Thursday, August 4, 2016

Eleanor and Uncle Raymond

From Elizabeth Chadwick:
A Hospitaler knight called Gerard Jebarre was sent to England to fetch Raymond to his new calling.  The journey from England to Antioch was difficult because the politics of the Mediterranean and the Middle East  meant that there were those who had no wish  to see Raymond take up the reins.  The young man had to travel in secrecy, disguising himself as a pilgrim and as a merchant’s servant, but he was fortunate and managed to slip through the blockade, arriving in Antioch in April 1136.

His arrival could not be hidden from the Princess Alice, Constance’s mother who was still a young and fertile woman, and expected to become  Raymond’s bride.  However, the politics of the moment were geared toward uniting her daughter with Raymond. Young Constance had the blood of Count Bohemond in her veins and Alice did not. Also Constance was a lot more malleable than her mother. While Alice waited expectantly in her palace to receive her future new husband,nine year old Constance was kidnapped and married to Raymond in haste by the patriarch of Antioch.  Thwarted, unable to fight for her position and rights, Alice retired to fulminate on her dower estates in Lattakieh.

Raymond took up governing his new principality. He is described by contemporaries as handsome, tall and elegant. He possessed immense physical strength – he was supposed to be able to bend an iron bar with his bare hands and was nicknamed ‘Hercules’. He was skilled in the use of arms and militarily experienced.  Although not literate himself, he fostered those who were and enjoyed culture.  He liked gambling and was known to be impetuous and hot-tempered,  but he also had a high reputation for gallantry and purity of conduct (words in  bold for a reason). He attended church regularly and from what can be gathered, was  a faithful husband to Constance who in the fullness of time bore him a son Bohemond, and daughters Maria and Philippa. (Read more.)

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