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Medieval Sourcebook:
The Crusaders at Constantinople:
Collected Accounts


OCTOBER, 1096-MAY, 1097

 


1. Anna Comnena: Hugh the Great of France

[Alexiad 10:6]

As we said above, there were among the Latins such men as Bohemund and his fellow counsellors, who, eager to obtain the Roman Empire for themselves, had been looking with avarice, upon it for a long time. Seeing an opening for their plans in the expedition which was promoted by Peter, they stirred up this huge movement; and, in order to deceive the more simple, they feigned a crusade against the Turks to regain the Holy Sepulchre and sold all their possessions.

[Alexiad 10:7]

Moreover, a certain Hugh, brother of the King of France, who conducted himself with the spirit of a navatus on account of his wealth and power and the nobility of his birth, decided to leave his fatherland, as if to set out for the Holy Sepulchre. Upon reaching this decision, he looked forward to a most glorious meeting and announced in letters full of swollen insolence' to the Emperor:

"Know, O King, that I am King of Kings, and superior to all, who are under the sky. You are now permitted to greet me, on my arrival, and to receive me with magnificence, as befits my nobility."

At this time the Governor of Durazzo was John, son of Isaac, the Sebastocrator, of whom we have spoken above. Nicolaus, Maurocatacalon, in command of the fleet, had arranged his ships at stations around the port of Durazzo, so that he could make excursions and watch the seas, lest, perchance, pirate ships might secretly approach. To each of these men, therefore, the Emperor, after hearing this letter (from Hugh), immediately sent a message, bidding the Governor of Durazzo watch closely by land and sea for the arrival of this man, upon whose coming a messenger was to be sent quickly to the Emperor. Hugh, however, was to be received magnificently. He further ordered the commander of the fleet to be constantly alert and on the watch with every faculty awake, not with his usual negligence.

Meanwhile Hugh reached the seacoast of Longobardy; there he sent envoys to the Governor of Durazzo, twentyfour in number, each decorated with gold and red breastplates. Along with them went Count Carpenter and that Helia who had fled from the Emperor at Thessalonica. These men addressed the following message to the Governor:

"Be it known to you, O Governor, that our lord, Hugh, will soon be here, bringing with him from Rome the golden banner of St. Peter; moreover, know that he is the highest leader of all the armies of France. Prepare yourself, therefore, to receive him and the army obeying him according to the dignity of his power; and gird yourself about to meet him."

While they were thus commanding the Governor, Hugh, as it is said, came from Rome into Longobardy; and leaving Bari toward Illyricum, be was caught by a most awful storm and lost the greater number of his ships, together with their oarsmen and passengers. The little boat in which he saved himself was cast up by the waves, as though they spewed it forth, on the seacoast which lies half way between Durazzo and another place called Palus. It, too, was half cut to pieces. Two men, who were on the watch for his arrival, met him after he had been saved and pressed him with these words: "The Governor is awaiting your arrival, desiring very much to enjoy your coming." Thereupon, Hugh immediately asked for a horse, and one of those men, dismounting from his horse, very dutifully gave it over to him. As a result, the Governor, after seeing that Hugh was safe, was the first to greet him and asked whither, and whence, and what dangers and evils had befallen him in sailing. And when he had been set upon his feet and refreshed with kind words, the Governor then put before him a well-prepared feast. After dinner he loosed him, but did not yet permit him to walk about freely, for all these things had been quickly announced to the Emperor, and the Governor was waiting to find out his commands from him.

When the Emperor was informed, he quickly sent Butumites to Epidamnus, which we have often called Durazzo, with orders to bring Hugh back with him and not to return by the direct road, but, by turning aside, to bring him to Constantinople through Philippopolis; for he was afraid of the forces and throngs of Gauls who followed. The Emperor treated him honorably with all kindness and gave him, in addition, considerable sums of money. He immediately urged the man to attach himself to him (the Emperor), and to bind himself by the customary oaths of the Latins. . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 78-79

2. The Gesta: Godfrey of Bouillon

Duke Godfrey was the first of all the seignors to come to Constantinople with a great army. He arrived two days before the Nativity of Our Lord and camped outside the city, until the, iniquitous Emperor ordered him to be lodged in a suburb of the city. And when the Duke had been so lodged, he used to send his squires, under pledge, day by day to fetch hay and other necessities for the horses. When now they planned to go wherever they wished, on the strength of their pledge, the evil Emperor placed a watch upon them and commanded his Turcopoles and Patzinaks to attack and kill them. Thereupon, when Baldwin, brother of the Duke, heard of this, he placed himself in ambush and then found them killing his people. He attacked them in great anger and, God helping, overcame them. Capturing sixty of them, he killed some and presented the rest to the Duke, his brother. When the Emperor had heard of this, he was exceedingly angry. Then the Duke, seeing that the Emperor was enraged, went with his men out of the suburb and encamped outside the city. Moreover, toward evening the Emperor ordered his forces to attack the Duke and the people of Christ. The unconquered Duke and the knights of Christ pursued these, killed seven of them, and drove the rest even to the gates of the city. The Duke, returning to his tents, remained there for five days, until he had entered into an agreement with the Emperor. The Emperor told him to cross the Strait of St. George, and promised to have every kind of market there, just as at Constantinople, and to distribute alms to the poor, upon which they could live.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 80

3. Albert of Aix: Godfrey of Bouillon

With his entire band of pilgrims Godfrey withdrew to the city of Constantinople itself. There, after pitching their tents, they lodged, a strong and powerful band, protected by armor and all warlike equipment. And, behold, at the meeting Hugh, Drogo, William Carpenter, and Clarebold, set free by the Emperor, were present, rejoicing because of the arrival of the Duke and of his multitudes, and meeting the embrace of the Duke and of the others with many a kiss. And, likewise, the above mentioned messenger of the Emperor met the Duke, asking him to come to the palace of the Emperor with some of the chiefs of his army, that be might hear the word of the King. The rest of his multitude should remain outside the walls of the city. Scarcely bad the Duke received the message when, behold, some strangers from the land of the Franks appeared by stealth in his camp. The strangers cautioned the Duke very strongly to beware of the wiles and alluring appearance of the Emperor, and by no means to go to the Emperor because of some flattering promise, but to sit outside the walls and listen carefully to all which the Emperor should propose to him. Thereupon, the Duke, so warned by the strangers, and caught by the deception of the Greeks, did not go to the Emperor.

For this reason, the Emperor, moved by a violent indignation towards the Duke and all his army, refused them the privilege of buying and selling. But when Baldwin, brother of the Duke, learned of the wrath of the Emperor and saw the need of the people and their very great lack of necessaries, he pleaded with the Duke and the leaders to plunder again the region and lands of the Greeks, and to collect spoils and food, until the Emperor, compelled by this damage, should again grant the privilege of buying and selling. Therefore, when the Emperor saw devastation and misfortune befalling the lands of his kingdom, he once more gave to all the privilege of buying and selling.

It was the time of the Nativity of the Lord. At that festal time, and in those days of peace and joy, it seemed to all praiseworthy, good, and acceptable before God that peace should be restored on both sides between the household of the Emperor and the Duke and all the mighty ones of the army. And so, when peace had been made, they withheld their hands from all plunder and hurt. Accordingly, during those four holy days they rested in all quiet and happiness before the walls of the city Constantinople.

Four days after, the legation of the Emperor went to the Duke asking, for the sake of the Emperor and his entreaties, that he would move his camp, and with his army lodge in the houses situated on the shore of the Straight, so that their tents might not become wet and worn from wintry cold and snow, which was threatening in that rainy season. Finally, the Duke and all the other leaders yielded to the will of the Emperor, and, after moving their tents, they, with all the Christian army, lodged in the castles and turreted buildings which were along the shore for a distance of thirty miles. From that day on successively they found and bought every abundance of food and necessities by order of the Emperor.

Shortly after, an embassy of the Emperor again appeared before the Duke, urging him to go and learn what the Emperor bad to say. This the Duke absolutely refused to do, having been warned by the strangers of the craftiness of the Emperor. But he sent to him as messengers the distinguished men Conon, Count of Montaigu, Baldwin of Burg, and Godfrey of Ascha, who were to make excuses for him, speaking in this manner: "Duke Godfrey to the Emperor; trust and obedience. Willingly and eagerly would I come before you to look upon the wealth and glory of your household, were it not that many evil rumors, which have come to my ears regarding you, have terrified me. However, I know not whether these reports have been invented and spread about from envy or malice towards you." The Emperor, bearing this, warmly protested his innocence of all these charges, saying that never should the Duke or any of his followers fear any artifice on his part, but that he would serve and honor the Duke as his son, and the Duke's associates as his friends. Then the messengers of the Duke, on their return, reported favorably on all the good and faithful promises which they had heard from the Emperor's lips. But the Duke, still placing little faith in the honeyed promises of the Emperor, again refused him a conference. And so, between these messages back and forth, fifteen days rolled away.

Therefore the Emperor, recognizing the firmness of the Duke and that he could not be lured before him, again took offense and withdrew the privilege of buying barley, and fish, and then bread, so that the Duke, thus coerced, could not refuse to enter the presence of the Emperor. The Emperor, unsuccessful in changing the Duke's mind, one day had five hundred Turcopoles armed with bows and quivers taken in ships across the strait. Early in the morning, they shot the soldiers of the Duke with arrows; some they killed, others they wounded, keeping them all from the shore, so that they could not there buy the usual food.

This cruel report was carried immediately to the chair of the Duke. He thereupon ordered the trumpets to be sounded and all the people to arm themselves and return to the city of Constantinople itself, and there to replace their tents. After the trumpets had been sounded at this command of the Duke, all rushed to arms. They laid waste the buildings and towers in which they had been lodged, setting fire to some, pulling others to pieces, thus causing irreparable damage to Constantinople.

Finally, when the report of this great fire and destruction had reached the palace, the Duke became excessively alarmed, fearing that when the flaming buildings and the noise of a moving army had been noticed, the knights and archers of the Emperor would suddenly seize the bridge over which they had come from the city of Constantinople to the palatial residences. Therefore, without delay he sent Baldwin, his brother, with five hundred armored knights to seize the bridge, lest any force of the Emperor, anticipating him, should destroy it, and thus deny the pilgrims passage back and forth.

Baldwin bad scarcely taken a stand on the middle of the bridge, when, behold, from right and left, Turcopoles (the soldiers of the Emperor brought over on the ships) rushed upon them from all sides with arrows and fiercely attacked them. Baldwin, unable to resist from the bridge, hastened to escape their arrows by going across the bridge. Along the dry shore he swiftly betook himself to the other side of the bridge, (hoping) to hold it and keep watch upon the walls of the lord and master of the city while the entire army passed over that bridge, and the Duke with his men kept guard from the rear. In the meantime, from the gates opposite St. Argenteus an infinite band of Turcopoles and soldiers of every kind, equipped with bows and arms of every description, ran for. ward to attack Baldwin and the whole band of Christian people. But in the appointed place Baldwin, immovable and unconquered, withstood their every attack from early morning even to vespers, until the people were taken across the bridge and lodged in the camps placed before the walls of the city. Baldwin, with his five hundred knights, advanced fiercely upon these same Turcopoles who had come out from the gates and were attacking the people. Both sides having engaged in heavy battle, very many fell on this side and that, and very many horses of the Franks perished by arrows. But Baldwin, conquering at last, forced these harried and fleeing soldiers of the Emperor to go inside the gates. Then the Turcopoles and soldiers of the Emperor, indignant that they had been beaten and put to flight in war, rushed forth again from the gates in larger numbers to harass and attack the army.

Then the Duke arrived and, since it was night, brought an end to the fight, advising his brother to return to camp with all his forces, and to keep his men from fighting during the night. Likewise, the Emperor himself, fearing that the tempest of war would become more and more violent, and that his soldiers would fail and perish in the darkness of evening, commanded peace to be made, rejoicing that the Duke had been willing to withdraw his army from battle.

But after sunrise the next day, the people, surging forth at the command of the Duke, wandered about plundering the lands and kingdom of the Emperor for six days, so that, to say the least, the pride of the Emperor and his men seemed to be humbled. When this became known, the Emperor began to grieve and lament because his lands and kingdom were being thus devastated. Taking counsel immediately, he sent a message to the Duke to the effect that he should prohibit plunder and fire, and that he himself would give satisfaction in every respect to the Duke. The message ran as follows: "Let enmity between you and us cease. Let the Duke, upon receiving hostages as a pledge from me, advance without any doubt that he will come and return unharmed, assured of all the honor and glory which we are able to give him and his people." The Duke graciously agreed, provided hostages were given to whom he could trust his life and safety; then without doubt he would come to the Emperor, freely to speak by word of mouth.

Hardly had the legates of the Emperor departed after this response of the Duke, when, behold, certain other legates, coming to the same Duke from Bohemund, greeted him, speaking thus: "Bohemund, the most wealthy prince of Sicily and Calabria, asks that you by no means enter into peace with the Emperor; but that you withdraw to Adrianople and Philippopolis, cities of the Bulgarians, and pass the winter there. You may be certain that this same Bohemund will come to your aid with all his troops early in the month of March, to attack the Emperor and to invade his kingdom." After he had heard the message of Bohemund, the Duke put off answering it until the next day. Then, upon the counsel of his followers, he replied that neither for gain nor for the destruction of Christians had he left his country and kindred, but, rather, in the name of Christ to pursue the way to Jerusalem. He wished to accomplish this and to fight the designs of the Emperor, provided he could regain and keep his favor and good will. The messengers of Bohemund, upon learning the reply and intention of the Duke, were graciously commended by him and returned to the country of Apulia, reporting all as they had heard it from the lips of the Duke.

Learning of this new embassy and suggestion from Bohemund, the Emperor yet more earnestly urged the Duke and his friends to enter upon an agreement with him; he would give his most beloved son, John, as hostage, on condition that they would make peace, would pass through the country quietly, and would meet him in conference face to face. Furthermore, be would favor Godfrey and his followers with the privilege of buying all necessaries. When the Duke learned that these promises of the Emperor had been made in the form of a decree, he moved his camp from the wall of the city by the advice of his council and again withdrew across the bridge to take lodging in the fortified dwellings on the strait. He admonished all his people to remain at peace, and to purchase whatever was necessary without disturbance.

On the following day, he commanded Conon, Count of Montaigu, and Baldwin of Burg, most noble men and skilled in speaking, to come before him. He then confidently directed them to receive as hostage the Emperor's son, which was done. When, therefore, the Emperor's son had been brought and placed in faithful custody under the power of the Duke and his men, the Duke was carried at once by boat through the Strait to Constantinople. Accompanied by the distinguished men, Werner of Grez, Peter of Dampierre, and the other leaders, he boldly advanced to the Court of the Emperor and stood before him, that he might hear his word and reply to him by word of mouth. Baldwin, however, by no means entered then into the palace of the Emperor, but remained on the shore with the multitude.

Upon seeing the magnificence of the Duke and all his men, honorably clad, as they were, in splendid and rich apparel of purple and gold, bordered with ermine white as snow, with martin, and other kinds of fur, such as the princes of Gaul, especially, wear, the Emperor heartily admired their pomp and splendor. He first graciously received the Duke, then all his chiefs and companions, whom be honored with the kiss of peace. Moreover, the Emperor sat in majesty upon his tbrone, according to his custom, and did not rise to give the kiss to the Duke, or anyone. But the Duke, together with his men, bowed with bended knees to kiss so glorious and great an Emperor. When at last all had received the kiss, according to their rank, he spoke to the Duke in these words: "I have heard that you are the most mighty knight and prince in your land, a man most prudent and of perfect trust, In the presence of this multitude and more to come, 1, therefore, take you for my adopted son; and all that I possess I place in your power, that through you my empire and lands may be saved and freed."

The Duke, appeased and seduced by these friendly and lofty words of the Emperor, not only recognized himself as his son, according to the custom of the country, but, likewise, giving him his band, declared himself his vassal, together with the princes then present, who followed the Duke in the ceremony. Nor was there delay. Invaluable gifts of all kinds were brought from the treasury of the Emperor, both gold and silver, purples, mules, and horses, and all that he held valuable. So, indeed, the Emperor and the Duke were bound by the indissoluble bond of perfect faith and friendship, from the time of the Nativity of the Lord, when the agreement took place, even to a few days before Pentecost. Every week, four men, bearing gold besants, with ten measures of money called tartaron, were sent from the palace of the Emperor to the Duke to provide sustenance for the soldiers. Wonderful to relate! All that the Duke distributed to his men from the gifts of the Emperor was forthwith returned to the treasury of the Emperor in exchange for food. Nor is this to be wondered at, for none but the Emperor's wares (such as wine, and oil, as well as grain, barley, and every kind of food) were in that whole kingdom. And thus the treasury of the Emperor was always filled with gold and could not be emptied by any extravagance.

After peace and concord between the Emperor and the Duke had been made on the conditions we have named, the Duke, still more certain of the Emperor's faith and friendship, returned to lodge in the buildings on the Strait and sent back with honor the Emperor's son, who had remained a hostage up to this time. On the day following, it was announced through the entire army, by order of the Duke, that peace and honor should be shown to the Emperor and to all in his command, and that justice should be preserved in transactions of buying and selling. Similarly, the Emperor proclaimed in all his realm that no one, under penalty of death, should harm or defraud any one of the army, but that they should sell all things with just weight and measure to the pilgrims, and, indeed, should lessen the price.

After these events, at the beginning of Lent, the Emperor summoned the Duke into his presence and begged him, on his pledge of friendship, to cross the sea and pitch his tents in Cappadocia, on account of the buildings which his incorrigible people were destroying. The Duke graciously assented to this, and, after crossing the river and pitching camp, be and his people tarried on the plains of Cappadocia.

After this, everything was gradually sold more dearly to the pilgrims, but, nevertheless, the gifts of the Emperor to the Duke were not at all diminished, for he feared him greatly. But the Duke, seeing the difficulty of buying necessaries and unable to endure the clamor of his people, went often by ship to the Emperor and complained to him about the high price of food stuffs. Then the Emperor, as though unaware of this, and unwilling to have it occur, again lightened the burden for all the pilgrims.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 80-86

4. Anna Comnena: Godfrey of Bouillon

[Alexiad 10:9]

At that time, too, came Count Godfrey, who had crossed the sea with the other counts and was accompanied by an army of 10,000 knights and 70,000 footsoldiers. He established his force about the Propontis, his camp extending from the bridge which was opposite Cosmidion up to St. Phocas. While the Emperor urged him to cross the strait of the Propontis, he went on from day to day contriving one excuse or another and put off the matter. The real reason, to state the matter simply, was that he was awaiting. the arrival of Bohemund and the other counts. For, though in the beginning Peter had aroused this great expedition to adore the Holy Sepulchre, the other counts, Bohemund above all, were cherishing in mind the old grudge against the Emperor and were awaiting a favorite opportunity to take vengeance on him for the splendid victory which he had gained over Bohemund when the latter engaged him in battle at Larissa. And dreaming that if they were of one mind they could take Constantinople itself, they had combined with the same thought and purpose of which we have often made mention above. Thus, apparently they were making an expedition to Jerusalem; in reality, however, they wanted to divest the Emperor of his kingdom and take Constantinople. But the Emperor, long since acquainted with their wiles, by letter ordered forces of Gentiles with their leaders to be stationed by squadrons from the Athyras river up to Philea, a seaport on the Black Sea. (He also ordered them) to watch in ambush for anyone sent, perchance, by Godfrey to Bohemund and the rest of the counts who were following, or by these, in turn, to him, and to deny these messengers all passage.

In the meantime, while this was going on, the following incident occurred, somewhat in this way. The Emperor had summoned before him some of the counts who had come with Godfrey, in order to urge that they consent to persuade Godfrey to carry out the promise which be had made under oath. While the time was thus being dragged out longer (than expected), for the reason that the Latin race is by nature exceedingly garrulous and wordy, there was reported to these people the false rumor that the counts had been taken into custody at the Emperor's command. Thereupon, the Latin legions surged together in a huge crowd and moved upon Byzantium and without delay utterly destroyed the palaces which are situated toward the swamp called Argyra. At the same time they tried the walls of the city, not with siege machines, for they were not at hand, but, trusting in their multitude, they resorted to a piece of insolence: they dared to set fire to the lower gate of the palace located near the Temple, which had been built in olden times by one of the Emperors under the invocation of Nicolaus, the greatest of the holy pontiffs.

At the sight of the Latin legions, not only did all of the basest class, the foolish and the unwarlike, groan, cry out, and beat their breasts in their fear, not knowing what else to do; but even the zealous adherents of the Emperor, mindful of that Friday on which the seizure of the city had formerly taken place, feared the present day lest vengeance should fall violently upon them for the deeds committed at that time. However, all who had any acquaintance with military practice and skill poured in at the regal palace, each man coming by himself. But the Emperor neither armed his sides with breastplate of scale-armor, his left hand with a shield, his right with a spear, nor girded himself about with a sword; but, clothed in royal raiment, he seated himself upon the imperial throne, as though secure. Thus, on the one hand, he reassured all, injecting courage into their hearts by his happy look, and, on the other, he discussed with his advisers and military leaders plans for coming events. First of all, he absolutely refused to have any armed band led outside of the walls against the Latins, this for a twofold reason: First, because this was the most sacred of days, for it was Friday of the greatest, of Holy, Week, when the Saviour had undergone ignominious death for all. In the second place, he refused to engage in civil war between Christians. Therefore, by means of frequent messengers to the Latins he wished to bring about the cessation of the undertaking which they had begun, saying: "Remember that on this day there died for us the Lord, who for the sake of our salvation did not fear to endure the cross, nails and the lance, punishments befitting criminals. But if your desire for a fight is so great, we, too, will stand ready after the coming day of the Lord's resurrection."

But the Latins were so far from yielding to him that they closed their ranks and threw missiles in such profusion that they struck across the chest one of the men standing near the Emperor's throne. At the sight of this, most of those who were standing near fell back, here and there, from the Emperor, while he, meanwhile, remained on his throne, not only without any sign of fear, but likewise reassuring them and chiding them greatly for their fear. All admired his presence of mind.

Finally, when he saw that the Latins, bereft of all shame, were invading the walls of the city and scorning his useful counsel, lie first summoned his son-in-law, Nicephorus, and commanded him to take with him the strongest men and those skilled in shooting arrows and go to the top of the wall. He advised him, at the same time, to hurl down weapons on the Latins as frequently as possible, but, for the most part, harmlessly, with bad aim, in order to frighten them, not to kill them. For, as was said above, the Emperor respected the religious significance of the day and did not wish to engage in civil war between Christians. At the same time, he ordered some other chosen leaders (each with his cohorts, most of them provided with bows, but some armed with long lances) to charge forth suddenly from the gate which is close to St. Romanus, thus presenting the appearance of violence to the enemy. The battle line was so arranged that each spearman should march protected on each side bowmen armed with shields. Thus arrayed, they were ordered to advance against the enemy at a slow pace, and archers, instructed to turn about frequently here and there, were sent ahead to wound the Gauls at close quarters. Nmv, when the two lines were a slight distance apart, they were then to order those bownien who had spearmen at their side to use their bows carefully, aiming at the horses of the enemy, sparing the riders; and it was further ordered that the spearmen should charge with loose reins upon the Latins and with the full weight of their horses. He gave that order with this in mind, that when their horses were wounded, the violence of the Gallic attack would languish and the Romans would not easily be pursued by the knights; and this, also, which he especially desired, that as little Christian blood as possible should be shed. These men with ready courage did what they had been commanded by the Emperor, and, after the gates had been suddenly opened, they rushed against the enemy, now giving free rein to their horses, now checking them. Thus they killed many of the enemy; a few of our men were wounded in this affair that day. . . . At length the Emperor sent in his own forces and scattered and routed the legions of the Latins.

On the next day, Hugh set out to meet Godfrey and counselled him to make peace with the Emperor, if he did not want to try the warlike skill of the latter anew, to his own hurt, but especially to pledge that be would keep inviolate his faith to the Emperor. Godfrey received him very bitterly saying, "Have not you, who came from home in the spirit and surroundings of a king, with great forces and wealth, now debased yourself from highest dignity to the condition and lot of a humble client? And then, as if this were some great and distinguished deed, you have come to urge me, too, to this same fate!" In reply to him Hugh said, "In the first place, we ought not to have departed from our own lands, and we ought to have stayed away from those of others; but after we have come hither to this place, where we may have necessities by the benevolent care and providence of him who rules here, our business will not turn out happily unless we accede to his counsels and demands."

When Hugh had returned, the matter only made worse, the Emperor, informed through other sources that the rest of the counts who were following Godfrey at a distance were already near, sent chosen leaders with their forces to the army of Godfrey with orders to persuade him, but, if necessary, to compel him to cross the Strait. When the Latins saw them coming, without delay or even questions of what was wanted, they sprang up immediately to blows and battle. There occurred a most bitter conflict between them, in which many on both sides fell. Those of our men who rushed too boldly into the fray were wounded, but, as the Romans were conducting themselves valiantly, the Latins turned their backs. And thus, at length, Godfrey after a short time obeyed the Emperor. He came to him and in solemn manner took the oath which was demanded of him: that whatever cities, lands, or fortresses be should thenceforth capture from the barbarians (which cities, lands, or fortresses had formerly belonged to the Emperor) he would in good faith hand over to the military leaders or prefects who should be sent by the Emperor for this very purpose. When this had been confirmed by oath, Godfrey was enriched with great gifts by the Emperor; he was received in the imperial palace and magnificently dined at the royal table. He then crossed the Strait and pitched his camp at Pelecanum, the Emperor seeing to it that an ample supply of necessities was provided everywhere.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 86-90

5. The Gesta: Bohemund:

When the Emperor heard that the most honorable man, Bohemund, had come to him, he commanded that he be received with honor and carefully lodged outside the city. When he had been so lodged, the evil Emperor sent for him to come to speak with him in secret. Thither, also, came Duke Godfrey with his brother, and at length the Count of St. Gilles approached the city. Then the Emperor in anxious and fervid rage was pondering some way by which they might seize these knights of Christ adroitly and by fraud. But Divine Grace disclosing (his plans), neither time nor place was found by him, or his men, to do them ill. At last, all the noble leaders who were at Constantinople were assembled. Fearing lest they should be deprived of their country, they decided in their counsels and ingenious calculations that our dukes, counts, or all the leaders, ought to make an oath of fealty to the Emperor. These absolutely refused and said: "It is indeed unworthy of us, and, furthermore, it seems to us unjust to swear an oath to him." Perchance we shall yet often be deceived by our leaders. In the end, what were they to do? They say that under the force of necessity they humiliated themselves, willy-nilly, to the will of the most unjust Emperor. To that most mighty man Bohemund, however, whom he greatly feared because in times past be (Bohemund) had often driven him from the field with his army, the Emperor said that, if he willingly took the oath to him, he would give him, in return, land in extent from Antioch fifteen days journey, and eight in width. And he (the Emperor) swore to him in such wise that, if he loyally observed that oath, he would never pass beyond his own land. Knights, so brave and so sturdy, why did they do this? For the reason that they were constrained by much necessity. The Emperor also gave to all our men a pledge of security. He likewise took oath that he, together with his army, would come with us, by land and by sea; that be would afford us faithfully a market by land and sea, and that be would diligently make good our losses; in addition, that be did not wish, and would not permit, any of our pilgrims to be disturbed or come to grief on their way to the Holy Sepulchre.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 93-94

6. Anna Conmena: Bohemund

[Alexiad 10:11]

But when Bohemund had arrived at Apri with his companions, realizing both that be was not of noble birth, and that for lack of money be bad not brought with him a large enough army, he hastened, with only ten Gauls, ahead of the other counts and arrived at Constantinople. He did this to win the favor of the Emperor for himself, and to conceal more safely the plans which he was concocting against him. Indeed, the Emperor, to whom the schemes of the man were known, for be had long since become acquainted with the bidden and deceitful dealings of this same Bohemund, took great pains to arrange it so that before the other counts should come he would speak with him alone. Thus having heard what Bohemund had to say, he hoped to persuade him to cross before the others came, lest, joined with them after their coming, be might pervert their minds.

When Bohemund had come to him, the Emperor greeted him with gladness and inquired anxiously about the journey and where he had left his companions. Bohemund responded to all these things as be thought best for his own interests, affably and in a friendly way, while the Emperor recalled in a familiar talk his bold undertakings long ago around Durazzo and Larissa and the hostilities between them at that time. Bohemund answered, "Then I confess I was your enemy, then I was hostile. But, behold, I now stand before you like a deserter to the ranks of the enemy! I am a friend of your Majesty." The Emperor proceeded to scrutinize the man, considering him cautiously and carefully and drawing out what was in his mind. As soon as he saw that Bohemund was ready to consent to swear an oath of fealty to him, he said, "You must be tired from the journey and should retire to rest. We will talk tomorrow about anything else."

So Bohemund departed prepared for him, and he abundance of food and to Cosmidion, where hospitality was found a table richly laden with an condiments of all kinds. Then the cooks came and showed him the uncooked flesh of animals and birds, saying: "We have prepared this food which you see on the table according to our skill and the custom of this region; but if, perchance, these please you less, here is food, still uncooked, which can be prepared just as you order." The Emperor, because of his almost incredible tact in handling men, bad commanded that this be done and said by them. For, since be was especially expert in penetrating the secrets of minds and in discovering the disposition of a man, be very readily understood that Bohemund was of a shrewd and suspicious nature; and be foresaw what happened. For, lest Bohemund should conceive any suspicion against him, the Emperor had ordered that raw meats be placed before him, together with the cooked, thus easily removing suspicion. Neither did his conjecture fail, for the very shrewd Bohemund took the prepared food, without even touching it with the tips of his fingers, or tasting it, and immediately turned around, concealing, nevertheless, the suspicion which occurred to him by the following ostentatious show of liberality. For under the pretext of courtesy he distributed all the food to those standing around; in reality, if one understood rightly, he was dividing the cup of death among them. Nor did he conceal his cunning, so much did he hold his subjects in contempt; for he this day used the raw meat which bad been offered to him and bad it prepared by his own cooks after the manner of his country. On the next day he asked his men whether they were well. Upon their answering in the affirmative, that they were indeed very well, that not even one felt even the least indisposed, be disclosed his secret in his reply: "Remembering a war, once carried on by me against the Emperor, and that strife, I feared lest perchance he had intended to kill me by putting deadly poison in my food."

Such a man was Bohemund. Never, indeed, have I seen a man so dishonest. In everything, in his words as well as in his deeds, be never chose the right path; and when anyone deviates from the moderation of virtue, it makes little difference to whatsoever extreme he goes, for he is always far from honesty.

For the rest, the Emperor then summoned Bohemund and exacted from him the usual oath of the Latins. The latter, knowing well his own resources, and realizing that he was neither of noble birth nor well supplied by fortune with wealth, for he had no great force, but only a moderate number of Gauls with him, and being, besides, dishonest in character, readily submitted himself to the will of the Emperor.

After this, the Emperor saw to it that a room in the palace was so filled with a collection of riches of all kinds that the very floor was covered with costly raiment, and with gold and silver coins, and certain other less valuable things, so much so that one was not able even to walk there, so hindered was he by the abundance of these things. The Emperor ordered the guide suddenly and unexpectedly to open the doors, thus revealing all this to Bohemund. Amazed at the spectacle, Bohemund exclaimed: "If such riches were mine, long ago I would have been lord of many lands!" The guide answered, "And all these things the Emperor bestows upon you today as a gift." Most gladly Bohemund received them and with many gracious thanks he left, intending to return to his rest in the inn. But changing his mind when they were brought to him, be, who a little before bad admired them, said: "Never can I let myself be treated with such ignominy by the Emperor. Go, take those things and carry them back to him who sent them." The Emperor, knowing the base fickleness of the Latins, quoted this common saying, "Let the evil return to its author." Bohemund having heard this, and seeing that the messengers were busily bringing these things back to him, decided anew about the goods which be had sent back with regret, and, like a polypus, changed in a moment, he now showed a joyous countenance to the bearers. For he was quick, and a man of very dishonest disposition, as much surpassing in malice and intrepidity all the Latins who bad crossed over as be was inferior to them in power and wealth. But even though he thus excelled all in great cunning, the inconstant character of the Latins was also in him. Verily, the riches which he spurned at first, he now gladly accepted. For when this man Of evil design had left his country in which he possessed no wealth at all (under the pretext, indeed, of adoring at the Lord's Sepulchre, but in reality endeavoring to acquire for himself a kingdom), be found himself in need of much money, especially, indeed, if be was to seize the Roman power. In this he followed the advice of his father and, so to speak, was leaving no stone unturned.

Moreover, the Emperor, who understood fully his wicked intention and perverse mind, skillfully managed carefully to remove whatever might further Bohemund's ambitious designs. Wherefore, Bohemund, seeking a home for himself in the East and using Cretan scheming against Cretans, did not obtain it. For the Emperor feared lest, after obtaining power, be would use it to place the Latin counts under obligation to him, finally thus accomplishing easily what be wished. But since he did not want Bohemund to surmise that be was already discovered, the Emperor misled him by this hope: "Not yet," he said, "has the time come for the thing which you say; but after a little it shall come about by your fortitude and trust in me."

After the Emperor had bestowed upon the Gauls promises, gifts, and honors of every kind, the next day be solemnly took his seat on the imperial throne. Summoning Bohemund and all the counts, be talked about the things which would happen to them on the journey. He wanted, likewise, to show what methods and means of warfare the Turks were wont to employ, and to give directions bow the line of battle should be drawn up against them, bow fleeing Turks too far. And so, both by gifts of money and by ambushes should be set, and bow they ought not to follow the flattering speeches, be soothed the rude nature of the people, and, after giving useful advice, be persuaded them to pass over the sea. . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 94-97

7. Raymond d'Aguiliers: Raymond of Toulouse and Adhémar of Le Puy

Although events have lightly accompanied the writer so far with happy and favorable step, they now follow with so great a weight of bitterness and sorrow that it grieves me to have begun what I have vowed to finish. What, indeed; is the most important and first matter that I shall proceed to mention? The most false and detestable deceit of the Emperor's admonition? Or the most base flight and unthinkable desperation of our army? Or shall I leave a monument of perpetual sorrow by enumerating the deaths of such great princes? Let any one who desires to know this, however, seek it rather from others than from me. This one very memorable event I consider to merit excuse from silence. When our men thought of abandoning the camp, taking flight, deserting their fellows, and leaving everything that they had brought along from such distant regions, they were brought back by the saving deeds of penance and fast to such staunch fortitude that only shame at their former desperate condition and flight most deeply affected them. So much may be said about this.

Accordingly, when the Count had been received most honorably by the Emperor and his princes, the Emperor demanded of the Count homage and the oath which the other princes had made to him. The Count replied that he had not come hither to make another his lord or to fight for any other than the One for whom be bad left his country and his possessions. Nevertheless, if the Emperor would go to Jerusalem with the army, he would commit himself and his men and all his goods to him. But the Emperor excused himself from the journey by saying that he greatly feared lest the Germans, Hungarians, Cumans, and other wild peoples would devastate his empire, if he made the journey with the pilgrims. Meanwhile the Count, upon bearing of the flight and death of his men, believed that he had been betrayed, and through certain of our princes he vehemently charged the Emperor with having committed treason. But Alexius said that he did not know that our men had devastated his kingdom, and that be and his men had suffered many injuries; that there was nothing of which the Count could complain, except that while the army of the Count in its usual manner was devastating the villages and towns, it took to flight upon seeing his (the Emperor's) army. Nevertheless, he promised that he would give satisfaction to the Count and offered Bohemund as a hostage for the satisfaction. They went to trial; the Count, according to law, was compelled to give up his hostage.

Meanwhile, our army came to Constantinople; and after this the Bishop, whom the army had left ill at Durazzo, followed us with his brother. Alexius asked (homage) again and again and promised that he would give much to the Count if he would do him the desired homage as the other princes had done. The Count, however, was constantly meditating how he might avenge the injury to his men, and drive away from himself and his followers the disgrace of such great infamy. But the Duke of Lorraine, the Count of Flanders, and the other princes deprecated such action , saying that it would be very foolish to fight with Christians when the Turks were threatening. Bohemund, indeed, promised that he would aid the Emperor, if the Count made any attempt against the Emperor, or if he no longer refused homage and oath. Thereupon, the Count took counsel with his men and swore that neither in person nor through another would be sully the life or honor of Alexius. And when asked about homage, he replied that he would not do it at the risk of his head, wherefore the Emperor gave him few gifts.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 97-98

8. The Gesta: Raymond of Toulouse

The Count of St. Gilles, however, was lodged outside the city in a suburb, and his force bad remained behind. Accordingly, the Emperor bade the Count do homage and fealty to him, as the others had done. And while the Emperor was making these demands, the Count was meditating how he might take vengeance on the army of the Emperor. But Duke Godfrey and Robert, Count of Flanders, and the other princes said to him that it would be unjust to fight against Christians. The wise man, Bohemund, also said that if the Count should do the Emperor any injustice, and should refuse to do him fealty, he himself would take the part of the Emperor. Accordingly, the Count, after receiving the advice of his men, swore that he would not consent to have the life and honor of Alexius sullied either by himself or by anyone else. When be was called upon for homage, he answered that he would not do this at the risk of his head.

Then the host of Lord Bohemund approached Constantinople. Tancred, indeed, and Richard of Principati, and almost the whole of Bohemund's force with him, crossed the Strait by stealth, to avoid the oath to the Emperor. And now the army of the Count of St. Gilles approached Constantinople. The Count remained there with his own band. Therefore the illustrious man, Bobernund, stayed behind with the Emperor, in order to plan with him how they might provide a market for the people who were beyond the city of Nicaea.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 98-99

9. Anna Comnena: Raymond of Toulouse:

[Alexiad 10:11]

One of them especially, the Count of St. Gilles, he particularly favored because he saw in him superior prudence, tested sincerity, candor of bearing, and finally, such great zeal for truth that he never placed anything before it. He was as far superior to all the other Latins in all virtues as the sun is above the other stars. For this reason, therefore, the Emperor kept him near him for the time being.

When at the wish of the Emperor all had crossed over the Propontis and had arrived at Damalium, Alexius, thus relieved from care and trouble, had the Count of St. Gilles summoned and in talks showed him very distinctly what he thought might happen to the Latins on the way. At the same time, he disclosed to him what suspicions he was cherishing about the intentions and plans of the Gauls. He often spoke freely about them with the Count of St. Gilles, opening the doors of his heart to him, as it were, and making everything clearly known to him. He sometimes warned him, also, to keep close watch against the malice of Bohemund, so as to check him immediately if be should try to break his agreement, and to strive in every way to destroy his schemes. The Count of St. Gilles replied: "Since Bohemund has inherited perjury and deceit, as it were, it would be very surprising if he should be faithful to those promises which he has made under oath. However, I will try to carry out what you command, in so far as I can." Then at the wish of the Emperor he departed, joining himself to the forces of the united Gauls....

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 99


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© Paul Halsall December 1997
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