A political map of the en:Near East in 1135 CE...

A political map of the en:Near East in 1135 CE. Crusader states are marked with a red cross. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crusader state in northwestern Syria,1098-1268, with its capital at Antioch, on the River Asi (Orontes).   Antioch is now the Turkish city of ANTAKYA.

The city, Antiochaea in Greek, was founded by the Macedonian ruler of much of western Asia, Seleucus Nicator, c300 BC, and named after his father.   In later Roman and Byzantine times the city was a great Christian centre, the seat of a Patriarch.  It fell to the Arabs and Islam in 638, but was recovered by Byzantium in 969 until it was seized by the Seljuk Turks in 1084.

In 1098, after a long siege, the city was taken by the men of the First Crusade.  Their leader at Antioch, was Bohemond, who, though the eldest son of Robert Guiscard, the Norman ruler of southern Italy, had been disinherited in favour of the son of Guiscard’s second marriage.  Bohemond made himself Prince of Antioch.  This act embittered relations between the Crusaders and the Byzantine Empire, for the latter saw the Crusade as assistance in restoring and strengthening the Empire as the bulwark of Christendom against Islam, whereas many of the Crusaders saw the Empire as decadent and schismatic, whilst landless younger sons and disinherited elder ones saw the Levant as an immense oppportunity, and themselves as worthier and more vigorous champions of Christendom than the Byzantines.  Of Bohemond’s vigour there was indeed no doubt.

The Principality extended along the north Levantine coast until it met with the County of Tripoli in the south.  Inland it extended well into the middle Orontes region, and it advanced eastwards beyond the river in the direction of Aleppo.  It never reached that city, nor, higher up the Orontes, could it overcome the sect called the Assassins.  By 1170 the lands east of the Orontes had been lost, and in 1188 Saladin drove a wedge between Antioch and Tripoli, so that the southern lands were lost.  The Principality survived until 1268, when the Mamelukes of Egypt took it.

In 1516 the city became part of the Ottoman Empire;  in 1920 it was included in the French mandated territories in the Levant.  In 1938 the province of Hatay, of which Antioch was the capital, became an autonomous republic, and in 1939 the French ceded it to Turkey.

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