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William of Tyre

William of Tyre was archbishop of Tyre. He wrote a significant history of the Crusades and the Middle Ages.

He was born in Jerusalem c. 1128; died at Tyre between Oct. 17 and 21, 1186.

His earlier education was received in Jerusalem; but when he was thirty years of age or older he studied in France (probably) and very likely in Paris, then the seat of learning in the West (see WILLIAM OF ST. AMOUR).

After his return to the Holy Land in 1163 he became leading cleric in the cathedral at Tyre, and in 1167 was archdeacon. In 1168 he went on a diplomatic mission for King Amalric to the Emperor Manuel, and the next year was in Rome. On his return he had charge of the education of Amalric's son and heir, who succeeded his father in 1173, and the next year made William his chancellor, while in 1175 William became archbishop of Tyre, thus being in charge of the weightiest matters in Church and State.

In 1179 he attended the Lateran Council and was then engaged in diplomatic matters with the emperor, returning home in 1180. His importance ceased with the accession of Baldwin IV in 1185.

William himself reports that he wrote an account of the Lateran Council which he attended, also a Historia or Gesta orientalium principum dealing with the times after Mohammed till 1184; both these are lost.

His great work is a Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum in twenty-three books (editions published at Basel, 1564, 1583; in Bongar, Gesta Dei per Francos, i. 625-1046, Hanover, 1611; and in Recueil des historiens des croisades, Historiens occidentaux, vol. i., Paris, 1844), but of the last book he finished only the first chapter, coming down to 1184; indeed he had not completed all of the preceding books.

The work begins with the conquest of Syria by Omar, but passes in eleven chapters of the first books to the events which brought about the first crusade. The first fifteen books rest upon Latin sources which the author does not name; the other books have considerable value as a source. The work gained great repute, and was widely diffused through an early French translation, of which various continuations were made, partly anonymous and partly under the name of Ernoul, and of others. A part circulated also in Latin translation.



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