Raymond, Count of Toulouse

It is clear that the First Crusade did not have one outright commander who was approved by the Pope, alternatively it had a diverse selection of leaders consisting of some of the finest nobles that Europe had to offer. Bohemond of Taranto and Raymond, Count of Toulouse were the two main figures, both of these men held a solid reputation that immediately asserted their dominance. Although, it must not be forgotten that additional leaders such as Godfrey of Bouillon, Robert II, Count of Flanders and Stephan, Count of Blois still contributed a great deal to the success of the First Crusade. Standing as an ally to Pope Urban II and due to the fact that he was one of the most dominant princes in all of Latin Christendom, Raymond was surely the natural choice as a godlike leader to the crusade. As a result of assessing the leadership of Raymond, Count of Toulouse, many aspects need to be taken into consideration, for example Raymond’s general dedication to the crusade along with the role his wealth and prestige played. This essay will argue that because of Raymond’s vast wealth and influence he was the logical leader. Taking these facts into consideration it is understandable how Raymond had the potential to rise to the top, however, his ineffective leadership skills along with his age and poor health allowed the other leaders to dictate during key periods of the crusade. The issues stated above will act as the foundation of this essay and thus they will be focused on in more depth throughout. By dealing with this question in chronological order, it will address the reoccurring themes associated with Raymond.

In order to truly judge how effective Raymond’s leadership qualities were, the selection of primary sources available will be analysed alongside each other during the course of this work. It is fortunate that there is a wide variety of primary information available, some even from participants themselves. There are four eyewitness accounts of the crusade which will be used throughout this essay, the Gesta Francorum, the account of Raymond of Aguilers, the Fulcher of Chartres and the Histories of Peter Tudebode. The value of these accounts is that the authors all experienced the crusade first hand. The fact that individually they were attached to different leaders of the crusade makes them even more appreciated. Raymond of Aguilers along with the author of the Gesta have provided a large variety of evidence on Raymond of St Giles and thus these two documents will be used across this essay. It must be taken into consideration that these writers were both interpreters and reporters, but this is often of value as they provide us with the core evidence along with their reflections on the events.

In terms of the importance of preparation and spirituality to the leadership of a crusade, Raymond proved the initial frontrunner of all the crusading commanders. Following the Papal Bull issued by Pope Urban II in 1095 many European nobles began to rally up mass forces. Raymond was no different, and as he was the dominant Lord in the south east of France he had no difficulty constructing an army. His recruiting skills alongside his wealth was shown by the fact that he could afford to pay men for their service. The immense wealth and power that the Count held had drawn in nobles from a wide orbit. With Raymond deeply devoted to the expedition, the Pope now had the high profile backing he desired. Bohemund of Taranto also had a fierce reputation, yet his army was much smaller than Raymond’s, this initial preparation outlined how resourceful Raymond was. Furthermore, unlike the majority of the other crusading leaders, the Count of Toulouse was certainly motivated by religious purposes. He had the enthusiasm to carry out the work of God. Peter Frankopan even suggests how Raymond had secretly met up with the Pope to plan the crusade, although there is no direct proof of this, Frankopan assumed that the Pope met with Raymond during his tour of southern France. If he was a close ally to the Pope, it would explain how Raymond consistently proved to be the most pious leader of the crusade. Raymond’s legitimate claim to leadership is certainly understandable due to the power and wealth that was attached to the Frenchmen. His commitment to the Pope’s message revealed that he saw himself as one of the leaders of Christianity. The power of the Count allowed him to mobilise an army and swiftly march into the Islamic world. Overall Raymond’s initial motivation and involvement was vital, without his leadership the crusade would have dissolved very early.

Raymond did not pass through the Byzantium Empire with the aim of an alliance to Alexius I Komnena in mind, alternatively he expected to strengthen his own position by asserting his authority amongst the crusaders. Alexius saw the threat the crusaders posed, hence he showed his intelligence by forcing the crusading leaders to take an Oath of Fealty. Upon Raymond’s arrival into the city, he made an immediate impact, Anna Komnena famously described Raymond as having a superior intellect along with a solid reputation, and further stated how her father admired him for this. Anna wrote of a period that occurred a significant number of years earlier, so the accuracy of this source should be kept in mind when considering its weight. Anna would also have received a positive impact concerning Raymond since he created an alliance with Alexius later in the crusade. As he had not taken the Oath, Raymond left Constantinople in bitter relations with Alexius. This act in many ways shocked Raymond as a commander, he risked isolation as the other leaders had complied with the Byzantium demands. In many ways it was a pathetic move by Raymond, the crusade could have turned sour and then probably dissolved. However Raymond did not take Oath on the ground that he had not taken the cross to take pledge alliance to another leader. By opposing the Byzantium policy Raymond actually enhanced his authority on the crusade, it proved how dedicated he was to reach Jerusalem and thus complete the task the Pope had presented to him. Religiously motivated actions like this warned the other leaders and even Alexius that Raymond was a force to be reckoned with. With or without support from Alexius, the Count of Toulouse was on a continuous trek to retake the holy lands, ultimately, successful leadership cannot be achieved without a great deal of determination and risk taking.

During the first encounters with the enemy, Raymond proved himself as a military chief. At Nicaea, the crusaders struggled to break the city walls so Raymond organised the construction of siege towers in order to scale the fortifications. He also used new war tactics as he ordered his men to dig out the foundations of the wall, then to replace the stone with wooden beams which were then ignited. Raymond’s effective response to the crisis saved the crusaders from a long unnecessary siege. Nicaea challenged the troops along with the leaders, it also asserted Raymond’s authority as a leader while suggesting that the crusaders could work alongside the Byzantines. To support his claim as a great knowledgeable leader, Raymond of Aguilers stated how the Count of Toulouse brought great momentum from Nicaea along to Antioch. As the pilgrims travelled onto Antioch, they were attacked by a large Muslim force that almost totally defeated the Crusade, this was the Battle of Dorylaeum. As the crusading armies could have been as much as two days apart, one section of the troops got ambushed. The Fulcher of Chartres gave us an indication that Raymond and his troops were so far behind that the army was nearly defeated before the Count even had received word of it. Raymond’s complete lack of organisation nearly ruined the whole expedition, however, it is noted by many authors how he relieved the defending pilgrims once his men had rushed forward. These events implied that the crusaders needed to march as one army. Even though Raymond did take credit for the victory, Bohemund of Taranto is praised much more frequently for being a tough fighter and a brilliant tactician.

The siege of Antioch is possibly one of the most significant events of the First Crusade, yet Raymond had little involvement due to his old age and illness. The account of Raymond of Augilers stated that at the battle of Antioch, the Count of St. Giles was seriously ill, hence this explained why his minor role was simply guarding a small hill. After this siege Raymond’s reputation declined due to his inactive stance. As the architect of Antioch’s fall, Bohemund enjoyed the power he received because of his military success. The siege begun a trend that would see Raymond’s deterioration of his health become parallel to his falling reputation as a leader. The initial phases of the crusade had already overworked Raymond to his death, many of his followers believed that he would actually abandon the mission and head back for France. The fate of Antioch proved to be heavily controversial, it is clear that both Alexius and Bohemund wanted the city for themselves but it is uncertain of the interests of Raymond. Thomas Asbridge boldly claimed that Raymond almost certainly had dreams of owning Antioch, however, the events that followed Antioch surely argue against this. Raymond was clearly a dedicated leader to Gods war, he led the pilgrims all the way to Jerusalem, consequently he would not have desired to be held back squabbling over Antioch. It can be argued that Raymond’s wealth allowed him not to appear totally inactive, he settled many disputes with his funds, and for instance he provided Godfrey of Bouillon with one of his finest horses to settle a dispute. His illness then can barely be criticised as his dedication showed his willingness to move the crusaders on. His leadership skills were poor but if his illness was as life threatening as the Gesta Francorum implied then the fact that he continued to march on cannot be faulted. The strength of his leadership is then outlined by the misfortunes of his illness alongside his sheer dedication.

Following Antioch, the discovery of the Holy Lance by Peter Bartholemew further asserted Raymond’s dominance as a leader. In short, this proved that Raymond was chosen by God himself to lead the crusade to Jerusalem. The lance attracted a wide variety of men from all camps to come and march under the command of Raymond. Robert II, Count of Flanders also allied himself with Raymond and the two forces began marching as one. The significance of the Holy Lance is hugely important, theoretically God was now marching with Raymond, and thus the Count paraded out of Antioch with his authority at a pinnacle.

In terms of spiritually leading the crusade and military triumph, Raymond had significant success as he marched towards Jerusalem. The Gesta claimed that upon reaching the city of Al-Bara, the crusaders established their power throughout and restored the city to Christian faith. The Count of Toulouse appointed Peter of Narbonne to become bishop of the city, he was the first Latin bishop to be chosen by the crusaders. This was a huge success for the Pope, and Raymond had proved his was the natural leader of Gods war. Raymond’s successful leadership was displayed by his ability to generate momentum across the crusaders because he is dedicated to pushing the pilgrims towards Jerusalem. Another significant series of events occurred at the siege of Ma’arrat al-Numan. To guarantee success Raymond instigated his knowledge and ordered the construction of wooden siege towers. The Gesta also noted that without Raymond’s initiative the crusaders could have suffered a large defeat. The significance is that Raymond had military success to work alongside his spiritual devotion.

After the fall of Ma’arrat al Numan, Raymond organised a conference at Ruj in order to regroup and discuss the fate of the crusade. The Count used his resources to his advantage as he provided the other leaders with troops, he offered Godrey and Robert five thousand men each. Raymond demonstrated at Ruj how devoted he was to reaching Jerusalem, he knew that he was a great distance away from Antioch and consequently it was essential that the whole of the crusade stuck together. According to the Gesta many Muslim leaders within the region began recognising Raymond’s leadership by sending him gifts. By assisting the other commanders and developing a plan involving cooperation, Raymond displayed how effective he was as a leader. A turning point in Raymond’s leadership came at the failed siege of Arqa. Three main factors contributed to the Count’s fall, firstly the fact that the Holy Lance was discredited, secondly Raymond was losing followers due to his alliance with Alexius, and finally the situation following a failure at Arqa. The failure to capture Aqra sent a message of Raymond’s weakened position. With more and more crusaders fleeing for Godfrey’s faction, the Count of Toulouse opted to pay his men to guarantee their loyalty. Further difficulties arose as Raymond’s popularity moved in the same direction as his health. Godfrey had become the outright leader of the crusade, and his position was confirmed by his support from Arnulf of Chocques, the cleric who helped discredit the Holy Lance. Overall Raymond’s leadership had suddenly deteriorated, he became unexpectedly isolated which had a negative impact when it came to Jerusalem.

Raymond was fatigued by the long expedition, and as they reached Jerusalem his health saw no signs of improvement. The siege divided the crusade into two armies, Raymond took the south side of the wall and Godfrey on the north-west. Early assaults had failed to breech the city walls, and as time progressed food and water shortages became a major problem that Raymond could not solve. The crusading leaders eventually came into luck when a flight on Genoese ships arrived with supplies, they also brought timber which allowed large siege towers to be built. Raymond of Aguilers mentioned a period when the Count of Toulouse attempted to move his whole camp to another section of the wall, the passage stated how unpopular this was throughout Raymond’s men and thus he suffered ill will from his people. His men refused to keep guard on a night and many remained at his original camp. This is a good example of how poor Raymond’s leadership skills became at this late stage of the crusade. Godfrey was first to breech the city walls, consequently by the time Raymond had heard of this and rushed around to gain entrance, the damage was already done. Raymond expected to achieve a great military success at Jerusalem but instead his minor role followed the pattern of his whole expedition. The fact that Godfrey had become King of Jerusalem also contributed to Raymond’s downfall. His authority plummeted, leaving him helpless with no control over his forces. For Raymond, the military expedition had ended in complete embarrassment.

To conclude, it has become clear that Raymond’s importance emerged from Raymond of Aguilers. Not because he exaggerated his view but simply because they marched together, thus the Count of Toulouse is mentioned consistently throughout his work. Without Raymond of Aguilers the importance of the Count would have minimum significance. However, all the primary information that is available on the crusade does imply that Raymond played an imperative role, without his guidance through the early stages the crusade could never have resulted in success. In terms of cooperation, it was a miracle that a joint approach to leadership worked. Many of Raymond’s difficulties concerning leadership were associated with his poor elderly health, thus his lack of involvement at various stages is unfortunate. It is continuously visible that Raymond’s unlimited resources did give his leadership a greater sense of authority, but as time progressed his money became worthless due to his unpopularity. Clearly Raymond’s most attractive leadership quality was his dedication, he always had a desire to reach Jerusalem, no matter how unfit he was. The Count of Toulouse represented the religious idea of crusading, thus his success is concentrated within this aspect of his crusade. It is clear that Raymond was driven by religious motives because he recongised the discovery of the Holy Lance and rejected the kingship of Jerusalem. Spiritually, God desired that Jerusalem was to be liberated and this was a goal that Raymond achieved, however his role as a military commander was not as efficient as the other crusading leaders.

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