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Tancred

TancredBorn: c. 1075
Died: 12-Dec-1112
Location of death: Antioch
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Church of St. Peter Cemetery, Antioch, Turkey

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Military

Executive summary: Leader of the First Crusade

Tancred, nephew of Bohemund and a grandson of Robert Guiscard on the female side, was the son of a certain Marchisus, in whom some have seen a marquis, and some an Arab (Makrizi). He took the Cross with Bohemund in 1096, and marched with him to Constantinople. Here he refused to take an oath to Alexius. escaping across the Bosphorus in the disguise of a peasant; but after the capture of Nicaea he consented to follow the example of the other princes, and became the man of Alexius. At Heraclea, in the center of Asia Minor, he left the main body of the Crusaders, and struck into Cilicia, closely followed by Baldwin of Lorraine. He may have been intending, in this expedition, to prepare a basis for Bohemund's eastern principality; in any case, he made himself master of Tarsus, and when he was evicted from it by the superior forces of Baldwin, he pushed further onwards, and took the towns of Adana and Mamistra. He joined the main army before Antioch, and took a great part in the siege. When, in the spring of 1098, two castles were erected by the crusaders, it was Tancred who undertook the defense of the more exposed castle, which lay by St. George's Gate, on the west of the city. In the beginning of 1099 he was serving in the ranks of Raymund's army, whether to observe his movements in the interests of Bohemund, or only (as is more probable) to be in the front of the fighting and the march to Jerusalem. But he soon left the count, like so many of the other pilgrims; and he joined himself to Godfrey of Lorraine in the final march. In June 1099 he helped Baldwin de Burg (his future rival) in the capture of Bethlehem; and he played his part in the siege of Jerusalem, gaining much booty when the city was captured, and falling into a passion because the security he had given to the fugitives on the roof of Solomon's temple was not observed by the crusaders. After the capture of Jerusalem he went to Naplous, and began to found a principality of his own. He took part in the battle of Ascalon in August; and after it he was invested by Godfrey with Tiberias and the principality of Galilee, to the north of Naplous. In 1100 he attempted, without success, to prevent Baldwin of Lorraine (his old enemy in Cilicia) from acquiring the throne of Jerusalem, possibly having ambitions himself, and in any case fearing the foundation of a strong non-Norman power in Palestine. Failing in this attempt, and being urgently summoned from the North to succeed Bohemund (now a prisoner with Danishmend) in the government of Antioch, he surrendered his smaller possessions to Baldwin, on condition that they should be restored if he returned in a year and three months, and finally left the kingdom of Jerusalem. He acted as regent in Antioch from 1100 to 1103, when Bohemund regained his liberty. During these years he succeeded in regaining the Cilician towns for Antioch (1101), and in recapturing Laodicea (1103); he imprisoned Raymund of Toulouse, and only gave him his liberty on stringent conditions; and he caused the restoration of the deposed patriarch of Jerusalem, Dagobert, if only for a brief season, by refusing to aid Baldwin I on any other terms. When Bohemund was set free, Tancred had to surrender Antioch to him; but he soon found fresh work for his busy hands. In 1104 he joined with Bohemund and Baldwin de Burg (now count of Edessa in succession to Baldwin of Lorraine) in an expedition against Harran, in which they were heavily defeated, and Baldwin was taken prisoner. Tancred, however, profited doubly by the defeat. He took over the government of Edessa in Baldwin's place; and in 1105 Bohemund surrendered to him the government of Antioch, while he himself went to Europe to seek reinforcements. Ruler of the two northern principalities, Tancred carried on vigorous hostilities against his Muslim neighbours, especially Ridwan of Aleppo; and in 1106 he succeeded in capturing Apamea. In 1107, while Bohemund was beginning his last expedition against Alexius, he wrested the whole of Cilicia from the Greeks; and he steadfastly refused, after Bohemund's humiliating treaty at Durazzo in 1108, to agree to any of its stipulations with regard to Antioch and Cilicia. To the hostility of the Muslims and the Greeks, Tancred also added that of his own fellow Latins. When Baldwin de Burg regained his liberty in 1108, it was only with difficulty that he was induced to restore Edessa to him, and the two continued unfriendly for some time; while in 1109 he also interfered in the civil war in Tripoli between the nephew and the eldest son of Raymund of Toulouse. But it was against the emirs of Northern Syria that his arms were chiefly directed; and he became the hammer of the Turks, restlessly attacking the emirs on every side, but especially in Aleppo, and exacting tribute from them all. He died in 1112, leaving the government to his brother-in-law, Roger de Principatu, until such time as Bohemund II should come to his inheritance.



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