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Raymond III of Tripoli

Raymond III of Tripoli (c. 1142-1187) was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187. He succeeded his father Raymond II, who had been killed by the Hashshashin.

In 1164 Raymond was captured by Nur ad-Din and remained in prison until 1174. During this time King Amalric ruled as regent of Tripoli. When Raymond was released he became regent for Baldwin IV, who was still too young to rule on his own. Raymond also married Eschiva, the widow of Prince Walter of Galilee, which allowed him to gain control over much of the northern part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, especially the fortress at Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. As regent, he appointed William of Tyre chancellor of Jerusalem in 1174 and archbishop of Tyre in 1175. He retired as regent when Baldwin IV was old enough to rule in 1176, though he still had some influence over the king, and in 1177 he arranged for Baldwin IV's sister Sibylla of Jerusalem to marry William of Montferrat. William died later in the year while Sibylla was pregnant with the future Baldwin V.

As the great-grandson of Raymond I, Raymond III represented the long-established families who had arrived during the First Crusade, and who had since adapted to the land and its customs. He preferred a policy of good relations with the Muslims, with whom he had become friendly during his captivity, but he frequently came into conflict with the newer families, such as Raynald of Chatillon and Guy of Lusignan, as well as the military orders of the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar, who had arrived more recently and wished to fight the Muslims wherever and whenever possible.

In 1184 Raymond struggled with Guy for control of the regency for Baldwin IV, who was by now incapacitated with leprosy. Raymond won this struggle, with a guarantee that he would remain regent for 10 years, and would have possession of Beirut. However, Raymond then passed control of the regency to Joscelin III of Courtenay. Baldwin IV died in 1185, and the child Baldwin V died soon after in 1186. Joscelin, influenced by the party of new families led by Raynald and Guy, had Guy named as the new king. Instead of arguing and possibly causing a civil war, Raymond returned to Tripoli.

Raymond reluctantly sided with the Crusaders after Saladin, his former friend (if not fully an ally), attacked the kingdom in 1187 in response to Raynald's raids in Muslim territory. Saladin immediately besieged Tiberias, rather than pillage the kingdom as the Crusaders expected. Raymond preferred not to have the Crusader meet Saladin in a pitched battle, even though Raymond's wife Eschiva was still in Tiberias. Guy did not agree; instead, the Crusaders marched into a waterless plain, were surrounded by Saladin's army, and were almost completely destroyed at Hattin outside Tiberias. Raymond was one of the few to escape.

Raymond died later in 1187. He appointed as his successor his godson Raymond of Antioch, although Bohemund III of Antioch installed his own son Bohemund IV as count.

Preceded by:
Raymond II
County of Tripoli Succeeded by:
Bohemond IV