Bohemond was one of the leaders of the First Crusade. In fact, he was the leader of the First Crusade until they took Antioch. After he claimed that city for his own, he settled down to empire building and went no further. This is why Godfrey de Bouillon is held to be the leader of the Crusade.
He was named Mark when he was born but because of his size, even as an infant, he was renamed Bohemond for
Boamundus Gigas the giant. Siege of Antioch, Wikipedia
The Gestae Francorum,
written by an anonymous supporter of Bohemond, gives an account of the Crusades from the Frankish point of view. An opposing point of view is put forth by Anna Comnena in her Alexiad.
Anna Comnena was the eldest child of the Emperor Alexius in Constantiople and was well placed to observe all of the players as they passed through the imperial court. It has been frequently noted that she was fascinated by Bohemond and, as a result of this fascination, we have one of the few full physical descriptions of a historical character. It is amusing to me that , in paintings he is often depicted with long hair and a moustache (like in this engraving by Gustave Dore) , even a beard, when Anna clearly states that he was so clean shaven she could only guess at the color of his beard. He also kept his hair short, in contrast with his Frankish allies. Anna refers to them variously as Franks and Kelts but Bohemond was neither of these.
His father, Robert Guiscard, was a Norman. His brother was Roger II of Sicily and, although Anna comments on his low birth, Bohemond was married to Constance, the sister of the King of France, Louis VI. The First Crusade was largely a Frankish campaigning so Anna can be forgiven for being mistaken. The king himself could not participate because he was excommunicated at the time.
As a younger brother, with no kingdom to inherit, he saw the Crusades as an opportunity to carve out a kingdom for himself. At first, he and his father set their sights on Constantinople; thinking that it was in a weakened state and ripe for picking, although the call to arms was not just to recover Jerusalem but to save the Christian Byzantine empire from attacks by the Turks. This is why Anna despises Bohemond; he was an enemy of her father.
In spite of that, she says "the sight of him inspired admiration, the mention of his name terror." He was a "full cubit over the tallest man". Indeed, she wrote that the man who brought him in as a prisoner to the emperor barely come up to his buttocks. Bohemond was "perfectly proportioned" with very white skin, light brown hair, and pale blue eyes. "in him both courage and love were armed, both ready for combat". She mentions on several occasions that he has large nostrils, which is Medieval for big nostrils, big.......... Like large hands, which he also had.
Shortly after the Crusaders had taken Antioch, they were besieged by Turks. The Gestae Francorum relates how they were in dire straits since they had only just won the city through siege and supplies were low. A priest had a vision that the spear of Longinus was buried in Antioch and the angel who came to him had shown him where it was buried. It was duly excavated and carried before them while they mounted an assault on the Turks and defeated them.
Bohemond became the Prince of Antioch and one of the possessors of the "Spear of Destiny". Ownership of this spear is supposed to confer invincibility in battle, Bohemond as a ferocious warrior was a fitting owner of the spear. Others who are said to have owned it are Theodosius, Alaric, Charles Martel, Charlemagne, Frederic Barbarosa, and, mostly infamously, Adolf Hitler. There is more than one spear that is claimed to be the spear. If it sounds a little like the Elder Wand or the "Wand of Destiny" from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that is no accident. If you doubt that, consider this: the Peverell brother who owned it first was called Antioch.
Bohemond enjoyed a long and exciting career, too long to cover here but perhaps this will pique your interest enough to read more. He died in Apula in 1111, at the age of 53, leaving his principality to his son, Bohemond II. The spear that was found in Antioch was taken by the Turks when Antioch fell and is now in the museum of a monastery in Echmiadzin.
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