The Kingdom of Heaven
The History of the de Bouillon Dynasty
The First Crusade and the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
The First Crusade was instigated by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, originally in an effort to support the ailing Roman Empire against the incursions of the Seljuq Turks, though it swiftly became a large scale effort to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims who had invaded them years earlier. Capitalising on regional conflict between the Fatimid Caliphate and the Seljuqs and internal strife the crusaders were able to take advantage of the chaotic political situation to avoid facing a large resistance to their campaign.
The crusaders arrived at Jerusalem in June 1099, capturing the city on July 15th. On 22nd July, a council was held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to establish a king for the newly created Kingdom of Jerusalem. Raymond IV of Toulouse and Godfrey of Bouillon were recognized as the leaders of the crusade and the siege of Jerusalem. Raymond was the wealthier and more powerful of the two, but at first he refused to become king, perhaps attempting to show his piety and probably hoping that the other nobles would insist upon his election anyway. The more popular Godfrey did not hesitate like Raymond, and accepted a position as secular leader. Although it is widely claimed that he took the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, this title is only used in a letter that was not written by Godfrey. Instead, Godfrey himself seems to have used the more ambiguous term princeps, or simply retained his title of dux from Lower Lorraine. According to William of Tyre, writing in the later 12th century when Godfrey had become a legendary hero, he refused to wear "a crown of gold" where Christ had worn "a crown of thorns". Robert the Monk is the only contemporary chronicler of the crusade to report that Godfrey took the title "king". Raymond was incensed and took his army to forage away from the city.
The Kingdom of Jerusalem in the summer of 1099.
The new kingdom, and Godfrey's reputation, was secured with the defeat of the Fatimid Egyptian army under al-Afdal Shahanshah at the Battle of Ascalon one month after the conquest, on August 12th, but Raymond and Godfrey's continued antagonism prevented the crusaders from taking control of Ascalon itself. Uncertainty surrounded the new kingdom and the matter of resolving internal issues became paramount in the face of obvious foreign threats as Islamic lords began to clamour for a campaign for the reclamation of Jerusalem and the lands lost to the crusaders. It was Godfrey of Bouillon who was tasked with solidifying the kingdom's presence in the Holy Lands and preserving its sovereignty in the face of certain invasion.
Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey of Bouillon was born around 1060 in either Boulogne-sur-Mer in France or Baisy, a city in the region of Brabant. He was the second son of Eustace II, Count of Boulogne, and Ida of Lorraine (daughter of Godfrey III, Duke of Lower Lorraine and his wife, Doda). As second son, he had fewer opportunities than his older brother and seemed destined to become just one more minor knight in service to a rich landed nobleman. However, his uncle on his mother's side, Godfrey the Hunchback, Duke of Lower Lorraine, died childless and named his nephew, Godfrey of Bouillon, as his heir and next in line to his duchy of Lower Lorraine. This duchy was an important one at the time, serving as a buffer between the kingdom of France and the German lands.
In fact, Lower Lorraine was so important to the German kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire that Henry IV, the German king and future emperor, decided in 1076 that he would place it in the hands of his own son and give Godfrey only Bouillon and the Mark of Antwerp, in the Duchy of Brabant, as a test of Godfrey's abilities and loyalty. Godfrey served Henry IV loyally, supporting him even when Pope Gregory VII was battling the German king in the Investiture Controversy. Godfrey fought with Henry and his forces against the rival forces of Rudolf of Swabia and also took part in battles in Italy when Henry IV actually took Rome away from the pope.
At the same time, Godfrey was struggling to maintain control over the lands that Henry IV had not taken away from him, as his uncle's widow, Matilda of Tuscany, was claiming them. Another enemy outside the family also tried to take away other bits of his land, and Godfrey's brothers, Eustace and Baldwin, both came to his aid. Following long struggles, and after proving that he was a loyal subject to Henry IV, Godfrey finally won back his duchy of Lower Lorraine in 1087. Still, Godfrey would never have had much power in the German kingdom or in Europe if it had not been for the coming of the Crusades.
It was in Jerusalem that the legend of Godfrey of Bouillon was born. The army reached the city in June 1099 and built wooden ladders to climb over the walls. The major attack took place on July 14th and 15th 1099. Godfrey and some of his knights were the first to get over the walls and enter the city. It was an end to three years of fighting by the Crusaders, but they had finally done what they had set out to do in 1096 — namely, to recapture the Holy Land and, in particular, the city of Jerusalem and its holy sites, such as the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus Christ.
As the autumn of 1099 began it remained to be seen how much Godfrey had learned from his positions of power in Europe and the subsequent years on Crusader in the Holy Lands and whether it could be transferred to effective Kingship, albeit under a different title for the time being, humbly requested or otherwise.
Godfrey of Bouillon 1099-1102
Péronelle of Bouillon 1102-1105