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Raynald of Chatillon

Raynald of Châtillon (also Reynald or Reginald of Chastillon) (d. 1187), a knight in the service of Constance, princess of Antioch, whom she chose for her husband in 1153, four years after the death of her first husband, Raymund.

One of Raynald's first acts was a brutal assault on the Patriarch[?]; while two years later he made an unjustifiable attack on Cyprus, in the course of which the island was ravaged. The act brought its punishment in 1159, when he had to humiliate himself before the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus, doing homage and promising to accept a Greek Patriarch[?]; and when Manuel came to Antioch in the same year, and was visited there by Baldwin III, Raynald led his horse into the city.

Later in the year he was captured by the Muslims, during a plundering raid against the Syrian and Armenian peasants of the neighbourhood of Marash, and confined at Aleppo. His captivity lasted seventeen years. Released in 1176, he married Stephanie, the widow of Humphrey of Toron[?], and heiress of Krak and Mont Royal, to the southeast of the Dead Sea--fortresses which controlled the trade-routes between Egypt and Damascus, and gave him access to the Red Sea.

In November 1177, at the head of the army of the kingdom, he won a victory over Saladin, who only escaped with difficulty from the pursuit. But in 1181 the temptation of the caravans which passed by his fortress proved too strong, and in spite of a truce between Saladin and Baldwin IV he began to plunder. Saladin demanded reparations from Baldwin IV. Baldwin could only reply that he was unable to coerce his unruly vassal. The result was a new outbreak of war between Saladin and the Latin kingdom (1182). In the course of the hostilities Raynald launched ships on the Red Sea, partly for buccaneering, partly, it seems, with the design of attacking Mecca, and of challenging Islam in its own holy place. His ships were captured by one of Saladin's officers; and at the end of the year Saladin himself attacked Raynald in his fortress of Krak, at a time when a number of guests were assembled to celebrate the marriage of his stepson, Humphrey of Toron. The siege was raised, however, by Count Raymund of Tripoli; and till 1186 Raynald was quiet.

In that year he espoused the cause of Sibylla and Guy of Lusignan against Count Raymund, and his influence contributed to the recognition of Guy as king of Jerusalem. His policy at this crisis was not conceived in the best interests of the kingdom; and a step which he took at the end of the year was positively fatal. Hearing of a rich caravan, in which the sister of Saladin was travelling, he swooped down from his fortress upon it. Thus, for the second time, he broke a truce between the kingdom and Saladin. Guy could not extort from him the satisfaction which Saladin demanded Raynald replied that he was lord in his lands, and that he had no peace with Saladin to respect. Saladin swore that Raynald should perish if ever he took him prisoner; and next year he was able to fulfil his oath. He invaded the kingdom, and, at the Battle of Hattin, Raynald along with King Guy and many others fell into his hands. They were brought to his tent; and Saladin, after rebuking Raynald strongly for his treachery, offered him his life if he would become a Muslim. He refused, and Saladin either slew him with his own hands or caused him to be slain (for accounts differ) in the presence of his companions.

The death of Raynald caused him to be regarded as a martyr; his life only shows him to have been a brigand of great capacity. He is the apotheosis of the feudal liberty which the barons of the Holy Land vindicated for themselves; and he shows, in his reckless brigandage, the worst side of their character. Stevenson, Crusades in the East (Cambridge, 1907), takes a most favourable view of Raynald's career: cf. especially pp. 240-241. But his whole life seems to indicate a self-willed and selfish temper.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.



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