Bohemond was in contact with a tower commander. Evidence of this watchman is unknown, buried in the passage of time. Historian Thomas Asbridge suggests that the man who Bohemond befriended was an Armenian whose name was Firuz. Behomond learnt that Firuz despised Yaghi Siyan and was scheming to betray him. Yet, even those firsthand accounts of the fall of Antioch conflict with each other.
“The Franks came to an agreement with the commander of one of Antioch’s towers, a breastplate-maker called Firuz: they promised him silver and considerable wealth if he would betray the city to them,” wrote the twelfth century Muslim chronicler, Ibn al-Athir.
According to what had been written in the Gesta Account, “there was a certain Emir of the race of the Turks, whose name was Pirus, who took up the greatest friendship with Bohemond…Bohemond often pressed this man to receive him within the city in a most friendly fashion, and after promising Christianity to him most freely, he sent word that he would make him (Pirus) rich with much honor.”
Regardless of the tower commander’s real identity, he did willingly betray Antioch.
On the night of 2-3 June, several of Bohemond’s men scaled an isolated section of the city’s south-eastern wall to where Firuz awaited them while Bohemond waited below. Firuz and Bohemond’s men quickly and quietly killed the guards at the three nearest towers and then hastened to open a small postern gate below. Bohemond shattered the silence when he sounded the bugles. As if on cue, men rushed from the crusader camp, shouting, “God wills it! God wills it!”
Those Christians who had survived persecution at the hands of Yaghi Siyan turned on their Muslim overlords and opened the remaining gates. The crusaders rushed in and mercilessly slaughtered every Muslim they encountered, including women and children. “We cannot say how many Turks and Saracens then perished; it is, furthermore, cruel to explain by what diverse and various deaths they died,” wrote Raymond d’Aguilers. Among the Muslim dead were Christians, for in the black of the night, the crusaders could not see well who they were attacking.
Most of the soldiers of the Turkish garrison managed to escape, retreating to the citadel atop of Mount Silpius. However, not all of them remained at that citadel. Ibn al-Athir wrote that “Yaghi Siyan was seized with fear and, giving orders for one of the town gates to be opened, he fled, accompanied only by thirty attendants.” Before Yaghi Siyan fled Antioch, he left his son in charge of what remained of his garrison at the Mount Silpius citadel. Yaghi Siyan would have likely fared much better if he would have remained with his son because, in the countryside, he was spotted by a group of Armenian peasants. They pursued him and cut off his head.
In the midst of all the bloodshed and looting, Bohemond staked his claim to Antioch by raising his red banner high above the city. Meanwhile, Raymond of Toulouse rode through the Bridge Gate and claimed all of the buildings in that corner of the city, including the palace of Antioch.
Bohemond was ecstatic. He had coordinated Antioch’s capture and now the city was his. But his excitement was short lived. On 4 June, the next day, the vanguard of Kerbogha’s army arrived. The crusaders were back to where they had started. Only this time, they were the besieged, surrounded by Kerbogha’s much stronger army.
Asbridge, Thomas. The Crusades: The Authoritative History of The War For The Holy Land. Ecco; New York, 2011.
Krey, August C. The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eye-Witnesss and Participants. Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1921.
Various contributors. Chronicles of the Crusades: Eye-Witness Accounts of The Wars Between Christianity and Islam. Bramley Books; Portugal, 1997.