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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311

I: The Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Crusades,   pp. 2-43 PDF (16.9 MB)

Page 41

obligations even after his death. It probably reflects his proposed contributions
had he lived to see the crusade launched. 
 Whether full participation of Sicilians in the Third Crusade would have
changed the military and political situation in the Near East in favor of
the Latin Christians of Outremer nobody can tell. It might well have brought
the kingdom of Sicily economic and political advantages, and a position that
could have served as a springboard for the conquest of Constantinople. From
this point of view William's death was a tragic misfortune for the kingdom.
When conditions which two kings of Sicily had long tried to bring about were
finally present, there was no one who could benefit from them. 
 Tancred of Lecce had been elected and crowned king by a national party headed
by Matthew of Salerno,51 but he was hardly able to establish his authority
against those who saw in the new German emperor Henry VI, husband of Roger
II's daughter Constance, the legitimate heir endorsed by the late king. Therefore,
when the kings of France and England successively landed in Sicily in September
1190, Tancred, who feared an invasion of Apulia by Henry's armies and new
rebellions by his vassals, could think neither of participating in the crusade
nor even of making a substantial contribution to it. The very legacy bequeathed
by William to Henry II added to Tancred's embarrassment. It was this legacy,
and the dowry for his sister Joan, king William's queen, that gave Richard
the Lionhearted a pretext for entering Sicily as an enemy and occupying Messina.52
These incidents gave rise to rumors of an English plan to conquer the whole
island. It all ended with an agreement in the negotiation of which king Philip
Augustus of France played a somewhat ambiguous role. Tancred paid off the
obligations both to the dowager queen and to the greedy English king. Fifteen
galleys and four transports, which Richard received as a gift from king Tancred
shortly before he embarked for Acre, were all that was left of the great
project nurtured by the last legitimate Norman king of Sicily. 
 When in 1194, after the death of Tancred and the defeat of his partisans,
Henry VI ascended the throne of the Hautevilles in Palermo, the Norman tradition
was once more revived. Henry's somewhat vague imperial dream "to subjugate
all lands" now took on the concrete and distinctive traits of the Norman-Sicilian
 51 Often erroneously termed "of Ajello" (Aiello), apparently because
his son Richard became count of Ajello. See Jamison, Admiral Eugenius of
Sicily, p. 94, n. I. 
 52 See below, chapter II, pp. 58-61. 

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