Hugues Ier "le Grand" de Vermandois
d.18 Oct 1101 Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey
m. 19 MAY 1051
Facts and Events
Hugh I of Vermandois (1057 – October 18, 1101), called 'Magnus' or the Great, was a younger son of Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev and younger brother of Philip I. He was in effect Count of Vermandois, but an ineffectual leader and soldier, great only in his boasting. Indeed, Steven Runciman is certain that his nickname Magnus (greater or elder), applied to him by William of Tyre, is a copyist's error, and should be Minus (younger), referring to Hugh as younger brother of the King of France.
In early 1096 Hugh and Philip began discussing the First Crusade after news of the Council of Clermont reached them in Paris. Although Philip could not participate, as he had been excommunicated, Hugh was said to have been influenced to join the Crusade after an eclipse of the moon on February 11, 1096.
That summer Hugh's army left France for Italy, where they would cross the Adriatic Sea into territory of the Byzantine Empire, unlike the other Crusader armies who were travelling by land. On the way, many of the soldiers led by fellow Crusader Emicho joined Hugh's army after Emicho was defeated by the Hungarians, whose land he had been pillaging. Hugh crossed the Adriatic from Bari in Southern Italy, but many of his ships were destroyed in a storm off the Byzantine port of Dyrrhachium.
Hugh and most of his army were rescued and escorted to Constantinople, where they arrived in November 1096. Prior to his arrival, Hugh allegedly sent an arrogant, insulting letter to Eastern Roman Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. According to the Emperor's biography written by his daughter Anna Comnena (the Alexiad), he demanded that Alexius meet with him:
Alexius was already wary of the armies about to arrive, after the unruly mob led by Peter the Hermit had passed through earlier in the year. Alexius kept Hugh in custody in a monastery until Hugh swore an oath of vassalage to him.
After the Crusaders had successfully made their way across Seljuk territory and, in 1098, captured Antioch, Hugh was sent back to Constantinople to appeal for reinforcements from Alexius. Alexius was uninterested, however, and Hugh, instead of returning to Antioch to help plan the siege of Jerusalem, went back to France. There he was scorned for not having fulfilled his vow as a Crusader to complete a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and Pope Paschal II threatened to excommunicate him. He joined the minor Crusade of 1101, but was wounded in battle with the Turks in September, and died of his wounds in October in Tarsus.