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the First Crusade

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Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #165 on: March 02, 2009, 05:46:21 am »

Tancred was a son of Emma of Hauteville and Odo the Good Marquis. His maternal grandparents were Robert Guiscard and Guiscard's first wife Alberada of Buonalbergo. Emma was also a sister of Bohemund of Taranto.

In 1096, Tancred joined his maternal uncle Bohemund on the First Crusade, and the two made their way to Constantinople. There, he was pressured to swear an oath to Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, promising to give back any conquered land to the Byzantine Empire. Although the other leaders did not intend to keep their oaths, Tancred refused to swear the oath altogether.

He participated in the siege of Nicaea in 1097, but the city was taken by Alexius' army after secret negotiations with the Seljuk Turks. Because of this, Tancred was very distrustful of the Byzantines. Later in 1097, he captured Tarsus and other cities in Cilicia and assisted in the siege of Antioch in 1098.

In 1099, during the assault on Jerusalem, Tancred, along with Gaston IV of Béarn, claimed to be the first Crusader to enter the city on July 15. However, the first crusader to enter Jerusalem was Ludolf of Tournai, and he was followed by his brother Englebert. When the city fell, Tancred gave his banner to a group of the citizens who had fled to the roof of the Temple of Solomon. This should have assured their safety, but they were massacred, along with many others, during the sack of the city. The author of the Gesta Francorum (Deeds of the Franks) records that, when Tancred realised this, he was "greatly angered". When the Kingdom of Jerusalem was established, Tancred became Prince of Galilee.

In 1100, Tancred became regent of Antioch when Bohemund was taken prisoner by the Danishmends at the Battle of Melitene. He expanded the territory of the Latin principality by capturing land from the Byzantines, although, over the next decade, Alexius attempted, unsuccessfully, to bring him under Byzantine control. In 1104, he also took control of the County of Edessa when Baldwin II was taken captive after the Battle of Harran. After Baldwin's release in 1107, he had to fight Tancred to regain control of the county; Tancred was eventually defeated and returned to Antioch. After Harran, Bohemond returned to Europe to recruit more Crusaders, again leaving his nephew as regent in Antioch. Tancred's victory over Radwan of Aleppo at the Battle of Artah in 1105 allowed the Latin principality to recover some its territories east of the Orontes River.[1]

After fighting between Antioch and Shaizar in 1108, the Frankish and Muslim overlords exchanged gifts, according to Usamah ibn Munqidh. Tancred received the gift of a horse from the ruling family of Shaizar. The Christian leader admired the handsome youth who delivered the animal, a Kurd named Hasanun. Tancred promised him that, if he ever captured the young man, he would free him. Unfortunately, the regent of Antioch had a cruel streak. When the lad fell into his hands a year later, Tancred broke his promise, imprisoning and torturing him, and putting out his right eye.[2]

In 1108, Tancred refused to honour the Treaty of Devol, in which Bohemund swore an oath of fealty to Alexius, and, for decades afterwards, Antioch remained independent of the Byzantine Empire. In 1110, he brought Krak des Chevaliers under his control, which would later become an important castle in the County of Tripoli. Tancred remained regent in Antioch in the name of Bohemund II until his death in 1112 during a typhoid epidemic. He had married Cecile of France, but died childless.

The Gesta Tancredi is a biography of Tancred written in Latin by Ralph of Caen, a Norman who joined the First Crusade and served under Tancred and Bohemund. An English translation was published in 2005 by David S. Bachrach.

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