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Feb 22, 2004
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Eastern Ambition: An Antioch AAR


"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".
- Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene I

A Brief History of the Principality of Antioch, to 1187

Of all the great leaders of the First Crusade Bohemond was not the richest, nor the most pious, nor even the leader of the largest army. But he was a Norman, and possessed that same hard headed ruthlessness and drive that had won England and Sicily and would later prove itself in Wales and Ireland. The son of Robert Guiscard set out to carve himself an independent throne - and did so. From Bohemond on the Princes of Antioch paid as little heed to the King in Jerusalem as to the Emperor in Constantinople. At times they might bow to greater force but the submission was never permanent, and always the Prince would shake off any ties of vassaldom. Antioch was no one else's fief.

Bohemond had cheated the Emperor of Antioch in 1098, and often during the next century it was to be the Byzantine Empire rather than the Muslims that was the great enemy of Antioch. When crafty Bohemond overeached himself permanently in his feud with the Emperor, his nephew Tancred gleefully stepped into power as regent, and Roger of Salerno after him. Bohemond II was not the man his father had been and after his death in 1131 the Principality passed to his daughter Constance and her consorts. The Principality had no choice but to accept the authority of the Emperor. Eventually Constance's son, Bohemond (the third of that name) claimed his due and ended up exiling his mother from the city.

Bohemond III ruled one of the great Christian cities, but his patrimony was always on a knife edge. He might succeed in shaking off the grip of the Emperor, but with the Muslims united under a capable and willing leader the future for the Principality - for the entire Frankish East looked in doubt by 1187...


Greetings all. Having been reading my Runciman I decided the time was right to write a (literally) Crusader Kings AAR. Antioch isn't a strong country, but I have high hopes things will at least be entertaining. Well guess we'll see. :)
Bohemond III ("the Stammerer") , Prince of Antioch (1163-1193)

Part 1

At the beginning of 1187 Bohemond III had ruled Antioch for twenty-three years. He was imaginative and had an eye for the ladies, though as his unfortunate sobriquet indicates he may not have been quite so successsful as he may have wished. Still he had produced four legitimate children, the eldest of whom, one Raymond stood in good stead to inherit the Principality. More of him anon however.

For Bohemond's later years our primary source is, unfortunatly, the historian Gilles of Aleppo. Gilles (died 1275?) enjoyed a moderately high contemporary reputation, though recently historians have questioned the impartiallity, or even the existence of such scholars as "Louis of Aleppo", "Marc of Aleppo" and "Gillies of Alrppo" (indeed the last is possibly solely due to a 13th century translation error.) Modern historians have almost unanimously castigated Gilles as short sighted, petty, lazy, credulous and entirely concerned with producing propaganda for the Princes of Antioch. His year and place of birth remain obscure but he was certainly born after the death of Bohemond III. Fortunatly Gilles quotes (or shamelessly plagirised) other, now forgotten, chroniclers.

"In the year of our Lord 1188 the infidel burghers of St Symeon [Antioch's seaport], doubtless supported by the perifidious Emperor comitted devious and treachorous acts against their good lord Bohemond, Prince of Antioch... The Prince in his wisdom and justice smote the villains and exiled and put to death a great portion of them till the town and countryside were left in the hands of good Christians and the wicked alliance of Greek and Turk foiled."
- Gilles of Aleppo

Aside from the slanderous and entirely fictional claim that the Emperor instigated the riots, and also the implication that it was a pious, rather than the happy result of a pramatic decision by Bohemond Gilles has his facts mostly right.

In February 1188 a dispute with the merchants of St Symeon led the Prince to send in troops to crush the rioting Muslims. In the aftermath many of the malcontents converted or fled and the province was indeed left with a Catholic majority.

That year Naples went to war with the Ayyubid dynasty, saving the Frankish East. For Gilles it was the perfect oppurtunity for war, though he is unable to conceal his dissapointment that Bohemond went to war with Aleppo (in March 1191) rather than the "real" enemy (ie. the Byzantine Empire). He soon perks up however, describing the capture of his home city in loving detail including a breathless account of Saint Anthony hiself revealing the weak spot in the city walls to Bohemond in a dream (Arab chroniclers unaccountably fail to mention this, instead focusing on Aleppo's lack of troops - off fighting the Neapolitans - and the city surrendering after two months of siege).

The capture of Aleppo was undeniably a great achievement; for a century this great Muslim city had been a power in Syria, and even if its importance had waned it's glamour had not. Raymond, Bohemond's eldest son was appointed lord of the city, with what seemed unseemly haste. There was a reason: An-Nasir, the Caliph was approaching with an army more than twice that of Bohemond. The decisive battle would be fought outside Antioch itself.

What happened next is somewhat unclear. The Antiochene army was almost wiped out; with only the Prince and his court including his second son Bohemond the Younger escaping back into the city. The Caliph and the representative of Salah al-Din then made a deal which Bohemond accepted: peace in exchange for the contents of Antioch's treasury. At the moment of destruction the Principality was saved. It was not until a few days later that it became apparent why; the Pope had declared a Crusade on Alexandria and Salah al-Din must have decided his troops were needed elsewhere. Remarkably Bohemond had survived. For once Gilles was not alone in seeing the hand of God in this.

For the next two years Bohemond rebuilt his army and soldified his gains, as Antioch recovered from the war. Whatever his plans were they would be cut short: the Prince suddenly passed away on 10 June 1193, leaving the crown to his son Raymond, lord of Aleppo.


The Principality of Antioch at the death of Bohemond III
I foresee a Christian Middle East.;) Once again the Lord's people will reign supreme!

Raymond II ("the Great" or "the False"), Prince of Antioch (1193-1231), King of Aleppo (1210-1231), King of Syria (1225-1231), and so on.

Part 2

Raymond II would go on both to turn his Principality into a great and powerful Christian kingdom in the East... and become one of the most widely despised villains in Christendom. He was, at least in his youth a scholastic religious young man who would end up with fifteen (known) children.

Here is how he managed it.

The young Prince, after taking over his patrimony bided his time. The Third Crusade was keeping the Abbuyids occupied but they were still (in the 1190's) too strongly entrenched to consider attacking. As chance would have it another, more realistic opportunity arose nearby: the Turks of Rum had been enlarging their domain at the expense of the Armenians. A temporary distraction in Trebizond, an Armenian stronghold at this time had exposed Teluch to Antiochene interference and in 1197 Raymond marched too war.

The Cilician campaigns of 1197 to 1203 would end up with Antioch taking as much land and wealth from Christian Armenians as from Turkish Muslims, but Gilles of Aleppo was not entirely wrong to say the wars were "the righteous death blow to the heathen Turk." The Seldjuk Sultanate of Rum was weakened by war with Antioch, as its collapse over the following two decades would show. Ironically, as Gilles entirely fails to note, the main beneficiary was the hated Byzantine Empire who would go on to retake much of Anatolia and Cyprus - much to the jealousy of Antioch.

In 1203 Raymond had secured a remarkable alliance; marriage to Hedwiga von Hohenstaufen, the impressively named and even more impressively related daughter of the western Emperor Heinrich. Though our faithful chronicler was perhaps exaggerating when he claimed "[Hedwiga] was the most famed beauty in Christendom" she was a great prize nonetheless. The following year Raymond freed Tortosa from the Muslims, who had themselves taken the port from the Hospitilars. Had he died at this point Raymond would simply have been regarded as a successful and ambitious prince. As it was fate (or perhaps someone else) had other plans...

The Third Crusade had seen the collapse of the Abbuyids in Egypt (which became a patchwork of German Crusader states), the revival of the Abbasids and the eventual fall of Jerusalem to the Caliphate. For a time the Abbuyid position in the North had remained strong, but the death of Saladin had left his empire in the hands of a child. In 1204, the same year Raymond took Tortosa, the Emir of Homs had revolted, leaving the rump Emirate of Edessa cut off from the remains of the Abbuyids in Africa. Raymond, his strength recovered from Cilicia could hardly resist the temptation and went to war. The Abbuyids crumbled; on 1 December 1206 the Prince recaptured Edessa for Christendom. September of the following year saw Faisal, the unfortunate adolescent ruler of the Abbuyid wreckage sued for peace. Raymond pitched his borders beyond the Tigris.

Such success bred a certain amount of arrogance, but also fear - fear that what had been won so easily might slip away easier yet. The Byzantine revival shook Raymond badly; this was a war he could ill afford. In October 1209 he pulled off another diplomatic masterstroke; Hughes, his eldest son married Helene Angelo, the daughter of Emperor Isaakios and the new couple were given Edessa itself as a wedding gift. Gilles of Aleppo refers only tersely to this embarrassing outcome, though to be fair what happened the following year was to be even more dramatic.

Ever since the fall of Edessa Raymond had been pestering the Pope for permission to take a royal crown. Earlier princes might be satisfied with the support of a tame patriarch, but Raymond had loftier ambitions, and perhaps, a genuine sense of boundaries. In 1210 permission was finally granted and on 25 June Raymond was crowned 'King of Aleppo' in that city. The new King received precious gifts from both Emperors - his family through marriage and publicly received their envoys acclamation as an anointed King. Few new thrones ever rested on so certain a claim as that Raymond of Antioch.

It was a higher point than any would have believed possible, and Raymond would rise higher yet. The acclaim throughout Christendom that greeted his coronation would, however, soon become change into a very different view...


The 'Kingdom of Aleppo' in 1210
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Veldmaarschalk: Thank you, I hope so. :)

Konig15: Heh, go Antioch indeed. ;)

Nikolai: I should hope so! ;)

J. Passepartout: I hope so too. :)

I'm sorry if this first bit isn't very inspired - its been a while since I've written a CK AAR and I'm relearning my way. Keep reading, it will get better! :eek:o

I've split Raymond's 35 year reign in two for brevity, and changed the colour for the 'Kingdom of Aleppo' from the unpleasant (and suspicious) brown it is in vanilla to what the game insists on calling 'DarkGray'. I quite like it - just hope Leon or Pisa never come crusading! ;)
Antioch eh? Does the tech tree allow you to discover the Holy Grenade? :D

Good luck.
Glad to see an AAR about Antioch. So much more fun than those pesky Lusignans down in Jerusalem, and the real heirs of Robert Guiscard in any case. I just finished a game with them myself- went pretty well, until the Khanate showed up anyway.

Queen Hedwiga

Part 3

Aleppo, 1210

Raymond bowed before the Patriarch a Prince and a moment later rose, a crowned King.

It was a hot Summer day, and the crowd who had gathered in the Cathedral St. Helena - converted once again from a mosque - were glad to be out of the stifling sun for the ceremony, even if meant listening to a several hour long ceremony in Latin. Armenian princelings, Frankish courtiers and the envoys of half Europe had come to Aleppo at this moment of triumph for Latin Christendom. Today the minarets of Aleppo - and this was still a city where four men in every five was a Muslim - were silent. A Christian capital for a Christian kingdom. Besides the festivities afterwards made up for it. The Holy Lance, discovered at Antioch over a century before, was presented (though the Byzantines were politely unimpressed, considering their own Lance the genuine item). There was excited talk that that fragment of the True Cross that had belonged to the Kingdom of Jerusalem might someday soon be returned to Aleppo.

"My lord Raymond," it was the Ambassador of the Caliph speaking now, bowing low before the King. "I bring greetings and gifts from His Majesty the Caliph An-Nasir."

Queen Hedwiga, who was watching closely, noticed the German envoy frowning at this exchange. And he was not alone. No one said anything but there was a feeling, amongst some Western visitors that Raymond should not have the representative of the enemy in his home. Not with one of the Caliph's Emirs in Jerusalem itself.


"They don't understand my dear," said Raymond that night in the privacy of their chambers, "I am the ruler of the Eastern Franks now: I must protect my people. Their precious Guy created this mess; let the de Lusignans sort it out."

Hedwiga shifted slightly to more comfortable position; she was with child again. "Even if that means peace with the Caliph?"

Raymond yawned. "My dear, I was born in the East. I know our politics: the Caliph is a tolerant man. I am assured the pilgrims will be allowed safe passage, and the local Christians treated well. What more can be done?"

"I know my love," sighed the Queen. She was fond of her husband (and protective of her kingdom), but he sometimes had difficulty seeing things from a Western perspective. To Raymond preserving the new Kingdom of Aleppo was all important to preserving Eastern Christendom; to a German or French Aleppo was worthless without Jerusalem. And Raymond himself, intellectual, pious in an educated sort of way. A clever diplomat, but not a warm man, except to his family. Too much under Greek influence she suspected.

It was fortunate he had her, and through her the ear of the Western Emperor.

"I had intended to make Hugues Duke of Edessa," murmured Raymond sleepily, "but with Henri de Courtenay in Aleppo, I'll have to see. And Châtillon's sons are here too - though at least they don't seem to have inherited their father's, how shall I put it, talents."

Hedwiga's eyes, which had been closing widened. The sons of the late, unlamented Renaud de Châtillon meant nothing to her, but Henri de Courtenay was the legitimate heir to Edessa. Oh, entirely dependant on the beneficence of the King of Aleppo, but a man with a claim nonetheless. Her stepson Hugues as a weak young man, entirely under the influence of that other Emperor's daughter. The Queen and her stepson did not along. She knew, knew in her bones that her infant son Roger would be the better heir. For both the family and the kingdom. Making Raymond see that on the other hand would be... difficult.

Perhaps this Henri de Courtenay might be a useful ally...
J. Passepartout: His diplomatic skill. Clearly. ;)

Garuda: One may hope! :)

JimboIX: Thank you. :) It's 1210 and already Guy has done about as well in real life... ;)
Really excited to see another RossN and at Antioch of all places.

I also love the sardonic analysis of the chroniclers of the time.
I frightened him to death in Antioch.

Nice to see the ball rolling again, Ross. Great work so far. :)
It would appear the Queen wishes to put someone quite different on the throne, an interesting update. The Courtenays are starting their refugee tour I see, good for them.
Good stuff so far. Antioch 1187 has always been one of my favourite scenarios and it was going to be my first AAR... until one of the local Emirates stomped on me. I still have half that AAR sitting on my hard drive. Let's hope that you fare better - you'll need to expand quickly to survive the Muslims. Although I see that you've already made impressive strides in that regard :)

Robert de Châtillon

Part 4

Raymond II held one of the most glittering courts in the East (much to the disapproval of visiting austere western knights). Aleppo of course had a substantial palace of its own and the Antiochene nobility had eagerly clamoured to take up its place in the new kingdom. They jealously defended their court against the crowd of ne'er-do-wells, has-beens and regular sycophants that ended up in Aleppo. Besides genuine, if landless, Frankish nobles like Errard and Robert de Châtillon there was a continuing arrival of men of no rank, and also increasingly of exiled Arab princelings who had decided life was better in Raymond's Aleppo than a romantic but uncomfortable life abroad. Oh, and Raymond's numerous legitimate and illegitimate sons.

In fact it was certainly possible to be a Muslim in Raymond's Aleppo... as long as one was discrete and of the noble class. Otherwise the situation was somewhat different: there were religious riots or open revolt in almost every province and major city in the Kingdom of Aleppo under Raymond, usually when the King was at war with his Muslim neighbours - which to be fair was often, as the Aleppons were at war every other year with someone or other.

Wars of Expansion

The titular Emir of Aleppo had been based in Homs for several years at this point, but with the Muslims at Haifa Raymond's kingdom could never truly rest secure. War in 1213-1214 finished off the Emirate and allowed the appointment of another Duke - one of Raymond's son as Duke of Homs to join his brothers as Archbishop of Armenia Minor and Duke of Edessa (see below). Ducal titles would remain a jealously guarded de Poitou monopoly in the Kingdom of Aleppo.

Still other titles could yet be won. The Emir of Damascus had eagerly gone to war with Raymond in 1215, and public opinion in Baghdad had forced the Caliph to half heartedly join the Muslim war against Aleppo. Through a series of secret negotiations by Raymond and Queen Hedwiga the Abbasids were bought off. An-Nasir had been far from eager to fight and if he had any qualms about leaving Damascus to a mess of her own making he chose to keep them to himself. 21 May 1216 Damascus fell to an Aleppon army led by Robert de Châtillon. The young son of Renaud declared himself 'Count of Damascus'.

"And then the entire [Christian] army knelt before him, and presented the crown of the Emir and in one voice asked him to take the lordship of Damascus. And [Robert de Châtillon] wept and thanked Christ and King Raymond for his fortune..."
- Gilles of Aleppo

In fact if Raymond had chosen to react badly to Robert's audacity the whole affair might have gone differently, but whether impressed by the young man's boldness, unwilling to chance a conflict with his own vassal or even out of a pious desire to avoid feuding over so holy a city as Damascus Raymond let Robert keep his title.

De Châtillon had arrived at Aleppo, the landless younger son of a disgraced and ruined dynasty and now he was lord of one of the greatest cities in Christendom. The skies were no longer the limit.

In 1223 Raymond finished off the Assassins as a force in Syria. They had long since ceased to be a power in the area, and the changing nature of Syrian politics had removed even their value as a thorn in the side of the Muslim states of the area. Their elimination strengthened Raymond's borders to such an extent that he felt capable (in 1225) of adding a second royal title to his person: 'King of Syria'.

The last major war the King of Aleppo and Syria engaged in was against Mosul (1226-1228). The isolated Emirate fell to Raymond fairly easily, but the division of its territory would have a great affect on the Aleppon succession.


Roger de Poitou

The Inheritance Crisis

By custom and the law the heir to the throne was Hugues, Duke of Edessa. For many this was an outcome to be avoided: Hugues, despite his personal virtues was a rather weak man and his reign would risk all that had been won under his father. Early on rumour had it that he had been entirely under the thumb of his Greek wife, and though she had since died it provided ammunition for the anti-Hugues faction in court, a faction led by Queen Hedwiga herself.

The Queen had her own reasons for enmity. Hugues's mother - Raymond's first wife - had been an Englishwoman of no account. Hedwiga was the daughter of the Emperor: how could Hugues possibly rule over her own sons? A formidable section of the Court was prepared to back her right.

Roger de Poitou, Hedwiga's eldest son became Duke of Palmyra in 1228. He was a superb warrior and good leader, universally reckoned to make a better king than Hugues. Besides his mother and his (full) brothers most of the nobility rallied around him, as did Alam of Taron - the Patriarch of Antioch, who had quarrelled with the pro-Hugues Archbishop of Armenia Minor.

Raymond was 58, and not in the best of health. Eventually, and after making all involved swear that Hugues, his full brothers and their descendants would not be stripped of their lands or titles, he yielded to the pressure from his wife and Patriarch, and changed the succession to Semi-salic Consanguinity.

Roger, Duke of Palmyra thus inherited the throne when Raymond II passed away peacefully in his sleep on 9 January 1231. He was 60 years old.


The Kingdom of Aleppo and Syria, circa 1231