At Christmas, a few days before the turning of the century, Bohemond of Taranto fulfilled his crusading vows at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The road south had been long and perilous, with the Prince making efforts to avoid being seen either by the Moslems of Aleppo or his fellow Christians in Tripoli, never staying in one place for too long and riding without a banner. Nor would his stay in Jerusalem be long, either. After fulfilling his vows, Bohemond rode straight to the sea-port of Jaffa. A few Bezants places in the hands of a Pisan merchant secured his passage back west; but not before he had laden himself with gifts and souvenirs from the Holy Land.

A voyage west was long and perilous, and it would take several months for them to travel across the open seas. Cyprus and Crete were their first stopping points. Italians had their hooks even in the towns and ports of the Greeks, it seemed, for every port they stopped at there would be an enclave of Genoese or Pisans or Venetians that the captain would trade and treat with. From Crete, they pressed on to Syracuse, the lands of his father’s brother Roger of Sicily. But treating with his kinsmen was not his goal. From Roger, passage was secured even further westward.

And that was when Bohemond’s ship finally made landfall upon the southern coast of Frankia, in the lands of the Count of Toulouse. By now, there were those who knew who he was, and the Prince had attracted a small following of wandering pilgrims as he made his way to the court of the Duke of Aquitaine, William IX. Word had spread that the famed crusader Bohemond wished to treat with him.