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A Note on the Author: These pages on Antioch were written by Thomas Joyce, a former student in Ellis Knox's class.

Foundation of the Principality

The Principality of Antioch was created with the fall of that city, in 1098, during the First Crusade. Bohemond of Taranto, who became Bohemond I of Antioch, was one of the leaders of the original Crusader expedition to the Holy Land. Greedy and acquisitive, he set his sights on this land in order to carve out a feudal domain for himself. By manipulating the fears of his fellow Crusaders in the face of an impending attack by Kerbogha, the atabeg of Mosul, Bohemond was able to secure their assent to his dominion of the city and surrounding territory. These less-than-flattering characteristics were to inform almost the entirety of Bohemond’s rule, whether directly or, indirectly, through his nephew and protégé Tancred.

Within two years of the founding of the principality, Bohemond I was captured by the Danishmend emir. Antioch was saved by the swift intervention of Baldwin I of Edessa, and Tancred exchanged his own lordship of Tiberias for the Antiochene regency. During Bohemond’s captivity a few of the ill-fated army of the Crusade of 1101 managed to reach Antioch, but were neither interested nor able to rescue him. He remained a prisoner for three years, during which time Tancred conquered Byzantine Cilicia (1101) and, finishing the project that Bohemond himself had initiated the year after the founding of the principality, Byzantine Lattakieh (1103). Fearing the growing power of his Norman neighbor, Baldwin of Bourcq, now Count Baldwin II of Edessa, ransomed Bohemond from the Danishmends. Upon his release Bohemond, in alliance with Edessa, attacked Aleppo, a powerful Muslim city just east of the outermost limits of Antioch. This battle proved a near disaster for the Syrian princes when both Baldwin of Bourcq and Joscelin of Courtenay, Bourcq’s most powerful vassal, were captured. Two further consequences of the defeat were that Tancred, who had not returned to Tiberias in the meantime, was named regent of Edessa, and the Byzantines were emboldened to recapture Cilicia and the harbor and lower town of Lattakieh. Enraged at what must have appeared to Bohemond to have been Greek duplicity (despite his vow a few years earlier to Alexius I to return to the empire any formerly Byzantine territory that he might capture), he named Tancred regent of Antioch and sailed for Europe with the intent of gaining support for an attack against the Greeks. In 1107 Bohemond arrived back in Outremer and unsuccessfully laid siege to the Byzantine city of Dyrrhachium, whereupon he returned to Italy to die in relative obscurity.

Rivalry with Edessa

Meanwhile Tancred, regent of both Antioch and neighboring Edessa, refused to relinquish the county upon the return in 1108 of Baldwin of Bourcq and Joscelin of Courtenay. Both sides allied themselves with neighboring Muslim powers against each other: Antioch with Aleppo and Edessa with Mosul. To the south, succession issues had developed in Tripoli between the nephew and the son of Raymond IV of Toulouse. In the face of the stronger claim of Bertrand, Raymond’s son, the nephew William-Jordan decided to recognize Tancred as his overlord, no doubt due to the military power and prowess of the Norman. The upshot of these events was that Baldwin I of Jerusalem (formerly Count Baldwin I of Edessa), in alliance with Bertrand, Baldwin of Bourcq and Joscelin of Courtenay, faced down Tancred and William-Jordan. Tancred was forced to return Edessa to Bourcq and after William-Jordan’s death the following year, Tripoli became a fief of Jerusalem. Baldwin I had succeeded in establishing the kingdom’s right to arbitrate internal matters throughout Outremer.

A Succession of Regents

During the remaining few years of his regency, Tancred was almost continuously in conflict with either his Muslim neighbors or the imperial forces. In 1110 and again in 1111, Mawdud, atabeg of Mosul, in alliance with Damascus, attacked Latin Syria. In 1111 Tancred recaptured eastern Cilicia and the city of Lattakieh, and then Jabala, Buluniyas and Marqab from the Muslims. Upon the death of Tancred in 1112, his relative Roger of the Principate was named regent for the still-young heir and namesake of Bohemond I. Direct rule of Antioch by Jerusalem attained in 1119 with the death of Roger at the battle of Ager Sanguinis and the subsequent naming of Baldwin II of Jerusalem (Baldwin of Bourcq/Baldwin II of Edessa) as regent in Roger’s stead. Baldwin II’s regency was to last, with the exception of his time in captivity from 1123 to 1124, until the arrival from Apulia of Bohemond II in 1126. The younger Bohemond was to carry on the policies of his father and cousin, dying just four years after his arrival while fighting in Cilicia, and bequeathing to the principality a two-year-old female heiress, Constance. Once again Antioch was ruled by a regency, initially by Baldwin II yet again. With the king’s death in 1131 his daughter Alice, widow of Bohemond II and mother of Constance, contrived, with the aide of both Tripoli and Edessa (both of which wished to abolish the overlordship of Jerusalem) to ascend to power. King Fulk, husband to Baldwin’s heiress Melesende, was obliged to march north to take control of the situation, claiming the regency for himself. In 1133 the king chose Raymond of Poitiers as groom for Constance, thus ensuring an Antiochene leadership more amenable to the interests of Jerusalem. The marriage between the 36-year-old Raymond and the 10-year-old Constance took place in 1136.

Prince Raymond

Immediately Raymond I became embroiled in that perennial Antiochene enterprise, Cilicia. The engagement lasted until 1137 when the emperor John II arrived with an army before the walls of Antioch. Though the basileus refrained from entering the city, his banner was raised atop the citadel and Raymond was compelled to do homage. In addition, Raymond agreed that if John could capture Aleppo, Shiazar and Homs, he would exchange Antioch for them. Wintering over in Cilicia, John, aided by Antioch and Edessa, attacked Aleppo. The attempt failed and when John moved on to Shiazar, the Franks withheld their support. Infuriated, John returned to Antioch ahead of his army and this time made a triumphal entry, only to be forced to leave when Joscelin II of Edessa roused the citizens to riot. In 1142 John returned but Raymond, motivated by the hostility of his barons to Byzantine suzerainty, refused to submit once again. Because the season was late John returned to Cilicia where, over the winter, he laid plans not only to firmly establish his sovereignty over Antioch but indeed over all of Palestine. Only his untimely death in Cilicia prevented the attempt.

Two years later, Nur ed-Din captured the easternmost portions of the neighboring county of Edessa, which had served as Antioch’s buffer zone to the northeast. Spurred by this event, the call for the Second Crusade went out in Europe. In both 1147 and 1148 Nur ed-Din attacked Antioch, succeeding during the second venture in occupying most of the principality’s territory east of the Orontes. The presence in Antioch of the indecisive forces of the Second Crusade caused Nur ed-Din to demur about pressing his advantage for the moment, but immediately the Europeans returned homeward he resumed his offensive. In the summer of 1149 Nur ed-Din attacked the Antiochene fortress of Inab. Raymond rallied to its defense but the limit of his fortune had been reached: he was killed in the battle.

Antioch on the Brink

The situation for Antioch seemed grim. Not only was Raymond dead and his heir still quite young, but Fulk of Jerusalem too had left behind a child son and widow and Joscelin II of Edessa was being held captive, where he would die some ten years later. The principality was officially ruled by Raymond’s widow, but real control was effectively in the hands of Aimery, Patriarch of Antioch. Baldwin III of Jerusalem came of age in 1152 but from 1150 he and the barons had proposed three different and respectable suitors for Constance’s hand, all of whom she rejected. At last in 1153 she chose a political nonentity, Reynald of Châtillon. The future actions of this upstart would prove to be the particular nexus between viability and demise for the Latin states. In the meantime, however, Reynald showed his true self by allying with the Armenian prince Thoros to attack Byzantine Cypress. Three weeks of rapine, slaughter and plunder were sufficient to anger the king and the emperor, who entered into negotiations with each other. The talks were concluded during the autumn of 1158. The terms included a Greek bride for the king and the requirement that Jerusalem would humble Reynald in exchange for Byzantine help against Nur ed-Din. Shortly after, Manual I and his army began their march. Reynald threw himself at the mercy of the emperor who insisted on the installation of a Greek patriarch and the surrender of the citadel in Antioch. The following spring Manual made a triumphal entry into the city and established himself as the unquestioned suzerain of Antioch. In 1160 Reynald was captured in battle and held for the next 16 years, with no Latin attempt at ransom, by the governor of Aleppo. The new regent, chosen by Baldwin III, was the patriarch Aimery. Manuel was able to further consolidate his claim to Antioch by choosing Maria of Antioch as his bride. But the government remained in crisis until, in 1163, the barons deposed Constance and installed her son Bohemond III, brother-in-law to the emperor.

A year later Nur ed-Din captured Bohemond III when he decisively defeated a joint Antiochene-Tripolitan army. Though the prince was soon released, Harenc, which Reynald of Châtillon had been able to recapture in 1158, was lost again, and the frontier of Antioch was permanently placed west of the Orontes. Byzantine influence over Antioch was patently evidenced when, in 1165, Bohemond married a niece of the emperor and installed a Greek patriarch in the city, who remained in his position until he died in an earthquake five years later.

Antioch and the Third Crusade

Saladin’s 1187 campaign in the Levant was shockingly swift, but as profoundly bleak as the Latin situation may have seemed after the Latin defeat at Hattin in June, Antioch, which had managed to hold the line at the Upper Orontes, had yet to breathe its last. On October 29, 1187, pope Gregory VIII issued Audita tremendi, his call for the Third Crusade. Frederick I, Richard I, and Philip II all answered the summons. Though Richard and Philip decided to take the sea route, Frederick lacked the necessary ships and chose the land route. After battling his way across Anatolia, upon reaching Christian territory in Lesser Armenia, the emperor drowned at the River Saleph. Most of his troops melted away immediately; the remainder marched to Antioch where, due to an epidemic there, many more died. The emperor was buried at Antioch and the Germans became an insignificant contingent during the crusade. Throughout the Third Crusade both Tripoli and Antioch remained neutral, though upon the conclusion of the crusade (1192) they were included in the treaty made between Richard and Saladin.

Dynastic Battles

Raymond III of Tripoli had died shortly after the Battle of Hattin and leaving behind no direct heir, he had named his godson, Raymond of Antioch, the eldest son of prince Bohemond III, as his successor. Bohemond, however, installed his younger son, the future prince Bohemond IV, as count of Tripoli. Shortly after the conclusion of the Third Crusade Raymond of Antioch was married (c. 1194) to Alice, a niece of Leo II of Lesser Armenia, a vassal to Antioch. To this union a son, Raymond Roupen, was born, after which Raymond of Antioch died. In 1194 Leo II tricked Bohemond III with the result that the Norman prince was captured by the Roupenians. Leo attempted to capture the city but was repulsed by the city commune. Henry of Champagne, who had been in the Levant since 1190 and who was nephew to both Richard I and Philip II, traveled to Lesser Armenia and persuaded Leo, in exchange for Antioch renouncing its overlordship to Lesser Armenia, to release Bohemond, who in 1201 died.

With the death of Bohemond III, a 15-years struggle between Tripoli and Lesser Armenia over control of Antioch ensued. According to the rules of primogeniture, Leo’s great nephew Raymond Roupen was the rightful heir of Antioch, and Leo’s position was supported by the higher nobility and the pope. On the other hand, the city commune of Antioch supported the claim of Count Bohemond of Tripoli on the grounds that he was the nearest relative of the last ruling prince, a principle which was becoming more and more important in the crusader states. In 1207 Bohemond installed a Greek patriarch in Antioch, forfeiting the support of the Latin clergy there, but Bohemond was able to rely on help from Aleppo which, under al-Zahir, drove Leo out of Antioch on several occasions. The citadel, however, had always remained under Bohemond’s control.

Antioch in the Early 13th Century

In 1213 Innocent III’s bull Quia maior called for a new (Fifth) crusade. News of this development caused al-Zahir to more closely support the sultan al-Adil, who himself supported Leo’s, that is to say Raymond Roupen’s, claims in Antioch. Around this time John of Brienne (John I of Jerusalem), regent for his daughter Queen Isabella II, married Leo’s daughter Stephanie, thus giving Leo the support of Jerusalem and further strengthening the Armenian position. In 1216 Leo finally managed to install Raymond Roupen as prince of Antioch, ending the military aspect of the struggle between Tripoli and Lesser Armenia, but the citizens revolted against Raymond Roupen in 1219 and Bohemond of Tripoli was at last recognized as the fourth prince of that name.

Bohemond IV and his son Bohemond V remained neutral in the Ghibelline struggles to the south which arose after Frederick II had married Isabella II. In 1233 Bohemond IV died. Antioch declined economically from this time forward and for almost 30 years disappeared from history. In 1254 the quarrel between Antioch and Lesser Armenia was at length put to rest with the marriage of Bohemond VI and Sibylla, daughter of Hethoum I of Lesser Armenia. By this time Lesser Armenia’s star was rising and in a reversal of the earlier relationship, Bohemond VI allowed himself to become a vassal of the Armenian kingdom. Effectively, then, the Armenian kings ruled Antioch while the prince of Antioch resided exclusively in Tripoli. The Armenians had concluded a treaty with the Mongols, who were ravaging Muslim lands, and under this protective umbrella had extended their lands northward into Seldjuk territory and to the southeast into the territory of Aleppo. Antioch became swept up in this Armenian-Mongol alliance. Bohemond managed to retake Lattakieh, reestablishing the land bridge between Antioch and Tripoli, while the Mongols, recognizing the importance of the Greek element in Antioch, insisted that he install a Greek patriarch there, an action which resulted in Bohemond’s excommunication.

Fall of Antioch

In 1259 the Mongols captured Damascus and in 1260, Aleppo. The Mameluk sultan Qutuz sought an alliance with the Franks against the Mongols but the Latins, though allowing free passage, declined the invitation. In September 1260, the Mameluks finally defeated the Mongols at the battle of Ain Jalud. Shortly thereafter the sultan was murdered and his general Baibars (1260-77) was named sultan. In 1263 Baibars sacked Nazareth, threatened Antioch, and appeared before the walls of Acre, ostensibly as an ally of the Genoese in the internecine struggles there. In January 1265 Baibars launched his great offensive against the Latins, first in the rump Jerusalem and one year later simultaneously on all fronts. By 1268 Baibars was before the walls of Antioch and when the walls there were breached, the citizens paid dearly in blood for their unwanted Mongol support.

At last the Norman principality of Antioch, despite its 400 Byzantine towers, was defeated, its violent death echoing its violent birth 170 years earlier. During its first 90 years Antioch was a vibrant entity whose rulers imitated their Mediterranean cousins in their animosity toward Byzantium and their embrace of diverse cultures. Up to the Battle of Hattin, the principality was a powerful military force which all surrounding states and territories had to reckon with. Once the Latin states were decimated by Saladin, however, the necessity of a strong Tripoli and Jerusalem to its survival became blindingly apparent. Without those southern bulwarks, Antioch alone could not withstand the onslaught of the resurgent Muslim forces. With the fall of the city, the remainder of northern Syria capitulated and the Latin presence in Syria was at an end forever.

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Copyright 1999, Ellis L. Knox This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.