Post-classical history



‘Nay; but we will have a king over us. I SAMUEL VIII, 19

As he lay ill Godfrey of Lorraine had made a will in which, faithful to his promise at Easter, he bequeathed the city of Jerusalem to the Patriarch. When he died there was no one of any authority left in Jerusalem, except for Warner of Gray. The Patriarch and the leading knights were all away on the campaign against Acre. Warner himself was a dying man, but he saw what must be done. Rising from his sick-bed he at once occupied the Tower of David and manned it with Godfrey’s personal guard. Then, after consulting with the officers of Godfrey’s household, Matthew the Seneschal and Godfrey the Chamberlain, and with Robert, Bishop of Ramleh, and the ex-Patriarch Arnulf, he sent the Bishop of Ramleh with two knights post-haste to Edessa, to tell Baldwin of his brother’s death and to summon him to take over the heritage; for they would only obey one of his kin. The move had been planned beforehand; for the invitation to Baldwin ran in the names also of knights at present with the army, such as Geldemar Carpenel and Wicher the Aleman. The group consisted of Lorrainers and northern French, who had come to the Crusade with Godfrey or who had attached themselves to him, and who were bitterly opposed to the Normans and the Italians, under whose influence Godfrey had fallen. But their secret was well kept; and they thought it wise still to keep it. News of the Duke’s death was not sent to the army.

But while the Venetian ships were still close to Jaffa waiting for the north wind to drop, a messenger came through to them from Jerusalem to tell them that Godfrey was dead. Their commander, wondering how this would affect the campaign, at once dispatched his three swiftest galleys up the coast to overtake Tancred and the Patriarch and ask what their plans would now be. The news came as a shock to the army, by whom Godfrey was well liked. Daimbert seems to have hesitated. He was anxious about his inheritance. But he had confidence in Godfrey’s will, and he believed the Lorrainers to be leaderless. When Tancred, who was determined not to waste this opportunity of Venetian aid, suggested that the attack on Acre might be postponed but that Haifa at least should be taken, he concurred. But he sent an envoy to Jerusalem to take over the Tower of David in his name.

The army moved on to Haifa and encamped on the slopes of Mount Carmel; and soon afterwards the Venetian squadron sailed into the bay. Haifa was inhabited mostly by Jews, with a small Egyptian garrison. The Jews, remembering how their colonies in Jerusalem and Galilee had fared, were ready to defend themselves to the end. The Moslems provided them with arms; and they fought with all the tenacity of their race. The Venetians after losing a ship in a battle in the harbour moved out discouraged into the bay; while Tancred, furious on learning suddenly that Godfrey had promised Haifa to Geldemar Carpenel, called off his men and retired to sulk in his tent. Daimbert needed all his tact to persuade him to resume the attack. He pointed out that the Venetians were already preparing to sail away, and he promised to see to it that the best man should be given Haifa. When Tancred agreed to co-operate once more, a fresh assault was launched. After a desperate struggle the chief tower in the defences was stormed and an entrance was forced. Those of the Moslems and Jews that could escape from the town fled to Acre or to Caesarea; but the majority were massacred.

Daimbert’s Appeal to Bohemond

Haifa fell on about 25 July. Immediately afterwards the leaders of the army held a conference to decide to whom it should be allotted. Tancred had the larger forces and Daimbert’s support. Geldemar Carpenel could do nothing against him and was driven out of the town. He retired, accompanied by the Lorrainers in the army, and made his way to the south of Palestine, where he established himself in Hebron; whose former lord, Gerard of Avesnes, was probably still at Haifa with Tancred. Next, Daimbert and Tancred came together to discuss the greater question, the future of the government of Jerusalem. Daimbert had by now heard from Jerusalem. His envoy had found Warner of Gray in possession of the Tower of David, which he refused to hand over to the Patriarch’s representatives; and he learnt that Baldwin had been summoned south. Warner himself died on 23 July, worn out by his last exertions; but though the Patriarch’s friends saw in his death the hand of God, punishing him for his impiety, it did them no good; for the tower was safely in the possession of the Lorrainers. Daimbert could not hope to realize his claims un-aided. Tancred’s alliance was essential; for his principality now stretched from the east of the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean, cutting off Jerusalem from the north. Tancred, for his part, had loathed Baldwin ever since their quarrels in Cilicia, three years before. With Tancred’s full approval, Daimbert decided that the government of Palestine should be offered to Bohemond. His own secretary, Morellus, was ordered to set off at once for Antioch with a letter for the prince.

Daimbert did not intend Bohemond to hold any illusions about the nature of his future sovereignty. He opened his letter by recalling that Bohemond had helped to elect him to the Patriarchate of the see which he described, with a superb disregard of the claims of Rome, as the mother of all Churches and the mistress of the nations. He next told of the concessions that he had extracted from Godfrey and complained of the attempts of the Duke’s entourage to prevent them. He repeated the terms of the endowment made on Easter Day and emphasized that by it Jerusalem should have passed to him on Godfrey’s death. But Warner of Gray had wrongfully seized the Tower of David and had offered the inheritance to Baldwin. Daimbert therefore summoned Bohemond to come to his assistance, just as Bohemond’s father had come to the assistance of Pope Gregory VII when the German emperors oppressed him — a memory that was not so propitious for the Church as Daimbert seems to have thought. Bohemond was to write to Baldwin to forbid him to come to Palestine without the permission of the Patriarch; and if Baldwin disobeyed then Bohemond must use force to restrain him. That is to say, in order that the Patriarch might rule over Palestine in defiance of the wishes of the knights on whom the defence of the country rested, the Christian Prince of Antioch was to declare war on the Christian Count of Edessa.

What answer Bohemond would have given to the letter cannot be known. It is unlikely that he would have been rash enough to risk a conflict with Baldwin; nor, had he come to Palestine, would he have long remained subservient to the Patriarch. But the invitation never reached him. Daimbert’s luck was out.

Raymond Visits Constantinople

During the last few months there had been changes in the situation in northern Syria. Raymond of Toulouse had spent the winter months at Lattakieh, governing it in condominium with the representatives of the Emperor. He was on excellent terms with the governor of Cyprus, from whom he could receive supplies. Some time in the spring he received a letter from Alexius, thanking him for his help and asking him to hand over Lattakieh to the Byzantine authorities. An invitation to visit the imperial court was included. It is probable that the letter was conveyed from Constantinople by the eunuch Eustathius, recently elevated to be admiral of the imperial fleet, who came out with a strong squadron and at once set about the recapture of the ports of western Cilicia, Seleucia and Corycus, and then extended his power over Bohemond’s Cilician territory further east, occupying Tarsus, Adana and Mamistra. Raymond accepted the invitation and sailed for Constantinople at the beginning of June. At Cyprus he met the Venetian squadron that was on its way to Jaffa, and he arrived at the imperial capital about the end of the month. His countess, Elvira of Aragon, who had stayed by his side throughout all his travels, remained at Lattakieh, under the protection of the Byzantine authorities, together with what was left of the armies of Toulouse and Provence.

Daimbert’s secretary Morellus arrived at Lattakieh at the end of July on his way to Antioch. The authorities detained him to examine his papers and discovered the letter to Bohemond. Raymond’s men, to whom it was sent for translation, were so shocked by it that they suppressed it and arrested Morellus.

Had Bohemond received the letter, his whole future would have been happier. At the beginning of August, still ignorant of events in Palestine, he marched from Antioch up the Euphrates, in answer to an appeal from the Armenians of Melitene. In the early summer he had been able to consolidate his south-eastern frontier beyond the Orontes, defeating a counter-attack from Ridwan of Aleppo, who was driven to ask for help from the Emir of Homs. Relations between Homs and Aleppo were too uncertain to cause Bohemond any alarm, even though the Moslems were able to recapture Tel-Mannas, which had been left without an adequate garrison when Raymond Pilet had left it to travel south with the Count of Toulouse. Bohemond felt able to extend his dominions towards the north. Owing to lack of sea-power he had not been able to prevent the Byzantine reconquest of Cilicia; but he was anxious to control the passes of the Anti-Taurus, through which any Byzantine expedition against Antioch itself would probably travel. In consequence, when Gabriel of Melitene, in expectation of an attack from Malik Ghazi Gumushtekin, the Danishmend Emir of Sebastea, begged for his help, Bohemond gladly responded. For three summers the Danishmend Emir had raided Gabriel’s territory; and it was feared now that he would march on the town itself. After the experience of his son-in-law Thoros of Edessa, Gabriel was unwilling to appeal to Baldwin, although he was nearer at hand. But Bohemond showed consideration towards the Armenians. Amongst his friends were the Armenian bishop of Antioch, Cyprian, and Gregory, Bishop of Marash. Using their mediation Gabriel offered to yield his city to Bohemond, if only the Turkish menace could be ended.

Bohemond Taken Prisoner

Before he left Antioch to answer the appeal, Bohemond took an action which marked once for all his breach with the Greeks and which in its consequences caused the first irreparable schism between the Greek and Latin Churches. John IV, who had been reinstalled as Patriarch of Antioch by Adhemar, had hitherto continued in his office. But he was a Greek; and Bohemond suspected him of Byzantine sympathies and of encouraging the Orthodox of his Patriarchate to hope for deliverance by the Emperor. Bohemond now expelled him from the city, and appointed in his place a Latin, Bernard of Valence, who had been a chaplain of Adhemar’s and whom Bohemond had recently made Bishop of Artah, taking him to Jerusalem for his consecration. Later Latins, such as William of Tyre, anxious to establish the legality of the Latin line of Patriarchs of Antioch, declared that John had already resigned his see; but in fact John only resigned after he reached Constantinople, to make way for a Greek successor. He settled in a monastery at Oxia, where he wrote a treatise denouncing Latin usages, in which he spoke bitterly of Latin oppression; and his rights were taken over by the Patriarch elected by his exiled clergy. Thus two rival lines of Patriarchs, Greek and Latin, were instituted; and neither would yield to the other. In Antioch, thanks to Bohemond, the schism between the Churches was now made definite; and the Emperor added to his ambition to restore Antioch to his Empire the determination to replace the rightful line on the Patriarchal throne.

Having thus eliminated the main possible source of treason in Antioch, Bohemond set out for Melitene. Not liking to leave his capital insufficiently garrisoned, he only took with him his cousin, Richard of Salerno, and three hundred knights, with a complement of infantry. The Armenian bishops of Antioch and Marash accompanied him; and some of his knights may have been Armenian. Confident that with even so small a force he could conquer the Turks, he marched carelessly up into the hills that separated Melitene from the valley of the Aksu. There the Danishmend Emir was waiting in ambush, and suddenly fell on him. The Franks were taken by surprise and surrounded. After a short and bitter contest their army was annihilated. The Armenian bishops were slain; and along with Richard of Salerno, Bohemond, so long the terror of the infidel, was dragged off into an ignominious captivity.

It was Baldwin that saved northern Syria for Christendom. When he saw that he was captured, Bohemond cut off a mesh of his yellow hair and entrusted it to a soldier who managed to slip through the encircling Turks and hurried to Edessa. There, showing the hair to prove his authenticity, he gave Baldwin Bohemond’s message. Bohemond begged to be rescued before the Turks would have time to carry him away into the depths of Anatolia. But Baldwin was more concerned with the safety of the Frankish states than with the person of his old friend and rival. He set out at once with a small force that contained only one hundred and forty knights; but his scouting was excellent; and rumour preceded him greatly increasing the size of his army. Malik Ghazi Gumushtekin had on the morrow of his victory marched up to the walls of Melitene to display to the garrison the heads of his Frankish and Armenian victims. But when he heard of Baldwin’s approach he thought it best to retire with his booty and his captives into his own territory. Baldwin followed him into the mountains; but he feared to advance far into the country where he could easily be ambushed, nor did he trust the local inhabitants. After three days he returned to Melitene. Bohemond and Richard of Salerno travelled on laden with chains to a long imprisonment in the bleak castle of Niksar (Neocaesarea) away in the mountains of Pontus.

Gabriel of Melitene welcomed Baldwin as his deliverer and hastened to place himself beneath his suzerainty. In return Baldwin left him fifty knights to see to the defence of the town. Thanks to them Gabriel was able to repel a Danishmend attack a few months later, when news had reached the Turks that Baldwin had left the north.

Baldwins Journey to Jerusalem

It was only on his return to Edessa after this campaign, about the end of August, that Baldwin received the envoys from Jerusalem who had come to tell him of his brother’s death. He spent the month of September in making arrangements for his journey and for the government of Edessa. His cousin Baldwin of Le Bourg was at Antioch, where he seems to have acted as Bohemond’s deputy and perhaps as a liaison between the two great leaders. He was summoned to Edessa, where Baldwin invested him with the county, under his suzerainty. On 2 October, Baldwin started out with his household and a bodyguard of two hundred knights and seven hundred infantrymen for Jerusalem, grieving a little, so his chaplain Fulcher tells us, for the death of his brother, but rejoicing more at his inheritance.

Daimbert’s hopes that Bohemond might stop him were in vain. Bohemond was lost in captivity; and the Franks of Antioch were delighted to welcome the man whose intervention had saved them from the consequences of the disaster. From Antioch, where he remained for three days, he sent his wife and her ladies to travel by sea to Jaffa; for he feared to meet with trouble on his journey. At Lattakieh, where he was well received by the authorities and spent two nights, many other soldiers came to join him. But their enthusiasm was short-lived; for it was soon learnt that the Turks of Damascus were determined to destroy him as he marched down the coast. By the time that he reached Jabala his force had dwindled to a hundred and sixty knights and five hundred infantrymen. Forced marches brought him safely to Tripoli. The new Emir of Tripoli, Fakhr al-Mulk, was on the worst possible terms with Duqaq of Damascus, who was trying to encroach on to the Lebanese littoral. He therefore took pleasure in supplying Baldwin not only with all the foodstuffs that he needed but also with information about Duqaq’s movements and plans.

As the coast road from Tripoli approaches Beirut, at the passage of the Nahr el-Kelb, the Dog River, it runs along a narrow ledge between the mountains and the sea. The pass was famed from the days of antiquity; and every conqueror that forced it, from Pharaoh Rameses onwards, celebrated his victory by an inscription on the face of the cliff. Here the Damascenes were waiting for Baldwin. Warned by the Emir of Tripoli, he advanced very cautiously, to find himself faced by Duqaq’s whole army, together with the army of the Emir of Homs, while an Arab squadron from Beirut lay off the shore, ready to cut his retreat. His attempt to cross the river against such superior forces was a failure; and he was grateful when night fell and enabled him to retire. The Emir of Homs urged the Damascenes to attack him in the darkness; but Duqaq’s generals preferred to wait for the dawn, when the Moslem fleet could work with them. Through the night they contented themselves with pouring arrows into the Frankish lines. ‘How I wished I was back at home at Chartres or Orleans’, wrote Fulcher when he described the battle, ‘and others felt the same.’ But Baldwin was not discouraged. Early next morning he feigned a further retreat; but he took care to place all his best-armed men in the rear. The Damascenes followed on in eager pursuit; but where the road narrows again, beyond Juniye, some five miles to the north, Baldwin suddenly turned and flung the full weight of his armour against his pursuers. They were taken by surprise and fell back upon the troops crowding behind them. Soon all was confusion on the narrow road; and Baldwin pressed home his attacks. The Arab ships were not able to come in close to the shore to help their allies, amongst whom panic now spread. By nightfall the whole Moslem army had fled into the mountains or behind the walls of Beirut. Baldwin encamped for the night at Juniye; and next morning, laden with booty, his army crossed the Dog River without opposition.

King Baldwin

Thenceforward his journey was uninterrupted by the Moslems. He passed safely by Beirut and Sidon; and at Tyre the Egyptian governor willingly sent him supplies. On the last day of October he reached the Christian port of Haifa. Haifa belonged to Tancred; but Tancred was in Jerusalem where he was aiding Daimbert in a vain attempt to gain possession of the Tower of David from the Lorrainers before Baldwin should arrive. In his absence the Franks of Haifa offered to open their gates to Baldwin; but he was suspicious and preferred to camp outside the walls. When his troops had rested there for several days, he continued down the coast to Jaffa. On the news of his approach Tancred hastened to Jaffa to try to hold the town against him; but its citizens drove him out. Baldwin entered Jaffa amid the enthusiasm of the populace; but he did not delay there. On 9 November he marched up into the hills and entered Jerusalem.

As he drew near to the city the inhabitants came out to welcome him with tremendous manifestations of joy. Not only all the Franks but Greeks, Syrians and Armenians were in the throng which met him outside the walls and conveyed him in honour to the Holy Sepulchre. His enemies were scattered. Daimbert retired from the Patriarchal palace to a monastery on Mount Sion, where he spent his time in prayer and pious exercises. Tancred moved northward to his lands in Galilee. The anarchy which had lasted in Palestine since Godfrey’s death was ended. On St Martin’s Day, Sunday, 11 November, with general approval and rejoicing, Baldwin assumed the title of King of Jerusalem.

Baldwin was too wise to be vindictive. Daimbert’s enemies, such as the ex-Patriarch Arnulf, had hoped to see his immediate disgrace. But Baldwin took no action against him. He left him in the full possession of his rights while he went off himself on a campaign against the Arabs; and Daimbert came to realize that he would do well to accept his defeat and make the best of it. When Baldwin returned to Jerusalem in mid-December, Daimbert was ready to make peace with him. His hopes of establishing an active theocracy were ended; but he might still retain his nominal suzerainty and still wield a great influence on the kingdom. Baldwin, who had not lost sight of Daimbert’s command of Pisan assistance, gladly forgave him and confirmed him in his see. Tancred was more truculent. Baldwin summoned him to Jerusalem to answer for his disobedience to Godfrey’s known wishes over the disposal of Haifa. Twice Tancred disobeyed the summons, before he agreed at last to meet Baldwin on the banks of the little river Auja, between Jaffa and Arsuf. But when the time came he would not appear but asked for an interview at Haifa instead. An easier solution was found. The Franks of Antioch were leaderless since Bohemond’s captivity and Baldwin of Le Bourg’s departure to govern Edessa. They suggested that Tancred should come to them as regent in his uncle’s place. To Tancred the suggestion offered a fresh and wider field, where Baldwin would not overshadow him; while Baldwin was happy to be rid with so little trouble of a vassal whom he distrusted and disliked. The interview at Haifa took place early in March 1101, in an atmosphere of cordiality. Tancred handed back his fief of Galilee to Baldwin and departed with his good wishes to Antioch.

Already on Christmas Day, 1100, in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem, Baldwin had paid homage to the Patriarch Daimbert and had been crowned by him as King.

Thus, more than four years after the princes of western Europe had left their homes for the Crusade, the kingdom of Jerusalem was founded. Of all the great leaders it was Baldwin, the penniless younger son of the Count of Boulogne, that had triumphed. One by one his rivals had been eliminated. Many of them had returned to the West, Robert of Normandy, Robert of Flanders, Hugh of Vermandois and Stephen of Blois. His own brother Eustace of Boulogne, who might have hoped for Godfrey’s heritage, had preferred his lands by the English Channel. Of his chief competitors in the East, Bohemond lay helpless in his Turkish prison, and Raymond, landless still, was away in Constantinople as the client of the Emperor. But Baldwin had bided his time and had snatched at his opportunities. Of them all he had proved himself the ablest, the most patient and the most far-sighted. He had won his reward; and the future was to show that he deserved it. His coronation was a glorious one and a hopeful ending to the story of the First Crusade.

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