Walter the Chancellor, Bella Antiochena

Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title:

Bella Antiochena (The Antiochene Wars)



Walter, Chancellor of the Principality of Antioch

  • Held the office of chancellor from c. 1114-22
  • Known only by what he writes of himself in this text
  • Was likely imprisoned by Il-ghazi’s forces in Aleppo after the Battle of the Field of Blood (28 June 1119)



Walter seems to have been an eyewitness to many events and had access to participants (and their oral accounts) when he was not directly involved in an event depicted. The text was likely compiled in different parts, Book 1 c.1115-19 and Book 2 after 1119.


Textual Information

Brief Summary:

The text recounts the First Battle of Tall Danith (14 September 1115) in Book 1 and the Battle of the Field of Blood (28 June 1119) and the Second Battle of Tall Danith (14 August 1119) in Book 2. The role of relics of the Holy Cross in these battles are recorded. The Cross relic of Antioch appears in the first two battles and is only attested in this medieval source. The Cross relic of the kingdom of Jerusalem appears in the account of the Second Battle of Tall Danith here.

In all appearances in Walter’s text, the Cross relics are portrayed as important devotional foci and morale boosters for the Christian fighters. They appear in religious processions and in battlefield events. The Antiochene relic’s reliquary is torn apart by Muslim victors after the defeat at the Field of Blood, according to Walter, and there is no extant subsequent reference to this relic or what happened to it. The Jerusalem relic is credited with miraculously protecting its unarmed clerical custodian from an arrow shot directly at him in battle and is used to curse Muslim warriors at a turning point in the battle. The sections in which the relics appear are: Book 1, Chapter 5 and Book 2, Chapters 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 and 13.


Relics Appearing in Text:

Cross (2 Cross relics: one from the Principality of Antioch and one from the Kingdom of Jerusalem)



Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations


7 manuscripts; for a full list see Hagenmeyer edition, pp. 52-5

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds latin, MS 14378, dated c. 1137-46 (oldest manuscript and best according to Hagenmeyer; available online from Gallica at:;2)


Editions of the Medieval Text: 

Galterii Cancellari, Bella Antiochena. Edited by H. Hagenmeyer. Innsbruck, 1896. (preferred

scholarly edition)

Bella Antiochena. Edited by R. Riant. Recueil des Historiens des Croisades. Historiens

Occidentaux. 5 vols. Paris, 1895. 5: 75-132


Translations of the Medieval Text: 

Walter the Chancellor’s The Antiochene Wars. Trans. Thomas S. Asbridge and Susan B.

Edgington. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999).


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