Thursday, July 26, 2007

Renigald, a Knight of the Midle Ages

Real-life adventurers are the heroes of old, sung in legends and preserved in annals and tales. One rarely finds them in our "degenerate age"; indeed, in any age they are scarce. But musty records hand down to us stories of "mighty men who were of old, men of great renown" (Gen 6:4).

Among such men is Renigald de Chatillon, distinguished in the second crusade. Here followeth a summary of his life, quoted from Brooks Adams's book, The Law of Civilization and Decay.
Renigald de Chatillon was the type of the twelfth century adventurer.He came to Palestine in the train of Louis the Pious, and he stayed there because he married a princess. He was a brave soldier, but greedy, violent, and rash, and his insubordination preceded the catastrophe which led to the fall of the capital.

At the siege of Ascalon he so fascinated Constance, Princess of Antioch, widow of Raymond, that she persisted in marrying him, although she was sought by many of the greatest nobles, and he was only a knight. Her choice was disastrous. He had hardly entered on his government in the north before he quarreled with the Greek Emperor, who forced him to do penance with a rope around his neck. Afterward he was taken prisoner by Nour-ed-Din, who liberated him only after sixteen years, when his wife was dead. He soon married again, this time another great heiress, Etinnette de Milly, Lady of Karak and Montréal, and, as her husband, Renigald became commander of the fortress of Karak to the east of the Dead Sea, which formed the defense against Egypt. But as the commander of so important a post, this reckless and rapacious adventurer defied the authority of his feudal superior, and by plundering caravans on the Damascus road so irritated Saladin that "in 1187 he burst, with a powerful army, into the Holy Land, made King Guy prisoner, and the Prince Renigald, whose head he cut off with his own hand."

Source: The Law of Civilization and Decay, by Brooks Adams. (New York:Vintage Books, 1955.) pg. 102.

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Anne said...
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