The taking of Antioch is a story of siege, starvation, visions, faith and horrible bloodshed.
Marcus Bohemond had set up the siege of Antioch. The city spread across rough territory, fortified by four hundred towers and sprawled over twenty-five miles.
Bohemond realized that tactically it was impossible to take the city by force. The key would be inside help. The siege had begun in October 1097. Winter had passed leaving the Crusaders cold, wet, hungry and discouraged. But Bohemond's spies had found a weakness in the defenses.
Bohemond had decided that he wanted control of Antioch. Having devised a plan, using an inside traitor, Bohemond demanded ruler ship over Antioch. Agreed upon by the other leaders, Bohemond informed his Armenian insider Firouz, to open a window in a tower for his men to get in.
By the end of the evening of July 3, 1098, blood soaked the city streets. Every Turk was killed. In their zeal, many Christians were slain as well.
Upon closer examination, the Crusaders realized that Antioch was not to be taken lightly. Those same attributes which made it difficult to take in the first place now became their weakness.
The size of the walls to be defended, to the small numbers of actual fighting Crusaders became obvious. There were not enough to effectively defend the city. The Citadel also had not been conquered, which meant it had to be guarded or captured. And they had successfully depleted the city's food supply during the siege, and now supplies were extremely limited.
Kerbogha, the Atabeg of Mosul, and a soldier of great reputation, had gathered troops and marched on Antioch upon learning of the Crusader siege of the city, and was encamped outside the city walls by June 7th, four days after the Crusaders captured the city. The Crusaders never got a chance to stock the city before the city was under siege. A sortie on the 10th failed miserably. Help from any forces on their way were turned around, when word from deserters from Antioch told them the city had already fallen.
At this time a Pilgrim named Peter Bartholomew came forward to the Count of Toulouse, Raymond, with stories of Vision of St. Andrew appearing to him. The pilgrim told of the hiding place of the Holy Lance. The Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy was not impressed, but Raymond took Peter on his word. They dug in the Chapel of the Cathedral of St Peter, and the Holy Relic was found by Peter Bartholomew himself. See the Story of the Holy Lance for more details.
Whatever it was, the spirit was renewed in the Crusader Army and ready to take on Kerbogha. Infighting amongst the Atabegs armies made an attached by Bohemond, at this point, a good idea. The sight of an army, ready to risk all, made Kerbogha think twice about taking them on. His information of a weak and disorganized army was wrong. But Bohemond pushed on, engaging the Turks. The armies of Kerbogha, seeing that the information was wrong, backed off, deserting the fighting. The Crusaders had visions of Saints on the battlefield driving the armies of the Turks off, and they were spurred on by these visions.
Kerbogha had to retreat, and by the time he reached Mosul, he was a broken man.
The Citadel, seeing the day was lost, offered to surrender. Bohemond himself opened the gates to allow them to leave. Ahmad ibn-Marwan, who had been placed in charge of the Citadel by Kerbogha, was so impressed that he converted to Christianity along with many of his men.
Antioch was now in the hands of the Crusades.
After much battling back and forth between the Byzantine emperor and the Crusaders, the city became a possession of Bohemond, becoming a Principality.
Bohemond was captured by Malik-Ghazi in 1100. Tancred was made Regent of Antioch in March 1101. Tancred expanded the territories taking the Cilician cities of Mamistra, Adama, and Tarsis (which had been taken by him in 1097 and turned over to the Byzantine Emperor). He took Latakia from the Greeks in 1103. But he did neglect the ransoming of his Uncle Bohemond. It was due to friends and jealousies between his captors and other Arab leaders that he was finally released in May of 1103. Bohemond resumed his Principality immediately, leaving Tancred with some small holdings.
Bohemond's position had cost him, though. By January 1105, he needed to return to Italy for funds and troops to reinforce his position in Antioch. He made a triumphal tour of Italy in 1105-1106 and was hailed as a hero of the Crusades where ever he went. He had left Tancred as regent of Antioch.
He returned in the fall of 1107, with 34,000 men. He had ambitions of taking the Byzantine Empire. However, Alexius was ready. By September 1108, a treaty was signed by Bohemond, taking an oath of vassalage of Antioch to Alexius, and he had to return to Italy. He never went back to Antioch, and died in Italy in 1111.
Tancred had spent his time wisely, building the Principality of Antioch. He also married wisely, taking Cecilia, daughter of King Philip of France, as bride. The match had been arranged by Bohemond.
He had border problems with Raymond of Toulouse, starting from the time of Raymond's siege of Tripoli, till Bertram, Raymond's son from France, came to an understanding with the Byzantine Emperor Alexius. They had agreed on a border which included some lands within the Principality of Antioch, which did not sit well with Tancred. With Baldwin of Jerusalem's help, the borders were fixed between Antioch and Tripoli. And Tancred lost Edessa. But Tancred received some fiefs within the Jerusalem area, including Tiberias, Nazareth, and the Templum Domini.
By the time of the Capture of Tripoli by Bertram in 1109, the Counties and Principalities were already established. The two became close allies, as Tancred came under siege in 1111 by the Turks, and it was Bertram who came to his aid. When Bohemond died that same year, Alexius demanded Antioch from Tancred, as per his treaty with Bohemond in 1108. Tancred refused, Bertram refused a bribe to help Alexius, and Baldwin backed up Tancred.
When Tancred died in December 1112, Bertram had already passed on in February of that same year. Pons, Bertrams son, had been sent to Tancred for training as a Knight. On Tancreds death, Pons was given four fiefs and Tancred's young wife, now widow, Cecilia. Roger of Salerno, son of Richard the Principate, was Tancred's successor in Antioch, and continued the friendship with Tripoli.
wars with the Arabs continued. The Selchukids attacked in 1113.
Names like Tughtigi, Bursuk ibn Bursuk of Hamadan, Il-Ghazi ibn-Artuk
of Mardin, Lu-Lu... all marched upon the Crusaders, all either being
defeated or making truces.