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

XVIII: The Kingdom of Cilician Armenia,   pp. 630-659 PDF (12.6 MB)

Page 645

inflicting heavy losses on them. The following year (1 188), taking advantage
of the troubled condition in the sultanate of Rum that preceded the death
of Kilij Arsian II, Leon turned against the Selchükids. A surprise attack
on Bragana was unsuccessful, and the constable Baldwin was killed, but Leon
returned two months later with a larger army, killed the head of the garrison,
seized the fortress, and marched into Isauria. Though we find no specific
mention of it, Seleucia must have been captured about this time, for the
city was in Armenian hands when Frederick Barbarossa came in 1 190. Proceeding
northward, Leon seized Heraclea, gave it up after payment to him of a large
sum, and advanced as far as Caesarea. It is probably about this time that
Shahnshah, brother of Hetoum of Lampron, took, on behalf of Leon, the fortress
of Loulon, covering the northern approach to the Cilician Gates, and fortified
it. 17 
 On the eve of the Third Crusade the Armenian barony of Cilicia could be
considered one of the vital Christian states of the Levant, and its strong
position was particularly noticeable at a time when the Latin principalities,
reduced almost exclusively to the three large cities of Antioch, Tyre, and
Tripoli, were hard pressed by Saladin. The letters sent in 1189 by pope Clement
III to Leon II and to the catholicus Gregory IV Dgha are a clear indication
of this, for, while previously the Armenians had been asking for help, now
it was the pope who urged them to give military and financial assistance
to the crusaders.18 
 When Frederick Barbarossa approached the Armenian terri tories, Leon sent
an embassy composed of several barons, with presents, ample supplies, and
armed troops. A second embassy, headed by the bishop Nersës of Lampron,
arrived too late and returned to Tarsus with the emperor's son Frederick,
the bishops, and the German army. Barbarossa's death made a profound impres
sion on the Armenians; we find it recorded in the colophons of many manuscripts
written during these years in Cilicia. It was a particularly cruel blow for
Leon, in whom Barbarossa's presence and influence had bred high hopes of
obtaining the royal crown which he so greatly desired. Nersës of Lampron
claims that Frederick had promised this "in a writing sealed with a gold
seal," but when Leon asked for the fulfillment of the promise, the German
 17 Ibid., p. 432; colophon of a manuscript written by Nersës of Lampron
at Loulon in 1196. 
 18 The letter of Clement III is preserved only in an Armenian translation.
See the French translation in L. Alishan, Leon le Magnifique, pp. 163—165.

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