Tancred, an Italian crusader, born in 1078, died in Antioch in 1112. He was a son of the marquis Odo or Ottobonus and of Emma, a daughter of Tancred de Hauteville and sister of Robert Guiscard, duke of Apulia. He took the cross under his cousin Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard, made over his heritage to his younger brother, and embarked in 1096 from Taranto. In the plains of Chalcedon his troops joined those of Godfrey of Bouillon, with whom he formed an intimate friendship. At the siege of Nicaaa in 1097 he distinguished himself, at the battle of Dorylaeum saved the army of the cross from destruction, and after the taking of Nicaea led the advanced guard through Asia Minor. He took possession of Tarsus and Malmistra, to both of which Baldwin laid claim, giving rise to a bitter quarrel; but they were afterward reconciled. He achieved great distinction during the siege of Antioch; and at the storming of Jerusalem he was one of the first to mount the walls. In the carnage and rapine which followed, he almost alone of the Christian knights manifested compassion, and at the risk of his own life saved thousands of the captured.
When the sultan of Egypt marched toward Jerusalem, Tancred defeated his advanced guard, and shared in the subsequent victory at Ascalon, Aug. 12, 1099. He afterward took Tiberias, beleaguered Jaffa, and was made prince of Tiberias or Galilee. Bohemond, now prince of Antioch, being taken prisoner by the Saracens, Tancred marched to his relief, and administered his government during his detention; and when Bohemond after his release went to Europe to arm the West against the Byzantine empire, he left the defence of Antioch to Tancred. During his absence his principality was attacked on all sides, but was heroically defended by Tancred, who reduced Artesia, besieged Tripoli in 1109, and subsequently withstood in Antioch a severe siege from the Saracens. Bohemond died at Salerno, and the host he had collected was scattered. Tancred now resumed the offensive, defeated the Saracens, and forced the sultan to evacuate Syria. His exploits have been celebrated, partly in prose, partly in verse, by Raoul de Caen, in Les gestes de Tancrede; and he is one of the principal characters of Tas-so's "Jerusalem Delivered".