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Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror

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Bohemond of Taranto, Lord of Antioch, unofficial leader of the First Crusade, was a man of boundless ambition and inexhaustible energy - he was, in the words of Romuald of Salerno, 'always seeking the impossible'. While he failed in his quest to secure the Byzantine throne, he succeeded in founding the most enduring of all the crusader states. Yet few substantial accounts Bohemond of Taranto, Lord of Antioch, unofficial leader of the First Crusade, was a man of boundless ambition and inexhaustible energy - he was, in the words of Romuald of Salerno, 'always seeking the impossible'. While he failed in his quest to secure the Byzantine throne, he succeeded in founding the most enduring of all the crusader states. Yet few substantial accounts of the life of this remarkable warrior have been written and none have been published in English for over a century - and that is why this absorbing new study by Georgios Theotokis is of such value. He concentrates on Bohemond as a soldier and commander, covering his contribution to the crusades but focusing in particular on his military achievements in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and Anatolia. Since medieval commanders generally receive little credit for their strategic understanding, he examines Bohemond's war-plans in his many campaigns, describes how he adapted his battle-tactics when facing different opponents and considers whether his approach to waging war was typical of the Norman commanders of his time.


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Bohemond of Taranto, Lord of Antioch, unofficial leader of the First Crusade, was a man of boundless ambition and inexhaustible energy - he was, in the words of Romuald of Salerno, 'always seeking the impossible'. While he failed in his quest to secure the Byzantine throne, he succeeded in founding the most enduring of all the crusader states. Yet few substantial accounts Bohemond of Taranto, Lord of Antioch, unofficial leader of the First Crusade, was a man of boundless ambition and inexhaustible energy - he was, in the words of Romuald of Salerno, 'always seeking the impossible'. While he failed in his quest to secure the Byzantine throne, he succeeded in founding the most enduring of all the crusader states. Yet few substantial accounts of the life of this remarkable warrior have been written and none have been published in English for over a century - and that is why this absorbing new study by Georgios Theotokis is of such value. He concentrates on Bohemond as a soldier and commander, covering his contribution to the crusades but focusing in particular on his military achievements in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and Anatolia. Since medieval commanders generally receive little credit for their strategic understanding, he examines Bohemond's war-plans in his many campaigns, describes how he adapted his battle-tactics when facing different opponents and considers whether his approach to waging war was typical of the Norman commanders of his time.

26 review for Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melisende

    Before complaining that this is NOT a biography, the synopsis clearly states that the author " ... concentrates on Bohemond as a soldier and commander, covering his contribution to the crusades but focusing in particular on his military achievements in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and Anatolia ..." And whilst Theotokis does cover off - albeit briefly - a history of the Normans in southern Italy and Bohemond's antecedent's, this is an assessment of his achievements (and failures) as a strategist and Before complaining that this is NOT a biography, the synopsis clearly states that the author " ... concentrates on Bohemond as a soldier and commander, covering his contribution to the crusades but focusing in particular on his military achievements in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and Anatolia ..." And whilst Theotokis does cover off - albeit briefly - a history of the Normans in southern Italy and Bohemond's antecedent's, this is an assessment of his achievements (and failures) as a strategist and commander, focusing on the most prominent parts of Bohemond's military career. If you have sought this book out, then there is an implied assumption that a cursory knowledge of the times and of the crusades is held by the reader. The military focus is centred around Bohemond's involvement in both his own and his father's campaigns in Italy, Anatolia, the Balkans, and the Latin East. The sources used as contemporary - and like today's - occasionally tinged with bias. Yes, it would be great to be able to access more sources from his "enemies" - and hopefully one day these will become more readily available and a truer picture of this restless, enigmatic and oft times, impetuous warrior may be told. In the meantime, I would suggest reading this along with the more dedicated Crusader and Norman narratives.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Malagisi

    The Crusades have been recently examined as a whole or by individual Crusades to show the significance of these wars and why the Crusaders fought. It is only the main Crusaders, the leaders, whose names and legacies are remembered to this day. One such man was a Norman who was considered the unofficial leader of the First Crusade, Bohemond of Taranto. Bohemond was a true warrior who fought numerous enemies, including the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos, and would become the Lord of Antioch. H The Crusades have been recently examined as a whole or by individual Crusades to show the significance of these wars and why the Crusaders fought. It is only the main Crusaders, the leaders, whose names and legacies are remembered to this day. One such man was a Norman who was considered the unofficial leader of the First Crusade, Bohemond of Taranto. Bohemond was a true warrior who fought numerous enemies, including the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos, and would become the Lord of Antioch. His deeds would earn him praise from his allies and ire from his enemies. The impact that Bohemond of Taranto left on the First Crusade cannot be underestimated, especially when it came to the military strategies that he employed to secure his numerous victories. In Georgios Theotokis’ latest biography, “Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror”, he explores the life of this legendary man with a particular focus on his military prowess to better understand his legacy. I would like to thank Pen and Sword Books and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book. I was not familiar with Bohemond of Taranto and his story so I was keen to learn more about him and the First Crusade. Bohemond of Taranto was the son of Robert Guiscard and his first wife Alberada of Buonalbergo, but when their marriage was annulled due to consanguinity, Bohemond was declared a bastard. Although he was viewed as illegitimate in the eyes of the church, Robert still treated Bohemond as an equal, especially when it came to military ventures. Under Robert’s tutelage, Bohemond cultivated the strategic skills that would be essential in his conquests of land in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans, and Anatolia. Along the way, Bohemond would become frenemies with the power Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos. The interactions between the two men were recorded in the Alexiad, which was written by Alexios’ daughter Anna Komnene; she was not the biggest fan of Bohemond, but Theotokis relies on her work heavily throughout this biography. It was not just international foes that Bohemond had to deal with as there was a succession battle between him and his brother Roger Borsa for control over their father’s land. On top of all of this, Bohemond of Taranto and his uncle Roger I of Sicily were asked to lead the First Crusade that was declared by Pope Urban II to reclaim the Holy Land. Along the way, Bohemond made the difficult decision to pay homage to Alexios Komnenos, which would prove beneficial up to a point. It was during this time that Bohemond and his Norman army helped capture Antioch for the crusaders and Bohemond was declared Lord of Antioch. While Bohemond was away conquering other cities, his nephew Tancred of Hauteville was his regent in Antioch. I think Theotokis does an excellent job of showing the military strategies that made Bohemond such a dynamic leader. I found this account extremely fascinating and eye-opening on what one leader could do in a few decades. The one problem that I had with this biography was the fact that there were so many names of leaders and places that I had never heard of that I was getting a bit confused. I wish Theotokis had included a list of important names and places with a quick blurb about their significance in the front of the book to help the First Crusade novices such as myself. Overall, I think this is was a very well written and researched biography. If you want a solid biography about one of the leaders of the First Crusade, check out, “Bohemond of Taranto: Crusader and Conqueror” by Georgios Theotokis.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    I didn't know much about Bohemond before this book, but I am so glad that I read it! Wow! This book was full of great information, and it was broken down in such a way as to keep the reader from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. There is a lot to learn about this man, and his role in the first crusade, but it also lays out the good, the bad, and the wow factors so very nicely! Great weekend read if you are looking to learn something! I didn't know much about Bohemond before this book, but I am so glad that I read it! Wow! This book was full of great information, and it was broken down in such a way as to keep the reader from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. There is a lot to learn about this man, and his role in the first crusade, but it also lays out the good, the bad, and the wow factors so very nicely! Great weekend read if you are looking to learn something!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Luc

    First and foremost you will need to have some knowledge about the Crusades and especially the First Crusade in order to dive into this well researched biography of Bohemond I of Antioch, one of the greatest military leader & ruler of the early crusading saga. Son of Robert Guiscard,he is the first successful player in the Norman adventure in the conquest of Sicily and Southern Italy and the founder of one of the most enduring of all the crusaders states. Dr. Georgios Theotokis gives us a masterf First and foremost you will need to have some knowledge about the Crusades and especially the First Crusade in order to dive into this well researched biography of Bohemond I of Antioch, one of the greatest military leader & ruler of the early crusading saga. Son of Robert Guiscard,he is the first successful player in the Norman adventure in the conquest of Sicily and Southern Italy and the founder of one of the most enduring of all the crusaders states. Dr. Georgios Theotokis gives us a masterful portrait of a genial ruler, his military prowess and a clear overview of the political & military shenanigans at play during the First Crusade. Dan Jones' The crusaders in English & Pierre Aube's Les empires normands d'Orient in French will be a good start in order to appreciate the life of this norman mercenary turned military genius & empire builder. The beginnings of the fabulous Norman Empire of Southern Italy.... Many thanks to Netgalley and Pen & sword for the opportunity to read this wonderful biography prior to its release date

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tony Stacey

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Zatolokin

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  9. 5 out of 5

    James Harrison

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jaidee

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alex Helm

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christos

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zac Curtis

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cherry

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alexander J Goldberg

  21. 4 out of 5

    Terry Wilson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ncarde

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Somers

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samikshan Sengupta

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marie

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