Bohemund, Prince of Antioch

Neil Ritchie traces the career of a Norman Crusader in Italy, in Syria and in wars with the Byzantine Emperor.

The son of the Norman Robert Guiscard and his kinswoman Alberada of Buonal-bergo, known to history as Bohemund, was born in Southern Italy in about 1055. The child was baptised Marc, but his father had heard tell of the prowess of a giant called Bohemund and become so enamoured of his exploits that he never called his son by any other name. The nickname was well chosen: Bohemund grew into a giant of a man and his deeds became so legendary that even today they still form part of Sicilian folklore.

The first Normans had appeared in Byzantine Italy some forty years before Bohemund’s birth, either driven there by the restlessness that little more than a century earlier had impelled their forebears to leave the forests and fjords of Norway for the fairer lands of Northern France or, as the early Norman chroniclers claim, invited by the local Lombard princes to help them throw off the yoke of the Eastern Empire, which then held tenuous suzerainty over the whole of the peninsula south of a line from Termoli on the Adriatic to Terracina on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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