The county of Tripoli in what is now North Lebanon is arguably the most neglected of the so-called ‘crusader states’ established in the Middle East at the beginning of the twelfth century. The present work is the first monograph on the county to be published in English, and the first in any western language since 1945. What little has been written on the subject previously has focused upon the European ancestry of the counts of Tripoli: a specifically Southern French heritage inherited from the famous crusader Raymond IV of Saint-Gilles. Kevin Lewis argues that past historians have at once exaggerated the political importance of the counts’ French descent and ignored the more compelling signs of its cultural impact, highlighting poetry composed by troubadours in Occitan at Tripoli’s court. For Lewis, however, even this belies a deeper understanding of the processes that shaped the county. What emerges is an intriguing portrait of the county in which its rulers struggled to exert their power over Lebanon in the face of this region’s insurmountable geographical forces and its sometimes bewildering, always beguiling diversity of religions, languages and cultures. The counts of Tripoli and contemporary Muslim onlookers certainly viewed the dynasty as sons of Saint-Gilles, but the county’s administration relied upon Arabic, its stability upon the mixed loyalties of its local inhabitants, and its very existence upon the rugged mountains that cradled it. This book challenges prevailing knowledge of this little-known crusader state and by extension the medieval Middle East as a whole.
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Introduction Sons of Saint-Gilles
1 The Succession of Cousins: Counts Raymond I (1103–05), William Jordan (1105–09) and Bertrand (1109–12)
2 The Forging and Freedom of the County: Count Pons (1112–37)
3 Military Decline and Matrimonial Discord: Count Raymond II (1137–52)
4 Count and Captive: Count Raymond III (1152–74)
5 The Regent Thwarted: Count Raymond III (1174–87)
Conclusion Alien and Native
Appendix 1 Sources
Appendix 2 Troubadour poetry and Tripoli
Academics concerned with the history of the Crusades and the Latin East will be familiar with the various survey histories that have been produced for this fascinating topic. Many historians have published wide-ranging texts that either seek to make sense of the strange phenomenon that was the Crusades or shed light upon the Christian territories of the Latin East. Such panoramic works have helped to generate enormous interest in this subject, but they can only take their readers so far. Works addressing the lives of individual rulers - whether kings, queens, counts, princes or patriarchs - are less common and yet are needed if we are to achieve a more detailed understanding of this period.
This series seeks to address this need by stimulating a collection of political biographies of the men and women who ruled the Latin East between 1098 and 1291 and the kingdom of Cyprus up to 1571. These focus in detail upon the evolving political and diplomatic events of this period, whilst shedding light upon more thematic issues such as: gender and marriage, intellectual life, kingship and governance, military history and inter-faith relations.
For further information about the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]