Raymond II, Count of Tripoli
He was the son of Pons of Tripoli and Cecile of France. In 1137, he married Hodierna of Rethel, daughter of Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem. Later that year, he succeeded his father, after Pons was killed in a battle with the army of Damascus. Raymond was present at the battle, and considered the Syrian Christians of Tripoli responsible for the treachery which led to his father's defeat and death. Therefore, after the battle he took many of them prisoner, and as William of Tyre says, "visited upon them divers tortures in the presence of the people, and, in just proportion to the enormity of the crime which they had committed, he caused them to suffer death in its most cruel forms." This act was praised by the Latin Christians of the county; "Such", William continues, "were the first proofs of valor which were given by the young count, whereby he won the affection of all his people and universal approval."
Later that year, Zengi, the atabeg of Aleppo and Mosul, besieged the castle of Barin in the territory of Tripoli. Raymond called for help from King Fulk of Jerusalem, but Zengi defeated them in a pitched battle outside the castle, and Raymond was taken prisoner. Zengi continued the siege, but began negotiations with the besieged when he heard that further relief was on its way from Raymond of Antioch, Joscelin II of Edessa, and Byzantine emperor John II Comnenus, who was in Antioch at the time. Those besieged in Barin did not know of these movements but readily agreed to hand over the castle to Zengi in exchange for the release of Raymond and an end to the siege.
In 1142 Raymond established the Knights Hospitaller as a force in the county, donating to them Krak des Chevaliers, an enormous fortress on the road from Homs to the Mediterranean Sea, as well as other smaller castles. The Hospitallers were virtually independent in the county and were often responsible for the protection of Tripoli's borders, which were often raided by Damascus and the forces of Zengi.
Raymond was a great-grandson of Raymond IV of Toulouse, one of the leaders of the First Crusade who had claimed the County of Tripoli before Tripoli had even been captured (thus Raymond II is numbered as if his great-grandfather was the first Count of Tripoli by that name). However, Raymond II was descended from him through Bertrand of Toulouse, an illegitimate son. When Raymond IV's legitimate son Alfonso-Jordan arrived during the Second Crusade in 1147, it was feared that he might enforce his greater claim on the county. Alfonso-Jordan died suddenly on the way to Jerusalem, and it was immediately suspected that he was poisoned, possibly by Queen Melisende of Jerusalem on behalf of her sister, Raymond's wife Hodierna. This charge was never proven, but Raymond refused to offer any assistance to the crusade, which ended in failure. Afterwards, Alfonso-Jordan's son (also named Bertrand, and also illegitimate) captured the castle of Araima in Tripoli, and Raymond sought help from Zengi's son and heir Nur ad-Din, as well as Mu'in ad-Din Unur, the governor of Damascus. They captured Araima, returned it to Raymond, and took Betrand and his family prisoner.
Raymond often quarrelled with his wife. Hodierna was very independent, but Raymond was a jealous husband and kept her in seclusion. There were also rumours that their daughter Melisende was fathered by a different man. Hodierna's sister Melisende of Jerusalem, namesake of her daughter, was invited to mediate in 1152. Raymond and Hodierna were reconciled, but Melisende thought it would be best if Hodierna return to Jerusalem with her for a short time. Raymond rode out with them for a short distance, and on his way back to Tripoli, he was killed by the Hashshashin at the gates to the city, along with two of his knights. He was the first non-Muslim to be killed by the Hashshashin, probably in response to Raymond's establishment of the Hospitallers in the County. Hodierna immediately returned to assume the regency of the county for her son Raymond III, who was still a child. Hodierna's nephew Baldwin III of Jerusalem ensured the support of the nobles of the county, and Hodierna allowed him to give the castle of Tortosa to the Knights Templar, in order to defend from an attack by Nur ad-Din, who invaded when he heard of Raymond's death.
Raymond and Hodierna's daughter Melisende was later a candidate to marry Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Melisende was even referred to as "the future empress," but the emperor, perhaps hearing of her supposed illegitimacy, instead chose Maria of Antioch. Raymond's son and Melisende's brother Raymond III felt personally slighted by this, and attacked Cyprus in retaliation.
- Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge University Press, 1952.
- William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey. Columbia University Press, 1943.
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