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Raynald of Châtillon
Raynald of Châtillon tortures Patriarch Aimery of Antioch
Preceded by Raymond of Antioch
Succeeded by None
Personal details
Born c. 1125
Died July 4, 1187(1187-07-04)
Spouse(s) Constance of Antioch
Stephanie de Milly
Religion Catholicism

Raynald of Châtillon (also Reynald, Reynold, Renald, or Reginald; French: Renaud de Châtillon, old French: Reynaud de Chastillon) (c. 1125 – July 4, 1187) was a knight who served in the Second Crusade and remained in the Holy Land after its defeat. Raynald was an enormously controversial character in his own lifetime and beyond; Muslim writers often took him to be the chief enemy of Islam.[1]

Through marriage he ruled as Prince of Antioch from 1153 to 1160. During this time he was in conflict with the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus and attacked Cyprus but later was forced to submit to the emperor. Captured by the Muslims in 1161, he was imprisoned in Aleppo for fifteen years. Through his second marriage he became Lord of Oultrejordain in 1177. In the same year, he led the Crusader army that defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard. Later he broke a truce with Saladin, attacking several Muslim caravans and sending pirate ships into the Red Sea towards Mekka and Medina. Captured at the Battle of Hattin, where the Crusaders were decisively defeated, he was executed by Saladin himself.

Early years, conflict with Emperor Manuel I, imprisonment

Raynald's origins are obscure; Du Cange believed he was from Châtillon-sur-Loire,[2] but according to Jean Richard, he was a son of Hervé II of Donzy, and he inherited Châtillon-sur-Loing sometime before joining the Second Crusade in 1147. In the east, he entered the service of Constance of Antioch, whose first husband Raymond of Poitiers had died in 1149. She married Raynald in secret in 1153, without consulting her first cousin and liege lord, King Baldwin III of Jerusalem. Neither King Baldwin nor Aimery of Limoges, the Latin Patriarch of Antioch, approved of Constance's choice of a husband of such low birth. With Constance he had a daughter, Agnes of Châtillon, in 1154.

In 1156 Raynald claimed that the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus had reneged on his promise to pay Raynald a sum of money, and vowed to attack the island of Cyprus in revenge. When Patriarch Aimery of Limoges refused to finance this expedition, Raynald had the Patriarch seized, stripped naked, beaten, covered in honey, and left in the burning sun on top of the citadel. When the Patriarch was released, he collapsed in exhaustion and agreed to finance Raynald's expedition against Cyprus. Raynald's forces attacked Cyprus, ravaging the island and pillaging its Christian inhabitants.

The Emperor Manuel I Comnenus raised an army and began a march into Syria. Faced with a much larger and more powerful force, Raynald was forced to grovel, barefoot and shabby, before the emperor's throne for forgiveness. In 1159 Raynald was forced to pay homage to Manuel as punishment for his attack, promising to accept a Greek Patriarch in Antioch. When Manuel came to Antioch later that year to meet with Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem, Raynald was forced to lead Manuel's horse into the city.

Soon after this, in 1161, Raynald was captured by the Muslims while he was engaged in a plundering raid against the Syrian and Armenian peasants of the neighbourhood of Marash. He was confined at Aleppo for the next fifteen years. He was ransomed by his supporters in Jerusalem for the extraordinary sum of 120,000 gold dinars (500 kg of gold) in 1176. By that time, his stepdaughter Maria had become Empress, having married Emperor Manuel I in 1161. His wife Constance had died in 1163, and their daughter Agnes had become queen of Hungary by marriage.

Rise to prominence

In 1174, the thirteen-year-old leper Baldwin IV had become King of Jerusalem. Raynald rose to a powerful position in the kingdom.[1] He served as the king's envoy to Emperor Manuel and was rewarded with marriage to Stephanie, the wealthy widow of both Humphrey III of Toron and Miles of Plancy and the heiress of the lordship of Oultrejordain, including the castles Kerak and Montreal to the southeast of the Dead Sea. These fortresses controlled the trade routes between Egypt and Damascus and gave Raynald access to the Red Sea. He became notorious for his wanton cruelty at Kerak, often having his enemies and hostages flung from its castle walls to be dashed to pieces on the rocks below.

In November 1177, heading the army of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, he helped King Baldwin defeat Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard; Saladin narrowly escaped. In spite of a truce between Saladin and the king negotiated in 1180, Raynald plundered a Muslim pilgrim caravan in 1182.[1] Saladin demanded reparations from Baldwin IV, who replied that he was unable to control his unruly vassal. As a result, war broke out between Saladin and the Latin kingdom in 1182. In the course of the hostilities, Raynald launched ships on the Red Sea, partly for piracy, but partly as a threat against Mecca and Medina, challenging Islam in its own holy places. His pirates ravaged villages up and down the Red Sea, before being captured by the army of Al-Adil I only a few miles from Medina. Although Raynald's pirates were taken to Cairo and beheaded, Raynald himself escaped to the Moab. Saladin vowed to behead Raynald himself, and at the end of the year Saladin attacked Kerak, during the marriage of Raynald's stepson Humphrey IV of Toron to Isabella of Jerusalem, half-sister of King Baldwin IV. The siege was raised by Count Raymond III of Tripoli, and Raynald was quiet until 1186.

That year he allied with Sibylla and Guy of Lusignan against Count Raymond, and his influence contributed to the recognition of Guy as king of Jerusalem, although Raymond and the Ibelins were attempting to advance the claim of his stepson Humphrey's wife Princess Isabella. Humphrey remained loyal to his stepfather and Guy.

In 1185 the Crusaders and Saladin signed another truce for 4 years. In 1186 Raynald attacked a large Muslim caravan travelling between Cairo and Damascus. He took all the merchants and their families prisoner, made a large amount of booty and refused to receive envoys from Saladin demanding compensation. This led directly to the end of the truce.[3] Saladin sent troops to protect a later caravan (in March 1187) in which his sister was returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. Later writers (such as the 13th century Old French Continuation of William of Tyre and the Latin Continuation of William of Tyre) conflated these two incidents, claiming erroneously that Saladin's sister, aunt, or even mother, had been taken prisoner, but this is contradicted by Arabic sources, such as Abu Shrama and Ibn al-Athir. King Guy chastised Raynald in an attempt to appease Saladin, but Raynald replied that he was lord of his own lands and that he had made no peace with Saladin. Saladin swore that Raynald would be executed if he was ever taken prisoner.

Capture and execution

Raynald of Châtillon's death
Guillaume de Tyr, Historia (BNF, Mss.Fr.68, folio 399)

In 1187 Saladin invaded the kingdom and decisively defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin. The battle left Saladin with many prisoners. Most prominent among them were Raynald and King Guy, both of whom Saladin ordered brought to his tent. The chronicler Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani, who was present at the scene, relates:

Saladin invited the king [Guy] to sit beside him, and when Arnat [Raynald] entered in his turn, he seated him next to his king and reminded him of his misdeeds. "How many times have you sworn an oath and violated it? How many times have you signed agreements you have never respected?" Raynald answered through a translator: "Kings have always acted thus. I did nothing more." During this time King Guy was gasping with thirst, his head dangling as though drunk, his face betraying great fright. Saladin spoke reassuring words to him, had cold water brought, and offered it to him. The king drank, then handed what remained to Raynald, who slaked his thirst in turn. The sultan then said to Guy: "You did not ask permission before giving him water. I am therefore not obliged to grant him mercy." After pronouncing these words, the sultan smiled, mounted his horse, and rode off, leaving the captives in terror. He supervised the return of the troops, and then came back to his tent. He ordered Raynald brought there, then advanced before him, sword in hand, and struck him between the neck and the shoulder-blade. When Raynald fell, he cut off his head and dragged the body by its feet to the king, who began to tremble. Seeing him thus upset, Saladin said to him in a reassuring tone: "This man was killed only because of his maleficence and perfidy".

Seeing the execution of Raynald, Guy of Lusignan feared he would be next. But his life was spared by Saladin, who said of the execution:

It is not the wont of kings, to kill kings; but that man had transgressed all bounds, and therefore did I treat him thus.

According to other sources, Saladin offered Raynald the choice between apostasy and death, and Raynold chose the latter.[1]


Raynald and Constance had two daughters: Agnes de Châtillon, who married the Hungarian Prince Béla who was living at the court of the Emperor in Constantinople and eventually became King Béla III of Hungary, and Jeanne de Châtillon, probably the second wife of Marquis Boniface I of Montferrat.

From his second marriage with Stephanie de Milly he had two children: a son, Raynald of Châtillon, who died young, and a daughter, Alix (Alice) de Châtillon, who married Azzo VI d'Este.

In Media

  • The Passio Raginaldi principis Antiochae, an account of Raynald's death, was written by Peter of Blois c. 1200.
  • Raynald is portrayed in the 1963 Egyptian movie film.
  • A slightly fictionalized version of Raynald is played by Brendan Gleeson in the 2005 movie Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Raynald is portrayed in a positive light, as a powerfully charismatic figure in the biographic novel Rino's Last Crusade by Gad Shimron, published in Hebrew in 2011 (previously published as The Satan in the Holy Land in 1998, also in Hebrew).
  • Raynald is featured as an NPC in the game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings as an antagonist in Saladin's campaign.
  • In the novel The Knights of Dark Renown (1969), by author, Graham Shelby, Raynald is depicted as the malevolent 'Red Wolf of Kerak'.
  • Appears as a NPC in the computer game "Baldur's Gate 2", in the Bridge District of the city of Athkatla.
  • In the historical Knights Templar Trilogy by the Swedish author Jan Guillou, Raynald is depicted as a scheming, incompetent and selfish villain accelerating the loss of the Holy Land to Saladin.
  • In the novel Knight Crusader by Ronald Welch [1954] Reynaud de Chatillon is depicted as a brave but piratical character who is mainly responsible for the debacle that was the Battle of Hattin
  • In the historical fiction novels by Jack Whyte, Knights of the Black and White, and Standard of Honor, Raynald is depicted as a Templar knight, partially responsible for the loss at the battle of Hattin.
  • In Jack Hight's Saladin Trilogy, fictional Saxon crusader John of Tatewic fights for Chatillon but who is betrayed during a failed siege of Aleppo. Chatillon is bribed by the Saracen occupiers of the town to lift the siege. John witnesses the deal and, during a later fight against some Saracens from the town, is seemingly killed by Chatillon's commander, only to survive and be sold into slavery, being bought by a young Saladin.
  • The return address on the package bomb sent by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was Reynald Krak, a reference to Chatillon.[4]
  • Sarah Bryant's "Sand Daughter" (2006) offers a very accurate portrayal of the events from December 1186 to the Battle of Hattin in July 1187.


  • Hamilton, Bernard, The Leper King and His Heirs, 2000.
  • Hamilton, Bernard: "Reynald of Chatillon". In: Alan V. Murray (ed.), The Crusades. An Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara 2006
  • Hillenbrand, Carole, "Some reflections on the imprisonment of Reynald of Châtillon", in Texts, Documents and Artefacts: Islamic Studies in Honour of D.S. Richards, ed. C.F. Robinson, Leiden, 2003.
  • Maalouf, Amin, Crusades Through Arab Eyes, 1985.
  • Peter of Blois Petri Blesensis tractatus duo: Passio Raginaldi principis Antiochie, Conquestio de dilatione vie Ierosolimitane, ed. R.B.C Huygens, in Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis vol. CXCIV, 2002.
  • Richard, Jean, "Aux origines d'un grand lignage: des palladii Renaud de Châtillon", in Media in Francia: Recueil de mélanges offert à Karl Ferdinand Werner, 1989.
  • Runciman, Steven, A History of the Crusades: Volume 2, The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East (1952)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hamilton, Bernard (1978). "The Elephant of Christ: Reynald of Châtillon". pp. 97–108. 
  2. Du Cange, Les Familles d'Outremer, ed. E. G. Rey (1869), p. 191
  3. Runciman, Stephen (1951). The History of the Crusades. Volume II. The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East 1100 – 1187. Cambridge University Press. pp. 445, 450. ISBN 0-521-06162-8. 
  4. The Objectives of Operation Hemorrhage, Inspire Magazine, November 2010. Page 7.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 
Preceded by
Raymond and Constance
Prince of Antioch
Succeeded by

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