The Battle for Antioch in the First Crusade (1097-98) according to Peter Tudebode

Peter Tudebode was a Poitevin priest who was part of the First Crusade, perhaps with forces of the count of Toulouse. He wrote his account, the Historia de Hieroslymitano Itinere, by at least 1111, which was after many of the other important accounts of the First Crusade were written. Tudebode offers some new insights into the First Crusade, including a description of the death of one of his brother’s during the siege of Antioch. The following section begins with the Crusader army approaching the city of Antioch.

A 14th-century depiction of the crusaders' capture of Antioch from a manuscript in the care of the National Library of the Netherlands

As we approached the Farfar entrance, our scouts in their customary reconnoitering found a large Turkish army of reinforcements for Antioch massed against us. Of one accord our men rushed upon them skillfully and overwhelmed their adversaries decisively. Thrown into panic, the barbarians fled in wild abandon and left many dead on the field of battle. Having overpowered them with God’s help, our troops seized much loot, horses, camels, mules, and asses loaded with grain and wine. Shortly thereafter our main army moved up and encamped on the banks of the river, and soon the skilled Bohemond with four thousand knights took position before the gate of Antioch to prevent anyone who by chance might try a secret exit or entrance to the city.

On the following day, October 21, 1097, at midday the crusaders arrived before Antioch and placed a strangle hold on three sides of the city, since a tall and very steep mountain prevented a blockade from the fourth side. The hostile Turks within Antioch were so frightened that for almost fifteen days they did not harass any of our men. Soon we were ensconced in the neighborhood, where we found vineyards everywhere, pits filled with grain, apple trees heavy with fruit for tasty eating, as well as many other healthy foods. Although they had wives in Antioch, the Armenians and Syrians would leave the city under pretense of flight and would come to our camp almost every day. They slyly investigated us, our resources, and our strength and then reported on all that they had seen to the accursed Antiochians. After the Turks had been briefed on our situation and plans, they gradually slipped out of Antioch and harassed our pilgrims everywhere and, not restricting themselves to one sector, they made guerrilla attacks from sea to mountain.

In the vicinity of the enemy there was Harim, a castle where many of the most daring Turks, I say not a few but many, often gathered and made raids on our troops. Indeed our leaders were grief stricken when they received reports that the Turks in many areas mutilated and killed our pilgrims. They dispatched some knights who carefully combed the place for Turks, and after discovery of them our men pressed close and attacked. But gradually they began to retreat to a place where they knew that Bohemond lay hidden with his troops. Soon the Turks killed many of our knights; and thereafter when news of such, reached Bohemond, that most courageous athlete of Christ charged out and struck the pagans. However, the Turks, encouraged by our limited numbers, engaged us in combat. The Christians killed many of the enemy and led the captives before a gate of Antioch, where they decapitated them so as to bring sorrow to the Antiochians.

At this time some of the besieged climbed a gate above us and rained arrows into the camp of Bohemond. In the course of this action one woman lay dead from the wound of a speedy arrow. Our leaders then assembled and arranged a council, saying: “Let us build a castle on top of the mountain which rises above the enemies of Bohemond, and thereby we can remain secure and safe without fear of the Turks.” Upon completion and fortification of the fort, our leaders’ took turns guarding it.

Now before Christmas grain and all victuals became very scarce. But we were afraid to stray far, and we found no food in Christian lands, and no one had the courage, to forage in Saracen lands without a large host. At length our leaders called a council with the purpose of determining the way to set things right for the people. The council in turn decided that one contingent should search diligently for provisions as well as guard the army on all sides while the other group remained to watch the enemy closely.

Then Bohemond first spoke and said: “Lords and most wise, knights, if you favor it and the plan seems desirable and good, I shall go along with the most able Count of Flanders.” So following a most glorious celebration of Christmas, on Monday, the second day of the week, Bohemond and the Count of Flanders, along with twenty thousand knights and three thousand footmen, marched safely and untouched into Saracen territory. In fact, many, Turks, Arabs, and Saracens from, Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo, and innumerable other places had assembled en route to lift the siege of Antioch. On news of the Christian expedition into their land, the Turks at once made battle plans and at daybreak approached our united army. Thereupon they broke into two ranks and attempted to surround us from the vanguard and the rearguard.

Now the famous Count of Flanders, protected on all sides by faith and the insignia of the Cross, which incidentally he faithfully wore every day, accompanied by Bohemond, rushed against the Turkish mob. Our troops, in close order, struck the enemy, who immediately took to heel and fled hastily in panic, leaving many dead on the battlefield, as well as many horses and great booty which fell into our hands. The survivors rapidly fled hence and, as we think, to perdition. We then returned with great religious ceremony, praising and glorifying the triune God, who lives and reigns now and forever. Amen.

In the meantime the Antiochian Turks, those enemies of God and holy Christianity, after learning of the absence of Lord Bohemond and the Count of Flanders, swarmed out of the town and contemptuously moved to attack us. With their knowledge of the absence of some of our most experienced knights, they probed the weakest spots in our siege forces and discovered on Tuesday that they could strike and resist us. The accursed barbarians stealthily approached and, striking viciously the unwary and foolish Christians, killed many knights and footmen. On this bitter day, the Bishop of the Cathedral of the Holy Mary of Le Puy lost his seneschal, the carrier and protector of his banner. In fact, if the river had not flowed between us, the Turks would have struck our men more often and would have inflicted greater damage upon us, for to the camp our men fled in wild flight.

The sage Bohemond returned with his army from Saracen lands and crossed over Tancred’s mountain, thinking that by chance he might find portable goods. The army had scourged the land for provisions. Some warriors had been successful, but others had returned without spoils, and so these unfortunate ones hastened to return to camp. At this point Bohemond bellowed forth: “Oh! You unfortunate and most miserable people, You vilest and saddest of all Christians; why turn tail so hurriedly? Halt right now! Halt, I say, until we unite our forces; do not stray as do sheep without a shepherd. If the Turks, who watch and lie in ambush day and night in hope of killing or capturing you, find you are isolated or alone, surely they, will now kill you if you scatter in retreat.”

Following completion of this speech, the masses considered the proposition pro and con, and Bohemond found himself almost alone; yet with what he could find he returned to his army almost empty handed. In the meantime the Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks learned that our foraging forces had come back destitute. Consequently, after a council, they traveled across mountains and well-known places. There they scoured the countryside, buying grain and other foodstuff which they carried to camp where great famine gripped the besiegers. They sold an ass for eight hyperpoi, which is worth one hundred and twenty solidi in denarii. Despite this market many cru-saders died because they did not have the money for such inflated prices.

William Carpenter and Peter the Hermit, who were most unhappy and miserable, plotted together and sneaked out of camp. Immediately, Tancred followed their trail, seized them, and led the two back in great disgrace. They gave a pledge under oath to return of their own accord and make amends to all of the leaders. William, a despicable creature, lay all night in Bohemond’s tent. The next morning at daybreak William came blushing in shame to Bohemond, who addressed him thus: “Oh! You most miserable and infamous of all Franks. Oh! You most shameful and wicked one in all the provinces of Gaul. Oh! You vilest of all men whom the earth suffers; why did you flee so disgracefully? Perhaps, by this vile act you wished to betray these knights and the army of Christ as you surrendered others in Spain!”

William throughout all the tirade was silent and said not a word. So in a body all of the Franks humbly petitioned that Christian knight, Bohemond, that he desist from further punishment of the deserter. Bohemond then replied: “Because of your brotherly love I shall freely agree to your demands if William with all his heart and mind will swear that he will never abandon the journey to the Holy Sepulchre in good or bad times, and, furthermore, that Tancred will agree that neither he nor his friends shall harm him.”

William at once agreed to these terms, and Bohemond immediately dismissed him. But William was overwhelmed by his great humiliation and soon furtively slipped away from the siege. Thus because of our sins God spread poverty and misery in our ranks. There could not be found in all the crusading army one thousand knights who had good battle steeds.

In the beginning of the crusade the emperor, Alexius, had commissioned Taticius, along with rich and noble knights of his army, to conduct the Franks safely and to recover in fidelity the lands seized by the Turks. Now, when Taticius heard that a Turkish army had struck our forces, he lamented the fact because he thought that all had been killed or had fallen into the hands of the pagans. So devising and fabricating all kinds of lies which he could bring together, he spoke to the Latins as follows:

“Lords and most experienced men; you must see that we are pressed by most dire circumstances and that no aid is forthcoming. Think of this; let me return to Romania, and without a doubt I shall come back to you. In fact, I shall see to it that many ships shall come by sea laden with grain, wine, oil, meat, flour, cheese, and all other necessities. I shall provide a market for horses and shall rapidly send merchandise through the lands of the emperor. Understand I shall swear to the faithful execu-tion of these promises and in this place my tent and, my house- hold shall remain, and no one shall be skeptical but shall have complete confidence that I shall soon return.” Our enemy de-parted, leaving all his goods in camp and perjuring himself now and for eternity.

So after this we were in desperate straits because the Turks put pressure on us everywhere, and no one had the nerve to leave the encampment, so great was the fear of the enemy. They fettered and confined us on one side and then the other so that we were very sad and distraught. Our leaders were in great fear and the possibility of aid and succor was completely lacking. So the little people along with the miserably poor fled either to Cyprus, Romania, or the mountains. We did not dare go to the sea for fear of the evil Turks, and no road was open to us.

When our leaders heard that a host of Turks was approaching, they held a council and discussed the matter in such a manner: “Let us face it. A great Turkish army is poised to attack us; what shall we do? We are too weak to fight a two-front battle. But we can divide our forces into two parts with one part composed of footmen to guard our tents closely and to restrict the movement of the Antiochians. The other part formed of knights shall forthwith ride out against our enemy, which is bivouacked nearby in the castle Harim beyond the Orontes bridge.”

Late in the day they went from their tents across the river and held a council which declared the following: “We shall go against twenty-five thousand of our foes. Adhemar, Robert of Normandy, and Count Eustace shall remain to guard our camp from the besieged Antiochians.”

At daybreak they sent from our troops scouts to view the Turkish army and to determine where they were and to be sure what they were doing. These patrols sneaked out and began to search and investigate carefully the hidden location of their adversaries. They saw the scattered Turks coming from part of the river in two groups with their maximum force in the rear. Rushing back they yelled: “Here they come! Get ready! Get ready. The Turks are almost here.”

Our troops spread out and each leader formed his own battle order. Six lines were drawn up, five of which, with the Count of Flanders in the lead, rushed against the Turks. In the meantime in the rear, Bohemond advanced slowly with his men. Thus our soldiers took the offensive opportunely and closehanded fighting ensued. The clash of arms echoed to the very heavens and the shower of missiles darkened the elements. Following these preliminaries, the main Turkish division, held in reserve to the rear, launched a savage attack and forced us to retreat slowly.

Grieved by the sight of this retreat, Bohemond, ordered his constable, Robert, son of Gerard, in a spirited command:- “Remember the wisdom of antiquity, the bravery of your forebears, and, above all, how they made war. Go forth, armed on all sides with the Cross, as the most valorous Christian athletes and, as wise and experienced soldiers, strike the enemy while carrying the banner of Bohemond.”

The other division, upon the sight of Bohemond’s banner being carried so staunchly before them, returned to battle and in a united front struck their foes. The crusaders numbered seven hundred while the Turks had twenty-five thousand. So, the pagans, stunned by the turn of events, broke ranks and at once took to wild flight, only to be pursued closely by the Christians, who overwhelmed and destroyed them as far as the Orontes bridge. The Turks hurriedly returned to the Harim camp, took all goods in sight, plundered and put to torch the castle, and finally beat a hasty retreat. The Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks, on news of the Turkish disaster, followed them and from ambush killed and captured many of the fugitives. By God’s approval on that day our foes were cast down.

The crusaders recovered an adequate number of horses and other essentials. They also led back captives and carried one hundred heads of the slain Turks before a gate at Antioch, where legates of the emir of Babylon, who had been sent to the Count of Saint-Gilles and other lords, were encamped. Meanwhile, the Christians who had remained in camp battled daily with the Turks before three gates of Antioch. The above battle was fought on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, February the ninth, with the benediction of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for eternity. Amen.

With the help of God our soldiers returned celebrating and cheering the victory over the vanquished Turks, who in abject defeat fled willy-nilly, some into Corozan, and others into Saracen lands. Our leaders and lords were aware that the Antiochians harassed and restricted us day and night and that they watched and lay in ambush wherever they could injure or pester us. Consequently the crusaders assembled and in council decided: “Before we lose our army of God, let us build a castle at the mosque which faces the Bridge Gate and there, perhaps; we can immobilize our foes.” So they agreed unanimously in council that it was a good proposal.

The Count of Saint-Gilles spoke first and proposed: “Aid me in building the castle, and I shall fortify and protect it.”

Bohemond then interjected: “If you wish and the other lords are favorable, I shall go with you to Port Saint Simeon to escort safely the workers there who will certainly build the castle.. Those who remain shall be on the alert for defense if our, and God’s enemies should sneak out of Antioch. In the meantime the entire force shall assemble where we designate.” Thus the plan was carried out.

Raymond of Saint-Gilles and Bohemond marched out to Port Saint Simeon. We who remained came together according to instructions to build the fortification. On sight of this activity; the Turks readied themselves and marched out of Antioch in; battle array. Soon they swept upon us, routing our forces and causing us great sorrow and pain. On the following day, the Turks, now aware of the absence of the leaders from the siege and of the fact that they had passed to the port, on orders from the high command, launched an attack against the Christians coming from Saint Simeon. When they saw Raymond and Bohemond approaching as an escort for the mechanics, the Turks immediately began to hiss and chatter and to scream out in blood curdling cries and at the same time to press in while showering our men with missiles and arrows and wounding and cruelly slashing with their swords.

The Turkish attack was so overwhelming that our men took to their heels over the nearest mountain or the. most convenient path; and those who were swift of foot survived, but the laggards met death for the name of Christ. More than one thousand knights or footmen martyred on that day rose joyfully to heaven and, bearing the stole of customary white-robed martyrdom, glorified and praised our triune God in whom they happily triumphed; and they said in unison: “Our God! Why did you not protect our blood which was shed today for your name?”

Following a different road, Bohemond with a few knights gave his horse free rein and sped to the assembled group of beset crusaders. Burning with anger over the death of our men, we invoked the name of Jesus Christ and, being assured of the crusade to the Holy Sepulchre, moved as a united front against our foes and joined in battle with one heart and mind. The Turks, enemies of God and us, stood around stunned and paralyzed with fear because they thought that they could overwhelm and slaughter us as they had done the troops of Raymond and Bohemond.

But Omnipotent God permitted no such thing. Knights of the true God, protected on all sides by the sign of the Cross, rushed pell‑mell and courageously struck the Turks. In the ensuing rout the besieged scurried to safety by way of the narrow bridge to Antioch. The survivors, who could not push their way through the jam of people and horses, were snuffed out in everlasting death, and their miserable souls returned to the devil and his legions. We knocked them in the head and drove them into the river with our deadly lances so that the waters of the swift Orontes seemed to flow crimson with Turkish blood. If by chance one of them crawled up the bridge posts or struggled to swim to land, he was wounded. All along the river banks we stood pushing and drowning the pagans in the pull of the rapid stream.

The din of battle coupled with the screams of Christians and Turks rang out to the elements, and the rain of missiles and arrows darkened the sky and obscured the daylight. Strident voices within and without Antioch added to the noise. Chris-tian women of Antioch came to loopholes on the battlements, and in their accustomed way secretly applauded as they watched the miserable plight of the Turks. Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks, willingly or unwillingly, by daily orders of the tyranni-cal Turkish leaders, sped arrows against us. Twelve Turkish emirs in line of duty met death in soul and body as well as fifteen hundred of their most experienced and brave soldiers who were also the core of Antioch’s defense.

The survivors in Antioch did not have the esprit de corps to shout and gibber by day and night as had been their custom. Only night broke off the skirmishing of crusaders and their opponents and so ended the fighting, the hurling of javelins; the thrusting of spears, and the shooting of arrows. So by the strength of God and the Holy Sepulchre the Turks no longer possessed their former spirit, either in words or deeds. As a result of this day, we refitted ourselves very well in horses and other necessities.

At daylight on the following day, the Turks of the city sneaked out and gathered together all of the rotting bodies of the dead which they could find along the river banks, with the exception of those hidden in the river bed, and buried them at the mosque beyond the bridge, which was in front of the city gate. They buried along with their comrades cloaks, gold bezants, bows, arrows, and many other goods which we cannot name.

Our men immediately made preparations after receiving news of the burial of their foes and hastened to the diabolical chapel, where they duly ordered the corpses to be dug up, the tombs smashed, and the cadavers to be pulled out of their graves. They then tossed all of the bodies into a pit and carried the decapitated heads to their tents. Thus they had a perfect count of the casualties with the exception of four horse loads of heads carried to the lieutenants of the Emir of Cairo, who were encamped by the sea. The sight of this action caused the Turks to be dejected and grief‑stricken almost to death, and daily they did nothing but weep and wail.

On the third day following, happy and boastful we came together to build the forenamed castle with stones drawn from the tombs of the Turkish dead. Upon completion of the fort, we soon very skillfully put a strangle‑hold on the besieged, whose inflated arrogance was brought to nil. Each of our leaders strengthened the castle with a huge breastwork and wall, and they built on it two towers at the site of the mosque. Safely we rambled hither and thither to the port or to the mountain, praising and glorifying pleasantly and joyfully in one harmonious voice our Lord God to Whom is the honor and the glory throughout all eternity.

All of our leaders and princes entrusted the protection of the castle to Raymond of Saint-Gilles because he had more knights in his household and also more to give. He guarded the fort with his troops and the following leaders: Gaston of Bearn with his men; Viscount Peter of Castillon; Viscount Raymond of Turenne; William of Montpellier; Gouffier of Lastours; Peter Raymond of Hautpoul; and William of Sabran. These and many more along with his following, were with the count.

Raymond of Saint-Gilles secured knights and retainers through either wealth or compacts for the purpose of protecting the castle. One day the Turks came to the fort and after surrounding it on all sides screamed, shot volleys of arrows, and wounded and killed our defenders. Thus our camp was pinned down by arrow fire, and had not reinforcements from the other army come, great harm would have befallen them.

After this scene our leaders planned and made a great mole with which they could bore through the bridge. This done, from dawn on a certain day they battled above the bridge and dragged forward the mole. Many Turks were killed and the bridge was penetrated. At nightfall as our men lay asleep, the Turks of the city sneaked out, burned the mole, and restored the bridge, much to the great. irritation of the Christian army.

On another day the Turks led to the top of an Antiochian wall a noble knight, Rainald Porchet, whom they had imprisoned in a foul dungeon. They then told him that he should inquire from the Christian pilgrims how much they would pay for his ransom before he lost his head. From the heights of the wall Rainald addressed the leaders: “My lords, it matters not if I die, and I pray you, my brothers, that you pay no ransom for me. But be certain in the faith of Christ and the Holy Sepulchre that God is with you and shall be forever. You have slain all the leaders and the bravest men of Antioch; namely, twelve emirs and fifteen thousand noblemen, and no one remains to give battle with you or to defend the city.”

The Turks asked what Rainald had said. The interpreter replied: “Nothing good concerning you was said.”

The emir, Yaghi Siyan, immediately ordered him to descend from the wall and spoke to him through an interpreter: “Rainald, do you wish to enjoy life honorably with us?”

Rainald replied: “How can I live honorably with you without sinning?”

The emir answered: “Deny your God, whom you worship and believe, and accept Mohammed and our other gods. If you do so we shall give to you all that you desire such as gold, horses, mules, and many other worldly goods which you wish, as well as wives and inheritances; and we shall enrich you with great lands.”

Rainald replied to the emir: “Give me time for consideration;” and the emir gladly agreed. Rainald with clasped hands knelt in prayer to the east; humbly he asked God that He come to his aid and transport with dignity his soul to the bosom of Abraham.

When the emir saw Rainald in prayer, he called his interpreter and said to him: “What was Rainald’s answer?”

The interpreter then said: “He completely denies your god. He also refuses your worldly goods and your gods.”

After hearing this report, the emir was extremely irritated and ordered the immediate beheading of Rainald, and so the Turks with great pleasure chopped off his head: Swiftly the angels, joyfully singing the Psalms of David, bore his soul and lifted it before the sight of God for Whose love he had undergone martyrdom.

Then the emir, in a towering rage because he could not make Rainald turn apostate, at once ordered all the pilgrims in Antioch to be brought before him with their hands bound bend their backs. When they had come before him; he ordered them stripped stark naked, and as they stood in the nude he commanded that they be bound with ropes in a circle. He then had chaff, firewood, and hay piled around them, and finally as enemies of God he ordered them put to the torch.

The Christians, those knights of Christ, shrieked and screamed so that their voices resounded in heaven to God for whose love their flesh and bones were cremated; and so they all entered martyrdom on this day wearing in heaven their white stoles before the Lord, for Whom they had so loyally suffered in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is the honor and glory now and throughout eternity. Amen.

Now all the trails used by the Turks were blocked and cut off with the exception of a part of the Orontes where a castle and a monastery were located. If this castle had been impregnable, no one would have had the courage to sally out of the city gate. Consequently, our men met in council and unanimously said: “Let us pick someone from our number who can hold the fort steadfastly and can effectively block the enemy from the mountain, the plain, and the entrance and exit to Antioch.” Many refused to pitch camp there unless united action was taken.

Then Tancred first came forward and offered: “If I have the assurance that it will be advantageous to me, I shall not only zealously strengthen the castle with my troops, but I shall energetically deny the way by which our enemies have so frequently worried us.”

Immediately the council pledged four hundred marks of silver. Tancred then responded forthwith, and alone with his most distinguished knights and followers moved out and soon thereafter blocked the road and the path so that none of them, already terrified by Tancred, dared to go outside the gate of Antioch for fodder, wood, or other essential goods.

Tancred kept his position there at the castle along with his men and began a tight hold on Antioch. On the same day a large number of Armenians and Syrians came securely from the mountains packing provisions for the assistance of the beleaguered Turks in Antioch. Tancred intercepted them and at once seized the traders and all of their pack train, which carried grain, wine, barley, oil, and like goods. Thus Tancred conducted affairs so vigorously and fortunately that he had all paths blocked and cut off until Antioch was captured.

All of the events which occurred before the capture of Antioch I can neither name nor relate; consequently, I shall hereafter write of a few. I suggest that there is no person in this area, be he clerk or layman, who could in every respect either orally or in writing record the true events. There was a Turkish emir, Firuz, who became very friendly with Bohemond. Often through mutual messengers Bohemond suggested that Firuz admit him to Antioch; and, in turn, the Norman offered him the Christian religion along with great wealth from many possessions. Firuz, in accepting these provisions, replied: “I pledge freely the delivery of three towers of which I am a custodian, and I shall turn them over voluntarily at whatever hour he wishes.”

Bohemond, now sure of entrance into Antioch, and delighted over his plan, came before the leaders with a calm expression and an assured mind and confidently brought forth the happy proposal in these words: “Men! Most experienced knights! You see how all of us, great and small, are exposed to abject poverty and are dismally ignorant of the means by; which our fortune may change for the better. If this plan seems advantageous and fair, then let one from your ranks, chosen by you, set himself as leader; and if he can acquire Antioch by any clever method, or by himself, or through the help of others devise Antioch’s fall, let us unanimously agree to give it him.”

All the leaders rejected and blocked the scheme and said: “No one shall be given the city and all shall possess it equally. Since we have toiled equally, we shall share equally its possessions.” Following this reaction, a scowling Bohemond immediately turned heel on the dissenters.

Shortly thereafter all of our leaders received news of an enemy army composed of Turks, Publicans, Agulani, Azymites, and many other nations of people whom I can neither number nor identify. Forthwith our commanders assembled and in council concluded: “If Bohemond can seize Antioch either through himself or others, we shall of our own free will give it to him on the condition that, if Alexius should come to our aid and should wish to carry out all the conventions which he promised and pledged to us, we shall return Antioch in accordance with justice. If Alexius does not do so, Bohemond shall have eternal possession.”

Bohemond wasted no time and daily began to make humble requests of his friend, Firuz, and to give assurances with abject promises and saccharine words in the following manner: “It is now the proper time to carry out our plan; therefore my friend, Firuz, help me.”

Firuz was pleased with Bohemond’s message and said: “I will aid in all commitments which I am obligated to carry out.” On the next night Firuz sneaked his son to Bohemond to give him greater assurance of his entrance to Antioch. Then he sent the following message: “Have the heralds blow their trumpets and assemble the Frankish people so that they may rush forth and pretend to ravage Saracen lands, and afterwards return rapidly by the mountain on the left. I shall be on the lookout ready for these troops, whom I shall conduct safely into the towers which I guard.”

Then Bohemond at once summoned a sergeant, Big Crown, and instructed him as a herald to proclaim immediately his order to the Frankish army to prepare for a march into Saracen lands. So it was done. Soon after this Bohemond revealed his plans to Duke Godfrey, the Count of Flanders, the Count of Saint-Gilles, and the Bishop of Le Puy and told them, “If God wills, on this night Antioch will fall to us.” With the completion of instructions the knights took to the plain and the footmen to the mountain, and all night they maneuvered and marched until almost daybreak, when they came to the towers which Firuz guarded.

Bohemond immediately dismounted and addressed the group: “Go in dare-devil spirit and great elan, and mount the ladder into Antioch, which shall soon be in our hands if God so wills.” They then went to a ladder, which was raised and lashed to the walls of the city, and almost sixty of our men scaled the ladder and divided their forces in the towers guarded by Firuz.

Firuz was soon frightened when he saw such a small band of Christians and, apprehensive that he and our soldiers be captured by the Turks, exclaimed, “Micho francos echome;” which means “We have few Franks.” He further inquired, “Where is Bohemond? Where is that invincible knight?”

In the meantime a southern Italian retainer clambered down the ladder and rushing to Bohemond yelled: “Man! Why do you stand here, wise man? Why did you come here? Behold, we already have three towers.”

Bohemond along with the rest of the crusaders then jumped to action and en masse happily and joyously moved to the ladder. The occupants of the towers upon seeing the reinforcements whooped: “God wills it,” and we echoed the same. At once the Christians amazingly began to mount and scale the ladder to the three towers, and once on top rushed to other towers. They swiftly dispatched all of the guards of the towers including the brother of Firuz.

In the meantime the scaling ladder by chance broke and thereby caused such great distress and dejection that we were soon stunned and saddened. Though the ladder was smashed, there was a closed gate nearby to our left which was unknown to some of us because of darkness; but by feeling around and closely searching where it was hidden, we rushed to it, crashed down the gate, and poured into Antioch. At once innumerable shouts broke the silence. The ever active Bohemond commanded that his honorable banner be unfurled on the hill opposite the citadel, for indeed Antioch was now filled with the wailing of its inhabitants.

At sunup the crusaders who were outside Antioch in their tents, upon hearing piercing shrieks arising from the city, raced out and saw the banner of Bohemond flying high on the hill. Thereupon they rushed forth and each one speedily came to his assigned gate and entered Antioch, killing Turks and Saracens whom they found, with the exception of the fugitives who took refuge in the citadel. Some Turkish knights fled by way of the middle gates and saved their lives by flight. Yaghi Siyan, commander of Antioch, in great fear of the Franks, took to heel along with many of his retainers. In his flight Yaghi Siyan and his fellows entered the territory of Tancred, which was nearby Antioch. Because of their worn‑out horses, they went into a village and took refuge in a house. Recognizing Yaghi Siyan, the Armenian and Syrian inhabitants of the mountain seized and beheaded him on the spot and carried his head to Bohemond, for which act they received their freedom. In addition, they sold his sword belt and scabbard for sixty bezants. These events took place on Thursday, June 3rd. All of the streets of Antioch were choked with corpses so that the stench of rotting bodies was unendurable, and no one could walk the streets without tripping over a cadaver.

In the past, Yaghi Siyan had often sent a messenger to Kerbogha, military chief of the Persian sultan, while he was still in Corozan, urging Kerbogha to come at the most opportune time because a very brave and formidable Frankish army had Antioch in a vise. Yaghi Siyan went on to promise his immediate surrender of Antioch to Kerbogha or great wealth if help was forthcoming. Kerbogha began his long journey from Corozan to Antioch soon thereafter, because he had already enlisted a large army over a long period of time, and he had also received permission from the caliph, pope of the Moslems, to kill Christians. The emir of Jerusalem with his army, as well as the king of Damascus with a large contingent, joined forces with him. Kerbogha also brought together from all parts innumerable masses of pagans; namely, Turks, Arabs, Saracens, Publicans, Azymites, Kurds, Persians, Agulani, and many other people whom I cannot name or number. There were three thousand Agulani who feared neither lances, arrows, nor arms because they and their horses were wearing iron armor, and they fought only with swords.

This horde came to the siege of Antioch intent on scattering the Frankish invaders. As they approached Antioch, Shams ad Daulah, son of Yaghi Siyan, intercepted them and, rushing into the presence of Kerbogha, tearfully begged him in these words: “Oh! Most invincible prince, I humbly pray to you and seek your judgment with faithful submissiveness as to the extent you will aid. You can see that the Franks have blocked me on all sides in the citadel of Antioch. They now hold the city, and they demand us to clear out of Romania, Syria, yes, even Corozan. They have achieved all that they wished, once they killed my father, and nothing else remains to them unless they kill me, you, and all yours, and all of our race with the sword. For a long time I have often faithfully awaited your arrival, and I am uncertain if you will help me in this peril.”

Kerbogha, in reply, promised: “If you desire my wholehearted cooperation with you and my loyal help in this peril, then turn over the citadel to me, and you shall see how I shall come to your aid; and I shall place my men to guard the citadel.”

Then Shams ad Daulah replied to Kerbogha: “If you can kill all of the Franks and chop their heads off and carefully bring them to me, I shall truly give you the before-mentioned citadel; and, finally, I shall pay homage to you and protect the citadel in fealty.”

Kerbogha demanded: “It is impossible for you to sit around and think and cogitate. You must surrender the citadel to me at once.” So reluctantly Shams ad Daulah turned over the citadel to the atabeg of Mosul.

On the third day after we had entered Antioch, the vanguard of our foes made its appearance before the city. Kerbogha’s main army had encamped at the Orontes bridge. There they besieged a tower and massacred all of the defenders with the exception of the captain, whom we later found bound in chains after the great battle. On the next day the pagan horde broke camp and moved near Antioch, where it pitched tents between the two streams and remained there for two days.

Peter Tudebode then includes a fictional account where Kerborga goes to speak with his mother, where she informs him that the Christians are destined to be victorious.

On the third day of the siege Kerbogha made battle preparations, and a large army of Turks accompanied him to the citadel sector. Under the impression that we could match their might, we took up battle positions; but their strength was so awesome that we could not oppose them, and so in disarray we re-entered Antioch. Because of the narrow and cramped gate, many of our fugitives were crushed to death in the jam.

All through this Thursday within and without the walls of Antioch, the Christians fought even until sundown. Likewise, on Friday they battled all day, and the Turks slew many of our men. On this day, Arvedus Tudebodus, a most worthy knight, was wounded. His friends carried him into the city, where he lived until Saturday. On this day between nones and sext he left this world, living now in Christ. His brother, a priest, buried him before the western portal of the church of the blessed Apostle Peter. This brother along with the Christians in Antioch greatly feared death by decapitation. We pray that all readers and listeners give alms and pray for the soul of Arvedus Tudebodus and for all of the departed souls on the journey to Jerusalem.

On this day William Grandmesnil, his brother Alberic, Ivo of Grandmesnil, William of Bernella, Guido Trosellus and William, brother of Richard, and Lambert the Pauper, overwhelmed by fear after yesterday’s battle, which had lasted until vespers, secretly lowered themselves from the walls, and in the dark of night fled on foot to the coast. In the course of their flight they stripped the flesh of their hands and feet to the bone. Others, whose names I do not know, secretly fled with them. Upon their arrival at the port of Saint Simeon where ships were docked, they inquired from the sailors: “Why do you wretches stay here? All of our friends are dead, and we almost lost our lives because the Turkish army has besieged Antioch on all sides.”

The sailors, upon receipt of this news, stood dumfounded and overwhelmed with fear and therewith rushed to their ships and sailed away. At this time the Turks arrived upon the scene and killed the Christians whom they found, put to torch the ships anchored in the mouth of the river, and seized their goods. We who remained in the city could not equal the power and arms of the Turks, and so we built between the citadel and us a wall which we guarded day and night. In the meantime we were so hungry that we ate horses and asses. Besides we lived in such mortal terror of the Turks that many of our leading men wished to flee by night as had the deserters.

The account then deals with the visions Peter Bartholomew and another priest named Stephen have concerning the Holy Lance, before resuming with the Muslim siege.

The Turks in the commanding citadel pressed our troops so vigorously that they surrounded three of our knights on a certain day in a tower which stood before their fort. The pagans rushed out of the citadel and struck the Christians so hard that they could not resist their courageous charge. Two of the wounded crusaders abandoned the tower, but the third one defended himself all day so cleverly from the Turkish attacks that on that occasion he knocked down two Turks at the entrance of the walls with broken spears. In the course of the day three spears broke in his hands. The knight was Hugh le Forsenet of the army of Godfrey of Monte Scaglioso.

Bohemond and Tancred could not induce their men to storm the citadel because they were shut up in houses and reluctant to fight, some because of hunger and some because of fear of the Turks. Bohemond, greatly angered by this inaction, at once ordered the quarters of Yaghi Siyan put to the torch. The crusaders, on viewing the mounting flames fanned by a brisk wind, abandoned the houses and fled with booty, some toward the mountain before the citadel, others to the gate of Raymond of Saint-Gilles, and yet others to the gate of Duke Godfrey, and thus each returned to his unit. In the course of the fire Bohemond was greatly distressed because he feared that the churches of Saint Peter and Saint Mary would burn because the conflagration blazed from the third hour until midnight and burned two thousand churches and homes. In the middle of the night the wind calmed and the fire smouldered out.

The Turkish force of the citadel fought day and night with us within Antioch, and nothing separated us but force of arms. At one time four emirs, completely clad in gold armor, came out with the Turks, leading horses likewise encased in gold armor to the knee joints. Our men, who were so hard pressed that they had no time to eat bread or to drink water, were so impressed by this sight that they could endure it no longer. So they erected a wall between them and the mountain and built a fortress-like castle and machines of war so that they could be secure.

Another group of Turks was encamped around Antioch in a valley apart from the others. At nightfall fire from the heavens appeared from the west and fell in among the Turkish troops, astonishing both Turks and Christians. At daybreak the Turks, terrified by the celestial fire, fled hither and thither. However, they surrounded us in Antioch so completely that no one dared enter or leave except stealthily by night. Thus we were besieged and oppressed by the other pagans, enemies of God and Blessed Christianity. They numbered three hundred and sixty‑five thousand with the exception of the Emir of Jerusalem, who was there with his soldiers, and the King of Damascus, along with his people, as well as the King of Aleppo with his men.

Consequently, the profane enemies of God held us so closely surrounded in Antioch that many of our people starved to death because of high prices. A small loaf of bread cost a bezant of gold, and of the price of wine I shall not speak; there was not even a jug of it. One hen sold for fifteen solidi, an egg cost two solidi, a nut brought one denarius, three or four beans were worth one denarius, and a small goat cost sixty solidi. The belly of one goat was worth two solidi; the tail of a ram varied in price from three to nine denari. The tongue of a camel, which is small, brought four solidi. The crusaders likewise ate and sold meat of horses and asses. They cooked leaves of figs, vines, and trees in water and then ate them. Some put the hides of horses, asses, camels, oxen, and wild buffalo, dried for five or six years, into water for two nights and a day; and after mingling them with the water, boiled and ate them. There were many anxieties and hardships suffered in the name of Christ and for the journey of freeing the Holy Sepulchre; in fact, far more than I can recount. As servants of God we suffered such tribulations as well as starvation and fear for twenty-six days.

The shameless Stephen of Blois, head of our army, whom our chieftains had elected their leader before the fall of Antioch, under the pretense of an illness basely retired to another camp called Alexandretta. Deprived of life-saving help while be-sieged in Antioch, we daily expected him to assist us to the best of his ability. Yet, following news of the Turkish encirclement and blockade of us, Stephen sneaked up a nearby mountain, gazed upon countless tents of the foe, and as a result retired. Suddenly he was terror stricken and disgracefully fled in wild flight with his army. Upon arrival in his camp, he shipped it, of goods and cowardly returned in haste. Afterwards he came to Alexius at Philomelium, approached him in secret and in private related: “You may as well know the truth. Antioch has fallen, but the citadel has not, and all of our men are so griev-ously beset that I think that at this moment they have been killed by the Turks. Retreat as rapidly as you can lest they find you and your following.”

Then the frightened Basileus summoned Guy, the brother of Bohemond, and others and asked: “Lords, what shall we do? Think about it. All of our soldiers are caught in a severe siege and perhaps in this very hour are dead at Turkish hands or have been led into captivity, at least so this unhappy count and shameful fugitive relates. If you wish, let us retrace our course rapidly rather than die swiftly as have our allies.”

When that most worthy knight, Guy, heard such lies, along with everyone he began to cry, to shriek, and to beat his breast violently. Then all of one accord the Christians implored: “Oh! True and triune God, why did you permit this to happen? Why did you so soon abandon your journey and the freeing of the Holy Sepulchre? Surely if the word which this base one reported to us is true, then we and all Christians shall desert you; neither shall we call you to mind in the future nor even one of us will dare to invoke Your name.” This report of events cast such a gloomy pall over the army that no one, that is, archbishop, bishop, abbot, priest, clerk, or any of the laity had the nerve to invoke the name of Jesus Christ for many days.

No one could console Guy who cried, beat his breast, wrung his hands, and wailed: “Poor me! Such has happened to Bohemond, the honor and glory of all of the world, the one whom the universe feared and loved. Alas! Such sadness for me. I am denied the sight of your most honest face, a sight which I coveted above all. Would I could die for you, my sweetest friend and lord? Why was I not stillborn? Why did fate bring me to this sorrowful day? Why didn’t I die in the sea? Why did I not meet sudden death by falling from a horse and breaking my neck? I wish that I could have received happy martyrdom and could have viewed your most glorious death.”

Following this outburst, all rushed to him to give comfort so that he would put an end to his laments. Finally Guy, composed himself and said: “Perhaps you believe this old disgraceful knight, Stephen. Listen, I have never heard of any of his military exploits. But he has fled basely and disgracefully just as an evil and wretched man. Whatever the wretch says, you will know that it is a lie.”

In the meantime Alexius gave the following commands to his troops: “Go and lead all of the people of this land into Bulgaria and carry booty and scorch the earth so that the Turks will find nothing upon their arrival.” Reluctantly, our people retraced their steps, sorrowing and mourning bitterly even to death. Many pilgrims weakened by disease could not keep pace with the troops and lay dying along the way, while all of the; others returned to Constantinople.

During this time, we who were in Antioch had heard the report of Peter Bartholomew, which told how the Apostle Saint Andrew came and showed him the Lance of Jesus Christ and its hiding place. Then Peter came to Raymond of Saint-Gilles and told him to go to the church of Saint Peter where the Lance was hidden. Following this news Raymond joyfully came to the church, and there Peter showed him the place before the door of the choir to the right side. There from morning to evening twelve men dug a deep hole and Peter found the Lance of Jesus Christ, just as Saint Andrew had disclosed, on the fourteenth, day, of incoming June. They accepted it with great joy; and singing Te Deum laudamus they bore it happily to the altar. Thus great euphoria seized the city. Upon report of this discovery the Frankish army came to Saint Peter’s Church to see the Lance. Likewise Greeks, Armenians, and Syrians came singing in high pitch Kyrie eleison and saying: “Kalo Francia fundari Christo exsi.”

After these events all the crusaders assembled in a council to decide how to wage battle with the Turks. But first all approved the idea of sending a courier to Kerbogha and God’s enemies, the Turks, who would question them as follows: “Why do you enter Christian lands?” So they sent Peter the Hermit and Herluin, an interpreter and instructed them: “Go to the accursed Turks and wisely converse with them and ask them why they boldly and haughtily entered our Christian lands?” Continue to ask: “Do you know that many of our people wonder why you have come here? We believe, perhaps, that you have come to accept Christianity and that you believe in the one true Lord, born of the Virgin Mary, in whom we believe. If, indeed, you come without this in mind, our leaders, both great and small, beg you to depart hastily from the land of God and the Christians in which the Blessed Apostle Peter a long time ago preached the Gospel and recalled it to the Christian religion, and afterward was elected first bishop. If you follow their requests, the leaders will permit you to depart with all of your possessions; that is, horses, mules, asses, camels, and sheep; and further, they will allow you to take cattle and all other equipment you wish to go from the land.”

Then Kerbogha, commander of the army of the Persian sultan, with all of his emirs was filled with arrogant pride, and replied in an insolent manner: “Indeed, we neither, desire nor want your God or your Christianity, and we completely: reject you and all of your beliefs. Do you think that we came this far in order to marvel why nobility, great and small, whom you might call to mind, should claim this land, which we with courage snatched from an effeminate people? Now do you wish to hear our reply? Return as rapidly as you can and tell your leaders that if all your forces wish to become Turks and to renounce your God with bowed neck, we shall give them this land and much more; namely, cities, castles, wives, and very great inheritances so that henceforth no one shall remain a footman, but all shall be knights just as we are; and we shall always cherish them in dearest friendship. If they refuse to do, so, let them know that all shall be killed or led in chains into everlasting captivity in Corozan to serve us and our descendants for eternity.”

Our messengers quickly returned to the Christians and, reported all this and how the very cruel people replied to them. In the interim our army, demoralized by fear, was undecided on a course of action. In fact they were on the horns of a dilemma; caught on one side by cruel hunger and on the other paralyzed by fear of the Turks. Nevertheless, the Christians carried out instructions just as the Lord Jesus Christ had commanded them through the priest, Stephen, with three days of fasting: and by confessing their sins, by processions from one church to another, by absolution, and by faithfully receiving communion of the body and blood of Christ. They also gave alms to the poor and celebrated masses.

Then they drew up six lines inside Antioch. In the first rank was Hugh the Great with the Franks and the Count of Flanders; in the second was Duke Godfrey and his army. The Norman Robert and his men were in the third group. In the fourth was Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy, carrying with him the Lance of our Saviour Jesus Christ, along with his troops and the Provencal army. Raymond of Saint-Gilles remained behind in Antioch to guard the mountain because of fear that the defenders of the citadel would attack the city. In the fifth was Tancred, son of the marquis, with his troops, accompanied by Gaston of Bearn with his soldiers and those of the Count of Poitou. In the sixth, was Bohemond and his crusaders.

Our bishops, priests, clerks, and monks, clad in sacerdotal garments, marched out of Antioch with the army, carrying crosses in their hands, praying and begging God that He save them and guard and deliver them from all peril and evil. Others stood on the wall by the gate of Antioch, holding sacred crosses in their hands, making the sign of the Cross, and blessing the army. Thus arrayed in battle formation and protected by the sign of the Cross, the crusaders began to march out of Antioch by the gate which is before La Mahomerie.

When Kerbogha saw the Frankish army leave Antioch, one formation following another in well-executed maneuvers, he commanded: “Permit them to come out of Antioch so that we can have a better chance of capturing the main force.” The footmen of Hugh the Great and the Count of Flanders first marched out, and then each rank followed in its order. Following the emergence of the Christian army from the city, Kerbogha became very apprehensive when he saw the great size of the Frankish forces. Consequently, he instructed the emir who was commander of the field operation that if he saw a signal fire rise in the front ranks that he should immediately sound retreat and withdraw Turkish forces, because he would know that they had lost the day. Kerbogha at once little by little began to retire toward the mountain, only to be followed by our army in like moves.

Then the Turks split their forces; one marched toward the sea while the other kept its position. By this move they hoped to trap our army between the two units. Upon observing the Turkish move, our forces formed a seventh line from the troops of Duke Godfrey and the Count of Normandy and made Count Rainardus commander of it. This unit moved against the Turkish contingents coming from the sea. The Turks then engaged them in battle and inflicted heavy casualties with arrows. Our other group drew up ranks between the river and the mountain, a distance of two miles. The second Turkish force began to advance from their position and to surround our men and to wound them by hurling missiles and shooting arrows.

In addition, a vast army riding white horses and flying white banners rode from the mountains. Our forces were, very, bewildered by the sight of this army until they realized that it was Christ’s aid, just as the priest, Stephen, had predicted. The leaders of this heavenly host were Saint George, the Blessed Demetrius, and the Blessed Theodore. Now this report is credible because many Christians saw it. The Turkish division flanking the sea became aware of their inability to endure more and kindled a grass fire so that the view of it would precipitate the flight of those in camp. At the sight of the signal fire, the Turks seized and fled with all of their prized possessions and booty.

Our soldiers gradually fought their way to the Turkish tents where the greatest resistance lay. Duke Godfrey, the Count of Flanders, and Hugh the Great rode along the banks of the river, where the Turkish strength was concentrated. Protected by the sign of the Cross, this force was the first to launch a coordinated assault on Kerbogha’s troops. After observing this attack, our other line struck the enemy. The Turks and other pagans then yelled out; and our men, appealing to the One and True God, spurred their mounts against the foe. Thus in the name of Jesus Christ and the Holy Sepulchre they engaged in battle, and with God’s help the Christians overwhelmed the infidels.

The shocked Turks took to flight closely pursued by our men as far as their tents. Our knights of Christ, more zealous to pursue than search for plunder, chased them as far as the Orontes bridge and at length to Tancred’s castle. The Turks abandoned their tents in addition to gold, silver, many trappings, sheep, cattle, horses, mules, camels, grain, wine, flour, and an abundance of other goods necessary to our welfare. The Armenian and Syrian inhabitants of the area, after news of our conquest of the Turks, circled around the mountain to cut them off and killed as many as they could catch! We returned, to Antioch joyously, lauding and blessing God, Who bestowed victory upon His people. The emir, custodian of the citadel, was greatly angered and at the same time frightened when he saw Kerbogha and all of the pagan host abandoning the battlefield before the Frankish army, and in haste he began to seek a Frankish banner. The Count of Saint-Gilles, who stood guard before the citadel, gave orders for his banner to be carried to the emir, who forthwith accepted it gladly, and carefully flew it from the highest tower! Later he sought the banner of Bohemond, who gave it to him after the battle. So the emir received Bohemond’s banner with great delight and pleasure. In addition, he made a pact with Bohe-mond by which those who wished to be Christians could, join the Norman’s forces, and those who wished to go into Corozan could travel there safe and sound. Bohemond accepted, the emir’s demands and immediately posted his men in the citadel. Shortly thereafter the emir was baptized along with those who chose to accept Christ; and Bohemond had those who refused to turn apostate to be led into Saracen lands. This battle was fought on the twenty-eighth of June, the vigil of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is the honor and glory throughout eternity. Amen.

This translation comes from, Peter Tudebode: Historia de Hierosolymitano Itinere (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974). The American Philosophical Society has given us permission to republish this section.

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