Treaty of Devol

The Treaty of Devol was an agreement between Bohemond I, Prince of Antioch, and the Byzantine emperor Alexius I in the year 1108 with the aim to make Antioch a vassal state of the Byzantine Empire.


In 1096, the Crusaders armies gathered in Constantinople Opel after they had marched separately across Europe. Alexius I, who had asked the West in its struggle against the Seljuks only mercenaries, the army held in the city, forbade her to Weiterzug until their leaders had vowed all the land that they conquer their way to Jerusalem would to leave the Empire. The Crusaders took the oath finally, individually rather than in groups. Some, like Raymond IV of Toulouse were probably sincere, others, such as Bohemond never intended well, keep their promise. The Crusaders expected in return Alexios military assistance to which Alexios also prepared himself, but the Crusaders were upset about the Byzantine tactics, which negotiated the surrender of Nicaea with the Seljuks, while the city was still besieged by the Crusaders (see Siege of Nicaea ), in the hope that their looting to finance their trip. The Crusaders, who felt betrayed by Alexios, continued on their way without any Byzantine assistance continued. 1098, as Antioch was conquered and the Crusaders were now besieged in the city itself (see Siege of Antioch ), Alexios set out, to help them, but turned back, as different deserters reported to him that the situation was hopeless. The Crusaders, who had unexpectedly resisted the siege, believed Alexios had dropped it and kept the Byzantines now for completely unreliable.

Until 1100 several Crusader states were founded, among them Bohemund of the Principality of Antioch. It was demanded Antioch to pass the Byzantines, despite the suspected treason, but Bohemund claimed it for himself Alexios was of course a different view, Antioch, with its important port was a hub for trade with Asia, a stronghold of the Orthodox church with a important patriarchs. It had been taken away from the Empire until a few decades ago, unlike Jerusalem, which was no longer in possession of Byzantine much further away and have been for centuries. Alexios did not recognize the legitimacy of the principality, called instead for the return in accordance with the oath, swore to Bohemond 1097.

In 1100 Bohemond added Alexios and the Orthodox Church to further insult, when he appointed Bernard of Valence to the Latin Patriarch, while the Greek Patriarch, John Oxites, out of the country, who then fled to Constantinople Opel. Shortly after Bohemond was captured by the Danishmends and imprisoned for three years, then his nephew Tancred was appointed regent. After his return Bohemond was defeated in 1104 by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Harran, a defeat which increased the pressure on both sides of Antioch, the Seljuks and the Byzantines. Bohemund Tancred left back as regent in Antioch and went on a trip to Europe to collect soldiers and money for a new crusade.

Bohemund's Norman relatives in Sicily were for more than 30 years in the war with the Byzantine Empire; his father, Robert Guiscard was one of the worst enemies of the Empire. While Bohemond was absent, Alexius sent an army to reconquer Antioch and Cilician cities. 1107 Bohemond had set up a new army for his planned crusade against the Muslims in Syria, but this resulted in a campaign against Alexios. He crossed from Italy to the Adriatic and besieged Dyrrachium, the westernmost city of the Empire. As his father was also Bohemond not able to achieve significant progress in the Byzantine Empire, Alexios avoided a pitched battle and siege of Bohemond failed, partly because of a disease in its own ranks.

The contract

In September 1108 Alexios suggested to start negotiations in his camp Diabolis. ( The place is named after the Devoll River. ) Bohemond had no choice, he had to accept because his stricken by the plague army was no longer able to compete against Alexios in a battle. He acknowledged that he had violated the oath of 1097, but refused to confirm that this had any connection with the present situation, especially since Alexios had violated the agreement Bohemond's eyes as well as he in 1098 withdrew from the siege of Antioch. Alexius agreed to declare the oath of 1097 as invalid. The provisions of the agreement were negotiated by Nikephoros Bryennios and recorded by his wife, Alexios ' daughter Anna Comnena.

  • Bohemond agreed to be a vassal of the emperor, as a vassal of Alexius son and heir, John II;
  • He accepted to help in the defense of the kingdom, where and when the help would always requested and accepted an annual payment of 200 talents of silver in return;
  • He got the title Sebastor and Doux ( Duke ) of Antioch;
  • Him were Antioch and Aleppo given as imperial fiefs (the latter were not in possession of neither the Byzantines nor the Crusaders, the determination saw itself as an invitation to conquest );
  • He agreed to return Laodicea and other Cilician territories to Alexius;
  • He accepted that Alexius appointed a Greek Patriarch.

The provisions were negotiated in accordance with Bohemond western understanding, so that he saw himself as a feudal vassal of the emperor, a homo ligius or ανθροπος λιζιος. From the Byzantine point of view he was just a dominated enemy that was pressed into mercenary for the Empire, for which he was paid annually. The title Doux meant that he was Byzantine subject, not an independent prince ( this title he had given himself in 1098 ). The regulations correspond more to the Byzantine Pronoia system than the Western feudalism.

Antioch in any case was given to him for life, even if the emperor ( Alexios or John) should withdraw the contract. After Bohemund's death the principality should fall under direct Byzantine control so that Bohemond there could not start a dynasty, even though he Alexios a hereditary duchy somewhere else (possibly the County of Edessa ) promised; the corresponding passage in the Alexiade missing, but if so, then the two were negotiating areas that do not belong to them, even if Tancred managed at this time both gentlemen.

Anna Comnena described the progress with repetitive details, with Bohemond, who reveals his own mistakes and Alexios ' and the Empire benevolence praises. The agreement seems to be perfect to Alexios benefits and negotiations must have been pretty humiliating for Bohemond. On the other side of Anna's work was intended as a blessing of her father, which terms and conditions shall not be reproduced correctly. It is known that the Crusaders sources do not mention the contract only in passing or at all.

The contract concluded with an oath of Bohemond, the Anna wrote down as follows:

"... I swear to you, our Lord and Emperor Alexios Komnenos, most powerful and most honored, and you co-emperor, the thrice blessed Lord John Porphyrogenitus, that I all the agreements which have been concluded between us and confirmed to me verbally note and for always keep completely unaffected 'll ... In my thoughts and deeds I will do anything to help the Roman Empire and to honor it ... "

The oral agreement was written in two copies, one got Alexios, the other Bohemond. The witnesses from Bohemond camps were - according to Anna - Maurus, Bishop of Amalfi and the apostolic legate Renard, Bishop of Taranto, and the simple cleric who accompanied her, the abbot of the monastery of St. Andrew in Brindisi with two of his monks, a number of unnamed " pilgrims " (probably soldiers of Bohemund's army). Alexios ' page from the Treaty of Sebastos Marinus, Roger, son of Dagobert, Peter Aliphas, William of Ghent, Richard from the Principate (the father of Roger of Salerno), Geoffrey of Mailli, Hubert, son Raoul, Paul the Romans was, the Messenger of Peres and Simon from Hungary, as well as the ambassadors of the eunuch Basil and Constantine testified. Interestingly, many of Alexios ' witnesses even Western Europeans, moreover, Basil and Constantine were messengers in the service of Bohemund's Sicilian relatives.

It is still not received a copy of the contract. It is unknown whether it was written in Latin, Greek, or in both languages. The latter is given the composition of the finished most likely.


Bohemond returned to Sicily, where he died in 1111, before he had an opportunity to return to Antioch - if he ever wanted: after all, he could have had the feeling of having lost his prestige and power. Perhaps he was also of the view that one could force his nephew Tancred to accept the contract only by force of arms; in his absence, Tancred refused the deal actually from: in his opinion the possession of Antioch was passed by the conquest. He saw no reason to anybody leave it otherwise, had nothing to do with the Crusades, and also worked actively against it ( as the Crusaders believed ). The Crusaders seem to have to have been the view, Alexios Bohemond had cheated when he gave him Antioch, previously they were Alexios for sneaky and unreliable, and the contract is re-affirmed their view. The contract made ​​Tancred for illegal owner of Antioch, and Alexius had expected of Bohemond that he depose him or otherwise bring under control. Tancred also allowed any Greek Patriarch to come to the city - these have now been appointed in Constantinople Opel and resided there.

The question of the status of Antioch and neighboring Cilician cities troubled the empire for many years. The Treaty of Devoll seems to have been regarded as devoid of content by Bohemund's death, but Alexios ' son John tried yet, establish his dominion over Antioch, when he traveled to Antioch in 1137 to negotiate a new contract. 1138 a revolt against him was staged, which forced him to leave the city. It took until 1158 to Manuel I, that Antioch actually Byzantine vassal, after Manuel Raynald of Chatillon had abzwungen fealty as punishment for his attack on Cyprus. The Greek patriarch was reinstated, and reigned beside the Latin Patriarch. Antioch, weakened by the powerless regent after Rainald capture by the Muslims in 1160, remains a vassal state until 1182, when internal disputes after Manuel's death in 1180 the Empire prevented them from enforcing his claim.


  • Anna Comnena: Alexia. Translator, inlaid. and by appointment vers. Diether Roderich Reinsch of. DuMont, Cologne 1996. ISBN 3-7701-3492-3, 13.11-12.
  • William of Tyre, Historia rerum in partibus trans marinis gestarum, Vol I, 11.6.