Raymond III of Tripoli
|Raymond III de Saint-Gilles|
Brief childhood, early rule, captivity
In 1152, Raymond II, Count of Tripoli, was stabbed to death by agents of the Assassins - whose motives, as ever, were ambiguous and obscure. He left as regent of his county his feckless and faithless wife, the Princess Hodierna of Jerusalem, and as his successor his son Raymond III, a boy of twelve, who was predictably enough soon dubbed 'Raymond the Young'.
In three years, the princeling declared himself of age and packed his mother off back to Jerusalem. In 1160, the twenty year old Count Raymond tried to arrange a lucrative alliance with the Byzantine Emperor, who was to marry his sister Melisende; but the Emperor heard at the last moment that there were doubts about the girl's legitimacy - and maybe the Count's, too - so the arrangement broke down.
In August 1164 Raymond, his cousin Bohemund III, Prince of Antioch, Joscelin III of Edessa, and others were captured outside Harim in battle by Nur ed-Din, and incarcerated at Aleppo. Raymond's ransom was marked at 80,000 gold bezants, which took nine years to raise. While King Amalric ruled Raymond's county with wisdom and stability, the Count matured in his luxurious Saracen imprisonment from the young hothead of twenty-four he had been, to a cautious, canny and somewhat bitter noble of thirty-three.
Reversal of Fortunes
Raymond's chance was to come in less than a year, with the death of his royal cousin Amalric. On hearing the news the Count galloped to Jerusalem and claimed the young, leprous Baldwin IV's regency, as the king's closest male kinsman in Outremer. The interim regime of the Seneschal, Miles of Plancy, was quashed with the support of voices in the Haute Cour such as Renaud Grenier and Balian of Ibelin. Raymond became regent, or bailli, and the seneschal succumbed to death by distinctly unnatural causes.
Raymond and many of the nobles who supported him had disapproved of Amalric's visionary, expensive foreign policy; his efforts to conquer Egypt, and particularly his hope to convert the Assassins to Christianity and accept them as allies. Raymond had not forgotten the murder of his father and terminated any such overtures.
His next act was to award himself the hand of the Kingdom's greatest heiress, Eschiva, Princess of Galilee. After two years, well pleased, he renounced the government back to his young cousin - no doubt remembering the frustration of waiting under his mother's rule. Raymond might not be bailli any more, but he had established unity and peace, won a rich wife and a wide territory, and settled the succession - on Baldwin IV's sister Sibylla, who was to marry the Italian noble William of Montferrat. Raymond seemed to have good reason to rest content.
Sibylla versus Isabella, Ibelin versus Lusignan
But King Amalric had left two daughters, and the second, Isabella, had the support of the (fairly) noble family her mother Queen Maria Comnena had married into - the Ibelins. They were not prepared to let her rights be ignored. The situation was further complicated by the death of Sibylla's Italian husband, leaving a son (another Baldwin).
Raymond was rumoured to covet the throne himself, but his and Eschiva's own continuing childlessless undermined that ambition. Excluded from power by Baldwin IV's preferred advisors, the Courtenays, his uncle and mother, Raymond now cast in his lot with the Ibelins. In 1179 the Count endeavoured by a show of force to bully the young King into marrying Sibylla to Baldwin of Ibelin; this was counter-productive. Sibylla chose her own husband, one few would have guessed - a mere younger brother, without high birth, lands, money, or a following among the peerage of Outremer - Guy de Lusignan.
In 1182, when Baldwin IV was overcome by the advancing pain of his disease, it was Guy, not Raymond, whom he now named bailli. But Guy proved so divisive incompetent in this role that next year the dying king changed his mind. He willed his kingdom to his little nephew by Sibylla, who was crowned alongside him - and cut out the child's mother and step-father. The Count of Tripoli was to have the regency once again.
It was agreed that, should the boy die during his minority, the regency would pass to "the most rightful heirs" until his kinsmen - the Kings of England and France and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor - and the Pope were able to adjudicate between the claims of Sibylla and Isabella. These "most rightful heirs" were not named.
Crises and Catastrophe
Baldwin IV perished in 1185. Little more than a year later, his nephew followed him. Count Raymond's first regency of Jerusalem had been ended when Baldwin IV grew up; his second was even more finally curtailed when Baldwin V died.
Joscellin III of Courtenay hastened to proclaim Sibylla, who promised to divorce Guy as the price of her accession. Raymond instead announced his support for Isabella and her husband Humphrey of Toron as queen and king consort. It was this last conspirator, young, untried and easily swayed, who let the plot down. An intimidated step-son of the fearsome Reginald de Chatillon - a Courtenay adherent - Humphrey desired neither to rebel against his guardian nor to rule the kingdom. He swore allegiance to Guy, and ruined his wife's cause. Defeated, Raymond withdrew to his own county.
It was at this point that the Count became widely implicated in treasonous agreements with Saladin, remaining neutral when the Sultan moved against Guy's kingdom. But after the disaster of the Springs of Cresson, when Raymond's doubtful loyalty contributed to a slaughter of Templars and Hospitallers, the Count was overcome by guilt and submitted to Guy, joining his army.
Saladin's invasion now moved against Raymond's own territory of Galilee, and placed his wife and castle at Tiberias under siege. Yet the Count saw a ruse in this, a plan to draw the royal army into a waterless plain, and spoke urgently against riding to the relief of Tiberias. His counsel was overcome by Reynald de Chatillon and the Master of the Temple, who named him a coward and traitor. Thus the army proceeded to disaster at the Horns of Hattin.
With a few allies among the local nobility, Raymond escaped the killing field, but his spirit was broken. He died childless in Tripoli that same bleak year of 1187, leaving his County to his namesake, kinsman and god-son, Raymond of Antioch.