anxious to see the local Greek ecclesiastics replaced by Latins.

Attack on Maarat an-Numan

In the debates that followed Kerbogha’s defeat, the princes had vowed to start for Jerusalem in November. On 1 November they began to assemble at Antioch to discuss their plans. Raymond came from Albara, where he had left most of his troops. Godfrey rode in from Turbessel, bringing with him the heads of all the Turkish prisoners that he had made in a series of small raids in the district. The Count of Flanders and the Duke of Normandy were already at Antioch; and Bohemond, who had been ill in Cilicia, arrived two days later. On the 5th the princes and their advisers met together in the Cathedral of St Peter. It appeared at once that there was no agreement between them. Bohemond’s friends opened by claiming Antioch for him. The Emperor was not coming; and Bohemond was an able man and the Crusader of whom the enemy was most afraid. Raymond retorted by sharply reminding the assembly of the oath to the Emperor that all except himself had sworn. Godfrey and Robert of Flanders were known to favour Bohemond’s claim, but dared not speak up for it for fear of the accusation of perjury. The argument continued for several days. Meanwhile the soldiers and pilgrims waiting outside for a declaration grew impatient. Their one desire was to carry out their vows and to reach Jerusalem. They longed to leave Antioch where they had delayed so long and suffered so much. Spurred on by Peter Bartholomew and his visions, they presented an ultimatum to their chiefs. With an equal contempt for both Bohemond’s and Raymond’s ambitions, let those, they said, that wished to enjoy the revenues of Antioch do so, and let those that were eager for gifts from the Emperor await his coming; for themselves they would march on to Jerusalem; and if their leaders continued to haggle over the possession of Antioch they would raze its walls before they left. Faced with this and fearing that Raymond and Bohemond would soon resort to arms, the more moderate leaders suggested a more intimate discussion which only the chief princes would attend. There, after further angry scenes, a temporary arrangement was made. Raymond would agree to the decisions that the council might ultimately make about Antioch, so long as Bohemond swore to accompany the Crusade on to Jerusalem; while Bohemond took an oath before the bishops not to delay nor harm the Crusade to suit his personal ambitions. The question of Antioch was not settled; but Bohemond was confirmed in his possession of the citadel and three-quarters of the town, while Raymond remained in control of the fortified bridge and the palace of Yaghi-Siyan, which he placed under William Ermingar, The date for the departure for Jerusalem was still unfixed; but, to occupy the troops meanwhile, it was decided to attack the fortress of Maarat an-Numan, whose reduction was advisable to protect the army’s left flank when it should advance southward towards Palestine.

On 23 November Raymond and the Count of Flanders set out for Rugia and Albara and on the 27th they reached the walls of Maarat an-Numan. Their attempted assault on the town next morning was a failure; and when Bohemond and his troops arrived that afternoon and a second assault also failed, it was decided to conduct a regular siege. But, though the town was completely invested, for a fortnight no progress was made. The countryside had to be scoured for wood to make siege machines. Food was short; and detachments of the army would desert their posts in order to search for corn and for vegetables. At last on 11 December, after Peter Bartholomew had announced that success was imminent, a huge wooden castle on wheels, built by Raymond’s men and commanded by William of Montpelier, was pushed against one of the city towers. An attempt to scale the tower from it was repulsed; but protection given by the castle enabled the wall on one side of the tower to be mined. In the evening the wall collapsed and a number of humble soldiers forced their way into the town and began to pillage. Meanwhile Bohemond, jealous of Raymond’s success and eager to repeat his coup at Antioch, announced by a herald that if the town surrendered to him he would protect the lives of all the defenders that took refuge in a hall near to the main gate. During the night the fighting died down. Many of the citizens, seeing that the defences were pierced, fortified their houses and cisterns but offered to pay a tax if they were spared. Others fled to the hall that Bohemond had indicated. But when the battle reopened next morning no one was spared. The Crusaders poured into the town, massacring everyone that they met and forcing an entrance into the houses, which they looted and burnt. As for the refugees who relied on Bohemond’s protection, the men were slaughtered and the women and children sold as slaves.

During the siege Bohemond’s and Raymond’s troops had co-operated with difficulty. Now, when Bohemond by his treachery had secured the greater part of the loot though it was Raymond’s army that had taken the town, the enmity between the southern French and the Normans flared up again. Raymond claimed the town and wished to place it under the Bishop of Albara. But Bohemond would not evacuate his troops unless Raymond abandoned his area of Antioch and, as a counter-attack, he began openly to question the authenticity of visions reported by Peter Bartholomew.

Meanwhile disaffection increased in the whole army. Raymond’s troops in particular demanded the resumption of the march on Jerusalem. About Christmas Day representatives of the soldiers indicated to Raymond that if he would organize its departure the army would recognize him as leader of the whole Crusade. Raymond felt that he could not refuse, and a few days later he left Maarat an-Numan for Rugia, announcing that the expedition was about to leave for Palestine. Bohemond thereupon returned to Antioch; and Maarat an-Numan was put into the hands of the Bishop of Albara.

Raymond’s Army Sets out for Jerusalem

But even after his announcement Raymond delayed. He could not bring himself to leave for the south with Antioch in Bohemond’s hands. Bohemond, seeing, perhaps, that the more Raymond hesitated the more mutinous grew his troops, and knowing that the Emperor would not come down across Asia Minor during the winter months, suggested a postponement of the expedition till Easter. To bring matters to a head, Raymond summoned all the princes to meet him at Rugia. There he attempted to buy them to accept his leadership. The sums that he offered presumably corresponded to the strength that each now possessed. To Godfrey he proposed to give ten thousand sous and the same to Robert of Normandy, to Robert of Flanders six thousand, five thousand to Tancred and lesser sums to the lesser chiefs. Bohemond was offered nothing. He had hoped that he would thus be established as unquestioned head of the Crusade and could thus keep Bohemond in check. But his overtures were received very coldly.

While the princes conferred at Rugia, the army at Maarat an-Numan took direct action. It was suffering from starvation. All the supplies of the neighbourhood were exhausted; and cannibalism seemed the only solution. Even the Turks were impressed by its tenacity in such conditions, though, as the chronicler Raymond of Aguilers sadly remarks: ‘We knew of this too late to profit by it.’ The Bishop of Orange, who had some influence over the Provencals, died from these hardships. At last, despite the protests of the Bishop of Albara, the men determined to force Raymond to move by destroying the walls of Maarat an-Numan. At the news, Raymond hurried back to the town but realized that there could be no more postponement.

On 13 January 1099, Raymond and his troops marched out of Maarat an-Numan to continue the Crusade. The Count walked barefoot, as befitted the leader of a pilgrimage. To show that there would be no turning back the town was left in flames. With Raymond were all his vassals. The Bishop of Albara and Raymond Pilet, lord of Tel-Mannas, deserted their towns to travel with him. The garrison that he had kept at Antioch under William Ermingar could not hold out against Bohemond and hastened after him. Of his colleagues among the princes, Robert of Normandy at once set out to join him, accompanied by Tancred, whom Bohemond doubtless wished to watch over Norman-Italian interests in the Crusade. Godfrey of Lorraine and Robert of Flanders hesitated for nearly a month before public opinion forced them to follow. But Baldwin and Bohemond remained in the lands that they had captured.

Thus the quarrel between the two great princes seemed to have found a solution. Raymond was now unchallenged leader of the Crusade; but Bohemond was in possession of Antioch.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!