The Battle for Antioch (1097-98) according to Peter Tudebode
Peter Tudebode was a Poitevin priest who was part of the First Crusade, perhaps with forces of the count of Toulouse. He wrote his account, the Historia de Hieroslymitano Itinere, by at least 1111, which was after many of the other important accounts of the First Crusade were written. Tudebode offers some new insights into the First Crusade, including a description of the death of one of his brother's during the siege of Antioch. The following section begins with the Crusader army approaching the city of Antioch.
As we approached the Farfar entrance, our scouts in their customary reconnoitering found a large Turkish army of reinforcements for Antioch massed against us. Of one accord our men rushed upon them skillfully and overwhelmed their adversaries decisively. Thrown into panic, the barbarians fled in wild abandon and left many dead on the field of battle. Having overpowered them with God's help, our troops seized much loot, horses, camels, mules, and asses loaded with grain and wine. Shortly thereafter our main army moved up and encamped on the banks of the river, and soon the skilled Bohemond with four thousand knights took position before the gate of Antioch to prevent anyone who by chance might try a secret exit or entrance to the city.
On the following day, October 21, 1097, at midday the
crusaders arrived before Antioch and placed a strangle hold on three sides of
the city, since a tall and very steep mountain prevented a blockade from the
fourth side. The hostile Turks
within Antioch were so frightened that for almost fifteen days they did not
harass any of our men. Soon we were ensconced in the neighborhood, where we
found vineyards everywhere, pits filled with grain, apple trees heavy with fruit
for tasty eating, as well as many other healthy foods. Although they had wives
in Antioch, the Armenians and Syrians would leave the city under pretense of
flight and would come to our camp almost every day. They slyly investigated us,
our resources, and our strength and then reported on all that they had seen to
the accursed Antiochians. After the Turks had been briefed on our situation and
plans, they gradually slipped out of Antioch and harassed our pilgrims
everywhere and, not restricting themselves to one sector, they made guerrilla
attacks from sea to mountain.
In the vicinity of the enemy there was Harim, a
castle where many of the most daring Turks, I say not a few but many, often
gathered and made raids on our troops. Indeed
our leaders were grief stricken when they received reports that the Turks in
many areas mutilated and killed our pilgrims.
They dispatched some knights who carefully combed the place for Turks,
and after discovery of them our men pressed close and attacked. But gradually
they began to retreat to a place where they knew that Bohemond lay hidden with
his troops. Soon the Turks killed many of our knights; and thereafter when news
of such, reached Bohemond, that most courageous athlete of Christ charged out
and struck the pagans. However, the Turks, encouraged by our limited numbers,
engaged us in combat. The Christians killed many of the enemy and led the
captives before a gate of Antioch, where they decapitated them so as to bring
sorrow to the Antiochians.
At this time some of the besieged climbed a gate
above us and rained arrows into the camp of Bohemond. In the course of this action one woman lay dead from the
wound of a speedy arrow. Our leaders then assembled and arranged a council,
saying: “Let us build a castle on top of the mountain which rises above the
enemies of Bohemond, and thereby we can remain secure and safe without fear of
the Turks.” Upon completion and fortification of the fort, our leaders' took
turns guarding it.
Now before Christmas grain and all victuals became
very scarce. But we were afraid to stray far, and we found no food in Christian
lands, and no one had the courage, to forage in Saracen lands without a large
host. At length our leaders called a council with the purpose of determining the
way to set things right for the people. The
council in turn decided that one contingent should search diligently for
provisions as well as guard the army on all sides while the other group remained
to watch the enemy closely.
Then Bohemond first spoke and said: “Lords and most
wise, knights, if you favor it and the plan seems desirable and good, I shall go
along with the most able Count of Flanders.” So following a most glorious
celebration of Christmas, on Monday, the second day of the week, Bohemond and
the Count of Flanders, along with twenty thousand knights and three thousand
footmen, marched safely and untouched into Saracen territory.
In fact, many, Turks, Arabs, and Saracens from, Jerusalem, Damascus,
Aleppo, and innumerable other places had assembled en route to lift the siege of
Antioch. On news of the Christian
expedition into their land, the Turks at once made battle plans and at daybreak
approached our united army. Thereupon they broke into two ranks and attempted to
surround us from the vanguard and the rearguard.
Now the famous Count of Flanders, protected on all
sides by faith and the insignia of the Cross, which incidentally he faithfully
wore every day, accompanied by Bohemond, rushed against the Turkish mob. Our
troops, in close order, struck the enemy, who immediately took to heel and fled
hastily in panic, leaving many dead on the battlefield, as well as many horses
and great booty which fell into our hands. The survivors rapidly fled hence and,
as we think, to perdition. We then returned with great religious ceremony,
praising and glorifying the triune God, who lives and reigns now and forever.
In the meantime the Antiochian Turks, those enemies
of God and holy Christianity, after learning of the absence of Lord Bohemond and
the Count of Flanders, swarmed out of the town and contemptuously moved to
attack us. With their knowledge of the absence of some of our most experienced
knights, they probed the weakest spots in our siege forces and discovered on
Tuesday that they could strike and resist us. The accursed barbarians stealthily
approached and, striking viciously the unwary and foolish Christians, killed
many knights and footmen. On this
bitter day, the Bishop of the Cathedral of the Holy Mary of Le Puy lost his
seneschal, the carrier and protector of his banner. In fact, if the river had not flowed between us, the Turks
would have struck our men more often and would have inflicted greater damage
upon us, for to the camp our men fled in wild flight.
The sage Bohemond returned with his army from Saracen
lands and crossed over Tancred's mountain, thinking that by chance he might find
portable goods. The army had
scourged the land for provisions. Some warriors had been successful, but others
had returned without spoils, and so these unfortunate ones hastened to return to
camp. At this point Bohemond bellowed forth: “Oh! You unfortunate and most
miserable people, You vilest and saddest of all Christians; why turn tail so
hurriedly? Halt right now! Halt, I
say, until we unite our forces; do not stray as do sheep without a shepherd.
If the Turks, who watch and lie in ambush day and night in hope of
killing or capturing you, find you are isolated or alone, surely they, will now
kill you if you scatter in retreat.”
Following completion of this speech, the masses
considered the proposition pro and con, and Bohemond found himself almost alone;
yet with what he could find he returned to his army almost empty handed.
In the meantime the Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks learned that our
foraging forces had come back destitute. Consequently, after a council, they
traveled across mountains and well-known places. There they scoured the
countryside, buying grain and other foodstuff which they carried to camp where
great famine gripped the besiegers. They
sold an ass for eight hyperpoi, which is worth one hundred and twenty solidi in
denarii. Despite this market many cru–saders died because they did not have the
money for such inflated prices.
William Carpenter and Peter the Hermit, who were most
unhappy and miserable, plotted together and sneaked out of camp. Immediately,
Tancred followed their trail, seized them, and led the two back in great
disgrace. They gave a pledge under oath to return of their own accord and make
amends to all of the leaders. William, a despicable creature, lay all night in
Bohemond's tent. The next morning
at daybreak William came blushing in shame to Bohemond, who addressed him thus:
“Oh! You most miserable and infamous of all Franks. Oh!
You most shameful and wicked one in all the provinces of Gaul. Oh! You
vilest of all men whom the earth suffers; why did you flee so disgracefully?
Perhaps, by this vile act you wished to betray these knights and the army of
Christ as you surrendered others in Spain!”
William throughout all the tirade was silent and said
not a word. So in a body all of the Franks humbly petitioned that Christian
knight, Bohemond, that he desist from further punishment of the deserter.
Bohemond then replied: “Because of your brotherly love I shall freely agree to
your demands if William with all his heart and mind will swear that he will
never abandon the journey to the Holy Sepulchre in good or bad times, and,
furthermore, that Tancred will agree that neither he nor his friends shall harm
William at once agreed to these terms, and Bohemond
immediately dismissed him. But William was overwhelmed by his great humiliation
and soon furtively slipped away from the siege. Thus because of our sins God spread poverty and misery in our
ranks. There could not be found in all the crusading army one thousand knights
who had good battle steeds.
In the beginning of the crusade the emperor, Alexius,
had commissioned Taticius, along with rich and noble knights of his army, to
conduct the Franks safely and to recover in fidelity the lands seized by the
Turks. Now, when Taticius heard
that a Turkish army had struck our forces, he lamented the fact because he
thought that all had been killed or had fallen into the hands of the pagans. So
devising and fabricating all kinds of lies which he could bring together, he
spoke to the Latins as follows:
“Lords and most experienced men; you must see that
we are pressed by most dire circumstances and that no aid is forthcoming. Think
of this; let me return to Romania, and without a doubt I shall come back to you.
In fact, I shall see to it that many ships shall come by sea laden with
grain, wine, oil, meat, flour, cheese, and all other necessities. I shall
provide a market for horses and shall rapidly send merchandise through the lands
of the emperor. Understand I shall swear to the faithful execu–tion of these
promises and in this place my tent and, my house– hold shall remain, and no one
shall be skeptical but shall have complete confidence that I shall soon
return.” Our enemy de–parted,
leaving all his goods in camp and perjuring himself now and for eternity.
So after this we were in desperate straits because
the Turks put pressure on us everywhere, and no one had the nerve to leave the
encampment, so great was the fear of the enemy. They fettered and confined us on
one side and then the other so that we were very sad and distraught. Our leaders
were in great fear and the possibility of aid and succor was completely lacking.
So the little people along with the miserably poor fled either to Cyprus,
Romania, or the mountains. We did not dare go to the sea for fear of the evil
Turks, and no road was open to us.
When our leaders heard that a host of Turks was
approaching, they held a council and discussed the matter in such a manner:
“Let us face it. A great Turkish army is poised to attack us; what shall we
do? We are too weak to fight a two-front battle. But we can divide our forces
into two parts with one part composed of footmen to guard our tents closely and
to restrict the movement of the Antiochians. The other part formed of knights
shall forthwith ride out against our enemy, which is bivouacked nearby in the
castle Harim beyond the Orontes bridge.”
Late in the day they went from their tents across the
river and held a council which declared the following: “We shall go against
twenty-five thousand of our foes. Adhemar, Robert of Normandy, and Count Eustace
shall remain to guard our camp from the besieged Antiochians.”
At daybreak they sent from our troops scouts to view
the Turkish army and to determine where they were and to be sure what they were
doing. These patrols sneaked out and began to search and investigate carefully
the hidden location of their adversaries. They saw the scattered Turks coming
from part of the river in two groups with their maximum force in the rear. Rushing
back they yelled: “Here they come! Get ready! Get ready. The Turks are almost
Our troops spread out and each leader formed his own
battle order. Six lines were drawn up, five of which, with the Count of Flanders
in the lead, rushed against the Turks. In the meantime in the rear, Bohemond advanced slowly with
his men. Thus our soldiers took the offensive opportunely and closehanded
fighting ensued. The clash of arms
echoed to the very heavens and the shower of missiles darkened the elements.
Following these preliminaries, the main Turkish division, held in reserve
to the rear, launched a savage attack and forced us to retreat slowly.
Grieved by the sight of this retreat, Bohemond,
ordered his constable, Robert, son of Gerard, in a spirited command:–
“Remember the wisdom of antiquity, the bravery of your forebears, and, above
all, how they made war. Go forth, armed on all sides with the Cross, as the most
valorous Christian athletes and, as wise and experienced soldiers, strike the
enemy while carrying the banner of Bohemond.”
The other division, upon the sight of Bohemond's
banner being carried so staunchly before them, returned to battle and in a
united front struck their foes. The crusaders numbered seven hundred while the
Turks had twenty-five thousand. So,
the pagans, stunned by the turn of events, broke ranks and at once took to wild
flight, only to be pursued closely by the Christians, who overwhelmed and
destroyed them as far as the Orontes bridge. The Turks hurriedly returned to the
Harim camp, took all goods in sight, plundered and put to torch the castle, and
finally beat a hasty retreat. The Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks, on news of the
Turkish disaster, followed them and from ambush killed and captured many of the
fugitives. By God's approval on that day our foes were cast down.
The crusaders recovered an adequate number of horses
and other essentials. They also led back captives and carried one hundred heads
of the slain Turks before a gate at Antioch, where legates of the emir of
Babylon, who had been sent to the Count of Saint-Gilles and other lords, were
encamped. Meanwhile, the Christians
who had remained in camp battled daily with the Turks before three gates of
Antioch. The above battle was fought on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, February
the ninth, with the benediction of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father
and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for eternity. Amen.
With the help of God our soldiers returned
celebrating and cheering the victory over the vanquished Turks, who in abject
defeat fled willy-nilly, some into Corozan, and others into Saracen lands. Our
leaders and lords were aware that the Antiochians harassed and restricted us day
and night and that they watched and lay in ambush wherever they could injure or
pester us. Consequently the crusaders assembled and in council decided:
“Before we lose our army of God, let us build a castle at the mosque which
faces the Bridge Gate and there, perhaps; we can immobilize our foes.”
So they agreed unanimously in council that it was a good proposal.
The Count of Saint-Gilles spoke first and proposed:
“Aid me in building the castle, and I shall fortify and protect it.”
Bohemond then interjected: “If you wish and the
other lords are favorable, I shall go with you to Port Saint Simeon to escort
safely the workers there who will certainly build the castle.. Those who remain
shall be on the alert for defense if our, and God's enemies should sneak out of
Antioch. In the meantime the entire force shall assemble where we designate.”
Thus the plan was carried out.
Raymond of Saint-Gilles and Bohemond marched out to
Port Saint Simeon. We who remained came together according to instructions to
build the fortification. On sight of this activity; the Turks readied themselves
and marched out of Antioch in; battle array. Soon they swept upon us, routing
our forces and causing us great sorrow and pain. On the following day, the
Turks, now aware of the absence of the leaders from the siege and of the fact
that they had passed to the port, on orders from the high command, launched an
attack against the Christians coming from Saint Simeon. When they saw Raymond
and Bohemond approaching as an escort for the mechanics, the Turks immediately
began to hiss and chatter and to scream out in blood curdling cries and at the
same time to press in while showering our men with missiles and arrows and
wounding and cruelly slashing with their swords.
The Turkish attack was so overwhelming that our men
took to their heels over the nearest mountain or the. most convenient path; and
those who were swift of foot survived, but the laggards met death for the name
of Christ. More than one thousand
knights or footmen martyred on that day rose joyfully to heaven and, bearing the
stole of customary white-robed martyrdom, glorified and praised our triune God
in whom they happily triumphed; and they said in unison: “Our God! Why did you
not protect our blood which was shed today for your name?”
Following a different road, Bohemond with a few
knights gave his horse free rein and sped to the assembled group of beset
crusaders. Burning with anger over the death of our men, we invoked the name of
Jesus Christ and, being assured of the crusade to the Holy Sepulchre, moved as a
united front against our foes and joined in battle with one heart and mind. The
Turks, enemies of God and us, stood around stunned and paralyzed with fear
because they thought that they could overwhelm and slaughter us as they had done
the troops of Raymond and Bohemond.
But Omnipotent God permitted no such thing. Knights
of the true God, protected on all sides by the sign of the Cross, rushed pell‑mell
and courageously struck the Turks. In the ensuing rout the besieged scurried to
safety by way of the narrow bridge to Antioch. The survivors, who could not push
their way through the jam of people and horses, were snuffed out in everlasting
death, and their miserable souls returned to the devil and his legions.
We knocked them in the head and drove them into the river with our deadly
lances so that the waters of the swift Orontes seemed to flow crimson with
Turkish blood. If by chance one of them crawled up the bridge posts or struggled
to swim to land, he was wounded. All along the river banks we stood pushing and
drowning the pagans in the pull of the rapid stream.
The din of battle coupled with the screams of
Christians and Turks rang out to the elements, and the rain of missiles and
arrows darkened the sky and obscured the daylight. Strident voices within and
without Antioch added to the noise. Chris–tian women of Antioch came to
loopholes on the battlements, and in their accustomed way secretly applauded as
they watched the miserable plight of the Turks. Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks, willingly or unwillingly, by
daily orders of the tyranni–cal Turkish leaders, sped arrows against us.
Twelve Turkish emirs in line of duty met death in soul and body as well
as fifteen hundred of their most experienced and brave soldiers who were also
the core of Antioch's defense.
The survivors in Antioch did not have the esprit de
corps to shout and gibber by day and night as had been their custom. Only night
broke off the skirmishing of crusaders and their opponents and so ended the
fighting, the hurling of javelins; the thrusting of spears, and the shooting of
arrows. So by the strength of God and the Holy Sepulchre the Turks no longer
possessed their former spirit, either in words or deeds.
As a result of this day, we refitted ourselves very well in horses and
At daylight on the following day, the Turks of the
city sneaked out and gathered together all of the rotting bodies of the dead
which they could find along the river banks, with the exception of those hidden
in the river bed, and buried them at the mosque beyond the bridge, which was in
front of the city gate. They buried along with their comrades cloaks, gold
bezants, bows, arrows, and many other goods which we cannot name.
Our men immediately made preparations after receiving
news of the burial of their foes and hastened to the diabolical chapel, where
they duly ordered the corpses to be dug up, the tombs smashed, and the cadavers
to be pulled out of their graves. They then tossed all of the bodies into a pit
and carried the decapitated heads to their tents. Thus they had a perfect count
of the casualties with the exception of four horse loads of heads carried to the
lieutenants of the Emir of Cairo, who were encamped by the sea. The sight of
this action caused the Turks to be dejected and grief‑stricken almost to
death, and daily they did nothing but weep and wail.
On the third day following, happy and boastful we
came together to build the forenamed castle with stones drawn from the tombs of
the Turkish dead. Upon completion of the fort, we soon very skillfully put a
strangle‑hold on the besieged, whose inflated arrogance was brought to
nil. Each of our leaders strengthened the castle with a huge breastwork and
wall, and they built on it two towers at the site of the mosque. Safely we
rambled hither and thither to the port or to the mountain, praising and
glorifying pleasantly and joyfully in one harmonious voice our Lord God to Whom
is the honor and the glory throughout all eternity.
All of our leaders and princes entrusted the
protection of the castle to Raymond of Saint-Gilles because he had more knights
in his household and also more to give. He
guarded the fort with his troops and the following leaders: Gaston of Bearn with
his men; Viscount Peter of Castillon; Viscount Raymond of Turenne; William of
Montpellier; Gouffier of Lastours; Peter Raymond of Hautpoul; and William of
Sabran. These and many more along
with his following, were with the count.
Raymond of Saint-Gilles secured knights and retainers
through either wealth or compacts for the purpose of protecting the castle. One
day the Turks came to the fort and after surrounding it on all sides screamed,
shot volleys of arrows, and wounded and killed our defenders. Thus our camp was
pinned down by arrow fire, and had not reinforcements from the other army come,
great harm would have befallen them.
After this scene our
leaders planned and made a great mole with which they could bore through the
bridge. This done, from dawn on a certain day they battled above the bridge and
dragged forward the mole. Many Turks were killed and the bridge was penetrated.
At nightfall as our men lay asleep, the Turks of the city sneaked out, burned
the mole, and restored the bridge, much to the great. irritation of the
On another day the Turks led to the top of an
Antiochian wall a noble knight, Rainald Porchet, whom they had imprisoned in a
foul dungeon. They then told him
that he should inquire from the Christian pilgrims how much they would pay for
his ransom before he lost his head. From the heights of the wall Rainald
addressed the leaders: "My lords, it matters not if I die, and I pray you,
my brothers, that you pay no ransom for me. But be certain in the faith of
Christ and the Holy Sepulchre that God is with you and shall be forever. You
have slain all the leaders and the bravest men of Antioch; namely, twelve emirs
and fifteen thousand noblemen, and no one remains to give battle with you or to
defend the city."
The Turks asked what Rainald had said. The
interpreter replied: "Nothing good concerning you was said."
The emir, Yaghi Siyan, immediately ordered him to
descend from the wall and spoke to him through an interpreter: "Rainald, do
you wish to enjoy life honorably with us?"
Rainald replied: "How can I live honorably with
you without sinning?"
The emir answered: "Deny your God, whom you
worship and believe, and accept Mohammed and our other gods. If you do so we
shall give to you all that you desire such as gold, horses, mules, and many
other worldly goods which you wish, as well as wives and inheritances; and we
shall enrich you with great lands."
Rainald replied to the emir: "Give me time for
consideration;" and the emir gladly agreed. Rainald with clasped hands
knelt in prayer to the east; humbly he asked God that He come to his aid and
transport with dignity his soul to the bosom of Abraham.
When the emir saw
Rainald in prayer, he called his interpreter and said to him: "What was
The interpreter then said: "He completely denies
your god. He also refuses your worldly goods and your gods."
After hearing this report, the emir was extremely
irritated and ordered the immediate beheading of Rainald, and so the Turks with
great pleasure chopped off his head: Swiftly the angels, joyfully singing the
Psalms of David, bore his soul and lifted it before the sight of God for Whose
love he had undergone martyrdom.
Then the emir, in a towering rage because he could
not make Rainald turn apostate, at once ordered all the pilgrims in Antioch to
be brought before him with their hands bound bend their backs. When they had
come before him; he ordered them stripped stark naked, and as they stood in the
nude he commanded that they be bound with ropes in a circle. He then had chaff,
firewood, and hay piled around them, and finally as enemies of God he ordered
them put to the torch.
The Christians, those knights of Christ, shrieked and
screamed so that their voices resounded in heaven to God for whose love their
flesh and bones were cremated; and so they all entered martyrdom on this day
wearing in heaven their white stoles before the Lord, for Whom they had so
loyally suffered in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is the honor and
glory now and throughout eternity. Amen.
Now all the trails used by the Turks were blocked and
cut off with the exception of a part of the Orontes where a castle and a
monastery were located. If this
castle had been impregnable, no one would have had the courage to sally out of
the city gate. Consequently, our men met in council and unanimously said: “Let
us pick someone from our number who can hold the fort steadfastly and can
effectively block the enemy from the mountain, the plain, and the entrance and
exit to Antioch.” Many refused to
pitch camp there unless united action was taken.
Then Tancred first came forward and offered: “If I
have the assurance that it will be advantageous to me, I shall not only
zealously strengthen the castle with my troops, but I shall energetically deny
the way by which our enemies have so frequently worried us.”
Immediately the council pledged four hundred marks of
silver. Tancred then responded
forthwith, and alone with his most distinguished knights and followers moved out
and soon thereafter blocked the road and the path so that none of them, already
terrified by Tancred, dared to go outside the gate of Antioch for fodder, wood,
or other essential goods.
Tancred kept his position there at the castle along
with his men and began a tight hold on Antioch. On the same day a large number
of Armenians and Syrians came securely from the mountains packing provisions for
the assistance of the beleaguered Turks in Antioch. Tancred intercepted them and
at once seized the traders and all of their pack train, which carried grain,
wine, barley, oil, and like goods. Thus Tancred conducted affairs so vigorously
and fortunately that he had all paths blocked and cut off until Antioch was
All of the events which occurred before the capture
of Antioch I can neither name nor relate; consequently, I shall hereafter write
of a few. I suggest that there is no person in this area, be he clerk or layman,
who could in every respect either orally or in writing record the true events.
There was a Turkish emir, Firuz, who became very friendly with Bohemond.
Often through mutual messengers Bohemond suggested that Firuz admit him
to Antioch; and, in turn, the Norman offered him the Christian religion along
with great wealth from many possessions. Firuz, in accepting these provisions,
replied: “I pledge freely the delivery of three towers of which I am a
custodian, and I shall turn them over voluntarily at whatever hour he wishes.”
Bohemond, now sure of entrance into Antioch, and
delighted over his plan, came before the leaders with a calm expression and an
assured mind and confidently brought forth the happy proposal in these words:
“Men! Most experienced knights! You see how all of us, great and small, are
exposed to abject poverty and are dismally ignorant of the means by; which our
fortune may change for the better. If this plan seems advantageous and fair,
then let one from your ranks, chosen by you, set himself as leader; and if he
can acquire Antioch by any clever method, or by himself, or through the help of
others devise Antioch's fall, let us unanimously agree to give it him.”
All the leaders rejected and blocked the scheme and
said: “No one shall be given the city and all shall possess it equally. Since
we have toiled equally, we shall share equally its possessions.”
Following this reaction, a scowling Bohemond immediately turned heel on
Shortly thereafter all of our leaders received news
of an enemy army composed of Turks, Publicans, Agulani, Azymites, and many other
nations of people whom I can neither number nor identify. Forthwith our
commanders assembled and in council concluded: “If Bohemond can seize Antioch
either through himself or others, we shall of our own free will give it to him
on the condition that, if Alexius should come to our aid and should wish to
carry out all the conventions which he promised and pledged to us, we shall
return Antioch in accordance with justice. If Alexius does not do so, Bohemond
shall have eternal possession.”
Bohemond wasted no time and daily began to make
humble requests of his friend, Firuz, and to give assurances with abject
promises and saccharine words in the following manner: “It is now the proper
time to carry out our plan; therefore my friend, Firuz, help me.”
Firuz was pleased with Bohemond's message and said:
“I will aid in all commitments which I am obligated to carry out.”
On the next night Firuz sneaked his son to Bohemond to give him greater
assurance of his entrance to Antioch. Then he sent the following message:
“Have the heralds blow their trumpets and assemble the Frankish people so that
they may rush forth and pretend to ravage Saracen lands, and afterwards return
rapidly by the mountain on the left. I shall be on the lookout ready for these
troops, whom I shall conduct safely into the towers which I guard.”
Then Bohemond at once summoned a sergeant, Big Crown,
and instructed him as a herald to proclaim immediately his order to the Frankish
army to prepare for a march into Saracen lands. So it was done. Soon after this
Bohemond revealed his plans to Duke Godfrey, the Count of Flanders, the Count of
Saint-Gilles, and the Bishop of Le Puy and told them, “If God wills, on this
night Antioch will fall to us.” With the completion of instructions the
knights took to the plain and the footmen to the mountain, and all night they
maneuvered and marched until almost daybreak, when they came to the towers which
Bohemond immediately dismounted and addressed the
group: “Go in dare-devil spirit and great elan, and mount the ladder
into Antioch, which shall soon be in our hands if God so wills.”
They then went to a ladder, which was raised and lashed to the walls of
the city, and almost sixty of our men scaled the ladder and divided their forces
in the towers guarded by Firuz.
Firuz was soon frightened when he saw such a small
band of Christians and, apprehensive that he and our soldiers be captured by the
Turks, exclaimed, “Micho francos echome;” which means
“We have few Franks.” He
further inquired, “Where is Bohemond? Where is that invincible knight?”
In the meantime a southern Italian retainer clambered
down the ladder and rushing to Bohemond yelled: “Man! Why do you stand here,
wise man? Why did you come here? Behold, we already have three towers.”
Bohemond along with the rest of the crusaders then
jumped to action and en masse happily and joyously moved to the ladder. The
occupants of the towers upon seeing the reinforcements whooped: “God wills
it,” and we echoed the same. At
once the Christians amazingly began to mount and scale the ladder to the three
towers, and once on top rushed to other towers.
They swiftly dispatched all of the guards of the towers including the
brother of Firuz.
In the meantime the scaling ladder by chance broke
and thereby caused such great distress and dejection that we were soon stunned
and saddened. Though the ladder was smashed, there was a closed gate nearby to
our left which was unknown to some of us because of darkness; but by feeling
around and closely searching where it was hidden, we rushed to it, crashed down
the gate, and poured into Antioch. At once innumerable shouts broke the silence.
The ever active Bohemond commanded that his honorable banner be unfurled on the
hill opposite the citadel, for indeed Antioch was now filled with the wailing of
At sunup the crusaders who were outside Antioch in
their tents, upon hearing piercing shrieks arising from the city, raced out and
saw the banner of Bohemond flying high on the hill. Thereupon they rushed forth
and each one speedily came to his assigned gate and entered Antioch, killing
Turks and Saracens whom they found, with the exception of the fugitives who took
refuge in the citadel. Some Turkish knights fled by way of the middle gates and
saved their lives by flight. Yaghi Siyan, commander of Antioch, in great fear of
the Franks, took to heel along with many of his retainers.
In his flight Yaghi Siyan and his fellows entered the territory of
Tancred, which was nearby Antioch. Because
of their worn‑out horses, they went into a village and took refuge in a
house. Recognizing Yaghi Siyan, the Armenian and Syrian inhabitants of the
mountain seized and beheaded him on the spot and carried his head to Bohemond,
for which act they received their freedom. In addition, they sold his sword belt
and scabbard for sixty bezants. These
events took place on Thursday, June 3rd. All
of the streets of Antioch were choked with corpses so that the stench of rotting
bodies was unendurable, and no one could walk the streets without tripping over
In the past, Yaghi Siyan had often sent a messenger
to Kerbogha, military chief of the Persian sultan, while he was still in Corozan,
urging Kerbogha to come at the most opportune time because a very brave and
formidable Frankish army had Antioch in a vise. Yaghi Siyan went on to promise
his immediate surrender of Antioch to Kerbogha or great wealth if help was
forthcoming. Kerbogha began his long journey from Corozan to Antioch soon
thereafter, because he had already enlisted a large army over a long period of
time, and he had also received permission from the caliph, pope of the Moslems,
to kill Christians. The emir of
Jerusalem with his army, as well as the king of Damascus with a large
contingent, joined forces with him. Kerbogha
also brought together from all parts innumerable masses of pagans; namely,
Turks, Arabs, Saracens, Publicans, Azymites, Kurds, Persians, Agulani, and many
other people whom I cannot name or number.
There were three thousand Agulani who feared neither lances, arrows, nor
arms because they and their horses were wearing iron armor, and they fought only
This horde came to the siege of Antioch intent on
scattering the Frankish invaders. As they approached Antioch, Shams ad Daulah,
son of Yaghi Siyan, intercepted them and, rushing into the presence of Kerbogha,
tearfully begged him in these words: “Oh! Most invincible prince, I humbly pray to you and seek your
judgment with faithful submissiveness as to the extent you will aid. You can see
that the Franks have blocked me on all sides in the citadel of Antioch. They now
hold the city, and they demand us to clear out of Romania, Syria, yes, even
Corozan. They have achieved all that they wished, once they killed my father,
and nothing else remains to them unless they kill me, you, and all yours, and
all of our race with the sword. For a long time I have often faithfully awaited
your arrival, and I am uncertain if you will help me in this peril.”
Kerbogha, in reply, promised: “If you desire my
wholehearted cooperation with you and my loyal help in this peril, then turn
over the citadel to me, and you shall see how I shall come to your aid; and I
shall place my men to guard the citadel.”
Then Shams ad Daulah replied to Kerbogha: “If you
can kill all of the Franks and chop their heads off and carefully bring them to
me, I shall truly give you the before-mentioned citadel; and, finally, I shall
pay homage to you and protect the citadel in fealty.”
Kerbogha demanded: “It is impossible for you to sit
around and think and cogitate. You must surrender the citadel to me at once.”
So reluctantly Shams ad Daulah turned over the citadel to the atabeg of
On the third day after we had entered Antioch, the
vanguard of our foes made its appearance before the city.
Kerbogha's main army had encamped at the Orontes bridge. There they
besieged a tower and massacred all of the defenders with the exception of the
captain, whom we later found bound in chains after the great battle. On the next
day the pagan horde broke camp and moved near Antioch, where it pitched tents
between the two streams and remained there for two days.
then includes a fictional account where Kerborga goes to speak with his mother,
where she informs him that the Christians are destined to be victorious.
On the third day of the siege Kerbogha made battle
preparations, and a large army of Turks accompanied him to the citadel sector.
Under the impression that we could match their might, we took up battle
positions; but their strength was so awesome that we could not oppose them, and
so in disarray we re-entered Antioch. Because of the narrow and cramped gate,
many of our fugitives were crushed to death in the jam.
All through this Thursday within and without the
walls of Antioch, the Christians fought even until sundown.
Likewise, on Friday they battled all day, and the Turks slew many of our
men. On this day, Arvedus Tudebodus,
a most worthy knight, was wounded. His friends carried him into the city, where
he lived until Saturday. On this day between nones and sext he left this world,
living now in Christ. His brother, a priest, buried him before the western
portal of the church of the blessed Apostle Peter. This brother along with the
Christians in Antioch greatly feared death by decapitation.
We pray that all readers and listeners give alms and pray for the soul of
Arvedus Tudebodus and for all of the departed souls on the journey to Jerusalem.
On this day William Grandmesnil, his brother Alberic,
Ivo of Grandmesnil, William of Bernella, Guido Trosellus and William, brother of
Richard, and Lambert the Pauper, overwhelmed by fear after yesterday's battle,
which had lasted until vespers, secretly lowered themselves from the walls, and
in the dark of night fled on foot to the coast. In the course of their flight
they stripped the flesh of their hands and feet to the bone.
Others, whose names I do not know, secretly fled with them. Upon their
arrival at the port of Saint Simeon where ships were docked, they inquired from
the sailors: “Why do you wretches stay here? All of our friends are dead, and
we almost lost our lives because the Turkish army has besieged Antioch on all
The sailors, upon receipt of this news, stood
dumfounded and overwhelmed with fear and therewith rushed to their ships and
sailed away. At this time the Turks arrived upon the scene and killed the
Christians whom they found, put to torch the ships anchored in the mouth of the
river, and seized their goods. We
who remained in the city could not equal the power and arms of the Turks, and so
we built between the citadel and us a wall which we guarded day and night. In
the meantime we were so hungry that we ate horses and asses.
Besides we lived in such mortal terror of the Turks that many of our
leading men wished to flee by night as had the deserters.
then deals with the visions Peter Bartholomew and another priest named Stephen
have concerning the Holy Lance, before resuming with the Muslim siege.
The Turks in the commanding citadel pressed our
troops so vigorously that they surrounded three of our knights on a certain day
in a tower which stood before their fort. The pagans rushed out of the citadel
and struck the Christians so hard that they could not resist their courageous
charge. Two of the wounded crusaders abandoned the tower, but the third one
defended himself all day so cleverly from the Turkish attacks that on that
occasion he knocked down two Turks at the entrance of the walls with broken
spears. In the course of the day
three spears broke in his hands. The knight was Hugh le Forsenet of the army of
Godfrey of Monte Scaglioso.
Bohemond and Tancred could not induce their men to
storm the citadel because they were shut up in houses and reluctant to fight,
some because of hunger and some because of fear of the Turks. Bohemond, greatly
angered by this inaction, at once ordered the quarters of Yaghi Siyan put to the
torch. The crusaders, on viewing the mounting flames fanned by a brisk wind,
abandoned the houses and fled with booty, some toward the mountain before the
citadel, others to the gate of Raymond of Saint-Gilles, and yet others to the
gate of Duke Godfrey, and thus each returned to his unit. In the course of the
fire Bohemond was greatly distressed because he feared that the churches of
Saint Peter and Saint Mary would burn because the conflagration blazed from the
third hour until midnight and burned two thousand churches and homes.
In the middle of the night the wind calmed and the fire smouldered out.
The Turkish force of the citadel fought day and night with us within
Antioch, and nothing separated us but force of arms. At one time four emirs,
completely clad in gold armor, came out with the Turks, leading horses likewise
encased in gold armor to the knee joints. Our men, who were so hard pressed that
they had no time to eat bread or to drink water, were so impressed by this sight
that they could endure it no longer. So
they erected a wall between them and the mountain and built a fortress-like
castle and machines of war so that they could be secure.
Another group of Turks was encamped around Antioch in
a valley apart from the others. At nightfall fire from the heavens appeared from
the west and fell in among the Turkish troops, astonishing both Turks and
Christians. At daybreak the Turks,
terrified by the celestial fire, fled hither and thither. However, they
surrounded us in Antioch so completely that no one dared enter or leave except
stealthily by night. Thus we were besieged and oppressed by the other pagans,
enemies of God and Blessed Christianity. They numbered three hundred and
sixty‑five thousand with the exception of the Emir of Jerusalem, who was
there with his soldiers, and the King of Damascus, along with his people, as
well as the King of Aleppo with his men.
Consequently, the profane enemies of God held us so
closely surrounded in Antioch that many of our people starved to death because
of high prices. A small loaf of bread cost a bezant of gold, and of the price of
wine I shall not speak; there was not even a jug of it. One hen sold for fifteen
solidi, an egg cost two solidi, a nut brought one denarius, three or four beans
were worth one denarius, and a small goat cost sixty solidi. The belly of one
goat was worth two solidi; the tail of a ram varied in price from three to nine
denari. The tongue of a camel, which is small, brought four solidi.
The crusaders likewise ate and sold meat of horses and asses. They cooked
leaves of figs, vines, and trees in water and then ate them. Some put the hides
of horses, asses, camels, oxen, and wild buffalo, dried for five or six years,
into water for two nights and a day; and after mingling them with the water,
boiled and ate them. There were many anxieties and hardships suffered in the
name of Christ and for the journey of freeing the Holy Sepulchre; in fact, far
more than I can recount. As servants of God we suffered such tribulations as
well as starvation and fear for twenty-six days.
The shameless Stephen of Blois, head of our army,
whom our chieftains had elected their leader before the fall of Antioch, under
the pretense of an illness basely retired to another camp called Alexandretta.
Deprived of life-saving help while be–sieged in Antioch, we daily
expected him to assist us to the best of his ability. Yet, following news of the
Turkish encirclement and blockade of us, Stephen sneaked up a nearby mountain,
gazed upon countless tents of the foe, and as a result retired.
Suddenly he was terror stricken and disgracefully fled in wild flight
with his army. Upon arrival in his camp, he shipped it, of goods and cowardly
returned in haste. Afterwards he came to Alexius at Philomelium, approached him
in secret and in private related: “You may as well know the truth. Antioch has
fallen, but the citadel has not, and all of our men are so griev–ously beset
that I think that at this moment they have been killed by the Turks.
Retreat as rapidly as you can lest they find you and your following.”
Then the frightened Basileus summoned Guy, the
brother of Bohemond, and others and asked: “Lords, what shall we do? Think
about it. All of our soldiers are caught in a severe siege and perhaps in this
very hour are dead at Turkish hands or have been led into captivity, at least so
this unhappy count and shameful fugitive relates. If you wish, let us retrace
our course rapidly rather than die swiftly as have our allies.”
When that most
worthy knight, Guy, heard such lies, along with everyone he began to cry, to
shriek, and to beat his breast violently. Then all of one accord the Christians
implored: “Oh! True and triune God, why did you permit this to happen? Why did
you so soon abandon your journey and the freeing of the Holy Sepulchre? Surely
if the word which this base one reported to us is true, then we and all
Christians shall desert you; neither shall we call you to mind in the future nor
even one of us will dare to invoke Your name.”
This report of events cast such a gloomy pall over the army that no one,
that is, archbishop, bishop, abbot, priest, clerk, or any of the laity had the
nerve to invoke the name of Jesus Christ for many days.
No one could console Guy who cried, beat his breast,
wrung his hands, and wailed: "Poor me! Such has happened to Bohemond, the
honor and glory of all of the world, the one whom the universe feared and loved.
Alas! Such sadness for me. I
am denied the sight of your most honest face, a sight which I coveted above all.
Would I could die for you, my sweetest friend and lord? Why was I not stillborn?
Why did fate bring me to this sorrowful day? Why didn't I die in the sea? Why
did I not meet sudden death by falling from a horse and breaking my neck? I wish
that I could have received happy martyrdom and could have viewed your most
Following this outburst, all rushed to him to give
comfort so that he would put an end to his laments. Finally Guy, composed
himself and said: “Perhaps you believe this old disgraceful knight, Stephen.
Listen, I have never heard of any of his military exploits. But he has fled
basely and disgracefully just as an evil and wretched man. Whatever the wretch
says, you will know that it is a lie.”
In the meantime Alexius gave the following commands
to his troops: “Go and lead all of the people of this land into Bulgaria and
carry booty and scorch the earth so that the Turks will find nothing upon their
arrival.” Reluctantly, our people retraced their steps, sorrowing and mourning
bitterly even to death. Many pilgrims weakened by disease could not keep pace
with the troops and lay dying along the way, while all of the; others returned
During this time, we who were in Antioch had heard
the report of Peter Bartholomew, which told how the Apostle Saint Andrew came
and showed him the Lance of Jesus Christ and its hiding place. Then Peter came
to Raymond of Saint-Gilles and told him to go to the church of Saint Peter where
the Lance was hidden. Following this news Raymond joyfully came to the church,
and there Peter showed him the place before the door of the choir to the right
side. There from morning to evening twelve men dug a deep hole and Peter found
the Lance of Jesus Christ, just as Saint Andrew had disclosed, on the
fourteenth, day, of incoming June. They accepted it with great joy; and singing Te
Deum laudamus they bore it happily to the altar. Thus great euphoria seized
the city. Upon report of this discovery the Frankish army came to Saint Peter's
Church to see the Lance. Likewise Greeks, Armenians, and Syrians came singing in
high pitch Kyrie eleison and saying: "Kalo Francia fundari Christo exsi."
After these events all the crusaders assembled in a
council to decide how to wage battle with the Turks. But first all approved the idea of sending a courier to
Kerbogha and God's enemies, the Turks, who would question them as follows:
"Why do you enter Christian lands?" So they sent Peter the Hermit and
Herluin, an interpreter and instructed them: “Go to the accursed Turks and
wisely converse with them and ask them why they boldly and haughtily entered our
Christian lands?” Continue to ask: “Do you know that many of our people
wonder why you have come here? We believe, perhaps, that you have come to accept
Christianity and that you believe in the one true Lord, born of the Virgin Mary,
in whom we believe. If, indeed, you come without this in mind, our leaders, both
great and small, beg you to depart hastily from the land of God and the
Christians in which the Blessed Apostle Peter a long time ago preached the
Gospel and recalled it to the Christian religion, and afterward was elected
first bishop. If you follow their
requests, the leaders will permit you to depart with all of your possessions;
that is, horses, mules, asses, camels, and sheep; and further, they will allow
you to take cattle and all other equipment you wish to go from the land.”
Then Kerbogha, commander of the army of the Persian
sultan, with all of his emirs was filled with arrogant pride, and replied in an
insolent manner: “Indeed, we neither, desire nor want your God or your
Christianity, and we completely: reject you and all of your beliefs. Do you
think that we came this far in order to marvel why nobility, great and small,
whom you might call to mind, should claim this land, which we with courage
snatched from an effeminate people? Now do you wish to hear our reply?
Return as rapidly as you can and tell your leaders that if all your
forces wish to become Turks and to renounce your God with bowed neck, we shall
give them this land and much more; namely, cities, castles, wives, and very
great inheritances so that henceforth no one shall remain a footman, but all
shall be knights just as we are; and we shall always cherish them in dearest
friendship. If they refuse to do, so, let them know that all shall be killed or
led in chains into everlasting captivity in Corozan to serve us and our
descendants for eternity.”
Our messengers quickly returned to the Christians
and, reported all this and how the very cruel people replied to them. In the
interim our army, demoralized by fear, was undecided on a course of action. In
fact they were on the horns of a dilemma; caught on one side by cruel hunger and
on the other paralyzed by fear of the Turks. Nevertheless, the Christians
carried out instructions just as the Lord Jesus Christ had commanded them
through the priest, Stephen, with three days of fasting: and by confessing their
sins, by processions from one church to another, by absolution, and by
faithfully receiving communion of the body and blood of Christ.
They also gave alms to the poor and celebrated masses.
Then they drew up six lines inside Antioch. In the
first rank was Hugh the Great with the Franks and the Count of Flanders; in the
second was Duke Godfrey and his army. The Norman Robert and his men were in the
third group. In the fourth was Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy, carrying with him the
Lance of our Saviour Jesus Christ, along with his troops and the Provencal army.
Raymond of Saint-Gilles remained behind in Antioch to guard the mountain
because of fear that the defenders of the citadel would attack the city. In the
fifth was Tancred, son of the marquis, with his troops, accompanied by Gaston of
Bearn with his soldiers and those of the Count of Poitou.
In the sixth, was Bohemond and his crusaders.
Our bishops, priests, clerks, and monks, clad in
sacerdotal garments, marched out of Antioch with the army, carrying crosses in
their hands, praying and begging God that He save them and guard and deliver
them from all peril and evil. Others stood on the wall by the gate of Antioch,
holding sacred crosses in their hands, making the sign of the Cross, and
blessing the army. Thus arrayed in battle formation and protected by the sign of
the Cross, the crusaders began to march out of Antioch by the gate which is
before La Mahomerie.
When Kerbogha saw the Frankish army leave Antioch,
one formation following another in well-executed maneuvers, he commanded:
“Permit them to come out of Antioch so that we can have a better chance of
capturing the main force.” The
footmen of Hugh the Great and the Count of Flanders first marched out, and then
each rank followed in its order. Following the emergence of the Christian army
from the city, Kerbogha became very apprehensive when he saw the great size of
the Frankish forces. Consequently, he instructed the emir who was commander of
the field operation that if he saw a signal fire rise in the front ranks that he
should immediately sound retreat and withdraw Turkish forces, because he would
know that they had lost the day. Kerbogha at once little by little began to
retire toward the mountain, only to be followed by our army in like moves.
Then the Turks split their forces; one marched toward
the sea while the other kept its position. By this move they hoped to trap our
army between the two units. Upon observing the Turkish move, our forces formed a
seventh line from the troops of Duke Godfrey and the Count of Normandy and made
Count Rainardus commander of it. This unit moved against the Turkish contingents coming from
the sea. The Turks then engaged them in battle and inflicted heavy casualties
with arrows. Our other group drew up ranks between the river and the mountain, a
distance of two miles. The second Turkish force began to advance from their
position and to surround our men and to wound them by hurling missiles and
In addition, a vast army riding white horses and
flying white banners rode from the mountains. Our forces were, very, bewildered
by the sight of this army until they realized that it was Christ's aid, just as
the priest, Stephen, had predicted. The leaders of this heavenly host were Saint
George, the Blessed Demetrius, and the Blessed Theodore.
Now this report is credible because many Christians saw it. The Turkish
division flanking the sea became aware of their inability to endure more and
kindled a grass fire so that the view of it would precipitate the flight of
those in camp. At the sight of the signal fire, the Turks seized and fled with
all of their prized possessions and booty.
Our soldiers gradually fought their way to the
Turkish tents where the greatest resistance lay. Duke Godfrey, the Count of
Flanders, and Hugh the Great rode along the banks of the river, where the
Turkish strength was concentrated. Protected by the sign of the Cross, this
force was the first to launch a coordinated assault on Kerbogha's troops. After
observing this attack, our other line struck the enemy. The Turks and other
pagans then yelled out; and our men, appealing to the One and True God, spurred
their mounts against the foe. Thus in the name of Jesus Christ and the Holy
Sepulchre they engaged in battle, and with God's help the Christians overwhelmed
The shocked Turks took to flight closely pursued by
our men as far as their tents. Our knights of Christ, more zealous to pursue
than search for plunder, chased them as far as the Orontes bridge and at length
to Tancred's castle. The Turks
abandoned their tents in addition to gold, silver, many trappings, sheep,
cattle, horses, mules, camels, grain, wine, flour, and an abundance of other
goods necessary to our welfare. The
Armenian and Syrian inhabitants of the area, after news of our conquest of the
Turks, circled around the mountain to cut them off and killed as many as they
could catch! We returned, to
Antioch joyously, lauding and blessing God, Who bestowed victory upon His
people. The emir, custodian of the
citadel, was greatly angered and at the same time frightened when he saw
Kerbogha and all of the pagan host abandoning the battlefield before the
Frankish army, and in haste he began to seek a Frankish banner. The Count of
Saint-Gilles, who stood guard before the citadel, gave orders for his banner to
be carried to the emir, who forthwith accepted it gladly, and carefully flew it
from the highest tower! Later he
sought the banner of Bohemond, who gave it to him after the battle. So the emir
received Bohemond's banner with great delight and pleasure. In addition, he made
a pact with Bohe–mond by which those who wished to be Christians could, join
the Norman's forces, and those who wished to go into Corozan could travel there
safe and sound. Bohemond accepted, the emir's demands and immediately posted his
men in the citadel.
translation comes from, Peter Tudebode: Historia de Hierosolymitano Itinere
(Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974). The American
Philosophical Society has given us permission to republish this section.