Tancred (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Through his leadership and political sense, Tancred contributed greatly to the success of the First Crusade, spreading Christian influence and establishing a firm Christian presence in the Near East that lasted for decades.
Very little is known about Tancred’s formative years. He was the son of Odo the Good Marquis and Emma, the daughter of Robert Guiscard. Tancred first appeared prominently in southern Italy when his uncle, Bohemond of Taranto, and grandfather, Guiscard, led the Norman conquest of southern Italy. They established Tancred as a lord there just as Pope Urban II called for Christian knights to crusade against the Muslims in the Holy land.
According to Tancred’s chronicler, Ralph of Caen, the young knight grappled with the dilemma of being a Christian knight; knightly warfare seemed at odds with God’s commandments. While the Church preached Christian pacifism, young Tancred had to survive as a knight in a violent world. Pope Urban recognized this problem as well. He solved the knight’s dilemma by granting remission of all sins and declaring that killing Muslims while liberating the Holy Land was favorable in God’s eyes. With this problem solved, Tancred “was aroused, his powers grew, his eyes opened, his courage was born. For before . . . his mind was divided, uncertain whether to follow in the footsteps of the Gospel or the world.”
(The entire section is 1275 words.)
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