According to an Armenian source, he had lost an eye on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem before the First Crusade, but this statement probably refers to the fact that he was one-eyed (monoculus). He also fought against the Moors in Spain before 1096, and he was the first to join the crusade after Pope Urban II's sermon at the Council of Clermont.
The oldest and the richest of the crusaders, Raymond left Toulouse at the end of October 1096, with a large company that included his wife, his son, and Adhemar, bishop of Puy, the Papal Legate. He marched to Dyrrhachium, and then east to Constantinople along the same route used by Bohemund of Taranto. At the end of April, 1097, he very reluctantly swore an oath of fealty to Byzantine emperor Alexius I, as had the other crusade leaders.
He was present at the battles of Nicaea and Dorylaeum in 1097, but his first major role came in October of 1097 at Antioch. The crusaders heard a rumour that the city had been deserted by the Seljuk Turks, so Raymond sent his army ahead to occupy it, an action which offended Bohemund of Taranto who wanted the city for himself. The city was, however, still occupied, and was taken by the crusaders only after a difficult siege in June of 1098. Raymond took the palatium Cassiani (the palace of the emir, Yagi Sian) and the tower over the Bridge Gate. He was ill during the second siege of Antioch by Kerbogha, but there was much spiritualistic activity among his followers, which culminated in the discovery of the Holy Lance by a monk named Peter Bartholomew.
The "miracle" raised the morale of the crusaders, and to their surprise they were able to rout Kerbogha outside Antioch. The Lance itself became a valuable relic among Raymond's followers, despite Adhemar of Le Puy's skepticism. Raymond also refused to give up his territories in the city to Bohemund, reminding Bohemund that he should return to the city to Emperor Alexius, as he had sworn to do. A struggle then arose between Raymond's supporters and the supporters of Bohemund, partly over the genuineness of the Lance, but mostly over the possession of Antioch.
Many of the minor knights and foot soldiers preferred to continue their march to Jerusalem, and they convinced Raymond to lead them there in the autumn of 1098. Raymond led them out to besiege Marra, although he left a small detachment of his troops in Antioch, where Bohemund also remained. As Adhemar had died in Antioch, Raymond, along with the prestige given to him by the Holy Lance, became the new leader of the crusade, but Bohemund expelled his detachment from Antioch in January of 1099. Raymond then began to search for a city of his own. He marched from Marra, which had been captured in December of 1098, into the emirate of Tripoli, and began the siege of Arqa on February 14, 1099, apparently with the intent of founding an independent territory in Tripoli that could limit the power of Bohemund to expand the Principality of Antioch to the south.
The siege of Arqa, a town outside Tripoli, lasted longer than Raymond had hoped. Although he successfully captured a fortress that would later become the important Krak des Chevaliers, his insistence on taking Tripoli delayed the march to Jerusalem, and he lost much of the support he had gained after Antioch. Raymond finally agreed to continue the march to Jerusalem on May 13, and after months of siege the city was captured on July 15. Raymund was offered the crown of the new Kingdom of Jerusalem, but refused, as he was reluctant to rule in the city in which Christ had suffered. It is also likely that he wished to continue the siege of Tripoli rather than remain in Jerusalem. However, he was also reluctant to give up the Tower of David in Jerusalem, which he had taken after the fall of the city, and it was only with difficulty that Godfrey of Bouillon was able to take it from him.
Raymond participated in the battle of Ascalon soon after the capture of Jerusalem, during which an invading army from Egypt was defeated. However, Raymond wanted to occupy Ascalon himself rather than give it to Godfrey, and in the resulting dispute Ascalon remained unoccupied. It was not taken by the crusaders until 1153. Godfrey also blamed him for the failure of his army to capture Arsuf. When Raymond went north, in the winter of 1099-1100, his first act was one of hostility against Bohemund, capturing Laodicea from the Principality. From Laodicea he went to Constantinople, where he allied with Alexius I, Bohemund's most powerful enemy. Bohemund was at the time attempting to expand Antioch into Byzantine territory, and blatantly refused to fulfill his oath to the Byzantine Empire.
Raymond joining the minor and ultimately unsuccessful crusade of 1101, which was defeated at Heraclea in Anatolia. Raymond escaped and returned to Constantinople. In 1102 he travelled by sea from Constantinople to Antioch, where he was imprisoned by Tancred of Hauteville, regent of Antioch during the captivity of Bohemund, and was only dismissed after promising not to attempt any conquests in the country between Antioch and Acre. He immediately broke his promise, attacking and capturing Tortosa, and began to build a castle on the Mons Peregrinus ("Pilgrim's Mountain") which would help in his siege of Tripoli. He was aided by Alexius I, who preferred a friendly state in Tripoli to balance the hostile state in Antioch.
Before Tripoli was captured, Raymond died in 1105. He was succeeded by his nephew William-Jordan, who, in 1109, with the aid of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem, finally captured the town and established the County of Tripoli. William was deposed in the same year by Raymond's eldest son Bertrand, and the county remained in the possession of the counts of Toulouse during the 12th century.
Raymond of Toulouse seems to have driven both by religious motives and material motives. On the one hand he accepted the discovery of the Holy Lance and rejected the kingship of Jerusalem, but on the other hand he could not resist the temptation of a new territory. Raymond of Aguilers, a clerk in Raymond's army, wrote an account of the crusade from Raymond's point of view.
|Count of Toulouse||
|County of Tripoli||