The County of Tripoli was the last of the four major Crusader states in the Levant to be created. The beginnings of the County came in 1102, when Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, one of the chief leaders of the First Crusade, began a lengthy war with the Banu Ammar Emirs of Tripoli (theoretically vassals of the Fatimid caliphs in Cairo), gradually seizing much of their territory and besieging them within Tripoli itself.
Raymond died in 1105, leaving his infant son Alfonse-Jordan as his heir, with a cousin, William-Jordan of Cerdagne, as regent. William-Jordan continued the siege of Tripoli for the next four years, when a bastard son of Raymond IV, Bertrand, who had been acting as regent of Toulouse, arrived in the east, leaving Toulouse to Alfonse-Jordan and his mother, who returned to France.
With the mediation of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem, Bertrand and William-Jordan came to an agreement under which each would keep control of their own conquests, an agreement from which Bertrand got the better part of when he captured Tripoli later that year. When William-Jordan died a few months later, Bertrand became sole ruler.
The County of Tripoli continued existed as a vassal state of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, while within the county itself the Knights Hospitaller were given an autonomous castle in 1142, the famous Krak des Chevaliers - one of the greatest castles in the world. Count Raymond III of Tripoli , who reigned from 1152 to 1187, was an important figure in the history of the Kingdom to the south, due to his close relationship to its Kings (his mother Hodierna was a daughter of Baldwin II of Jerusalem) and to his own position as Prince of Galilee through his wife. He acted twice as Regent for the Kingdom, first for the young Baldwin IV from 1174 to 1177, and then again for Baldwin V from 1185 to 1186, and acted as the leader of the local nobility in their opposition to Baldwin IV's Courtenay relations, to the Templars, to Guy of Lusignan, and to Raynald of Chatillon. Raymond argued unsuccessfully in favour of peace with Saladin, but, ironically, it was Saladin's siege of Raymond's Countess in Tiberias that led the Crusader army into Galilee before its defeat at Hattin in 1187, and although Raymond survived the battle, he died soon afterwards.
The County managed to avoid being conquered by Saladin in his string of victories following Hattin, and Bohemund IV, second son of Bohemund III of Antioch, succeeded to it on Raymond III's death. After Bohemund III's death in 1201, the County was in personal union with Antioch for all but three years (1216-1219) until Antioch's own fall to the Mamelukes in 1268. Tripoli survived for a few more years.
The death of the unpopular Count Bohemund VII in 1287 led to a dispute between his heir, his sister Lucia, and the city's commune, which put itself under the protection of the Genoese. Eventually, Lucia came to an agreement with the Genoese and the Commune, which displeased the Venetians and the ambitious Bartholomew Embriaco, the Genoese mayor of the city, who called in the Mameluke Sultan Qalawun to their aid. Qalawun captured the city after a siege in 1289, bringing the history of the County to an end.
The modern town of Tripoli is built around the castle constructed by the Counts of Tripoli. Today the castle is known as Qalaat Sanjil - The Sanjil Castle. Sanjil is the Arabic rendering of Saint-Gilles - the family name of the Counts of Toulouse and Tripoli.
Counts of Tripoli, 1102-1289
- Raymond IV of Toulouse, I of Tripoli (1102-1105)
- Alfonse-Jordan (1105-1109)
- William-Jordan of Cerdagne, regent (1105-1109)
- Bertrand of Toulouse (1109-1112)
- Pons of Tripoli (1112-1137)
- Raymond II of Tripoli (1137-1152)
- Raymond III of Tripoli (1152-1187)
- Bohemund IV of Antioch (1187-1233, also Prince of Antioch 1201-1216 and 1219-1233)
- Bohemund V of Antioch (1233-1251, also Prince of Antioch)
- Bohemund VI of Antioch (1251-1275, also Prince of Antioch 1251-1268)
- Bohemund VII of Tripoli (1275-1287)
- Lucia of Tripoli (1287-1289)
Raymond IV, the senior nobleman among the five leaders of the First Crusade. Alone, he acquitted himself with honour in his dealings with the Byzantine Emperor and with the other regional powers.
To a greater extant than later Raymonds, Raymond IV is referred to as Raymond of Saint-Gilles, after the family seat to the south of Nīmes. He was Count of Toulouse, Marquis (or Margrave) of Provence. He succeeded his brother William IV as Count of Toulouse in 1088.
According to an Armenian source, he had lost an eye on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem before the First Crusade. He fought against the Moors in Spain before 1096, and he was the first to join the crusade after Pope Urban II's sermon at the Council of Clermont.
The oldest and the richest of the crusaders, Raymond IV left Toulouse at the end of October 1096, with a large company that included his wife Elvira, his son Bertrand, and Adhemar, bishop of Puy, the papal legate. He marched to Dyrrhachium, and then east to Constantinople along the same route used by Bohemund of Taranto. At the end of April, 1097, he was the only crusade leader not to swear an oath of fealty to Byzantine Emperor Alexius I - instead he swore an oath of friendship, and offered his support against Bohemund, both Raymond and Alexius' mutual enemy. (Consequently, he was the only western Crusader not to break his solemn oath).
At the time of the First Crusade the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius Comnena, has a daughter called Anna Comnena who was an amateur biographer-historian, writing about her father. (A woman historian was something that was perfectly normal in civlilised Byzantium at the time but seen as a sort of blasphemous monstrosity to the western crusaders) She had little time for the barbarian westerners, yet was courteus enough not to mention the name of the most vulgar and crass among them. She had positive things to say about only one of them, Raymond of Toulouse. Here is an English translation of a passage from her history, the Alexiad [10:11] refering to the western Crusaders:
One of them especially, the Count of St. Gilles, he [the Emperor] particularly favoured because he saw in him superior prudence, tested sincerity, candour 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 Franks. 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 [a fellow Western Crusader], so as to check him immediately if be should try to break his agreement, and to strive in every way to destroy his schemes ... [Translation based on August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 99]
Raymond was present at the siege of Nicaea and the Battle of Dorylaeum in 1097, but his first major role came in October of 1097 at the siege of Antioch. The crusaders heard a rumour that Antioch had been deserted by the Seljuk Turks, so Raymond sent his army ahead to occupy it, offending Bohemund of Taranto who wanted the city for himself. The city was, however, still occupied, and was taken by the crusaders only after a difficult siege in June of 1098. Raymond took the palatium cassiani (the palace of the emir, Yaghi-Siyan) and the tower over the Bridge Gate. He was ill during the second siege of Antioch by Kerbogha, and so missed an outbreak of bogus miracles, which culminated in the discovery of the Holy Lance by a monk named Peter Bartholomew.
The "miracle" raised the morale of the crusaders, and to their own surprise they were able to rout Kerbogha outside Antioch. The Lance itself became a valuable relic among Raymond's followers, despite Adhemar of Le Puy's skepticism and Bohemund's outright mockery. Raymond refused to give up his territories in the city to Bohemund, reminding him that he should return to the city to Emperor Alexius, as he had sworn to do. A struggle then arose between Raymond's supporters and the supporters of Bohemund, partly over the genuineness of the Lance, but also over the possession of Antioch.
Many of the minor knights and foot soldiers preferred to continue their march to Jerusalem, and they convinced Raymond to lead them there in the autumn of 1098. Raymond IV led them out to besiege Ma'arrat al-Numan, although he left a small detachment of his troops in Antioch, where Bohemund also remained. As Adhemar had died in Antioch, Raymond, along with the prestige given to him by the Holy Lance, became the de facto leader of the crusade, but Bohemund expelled his detachment from Antioch in January of 1099. Raymond then began to search for a city of his own. He marched from Ma'arrat, which had been captured in December of 1098, into the emirate of Tripoli, and began the siege of Arqa on February 14, 1099, apparently with the intent of founding an independent territory in Tripoli that could limit the power of Bohemund and contain the Principality of Antioch to the south.
The siege of Arqa, a town outside Tripoli, held out longer than Raymond had hoped. Although he captured Hisn al-Akrad, a fortress that would later become the important Krak des Chevaliers, his insistence on taking Tripoli delayed the march to Jerusalem, and he lost much of the support he had gained after Antioch. Raymond finally agreed to continue the march to Jerusalem on May 13 and, after months of siege, the city was captured on July 15. Raymond was offered the crown of the new Kingdom of Jerusalem on July 22, but refused, as he was reluctant to rule in the city in which Jesus had suffered. Duke Godfrey of Bouillon took control of Jerusalem as "Advocate of the Holy Sepulche" a title that Raymond would have accepted if he had been offered it. He was annoyed and reluctant to give up the Tower of David in Jerusalem, which he had taken after the fall of the city. It was only with difficulty that Godfrey was able to take it from him.
Raymond participated in the battle of Ascalon soon after the capture of Jerusalem, during which an invading army from Egypt was defeated. The city was prepared to surrender to Raymond but not Godfrey. Godfrey refused to allow this, so the city declined to surrender. It was not taken by the crusaders until 1153. Godfrey also blamed Raymond for the failure of his army to capture Arsuf. When Raymond went north, in the winter of 1099-1100, his first act was one of hostility against Bohemund, capturing Laodicea from Bohemund (who had himself recently taken it from Alexius). From Laodicea he went to Constantinople, where he allied with Alexius I, Bohemund's most powerful enemy. Bohemund was at the time attempting to expand Antioch into Byzantine territory, and once again refused to fulfill his oath to the Byzantine Emperor.
Raymond IV joined the minor and ultimately unsuccessful crusade of 1101, which was defeated at Heraclea in Anatolia. He escaped and returned to Constantinople. In 1102 he travelled by sea from Constantinople to Antioch, where he was imprisoned by Tancred, regent of Antioch during the captivity of Bohemund, and was dismissed only after promising not to attempt any conquests in the country between Antioch and Acre.
He immediately broke his promise, attacking and capturing Tortosa, and began to build a castle on the Mons Peregrinus (Mont Pelerin, "Pilgrim's Mountain") which overlooked the valley, the old town and the coast, and would help in his siege of nearby Tripoli (ie the old Tripoli). He was aided by Alexius I, who preferred a friendly state in Tripoli to balance the hostile state in Antioch.
Raymond died in 1105, before Tripoli was captured. He was succeeded by his nephew William-Jordan, who, in 1109, with the aid of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem, finally captured the town and established the County of Tripoli. William was deposed in the same year by Raymond's eldest son Bertrand, and the county remained in the possession of the counts of Toulouse throughout the 12th century.
Raymond IV of Toulouse seems to have driven both by religious and material motives. On the one hand he accepted the discovery of the Holy Lance and rejected the kingship of Jerusalem, but on the other hand he could not resist new territory.
Raymond's castle on Mons Peregrinus burnt down in 1287 and was rebuilt in 1307 by Emir Essendemir Kurgi. Different parts were added in later centuries. Today, the Saint-Gilles Citadel - Qalaat Sanjil - is one of the best preserved fortifications in the Lebanon.
Raymond of Aguilers, a clerk in Raymond IV's army, wrote an account of the crusade from Raymond's point of view.
The Counties of Toulouse and Tripoli were inherited by Bertrand, but on his death the County of Toulouse reverted to his brother Alphonse-Jordan, while the County of Tripoli went to Pons, Bertrand's son. The dynasty of the Counts of Tripoli continued over several generations until the Crusaders were definitively defeated by Saladin at the Horns of Hattin.
Alphonse I was the son of Count Raymond IV by his third wife, Elvira of Castile. He was born in the castle of Mont-Pelerin, Tripoli, in modern Lebanon. He was surnamed Jourdan because he was baptised in the Jordan River.
His father died when he was two years old and he remained under the guardianship of his cousin, Guillaume Jourdain, Count of Cerdagne (d. 1109), until he was five. He was then taken to Europe and his brother Bertrand, Count of Toulouse and of Tripoli, gave him the County of Rouergue. Aged nine years he succeeded to the County of Toulouse and Marquisate of Provence on Bertrand's death in 1112. For the next 36 years he was engaged in struggles to regain and retain his European inheritance.
In 1148 he arrived at Acre. He had made enemies among his companions and he was destined to take no share in the crusade he had joined. He was poisoned at Caesarea, either by Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Louis, or Melisende, the mother of Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem suggesting the fatal draught. He was succeeded by his son Raymond V of Toulouse.
William-Jordan was Count of Cerdagne and nominal count of Tripoli. He was the son of William IV of Toulouse and Adelaide (the daughter of Pons III of Toulouse), and so was also nephew of Raymond IV of Toulouse.
Adelaide's brother, Raymond IV, had been one of the leaders of the First Crusade and died in the east in 1105, leaving his young son Alphonse-Jordan as Lord of Mons Peregrinus and Tortosa, and nominal Count of Tripoli (which had not then yet been captured by the crusaders). Since Alphonse-Jordan was still a child, Raymond IV's soldiers chose William-Jordan as regent.
Meanwhile in Toulouse, Raymond's elder son Bertrand was ruling in his absence. After Raymond's death the barons of Toulouse chose Alphonse to replace Bertrand, who, now overthrown, travelled to the east, arriving at Mons Peregrinus in 1108 to claim it for himself. There, he quarrelled with William over the inheritance of the Raymond's Lordship, and over the Regency of still unconquered Tripoli. William allied himself with Tancred, Prince of Galilee, at the time Regent of the Principality of Antioch. Bertrand asked Baldwin I of Jerusalem to intervene. Baldwin I, another Baldwin (Baldwin of Bourcq), and Joscelin of Courtenay allied with Bertrand - forcing William and Tancred to compromise. Tancred was forced to give up his claim to the County of Edessa, but was allowed to keep Antioch; William and Bertrand divided Tripoli between them, recognizing Tancred and Baldwin I as their respective overlords.
With the dispute settled, the crusader armies marched on Tripoli and besieged it, with assistance from the Genoese fleet. On July 12, 1109 they captured the city. A short time later William died of an arrow wound sustained during the siege, and the county passed to Bertrand alone.
He was the eldest son of Raymond IV of Toulouse, and had ruled Toulouse since Raymond left on the First Crusade in 1095. He became Count of Toulouse when his father died in 1105, and in 1108 he headed for Tripoli to take control there as well. He deposed Raymond's nephew William-Jordan as nominal count of Tripoli in 1109.
Then, assisted by Baldwin I, king of Jerusalem, and equipped with a fleet of Genoan ships, he captured Tripoli on June 10.
Bertrand ruled in Tripoli until his death in 1112. He was succeeded by his son Pons in Tripoli, and by his brother Alphonse-Jordan in Toulouse.
During the First Crusade the Normans had quarrelled with the Provencals. Pons healed this rift by marrying Cecile of France, the widow of Tancred, Prince of Galilee and the daughter of Philip I of France.
In 1118 he allied with Baldwin II, the new king of Jerusalem, and in 1119 the two marched north to aid Roger of Salerno against an invasion by Ilghazi. Roger decided not to wait for them, and he and his army were slaughtered at the Battle of Ager Sanguinis. Baldwin II was later taken hostage.
In 1124, after Baldwin's released, Pons helped capture Tyre, one of the last coastal cities remaining in Muslim hands. In 1125 he assisted in the crusader victory at the Battle of Azaz. In 1131 Pons came into conflict with Fulk of Jerusalem, who had ascended to the throne that year, and was defeated at the Battle of Rugia.
In 1137 Tripoli was invaded by the sultan of Damascus, and Pons was killed in battle. He was succeeded by his son Raymond II.
Raymond II was count of Tripoli from 1137 to 1152. He was the son of Pons of Tripoli and Cecile of France.
In 1137 he married Hodierna of Rethel, daughter of Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem. He succeeded his father later that year, after Pons who was killed in a battle with Damascus. In 1142 he established the Knights Hospitaller as a force in the County, donating to them Krak des Chevaliers, an enormous fortress on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea, as well as other smaller castles. The Hospitallers were virtually independent in the County and were often responsible for the protection of Tripoli's borders, which were often raided by Damascus and the forces of Zengi of Aleppo and Mosul.
Raymond often quarrelled with Hodierna, and Hodierna's sister Melisende was invited to mediate in 1152. Soon after they were reconciled, Raymond was murdered by Hashshashin, Ismaili followers of the Old Man of the Mountain, and was succeeded by his son Raymond III. He was the first non-Muslim they had killed, partly in response to his establishment of the Hospitallers in the County.
Raymond III was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187. He succeeded his father Raymond II, who had been killed by the Hashshashin, and Hodierna, who ruled the county as regent until Raymond came of age.
In 1164 Raymond was captured by Nur ad-Din and remained in prison until 1174. During this time King Amalric ruled as Regent of Tripoli. When Raymond was released he became Regent for his cousin, King Baldwin IV, who was still too young to rule on his own. Raymond married Eschiva, the widow of Prince Walter of Galilee, which allowed him to gain control over much of the northern part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, especially the fortress at Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. As Regent, he appointed William of Tyre chancellor of Jerusalem in 1174 and Archbishop of Tyre in 1175. He retired as regent when Baldwin IV was old enough to rule in 1176, though he still had some influence over the King, and in 1177 he arranged for Baldwin IV's sister Sibylla of Jerusalem to marry William of Montferrat. William died later in the year while Sibylla was pregnant with the future Baldwin V.
As the great-grandson of Raymond I, Raymond III represented the long-established families who had arrived during the First Crusade, and who had since adapted to the land and its customs. He spoke fluent arabic and preferred a policy of good relations with the Muslims, with whom he had become friendly during his captivity, but he frequently came into conflict with more recently arrived crusaders, such as Raynald of Chatillon (Lord of Kerak and Outrejourdaine) and Guy of Lusignan, as well as the military orders of the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar, who wished to fight the Muslims wherever and whenever possible.
Violating a truce, Raynald attacked a caravan of pilgrims travelling to Mecca on haj in 1183, infuriating Saladin. Saladin invaded Galilee and approached Kerak. Guy, who was acting as regent was unable to protect his friend Raynald. The King, Baldwin IV, raddled by leprosy and unable to use hands or feet, one of the few admirable characters among the Christians, was forced to intercede. As the historian Simon Sebag Montefiore movingly puts it "... the leper king - borne on a litter, blind, grotesque and decaying - led out his army to rescue Kerak". Afterwards Guy was sacked as regent and Raymond appointed in his place. Raymond then passed control of the regency to Joscelin III of Courtenay. Baldwin IV died in 1185, and the infant Baldwin V died soon after in 1186. Joscelin, influenced by the party of new families led by Raynald and Guy, had Guy named as the new king. Instead of arguing against this idiotic decision, and risking a civil war, Raymond returned to Tripoli.
Reynald ambushed another haj caravan traveling under truce, capturing Saladin's own sister, mocking Mohamed and torturing his captives. Saladin appealed to King Guy, but Guy was not worthy of his new title and failed to disciplin his friend Reynald. Saladin attacked the kingdom in 1187 in response to Raynald of Chatillon's criminaly stupid truce-breaking raids into Muslim territory. His friend, Raymond III, reluctantly sided with the Crusaders. Saladin immediately besieged Tiberias, rather than pillage the Kingdom of Jerusalem as the Crusaders had expected. Raymond advised against a meeting Saladin in a pitched battle in the open desert, even though his own wife Eschiva was trapped in Tiberias, now under siege. Raymond's counsel was ignored. Led by the incompetent King Guy, the Crusaders marched into a waterless plain, surrounded by Saladin's army, and were almost completely destroyed at Hattin outside Tiberias. This marked the begining of the end of the crusader states. As Raymond said "the war is over; we are dead men; the kingdom is finished". Raymond and Balian of Ibelin charged Saladin's forces but Saladin ordered his nephew Taki Al-Din to open his ranks. The horses simply galloped through, and the Moslem ranks closed again. It is not clear whether Saladin had pulled off a clever military manoeuvre, or chosen to spare the most honourable of his enemies, or perhaps both. Raymond was one of the few to escape, though he died later in 1187. Raynald was killed by Saladin himself. Guy was spared because "it is not customary for kings to kill kings" and was carted of to Damascus along with the "True Cross", which in the imaginations of the Christians had been divinely protected.
Raymond appointed as his successor his godson Raymond of Antioch. Bohemund III of Antioch installed his own son, Bohemund IV, as Count but it was too late. The crusader states were doomed, and the valiant Balian of Ibelin with a mere handfull of knights would soon lose Jerusalem to Saladin.