The Principality of Antiochia is the second of the Christian states founded by the Crusaders during the 1st Crusade in the territory of modern Syria and Turkey. The state was founded in 1098 after the conquest of Antioch by Bohemond I of Antioch.
While Baldwin I of Jerusalem and Tancred of Taranto stayed in Cilicia and Mesopotamia, where Baldwin founded the county of Edessa, the rest of the Crusaders continued their offensive to the south and on October 21, 1097, under the leadership of Bohemond I, and besieged Antioch. The city, whose thick walls were securely fortified by four hundred towers, was truly impregnable, and the siege lasted throughout the winter of 1098.
Warriors, as wrote in a letter to Adélie’s wife Stephen Blois, “throughout the winter suffered for our Lord Christ from the unreasonable frost and terrible downpours”. Then illnesses and hunger came to the camps of the Crusaders. The situation of the Christians was so desperate that according to witnesses, the chroniclers, they were forced to put their own horses on the meat. There are records that sometimes it came down to cannibalism and starving warriors ate the bodies of their deceased companion.
In the end, Bohemond found a way out. He rebuked the warrior from the garrison of Antioch, a former Christian named Firuz, open the city gate and on June 3, 1098, 8 months after the siege, the Crusaders entered Antioch. For several days the bloody massacre continued in the city, and four days later a Muslim army arrived under the leadership of the Mosul atabaq Kerbogi to the walls of Antioch and in turn besieged the city. The Emperor of Byzantium Alexios I Komnenos was going to help the Crusaders first, but when he heard that the Muslims had besieged the city, he turned the troops back.
The attack of Muslims was repulsed only thanks to a miracle. After the prediction of the Marseillian monk Pierre Barthelemy in the church of St. Peter was found a spear, which allegedly was perforated the edge of the crucified Jesus, the Crusaders, exhausted in the long months of inconclusive siege, embraced such zeal that they managed to turn Kerbog to flight and kill a significant part of his army. Then began the debate about who will get the right to rule the city, and in the end the prince of Antioch was Bohemond of Tarent.
Prince Bohemond in 1101 was captured by the Seljuk emir of Sivas, Danishmend Gazi and held captive for two years. At this time, the principality was ruled by his nephew Tancred. He significantly expanded the boundaries of the principality, taking advantage of disagreements among Muslims and seizing the Byzantine cities of Latakia and Tarsus.
Bohemond returned from captivity in 1103, but two years later, after the defeat at Harran, he left for Italy to recruit a new army, and again appointed Tancred the regent of Antioch. Returning with new forces to the East, Bohemond attacked Byzantium in 1107, but was defeated and was forced to conclude with the Byzantine Emperor the humiliating Devolsky Treaty, according to which he recognized himself as a vassal of Byzantium, and after his death the principality was to to depart to the emperor. Soon Bohemond again went to Italy, leaving the principality of Tankred in charge, where he died in 1111.
After Bohemond’s death, the Byzantine Empire demanded that the terms of the treaty be met, but Tancred of Taranto, with the support of Count Tripoli and the King of Jerusalem, refused.
After his death in 1112, the principality was inherited by Bohemond II, the son of Bohemond of Tarent and Constance, the daughter of the French King Philip I. Since the young prince was at that time just three years old, the regent of Antioch was appointed a relative of Tankred, Roger of Salerno, in 1113 successfully repelled the Seljuks attack. Roger was killed in 1119.
The regency was given to Baldwin II. In 1126, at the age of eighteen, Boehmund II married the daughter of the King of Jerusalem, Alice de Burke. He ruled Antioch for a short four years, and after his death the principality was inherited by his four-year-old daughter Constance. For some time, the regent of Antioch was again Baldwin II, but in 1131 he passed away and power passed to his daughter Melisande and her husband. In 1136, the heiress of Antioch Constance, at the age of ten, was married to Raimund de Poitiers.
Byzantine Dominance and Fall
During the 2nd Crusade, shortly after the fall of Edessa (1144), Antioch was attacked by the Atabek army of Aleppo Nur al-Din Mahmud, as a result of which the eastern territories of the principality were lost. After the death of Raymond de Poitiers in 1149, in the battle of Inab, the regent of the principality for a time, while the widowed Constance did not marry Raynald of Châtillon in 1153. In 1158, Raynald concluded with the Emperor Manuel I a peace agreement, according to which Antioch became a vassal territory of Byzantium and undertook to supply soldiers for service in Byzantine troops.
In 1160, Raynald de Chatillon was captured by Muslims. By the time the son of Constance came of age and told his mother about his rights to the throne. Constance did not want to give up power and in 1163 appealed for support to Cilicia, but the inhabitants of Antioch rebelled, expelled Constantius, and Bohemond III became prince.
After the death of Manuel I in 1180, the union of Antioch and Byzantium, which over the course of twenty years reliably defended the territory of the principality from the invasion of Muslims, disintegrated. Nevertheless, Antioch with the help of the Italian fleet safely survived the attack of Saladin on the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187.
In 1201 Bohemond III died. The right to inherit the throne was challenged by his son Count Tripoli, also called Boehmund, and grandson of Raimund Rupen. In 1207 Bohemond was finally proclaimed the prince of Antioch under the name of Bohemond IV and ruled the principality until his death in 1233.
In 1254, Boehmund VI , the son of Boehmund V, married the Armenian princess Sybil, putting an end to the conflicts between the two states. Nevertheless, Antioch experienced the last days of its existence. In the conflict between the Mamluks and the Mongols, Antioch and Cilicia Armenia were on the side of the latter, and Antioch even made a vassal alliance with the Mongols. Therefore, after the defeat of the troops of Khan Hhulagu in the battle of Ain Jalut ( 1260 ), Antioch was threatened by the attacks of Mamluk’s Sultan Baybars.
This threat came true in 1268, when Baybars took Antioch and subdued the northern territories of Syria. After 23 years, Acre fell, and the Crusader states in the East ceased to exist.
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