The Crusades >> The
First Crusade >> Bohemond of Tarentum
Although a lord in southern Italy, Bohemond Of Tarentum was every bit as
much a Frank as Godfrey and the others, for Bohemond 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.
As with Godfrey, a number of his kinsmen accompanied Bohemond, most
notably his cousin Tancred of Lecce, his brother William, and another 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 April 10th.
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.