|The heirs of the Conquest|
The Hautevilles set off on the crusades
Robert Guiscard’s eldest son, Bohemond, born around 1052, only inherited the principality of Taranto. Having been kept away from the best part of his father’s possessions, he seized the opportunity to set off on the First Crusade with his nephew Tancred, in November 1096, hoping to carve out a more substantial amount of territory. In April 1097, in Byzantium, Bohemond acknowledged the authority of Emperor Alexius I Comenus, the most serious enemy of Robert Guiscard, in exchange for supplying and maintaining his troops. Appointed commander of the siege of Antioch, in 1097-1098, he guarded the town after its fall, and gave up following the crusaders to Jerusalem, which was taken in 1099.
Meanwhile, Tancred, who had continued the route, was appointed prince of Galilee by Godfrey of Bouillon, in 1100. Unwilling to serve his successor, Tancred, returned to Antioch to assure the interim period of power after Bohemond’s capture by the Turks, in August 1100. He then spearheaded an expansionist policy to the detriment of the Eastern Empire.
Bohemond was eventually freed for an exorbitant ransom of 260,000 dinars in 1103. He resumed his struggle, but was caught in a stranglehold by the Turks and the Arabs on one side and the Byzantines on the other, he entrusted the regency to Tancred and returned to Italy to raise new troops. His objective was to attack Byzantium from the west, hoping to gain autonomy for his principality and equally to conquer the Empire.
Despite the help of the king of France, Bohemond failed and in 1108, with the Durrazo treaty he was forced to repeat his oath of vassalage to the basileus for his possessions in the East – real and future – and to promise to do nothing against the Greek Empire.
A broken man, Bohemond returned to Italy and died on 26 March 1111, but the principality of Antioch survived. After the Durrazo treaty, Tancrede (d. 1112) continued the struggle, taking advantage of the internal dissensions of his Muslim adversaries. The namesake of Bohemond, his son, born in 1109 continued the lineage, which would rule over Antioch and Tripoli for more than two centuries.