What ruler in history had the greatest responsibility upon his ascension?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,991
Sydney
the Normans mercenaries and adventurers had been active in southern Italy
one of them Guiscard of Longueville came to seek his fortune with a small company
with the usual Normand mix of vicious fighting cunning politics and total lack of morale
changing wives as politically expedient
he set himself up as a local lord , with the blessing of his ex opponent the pope
he then turned his attention South and East , took Sicily from the Saracens by surprise
under Guiscard and his brothers a force besieged the ( sometimes ) Byzantine Bari , took it after a very hard siege and invaded Greece
defeating the Byzantine emperor at Dyrrachium , but had to turn back to deal with a situation in Italy

Bohemond was his son , he went on most of his father campaigns
the emperor daughter Anna wrote about his exceptional beauty , impressive physical strength and size , sharp mind , silver tongue and thoroughly evil mind

"Now the man was such as, to put it briefly, had never before been seen in the land of the Romans,
be he either of the barbarians or of the Greeks (for he was a marvel for the eyes to behold, and his reputation was terrifying).
Let me describe the barbarian's appearance more particularly – he was so tall in stature that he overtopped the tallest by nearly one cubit,
narrow in the waist and loins, with broad shoulders and a deep chest and powerful arms.
And in the whole build of the body he was neither too slender nor overweighted with flesh, but perfectly proportioned and, one might say, built in conformity with the canon of Polycleitus
... His skin all over his body was very white, and in his face the white was tempered with red.
His hair was yellowish, but did not hang down to his waist like that of the other barbarians; for the man was not inordinately vain of his hair, but had it cut short to the ears.
Whether his beard was reddish, or any other colour I cannot say, for the razor had passed over it very closely and left a surface smoother than chalk
... His blue eyes indicated both a high spirit and dignity; and his nose and nostrils breathed in the air freely;
his chest corresponded to his nostrils and by his nostrils...the breadth of his chest. For by his nostrils nature had given free passage for the high spirit which bubbled up from his heart.
A certain charm hung about this man but was partly marred by a general air of the horrible
.. He was so made in mind and body that both courage and passion reared their crests within him and both inclined to war.
His wit was manifold and crafty and able to find a way of escape in every emergency.
In conversation he was well informed, and the answers he gave were quite irrefutable.
This man who was of such a size and such a character was inferior to the Emperor alone in fortune and eloquence and in other gifts of nature"

during the crusade , the Normans were in for the loot ,Bohemond cousin Tancred was cut from the same cloth
 
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Feb 2011
1,091
Scotland
the Normans mercenaries and adventurers had been active in southern Italy
one of them Guiscard of Longueville came to seek his fortune with a small company
with the usual Normand mix of vicious fighting cunning politics and total lack of morale
changing wives as politically expedient
he set himself up as a local lord , with the blessing of his ex opponent the pope
he then turned his attention South and East , took Sicily from the Saracens by surprise
under Guiscard and his brothers a force besieged the ( sometimes ) Byzantine Bari , took it after a very hard siege and invaded Greece
defeating the Byzantine emperor at Dyrrachium , but had to turn back to deal with a situation in Italy

Bohemond was his son , he went on most of his father campaigns
the emperor daughter Anna wrote about his exceptional beauty , impressive physical strength and size , sharp mind , silver tongue and thoroughly evil mind

"Now the man was such as, to put it briefly, had never before been seen in the land of the Romans,
be he either of the barbarians or of the Greeks (for he was a marvel for the eyes to behold, and his reputation was terrifying).
Let me describe the barbarian's appearance more particularly – he was so tall in stature that he overtopped the tallest by nearly one cubit,
narrow in the waist and loins, with broad shoulders and a deep chest and powerful arms.
And in the whole build of the body he was neither too slender nor overweighted with flesh, but perfectly proportioned and, one might say, built in conformity with the canon of Polycleitus
... His skin all over his body was very white, and in his face the white was tempered with red.
His hair was yellowish, but did not hang down to his waist like that of the other barbarians; for the man was not inordinately vain of his hair, but had it cut short to the ears.
Whether his beard was reddish, or any other colour I cannot say, for the razor had passed over it very closely and left a surface smoother than chalk
... His blue eyes indicated both a high spirit and dignity; and his nose and nostrils breathed in the air freely;
his chest corresponded to his nostrils and by his nostrils...the breadth of his chest. For by his nostrils nature had given free passage for the high spirit which bubbled up from his heart.
A certain charm hung about this man but was partly marred by a general air of the horrible
.. He was so made in mind and body that both courage and passion reared their crests within him and both inclined to war.
His wit was manifold and crafty and able to find a way of escape in every emergency.
In conversation he was well informed, and the answers he gave were quite irrefutable.
This man who was of such a size and such a character was inferior to the Emperor alone in fortune and eloquence and in other gifts of nature"

during the crusade , the Normans were in for the loot ,Bohemond cousin Tancred was cut from the same cloth
A very interesting part of history- have you read the historical novels of Alfred Duggan? This was probably his favourite period and several novels are set here- Lady for Ransom, Count Bohemond etc- which detail Bohemend's career pre and post Crusade and his conflicts with Alexios. Roussel of Balliol also features, in Lady for Ransom.
 
Feb 2011
1,091
Scotland
My nomination would be Abraham Lincoln. Beset by crisis, commencing with Fort Sumter, virtually from the hour he moved into the Oval Office.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,991
Sydney
"have you read the historical novels of Alfred Duggan? "
maybe , did read alot but my foundation stone is the books "a history the crusades" by Steven Rucciman
three books packed with action , saints and villains , exquisite learning sustaining a great narrative

I've always suspected Anna comena of having a yen for Bohemond , a mixture of attraction and repulsion
her first love being , of course , her father which she idolized
Bohemond was quite the ladies man and a charmer
he started a cult of St Leonard , having prayed to him for deliverance from his chains when made prisoner
making a very showy pilgrimage and offering his bonds (and money ) to the saint shrine
did a prayer on the shrine while passing by Noblac
having no chains and giving no money , there was obviously no result
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,939
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Excellent summary and analysis; thank you! :)

BTW, what exactly was Bohemond's beef with Alexios?
To add to the other answer by sparky:

The son of Robert Guiscard (the Astute) and his first wife, Alberada, Bohemond was christened Marc but nicknamed after a legendary giant named Bohemond.
Bohemond I | prince of Antioch

And this is my guess for the origin of the legendary giant Bohemond's name:

Definition of behemoth

1often capitalized, religion : a mighty animal described in Job 40:15–24 as an example of the power of God
2: something of monstrous size, power, or appearancea behemoth truck
Definition of BEHEMOTH

Behemoth (/bɪˈhiːməθ, ˈbiːə-/; Hebrew: בהמות‎, behemot) is a beast mentioned in Job 40:15–24. Suggested identities range from a mythological creature to an elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, or buffalo.[1]Metaphorically, the name has come to be used for any extremely large or powerful entity.
Job 40:15–24 describes Behemoth, and then the sea-monster Leviathan, to demonstrate to Job the futility of questioning God, who alone has created these beings and who alone can capture them.[2] C. L. Patton lists several interpretations of the nature of these beasts, including the idea that they are chaos monsters destroyed by the deity at the time of creation.[3]
5 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.
Behemoth - Wikipedia

I have always considered Bohemond to be based on Behemoth. And Bohemond and his family members behaved like a Behemoth, trying to conquer any lands that they could steal from their rightful owners, but had very little success with the eastern Roman Empire under Alexios I. That is Bohemond's beef with Alexios I; Alexios was hard to conquer lands from.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,870
Blachernai
I've always suspected Anna comena of having a yen for Bohemond , a mixture of attraction and repulsion
her first love being , of course , her father which she idolized
She's setting him up to be a foil for her father. Every great hero needs a great opponent, and her physical description of him is straight out of classical ekphrasis.
 
Jan 2016
1,139
Victoria, Canada
BTW, what exactly was Bohemond's beef with Alexios?
As others have noted it was mostly classic Norman opportunistic expansionism, turned into rivalry by Alexios thwarting that expansionism. Normans of the period never really needed any other reasons to go to war, honestly -- if they could find even the flimsiest pretext to grab some land they'd do it, if they thought they could win (see also England, Ireland, Wales, Southern Italy, Sicily, Tunisia and Western Anatolia).
 
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