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Medieval Sourcebook:
Anna Comena:
The Alexiad:
On the Crusades


Among the sources for the First Crusade there is a history of the eastern emperor, Alexius, written by his daughter, Anna Comnena.

Selections from the Alexiad


See also Catholic Encyclopedia: Anna Comnena


1. The Arrival of the Crusaders

[Alexiad 10:5]

. . . Moreover, Alexius was not yet, or very slightly, rested from his labors when he heard rumors of the arrival of innumerable Frankish armies. He feared the incursions of these people, for he had already experienced the savage fury of their attack, their fickleness of mind, and their readiness to approach anything with violence....

And finally, he kept ever in mind this information, which was often repeated and most true that they were known to be always immoderately covetous of anything they strove after and to break very easily, for any reason whatsoever, treaties which they had made. Accordingly, he did not indulge in any rest, but made ready his forces in every way, so that when occasion should demand he would be ready for battle. For it was a matter greater and more terrible than famine which was then reported. Forsooth, the whole West, and as much of the land of barbarian peoples as lies beyond the Adriatic Sea up to the Pillars of Herculesall this, changing its seat, was bursting forth into Asia in a solid mass, with all its belongings, taking its march through the intervening portion of Europe.

A certain Gaul, Peter by name, surnamed KukuPeter, bad set out from his home to adore the Holy Sepulchre. After suffering many dangers and wrongs from the Turks and Saracens, who were devastating all Asia, be returned to his own country most sorrowfully. He could not bear to see himself thus cut off from his proposed pilgrimage and intended to undertake the expedition a second time. . . .

After Peter had promoted the expedition, he, with 80,000 foot soldiers and 100,000 knights, was the first of all to cross the Lombard strait. Then passing through the territory of Hungary, he arrived at the queenly city. For, as anyone may conjecture from the outcome, the race of the Gauls is not only very passionate and impetuous in other ways, but, also, when urged on by an impulse, cannot thereafter be checked. Our Emperor, aware of what Peter had suffered from the Turks before, urged him to await the arrival of the other counts.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 70-71

2. The Byzantines Save Peter the Hermit

[Alexiad 10:6]

But relying on the multitude of those who followed him, Peter did not heed the warning and, after crossing the strait, pitched camp at a little town called Helenopolis.

But since there were also Normans in his army, estimated at about ten thousand men, these, separating themselves from the rest of the body, devastated the region lying around the city of Nicaea, rioting most cruelly in every way. For they tore some of the children apart, limb from limb and, piercing others through with wooden stakes, roasted them in fire; likewise, upon those advanced in years they inflicted every kind of torture. When those in the city saw this being done, they opened the gates and went out against them. As a result, a fierce battle took place, in which, since the Normans fought ferociously, the citizens were hurled back into the fortress. The Normans, after gathering up all the plunder, again returned to Helenopolis. There a quarrel arose between themselves and the other pilgrims who had not gone off with them, a thing which usually happens in an affair of this kind, envy inflaming the wrath of those left behind, and a riotous fight followed the quarrel. The fierce Normans again separated (from the others) and captured Xerogord on their way at the first attack. When this was learned, the Sultan sent Elchanes against them with a suitable number of troops. When he reached them, he recaptured Xerogord, killed some of the Normans with the sword, and carried off the rest as captives, planning at the same time, also, an attack upon those who bad remained with KukuPeter. And he set ambushes at opportune places into which, when they left for Nicaea, they would unexpectedly fall and be killed. But knowing also of the avarice of the Gauls, he had summoned two men of bold spirit and ordered them to go to the camp of KukuPeter to announce that the Normans had captured Nicaea and were now sacking it to the utmost. This report, brought to the camp of Peter, excited all violently; for when the mention of plunder and riches was heard, they straightway set out in tumult on the road which leads to Nicaea, forgetful of their military training and of observing discipline in going out to battle. For the Latins are not only most fond of riches, as we said above, but when they give themselves to raiding any region for plunder, are also no longer obedient to reason, or any other check. Accordingly, since they were neither keeping order nor forming into lines, they fell into the ambush of the Turks around Draco and were wretchedly cut to pieces. Indeed, so great a multitude of Gauls and Normans were cut down by the Ishmaelite sword that when the dead bodies of the killed, which were lying all about in the place, were brought together, they made a very great mound , or hill, or lookout place, lofty as a mountain, and occupying a space very conspicuous for its width and depth. So high did that mound of bones tower, that some barbarians of the same race as the killed later used the bones of the slain instead of stones in constructing a wall, thus making that fortress a sort of sepulchre for them. It stands to this day, an enclosure of walls built with mixed rocks and bones.

And thus, after all had been wiped out in the slaughter, Peter returned with only a few to Helenopolis. The Turks, in their desire to get him into their power, again beset him with an ambush. But when the Emperor heard of the whole affair and learned how great was the slaughter of men, he held it very wrong that Peter should also be e taken. Immediately, therefore, he summoned Catacalon Constantine Euphorbenus, of whom mention has often been made in this t history, and sent him with suitable forces on war vessels across t the sea as a succour to Peter. When the Turks saw him approach, they fled. . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 76-78

3. 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, twenty-four 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

4. 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 Bad Manners of a Crusading Prince

[Alexiad 10:10]

When the Franks bad all come together and had taken an oath to the emperor, there was one count who had the boldness to sit down upon the throne. The emperor, well knowing the pride of the Latins, kept silent, but Baldwin approached the Frankish count and taking him by the hand said, "You ought not to sit there; that is an honor which the emperor permits to no one. Now that you are in this country, why do you not observe its customs ?" The insolent count made no reply to Baldwin, but said in his barbarous language, as if talking to himself, ,This must be a rude fellow who would alone remain seated when so many brave warriors are standing up." Alexis noted the movement of the man's lips and called an interpreter in order to learn, what he had said; but when the interpreter had told him he did not complain to the Franks, although he did not forget the matter.

When the counts came to take leave of the emperor he retained this haughty knight and asked him who be was. "I am a Frank," he replied, "of the most high and ancient nobility. I know but one thing, and that is that there is in my country a church built at the crossroads where all those betake themselves who hope to show their valor in single combat, and there make their prayer to God while they await an enemy; I remained there a long time without anybody daring to measure swords with me."

Alexius was on his guard against accepting this challenge. "If you then waited without being able to show your bravery," he said to him, "you now have a chance to fight; and if I may give you a word of advice, it will be not to put yourself either at the head nor rear of the army but in the middle. The experience which I have had with the Turks make war has convinced me that is best place." [The knight was later killed in battle, possibly Count Robert of Paris.]

Source:

James Harvey Robinson, ed., Readings in European History: Vol. I: (Boston:: Ginn and co., 1904), pp. 320-321

6. 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 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

8. Victory at Nicea

[Alexiad 11:2]

But though the Emperor wished to attach himself to the Gauls and advance with them against the barbarians, yet, fearing their countless multitude, he decided to go to Pelecanum, in order that by camping near Nicaea he might learn what was happening to the Gauls, and also learn the undertakings of the Turks outside, as well as the conditions in the city. . . .

[Alexiad 11:3]

The august Emperor tarried about Pelacanum for some time, since he desired those Gallic counts who were not yet bound to him also to take the oath of loyalty. To this end, he sent a letter to Butumites, asking all the counts in common not to start upon the journey to Antioch until they had said farewell to the Emperor. If they did this, they would all be showered with new gifts by him. Bohemund was the first to prick up his ears at the mention of money and gifts. Quickly won by these words of Butumites, he strove industriously to force all the others to return to the Emperor - so greatly did cupidity move the man. The Emperor received them on their arrival at Pelecanum with magnificence and the greatest show of goodwill. At length, when they were assembled, he addressed them thus: "'You know that you have all bound yourselves to me by oath; if you do not now intend to ignore this, advise and persuade those of your number who have not yet pledged faith to take the oath." They immediately summoned the counts who had not sworn. All of these came together and took the oath.

Tancred, however, nephew of Bohemund and a youth of most independent spirit, professed that he owed faith to Bohemund alone, and would serve him even to death. Rebuked by the loud protest of those of his own fellows who stood near, and of the Emperor's retinue, besides, he turned toward the tent in which the Emperor was then dwelling the largest and most capacious which anyone has ever seen and, as if to make sport of them, said, "if you give me this (tent) full of money and, in addition, all the other presents which you gave all the counts, I, too, will take the oath." But Palaeologus, full of zeal for the Emperor, could not endure the mocking speech of Tancred and pushed him away with contempt. Then Tancred, very ready with his arms, sprang upon him. Seeing this, the Emperor arose hastily from his seat and stood between them. Bohemund, too, restrained the youth, saying "It is not fitting shamefully to strike the kinsman of the Emperor." Then Tancred, recognizing the disgrace of his insolence toward Palaeologus, and persuaded by the advice of Bohemund and the others, offered to take the oath himself....


Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 109-110


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© Paul Halsall December 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu