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The First Crusade

Bohemond of Tarentum

Although a lord in southern Italy, Bohemond was every bit as much a Frank as Godfrey and the others, for Bohemondaudio symbol was one of those Normans who had a generation earlier conquered all of Sicily and southern Italy. He was the eldest son of Robert Guiscard and had accompanied his father when he had invaded Byzantine territory in the 1080s. Bohemond was besieging the town of Amalfi when he heard of the crusade and was immediately moved to take the cross. So many men followed him that the siege had to be raised.

illustration
Coat of
arms of
Bohemond

As with Godfrey, a number of his kinsmen accompanied Bohemond, most notably his nephew Tancred, his brother William, and a cousin Richard of the Principate. They crossed the Adriatic in December and were still in Albania at Christmas time. A little after this, they skirmished briefly with Byzantine troops. Bohemond eventually went on to Constantinople ahead of the rest of his army, leaving it under the command of Tancred, arriving in the city on 10 April.

The Greeks were convinced that the Normans were their enemies; naturally so, in view of Guiscard's invasions. Bohemond wanted to make a good impression on the Emperor, but he in turn was suspicious of the Greeks. They never managed to get along. Anna Comnena, whose history of her father's reign is so invaluable, never wavered from her belief that Bohemond wanted nothing less than to conquer the Byzantine Empire and that for him all this crusading business was nothing more than a convenient cover.

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