A PROLOGUE TO GLORY:
The Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099-1186
Salutations, worthy readers! It is with the greatest humility that I, William of Tyre, do proceed to write this, the Chronicle of the Kings of Jerusalem. I, who was witness to these events, do write the things which I have both heard and seen.
Know then, that in the Year of Our Lord 1095, His Holiness Pope Urban II issued a call to all Christendom to free the Holy Land from the hands of the Infidel. The greatest of all Christian lords and knights answered his call:
Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine
Baldwin of Boulogne, his younger brother
Bohemond of Hauteville, Prince of Taranto
Raymond of St. Gilles, Count of Toulouse
These brave lords and others journeyed to Constantinople, where they pledged to the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos that they would free the Holy City of Jerusalem from the Turks and the Egyptians. Over the course of many years, they fought across Anatolia and Syria as they headed for Palestine.
Through his skill and treachery, Baldwin managed to obtain for himself the city of Edessa, and became its Count. Bohemond took the city of Antioch and became its Prince.
Godfrey I (1099-1100)
Together, the remaining crusaders sacked Jerusalem on the 15th of July, 1099 in a bloodbath of biblical proportions. The surviving crusaders wished to make Duke Godfrey their king, but he would not wear a crown of gold where Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns. So it was that Duke Godfrey of Bouillon became Prince of Jerusalem, and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre.
Raymond of St. Gilles wished to have a province of his own, and so besieged the city of Tripoli. Though Raymond died in 1105, his eldest son took the city in 1109, and became the first Count of Tripoli to rule in the city itself.
Godfrey of Bouillon, the man who would not be king.
Baldwin I (1100-1118)
Unfortunately for the crusaders, the saintly Prince Godfrey died of a sudden illness in the Year of Our Lord 1100. His brother, Baldwin of Edessa, had no compunctions about reigning in Jerusalem as king, and so the reign of Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, began in the Year 1100. Baldwin strengthened the crusaders’ hold on Palestine, capturing many important fortresses. He died of an illness in 1118.
Baldwin I enters the city of Edessa in triumph.
Baldwin II (1118-1131)
Having no sons to succeed him, Baldwin was succeeded by his cousin, Baldwin of Le Bourcq, who had succeeded him as the Count of Edessa when Baldwin I became King. In the year of his succession the Order of the Knights Templar was formed, and Baldwin granted them a wing of his palace to use as their headquarters. (His palace had previously been the al-Aqsa Mosque.) Baldwin II died in 1131.
Baldwin II gives the Knights Templar a new headquarters.
Fulk and Melisende (1131-1143)
Having four daughters but no sons, Baldwin II was succeeded by his eldest daughter Melisende, and her husband Fulk of Anjou. Fulk was already Count of Anjou, which title he left to his son Geoffrey from a previous marriage. (Geoffrey’s son became King Henry II of England, and his son in turn was Richard the Lionhearted, the warrior of great fame, but that is another tale.) From his marriage to Melisende, Fulk had two sons, Baldwin and Amalric. Thus, when Fulk died in a hunting accident in 1143, his eldest son Baldwin succeeded him as king, with his mother Melisende as regent and co-ruler, since she was already queen in her own right.
The marriage of Fulk of Anjou and Melisende of Jerusalem.
Baldwin III (with Melisende, 1143-1153; as sole ruler, 1153-1162)
Ten years later, in 1153, Baldwin threw off his mother’s yoke and caused her to “retire” from the throne. He thus became the sole ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. During his reign, the Muslims retook the city of Edessa, and the Second Crusade began under the leadership of the Kings of France and Germany. Baldwin III died in 1162, one year after his mother. It was rumored that King Baldwin was poisoned.
Baldwin III accepts the surrender of the Egyptian garrison at Ascalon.
Amalric I (1162-1174)
Upon his childless brother’s death, Amalric succeeded to the throne of Jerusalem. Amalric was already married to Lady Agnes, daughter of the last ruling Count of Edessa, but the clergy of the city refused to allow her to be Queen, claiming that she was of dubious moral character. Thus, the marriage was annulled, even though the couple had had two children already: Baldwin and Sibylla. Amalric then married Maria Komnena, a Byzantine princess, who became his new queen.
Amalric fought against the new Sultan of Egypt and Syria, the man called Saladin, and managed to hold his own, but he died of dysentery in 1174, in the midst of the bloody wars.
The marriage of Amalric I and Maria Komnena.
Baldwin IV, the Leper (1174-1185)
Amalric’s son Baldwin succeeded him in 1174. He was a skilled tactician and a great diplomat, but his physical courage and dedication to his kingdom were hampered in every aspect by the terrible disease of leprosy. Saladin respected Baldwin as a great general, and the two might have been able to come to an arrangement of peace, but Baldwin died of leprosy in 1185.
Baldwin the Leper, a noble, tragic sovereign.
Baldwin V (1185-1186)
The young child Baldwin, son of Baldwin IV’s beautiful sister Sibylla and her dead husband William of Montferrat, succeeded his uncle as King of Jerusalem. He was carried to his coronation on the shoulders of the great nobleman Balian of Ibelin. Baldwin V’s short reign was marked by manipulation from his uncle’s powerful nobles, and he died of disease a year later.
Baldwin IV passes away; Baldwin V is crowned King.
Guy and Sibylla (1186-?)
Baldwin V’s mother Sibylla succeeded to the throne as Queen in her own right; she was the daughter of King Amalric. However, she reigned jointly with her second husband, Guy de Lusignan, as King-Consort. Thus did the realm change again in the Year of Our Lord 1186…
King Guy de Lusignan and Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem.