Raymond of Aguilers
Raymond of Aguilers (French Raymond d'Aguilers, Latin Raimundus de Aguilers or de Agiles) was a chronicler of the First Crusade (1096-1099). During the campaign he became the chaplain of Raymond IV of Toulouse, the leader of the Provençal army of crusaders. His chronicle, entitled Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem, ends with the events immediately following the capture of Jerusalem.
He was educated as a clerk in a monastery of Vézelay. At the beginning of the Crusade he was probably part of the group following the papal legate, Adhemar of Le Puy, who was the bishop of the cathedral church at which Raymond served as canon. The Historia Francorum was written soon after the end of the First Crusade, certainly before the end of 1101. All biographic traces of Raymond are lost after the Battle of Ascalon (1099). As an eyewitness of the events of the First Crusade, he is one of its most important chroniclers. Because he describes some visions and miracles of the crusaders—for example the discovering of the Holy Lance of Peter Bartholomew—at length, some modern historians do not take his work very seriously. However, his description of the capture of Antioch (from 1097–1098) may be the only authentic explanation of this event.
Like many of the Crusaders and the Crusade's themselves, Raymond of Aguilers motives during the Crusade have been questioned. This is particularly true in regard as to why he wrote the Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem. Raymond of Aguilers claimed he wrote to inform the Bishop of Viviers and the general populace of the true actions in regard to crusade. This was in direct response to rumors spread by several deserters and traitors according to Aguilers. Other historians, however, contend that Raymond of Aguilers actually wrote the Historia Francorum qui Ceperunt Iherusalem to raise up his own liege Raymond IV of Toulouse. Aguilers, being the one responsible for his liege's spiritual being, could possible gain further prestige by portraying Raymond IV of Toulouse as a truly holy individual. This would further explain why during the capture of Antioch Aguilers focused heavily on the finding of the Holy Lance by Peter Bartholomew instead of focusing on the accounts of two saintly figures aiding in the battles as described in the Gesta Francorum. Eschatological elements in his account may have been influenced by his access to the famed Le Puy Bible.
His Historia Francorum was translated from Latin into modern French at the beginning of the 19th century by the French scholar François Guizot, in "Memoires sur l'histoire de France" (1824), XXI, 227–397. The Latin text was first published by Jacques Bongars (Gesta Dei per Francos, I, 139-183), and again in the "Recueil des historiens occidentaux des croisades" (1866), 235–309. The most recent translation into English was provided by John Hugh and Laurita L. Hill in 1968.
- Raymond d'Aguilers, Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem tr. John Hugh Hill, Laurita L. Hill. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1968.
- John H. Hill, "Raymond of St. Gilles in Urban's Plan of Greek and Latin Friendship," Speculum 26 (1951): 265-276
- Lecaque, Thomas (2017). "Reading Raymond: The Bible of Le Puy, the Cathedral Library and the Literary Background of the Liber of Raymond of Aguilers". In Lapina, Elizabeth; Morton, Nicholas (eds.). The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources. Brill. pp. 105–132.