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The Kingdom of Jerusalem


The Latins maintained a political presence in the Near East for two hundred years, from their capture of Edessa in 1097 to the fall of Acre in 1291. Their presence in Greece lasted for much longer, with their last outpost at Rhodes falling only in 1525. One prince or another included the title of "King of Jerusalem" for centuries. But 1291 is the traditional end-point.

The first two generations of crusaders were a time of victories and expansion, despite some significant setbacks. From King Baldwin through the reign of King Fulk, the crusaders fairly consistently added territory to their principalities. Despite the major loss of Edessa in 1145, Outremêr prospered right up to the advent of Saladin. From the 1180s until about 1200, the Crusader States suffered severe reversals, losing major fortresses and cities, some of which they would never recover. Saladin marks the real turning point, for the Crusader States never recovered their former position.

Even so, the situation did stabilize in the 13th century. The Ayyubid dynasty proved unable and even uninterested in ousting the Franks, preferring instead to use them as another pawn in the great chessboard of Muslim politics. This situation remained unchanged until the whole board was upset by the coming of the Mongols.

From the 1240s until the great victory at Ain Jalud in 12xx, Outremêr was preserved from final extinction by the constant threat of the Mongols. Once that threat was removed, its fate lay entirely in the hands of the Mameluks of Egypt. They produced a series of leaders who made the elimination of the Franks a deliberate object of policy, finally achieving that aim in 1291.

Outremêr theoretically was the Kingdom of Jerusalem. All the other princes were the vassals of the King, but in reality both Antioch and Edessa were too far north. In many ways, the Kingdom was divided into two regions, the northerly of which was dominated by Antioch, the southerly by Jerusalem.

Antioch held Edessa and Tripoli under its sway and was ruled by Normans. Its great enemies were Aleppo and Mosul among the Muslim states, and the Byzantine Empire, which never ceased to claim Antioch as its own. Armenia, to the north, was a Christian kingdom with which Antioch became deeply entangled. Antioch rarely enjoyed the benefits of the major crusades; only one, the Second, even pretended to be concerned with affairs in the north, and it did little more than pay a courtesy visit.

In the south, Jerusalem's great enemies were Damascus and Egypt. After the city itself fell, Acre more or less succeeded as the new capital city for the second century. Especially from the early 13th century onward, the Italians in Acre and Tyre and the other coastal cities played an increasingly important role in the politics of the Kingdom.

In the 12th century, at least up to the fall of Jerusalem, the Kingdom had a succession of capable kings. After that (really, after Baldwin IV), the Kingdom produced almost no good kings. After the death of King Henry, the Kingdom experienced a series of minorities, followed by the virtual usurpation of the crown by Emperor Frederick II. From his time onward, the Kingdom was effectively ruled not by its kings, who were absent, but by baillies -- designated royal representatives. A couple of these were good leaders, but they ruled over a deteriorating kingdom.

The history of Outremêr is therefore complex and difficult to narrate in a linear fashion. There is the division between north and south. There are the many factions: Byzantium, various competing Muslim states, the Sunni-Shi'ite rivalry, the Italians, the influence of foreign monarchs, and finally the wild card of the actual crusades.

The narrative here will concentrate on political history and has as its main aim laying out the various threads of the story as clearly as possible. I have found it impossible to tell the story in one narrative and so have told the story of Antioch and the story of Jerusalem separately. Edessa and Tripoli will appear only in the context of these two narratives.

Ascalon, 1099

No sooner had the Crusaders captured Jerusalem than they found themselves faced with an invasion from Egypt. All the Crusaders knew that an attack was inevitable, for they had heard of an army assembling in Egypt even before they had conquered Jerusalem. They barely had time to arrange matters within the city, and no time at all to deal with the surrounding countryside, before that Egyptian army was reported at Ascalon.

Early in August Godfrey assembled those Crusaders who were still nearby: Raymond of Toulouse, Robert of Normandy, and some other princes including Bohemond's nephew, Tancred. They were outnumbered, but they had been outnumbered at every battle.

They rode down toward Ascalon and found the Egyptians camped near the city (August 13, 1099). Godfrey did not hesitate, but attacked immediately, charging headlong while the Egyptians were still in their camp. Godfrey later recounted in a letter to the pope that the Egyptians began fleeing even before a blow had been struck, and that camels and other livestock captured the day previously now formed up squadrons and attacked along with the Crusaders. The Egyptian army was completely routed and the Crusaders looted the camp. They returned to Jerusalem enriched and triumphant.

Ascalon was as important a victory as Dorylaeum had been. The Crusaders had defeated Turkish armies twice (Dorylaeum and Antioch), and now had defeated the Egyptians as well. The Syrians were too busy fighting one another to field an effective army yet. Ascalon meant that Jerusalem was secure from immediate threat, that the nascent kingdom had a little time, at least, to grow.


With Jerusalem secure, many of the Crusaders toured the holy places and prepared to go home; most were gone by the end of September. Of the leaders, Baldwin was at Edessa, and Raymond headed north again to contest Antioch with Bohemond. By November, Godfrey could command only about three hundred knights and a few thousand foot soldiers.

Some of these knights began securing the surrounding towns; most important of these was Tancred, who captured Tiberias and was made Count of Tiberias by Godfrey. His county included Nazareth and Beisan; later it was known as the principality of Galilee. Tancred was Godfrey's vassal and generally answered the call when needed.

In the winter of 1099, reinforcements arrived. A fleet had set out from Pisa and had arrived first at Lattakieh. After meddling a bit in Antiochene politics there, the Pisans went south and spent the Christmas season at Jerusalem. The fleet brought more than just supplies, however. Baldwin of Edessa and Bohemond of Antioch both travelled with the fleet from the north, finally fulfilling their Crusader vows. With them came Daimbert, the Archbishop of Pisa and the man designated by Pope Paschal to be the Patriarch of Jerusalem.

With the Pisan fleet and the Norman knights to back him up, Daimbert was able to pressure Godfrey into allowing Arnulf to be deposed and Daimbert became the first official Patriarch of Jerusalem. While technically Arnulf had little right to be Patriarch, Daimbert's heavy-handed behavior only furthered the political rivalries among the Crusader princes.

Godfrey spent the spring subduing the countryside around Jerusalem. The Pisans went home, then in June a Venetian fleet arrived. Godfrey was delighted to have someone to help him counter-balance Daimbert's influence and he granted to the Venetians extraordinary privileges: they would have a third of every town they helped capture, plus trading privileges throughout the state. But even as he negotiated, Godfrey fell ill. On July 18, 1100, Godfrey of Bouillon died.

Daimbert was with Tancred and the army, marching on Jaffa and Acre. With him gone, the nobles at Jerusalem on their own summoned Godfrey's brother, Baldwin of Edessa. Daimbert claimed that he was the true ruler of Jerusalem, in the name of the papacy, but the nobles chose to treat Jerusalem as a hereditary fief and so it naturally fell to the next of kin. Daimbert rushed back to Jerusalem as soon as he heard the news, but by then it was too late.

King Baldwin I

Baldwin arrived in October, after a perilous journey south. He came into immediate conflict with Daimbert and Tancred, ousted them, and assumed control. The hope for an ecclesiastical state was gone. Baldwin assumed the title of king and was actually crowned king by Daimbert (popes can make kings) at Bethlehem on Christmas Day 1100.

Not only was Godfrey now gone from the scene, Bohemond was, too. In August 1100 he had marched north from Antioch, seeking to consolidate his own holdings, when he was defeated and captured by the Turks. So, by the end of 1100, Jerusalem was now ruled by King Baldwin I, Tancred was getting ready to go north to rule Antioch as regent, and Joscelin (a relative of Baldwin's) had taken over as Count of Edessa.

Baldwin was nothing if not a ferocious warrior. He was in Jerusalem no more than a week before he had marched out with an army to attack the Muslims. It was a pitifully small army, large enough to conquer villages and not much more. He marched directly to Ascalon, but could do nothing against that powerful city. He then advanced on Hebron, then out into the Negev desert. He burned villages as he went, and the local Arabs did not oppose him. He went as far east as Petra, then returned north to Jerusalem in time for his coronation at Christmas.

In the spring, he successfully plundered a rich caravan. This victory coming after his many other victories, caused the local emirs to decide they had better recognize him as a local power. Arsuf, Caesarea, Acre and Tyre all sent gifts, and Damascus ransomed the prisoners from the caravan.

In April 1101, a fleet from Genoa arrived at Jaffa. Baldwin offered them a deal similar to what Godfrey had offered to Venice, and with Genoese help he was able to take Arsuf peacefully and Caesarea by storm, sacking the latter terribly. A few days later, in late May, word came that an Egyptian army was coming up to Ascalon. 

First Battle of Ramleh

Baldwin moved his army to Ramleh and fortified it, rallying to himself all the troops he could muster. The two armies waited for the entire summer, neither willing to risk open battle. More Egyptians arrived early in September and the Muslims at last advanced on Ramleh. Baldwin did not wait to be attacked. Even though he commanded only 260 knights and 900 infantry, he led them in an attack at dawn the next morning. The Egyptian army numbered around ten thousand.

The first corps attacked and was wiped out. The second corps attacked and was likewise routed. The third corps attacked but was driven back with heavy losses. They were pursued by the left wing of the Egyptian army. At this point, Baldwin himself attacked. The Egyptians, believing the battle over, were taken completely by surprise. There was brief, fierce fighting, and the Egyptians panicked and fled. Baldwin forbade his men to stop to plunder the camp and chased the Egyptians all the way back to Ascalon. He then returned to Ramleh and looted what the Egyptians had abandoned. It was yet another extraordinary Christian victory against overwhelming odds.

It was in this context that the survivors of the Crusade of 1101 arrived at Jerusalem early in 1102. One can see how fragile was the young kingdom in that Baldwin had to send an escort to Jaffa to ensure their safe passage overland to Jerusalem. The Latin presence in Palestine still comprised little more than tiny islands in enemy territory, held only through incredible bravery on the battlefield. The newcomers--really the first Crusade to arrive after the original--toured the holy places and spent Easter week in Jerusalem, then started for home. William of Aquitaine sailed away. So did Stephen of Blois and Stephen of Burgundy and others, but the ship they were on was driven back by a storm. They were forced to wait for a new ship and in the meantime received word that a new Egyptian army was marching. Baldwin asked them to stay and they agreed.

Second Battle of Ramleh

Surely one reason why they stayed was that Baldwin believed the force advancing from Egypt was a small force, only a reconnaissance. Baldwin decided to destroy it with only his cavalry. Stephen of Blois was hesitant and argued for a more thorough scouting report, but given his earlier acts of cowardice, no one listened to him.

They should have. The Egyptian army in fact was twice as large as the previous one. Baldwin and his army of about five hundred knights rode out over the hills. Coming over a particular rise, they saw the entire army in front of them. There was no possibility of escape, for the Egyptian cavalry was already cutting off retreat. The knights charged into the heart of the enemy.

This time the Egyptians held. Most of the knights were killed. A few managed to escape toward Jaffa, but the king was not among them. Baldwin, along with those unlucky Crusaders who had survived Anatolia, broke free and made it as far as Ramleh, taking refuge in the single tower there. The Egyptians immediately surrounded them, but night fell and saved them for the moment. During the night, Baldwin escaped. A few others managed it as well, each leaving separately. One of them, Gothman of Brussels, made it to Jerusalem, where he told the citizens to resist because the king still lived.

At dawn the Egyptians advanced on those who held out in the little fortification at Ramleh. They piled wood around the fortress and set it on fire. Rather than burn to death, those inside formed up for a final charge. Led by Conrad, constable of the kingdom, they plunged into the Egyptian army. Most died, including Stephen of Blois. The Constable was captured and sent with about a hundred other captives to Egypt.

Baldwin's escape was a near thing indeed. His wife and the court were at Jaffa, and he tried to head directly there, but the city was in the process of being invested by the Egyptians. He spent two days in the countryside before he managed to make it to Arsuf. He persuaded an English ship captain to take him to Jaffa, even though the Egyptians were blockading it. Luck was with him again, as a north wind kept drove the Egyptians back and swept his own ship into the roads.

Jaffa was now besieged by the Egyptians. A monk sent by Baldwin snuck through the Egyptian lines and carried word to Jerusalem. That city sent reinforcements, and the other survivors of Ramleh likewise were able to fight their way into the city. Then, in late May, a fleet arrived made up of various English and German crusaders. With these reinforcements, Baldwin felt strong enough to attack. Once again the Frankish cavalry charge completely undid the Egyptians. Once again, Baldwin drove them all the way to Ascalon and once again he profited from plundering the camp that they abandoned.

Baldwin Expands the Kingdom

The amazing victories of 1101 and 1102 did not entirely remove the threat of Egypt--Jerusalem was never that strong--but it proved that neither would Egypt be able to wipe out the new kingdom. Baldwin now was able to extend his holdings significantly.

Acre was the first objective. Baldwin laid siege to it in 1103 and the city was on the point of surrendering when it was saved by an Egyptian fleet. In May 1104, sea power once again was pivotal, but this time it was a Genoese fleet that proved the difference and Acre fell to the Christians. Antioch was the great wealthy city of the north; in Palestine, it was Acre. Its capture brought great wealth to the Kingdom of Jerusalem and gave it finally a secure harbor for the Italian trading fleets.

The Egyptians made one more attempt to conquer Palestine in 1105. The Third Battle of Ramleh, on August 27, was the hardest fought of the three. It lasted most of the day, and the Egyptians for once did not fold under the initial Frankish charge. But in the end, Baldwin prevailed and the Egyptians retreated with heavy losses. The Franks likewise suffered many casualties and were able to loot the camp but not to pursue the enemy beyond the battlefield. Thereafter, the Egyptians mounted almost annual raids, some of which actually reached the walls of Jerusalem, but none were full-scale invasions and every one of them was driven back again.

Almost every year brought large groups of armed pilgrims to the Holy Land. Baldwin was able to use them to good effect, supplementing his army during the summer campaigns, and using his increased numbers to frighten various Muslim cities into paying tribute money. He captured Beirut in 1107 and Sidon in 1108. Providing important help on the latter occasion was King Sigurd of Norway, the first crowned head of Europe to visit Outremêr.

In 1110, he helped Bertrand of Toulouse capture Tripoli, creating the fourth Crusader state. But the following year, he was again unable to take Tyre. The pace of his conquests slowed after that. He campaigned some in the north, mainly in support of Antioch. He built one of the great Crusader castles in 1115, the Kerak de Montreal, in the Negev desert.

In the meantime, Baldwin found time to marry. His first wife had died on the First Crusade in Armenia, along with their children. His second wife was an Armenian princess, married while Baldwin was at Edessa. The two did not get along and had no children. In 1112, Baldwin began negetiations with Adelaide of Sicily, the dowager-queen. She was very rich and was agreeable to the match--being the Queen of Jerusalem certainly was attractive. The two were married in 1113. Baldwin put aside his Armenian princess on grounds of adultery. They were never formally divorced; the papacy protested a bit, but did nothing. Not many people challenged the king.

Baldwin's Last Days

King Baldwin had one final campaign left in him. In 1118 he invaded Egypt, with a tiny army of only 216 knights and 400 foot soldiers. No Egyptian army came forth to oppose the terrible King of the Franks and he advanced all the way to the Nile River. There, he fell ill and the army retreated to Palestine. The king was dying.

The real founder of Outremêr was Baldwin I. Godfrey conquered the city and fended off the first Egyptian attack, but it was Baldwin who captured most of the territory in the Kingdom, and it was Baldwin who really organized the government. We have few details on this matter, but it appears that Baldwin tried to keep most of the power in his own hands, establishing lords at various strongholds but always making it clear that they served at his choosing. He tried to oppose the tendency for these knights to form dynasties of their own.

 He also made it clear that he would rule the Church. He did this almost immediately by establishing his power over against Daimbert; in fact, within a year, Baldwin had engineered it so Daimbert was deposed. His successor was an old man who would never oppose the king, as was the Patriarch after that. The fourth Patriarch was that same Arnulf who had been first selected by the Crusaders themselves and later deposed by Daimbert. He was Baldwin's ally, and so church and state cooperated closely.

Baldwin fell sick in 1117. He believed he was about to die. His confessors told him that he would die in a state of sin because of his treatment of his ex-Queen, who was now living in Constantinople. Baldwin recovered, but he now declared his marriage to Adelaide had been invalid and he set her aside. She returned to Sicily angry and dishonored, with most of her great wealth gone to finance Baldwin's wars. Sicily became adamantly uninterested in helping Jerusalem.

Before Baldwin could recall his former Queen, he died, in 1118 on April 2. That same year saw the death of Emperor Alexis, Pope Paschal, the Patriarch Arnulf, and the Caliph Mustazhir. The generation of the First Crusade was passing away.

King Baldwin II

Baldwin left no children and had not designated an heir. The barons again met and again chose the Count of Edessa, another Baldwin (of Le Bourg). Baldwin II was cousin to Baldwin I and was the last of the greater princes of the First Crusade. He was crowned on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1118.

Baldwin II was a second strong king for Jerusalem, though with rather a different character. He was a good soldier but was also a cunning diplomat. He was also happily married and suffered no embarassment on that front. When he became king, Joscelin of Courtenay became the Count of Edessa. Both Pons of Tripoli and Roger of Antioch recognized Baldwin as their overlord, so on the surface, at least, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was still a united state.

Baldwin II had no sooner taken the crown than he received word that a great Egyptian army was marching against him. Worse, Cairo had allied with Damascus and the army was now both Egyptian and Syrian. Baldwin raised an army and marched out to meet the enemy. Both sides sat encamped for almost the entire summer, but neither ventured a battle. At last, the Egyptians retired without a fight. The new Baldwin had again saved Jerusalem.

That same year we hear of the first formal moves of the military orders. In 1118, Hugh of Payens asked for quarters in the royal palace for himself and a few companions. They were the founders of the Knights Templar. Also in 1118 Gerard of the Hospital died and was succeeded by Raymond of Le Puy, who changed the nature of the Hospitallers from a purely charitable order to one that also had a military mission. Both the great crusading orders, then, were formed under Baldwin II, who gave them wholehearted support.

Aftermath of the Field of Blood

The following year brought a more severe test. There was catastrophe in the north: Roger of Antioch had lost almost his entire army at the Field of Blood. Baldwin went north to help Pons of Tripoli try to save what was left. He fought Ilghazi to a standstill on August 14 at Tel-Danith. The Muslims took many prisoners, but they withdrew back to Aleppo and the immediate danger was past. Baldwin returned to Jerusalem in time for Christmas.

Nevertheless, the losses on the Field of Blood had crippled Antioch, leaving it vulnerable to repeated Muslim incursions. Almost every year thereafter, Baldwin was forced to return to the north with an army. As often as not, his mere appearance with the Frankish army was enough to make the Turks come to terms, but during operations near Edessa in 1123, while the king was riding with a small force, he was surprised and captured. He found himself again the captive of the Turks and again imprisoned with Joscelin.

I'll leave the extraordinary story of the king's captivity, near escape, near death, and eventual ransom to the essay on Antioch. Here I will simply note that Baldwin II was held captive until June 1124, when he was finally ransomed and released.

Capture of Tyre

Baldwin I and Baldwin II had built well, for despite the king's captivity, the kingdom not only did not disintegrate but continued to expand. In both Edessa and Jerusalem, regents were chosen and stepped up to the task before them. The Patriarch of Antioch had already assumed that role in Antioch. And, once again, an Italian fleet appeared in the midst of crisis to help.

This time it was the Venetians. The Doge himself had sailed in 1122 in response to a combined plea from Jerusalem and from the Pope, following the disaster at the Field of Blood. The Venetians had followed a course that they would follow time and again, pursuing their own interests in conjunction with the general interests of Outremer. In this case, the fleet stopped to besiege Corfu and was still there when word reached it that Baldwin had been captured. The Doge raised the siege and sailed to Acre, where it was decided that together the Franks and Venetians would besiege Tyre. Venice received extraordinary privileges, but its fleet of a hundred warships was believed to be worth the price. The siege of Tyre began on February 15, 1124.

The city surrendered on July 7, 1124. The Prince of Antioch was dead, the lords of Jerusalem and Edessa were in Turkish prisons, and the greater part of the Frankish strength was assembled before the great walls of Tyre. What were the Muslims doing? Toghtekin, the lord of Damascus, moved an army up to Damascus, but when Pons of Tripoli and the Constable William rode out to meet him, he retired without a fight. An Egyptian army marched into the suburbs of Jerusalem, but its citizens defended the walls and the Egyptian commander withdrew. Another Egyptian army sacked a nearby town and killed all its inhabitants, but then likewise withdrew. The Egyptian Caliph was completely unable to raise a fleet, so the Venetians were able to isolate Tyre from the sea. The Ortoqid Turk, Balak, the man who had captured Baldwin and Joscelin, was murdered that spring even as he was planning to relieve Tyre. Time and again during these years we see the same combinations: the Egyptians were too weak, the Syrians were too cautious, and the Turks were too divided. And when one or the other of these groups united, or grew bold or brave, chance or courage managed to save the Christians. And every few years, the Crusaders captured another stronghold.

Battle of Azaz

Tyre was a major acquisition. The Latins now controlled the entire coast, from Antioch to the Sinai, with only Ascalon holding out. More and more Italian fleets operated in the eastern Mediterranean, and commerce was flourishing. Baldwin was released in late June, upon payment of a large ransom; he arrived at Antioch in August.

Baldwin had been release on promise of payment of 80,000 dinars plus concession of several fortresses in the vicinity of Aleppo. He was released on partial payment of that sum, and hostages were given as guarantee for the rest. Once at Antioch, the King immediately began reneging on his promises. By October, mere months after his release, he had formed an alliance with Syrian Arabs who hated the ruler of Aleppo, Timurtash, the son of Balak. They combined forces and actually laid siege to Aleppo itself. Timurtash abandoned the city, leaving only a garrison.

As would often happen, if the Crusader states grew strong enough to threaten the general balance of power in the region, larger powers took notice. In this case, it was il-Bursuqi, the atabeg of Mosul. He gathered a large army and relieved Aleppo. The following year, the atabeg advanced into Edessan territory and laid siege to the town of Zerdana. Baldwin assembled a large army and met the Turks at Azaz toward the end of May, 1125.

This was one of the largest battles, in terms of sheer numbers, ever fought by the Crusader states. Baldwin had summoned the entire levy of knights, from Tripoli and Antioch as well as from Jerusalem, and his command numbered about eleven hundred knights and two thousand foot. The Turkish army, of course, was much larger. After an exceptionally bloody battle, the Latins were victorious. The booty from the victory was so large that Baldwin was able to ransom all the hostages. Il-Bursuqi returned to Mosul, and the north was quiet for well over a year. The Franks had had a near thing after the Field of Blood, but Tyre and Azaz had somewhat redressed the balance.

Marriages and Deaths

Baldwin won another victory the following year, this time against Damascus. The victory was hard-won, however, and although he captured much booty he was unable to press on to the city itself.

In November 1126, il-Bursuqi was stabbed to death by an Assassin. After his death, there were no strong Islamic leaders who were interested in attacking the Latins, and the later 1120s were remarkably peaceful. Baldwin was able to see to the question of succession, for he had four daughters but no sons. One of his daughters, Alice, was married to Bohemond II, prince of Antioch. The King now sent an emissary to France to ask Louis VI to select a suitable husband from among the French nobility for Melisende, who was to be Baldwin's heir. The king chose Fulk V, Count of Anjou. The emissaries accepted the recommendation, and Fulk departed France in 1129.

The House of Anjou was superb catch. Fulk's son Geoffrey was recently married to Matilda, the widowed Empress and now heir to both Normandy and England. Their son would grow up to become King Henry II. Anjou itself was one of the most powerful and richest counties in France. Fulk traded this away to be called king in his own right; there were few titles more glorious than King of Jerusalem. He was about forty years old and a proven warrior.

Fulk and Melisende were married in late May, 1129. Later that summer, events in Damascus offered Baldwin the opportunity he had long awaited: the chance to conquer the city. He asked for recruits from the West, which arrived at the end of autumn. He also had the soldiers Fulk had brought with him. With a substantial army he set out from Banyas in November 1129.

The vizier Buri brought a Damascene army out to meet them. Neither side moved, but one day the Damascenes attacked a large foraging party and nearly annhilated it. While the Muslims were celebrating their victory, Baldwin decided to attack. Just as the Christian army moved out, however, it began to rain hard, turning the ground to mud. Baldwin realized he could not press the attack in those conditions. After the losses from the foraging party, neither could he afford to remain. Disappointed, he retired to Jerusalem and the army dispersed.

It was his last chance at a great victory. 1130 found him at Antioch, trying to bring order out of a quarrel there among rival factions after the death of Bohemond II (read all about it in the History of Antioch). He succeeded in this without having to resort to bloodshed, and he returned to Jerusalem. In 1131, his health began to fail.

Baldwin II was the first King of Jerusalem to be able to arrange for a smooth succession. As he lay dying he called Fulk and Melisende to him and formally gave them the crown. His act was recognized by the nobility. He died August 21, 1131. Three weeks later, Melisende and Fulk were crowned in a public ceremony.


The first generation of Crusaders had passed and one era in the history of Outremêr was over. The second generation at the beginning seemed to be carrying on the traditions and concerns of the first, but a new factor would soon enter the scene in the form of Zengi of Mosul, who united much of Syria behind him and whose career climaxed with the capture of Edessa in 1144.

Zengi emerged a power at Mosul in the early 1130s. At the beginning of his career, he was preoccupied with events at Baghdad, but by 1133 his position there was secure and he began making moves to the west. The ruler of Mosul and Aleppo always had to be concerned with all four fronts (at least): Baghdad to the east, the Turks and Armenia in the north, Edessa and Antioch to the west, and Damascus and minor emirs in the south. Zengi attacked into Antiochene territory, capturing many of its eastern fortresses. He also marched on Damascus at one point, and on Homs at another point. He caused the Christians great concern, to the extent that Fulk marched north to help out on more than one occasion.

One of these occasions almost proved the King's undoing. In 1137 Zengi was laying siege to Homs, in an attempt to reduce its emir to obedience. Sensing an opportunity to avenge his father's death, Raymond of Tripoli marched out with an army and forced Zengi to raise the siege. Raymond did not dare meet the Muslims in open battle and so retreated before it, sending for help to Jerusalem. Fulk set out with a small army and joined Raymond. Zengi was now besieging the Crusader castle of Montferrand. On the approach of the Frankish army he again raised the siege, but this time the Franks gave battle.

Zengi defeated the Latins soundly. Count Raymond was killed on the battlefield, along with many of the Tripolitans, while King Fulk managed to escape with most of his army into Montferrand. He was immediately besieged. He sent messengers out to Antioch, Jerusalem and Edessa for help.

All areas of the kingdom responded, but not in time. The garrison was running out of supplies, and the walls of the fortress were being battered down by Zengi's siege engines. Fulk asked for terms, not knowing that help was on its way. Zengi asked only for Montferrand itself. Not only would he let the King and all his men go free, he would also free all the captives currently in his possession. Fulk accepted. He left Montferrand at the end of July, meeting the relieving army on the way to Tripoli.

The King was saved, at the cost of a single fortress. Perhaps more importantly, all the Franks now recognized that Zengi was their most dangerous enemy. This helps explain the events of 1139.

King Fulk 

When Zengi again turned his attention to Damascus, its vizier, Unur, proposed an alliance with the Franks against the Kurd. King Fulk accepted. So, in the summer of 1139, while Zengi was laying siege to Damascus, a Christian army marched to its relief. The Frankish army was just threatening enough that Zengi could not risk being trapped between it and the Damascenes; he withdrew to Baalbeck to await a better moment. As Unur and Fulk continued to cooperate, Zengi finally gave up and went back north again.

This was the sort of Christian cooperation with Muslims that completely baffled the Crusaders who arrived from the West. To their eyes, Muslims were Muslims. They were the enemy they had come to fight. The subtleties of choosing to ally with this emir in order to defeat that emir not only were lost on the new-comers, the tactic seemed downright blasphemous. The First Crusaders had not needed political alliances; they had trusted in God and had been victorious. By now, a whole cycle of legends was growing up around Godfrey and Raymond, Bohemond and the first Baldwin, and in none of them were the Christians allies of the Muslims. It was a tension that was never resolved, but renewed itself with every new generation of Crusaders.

Fulk's reign in the 1140s was comparatively stable. Zengi was occupied in the north. Damascus was an ally, if not a friend. And Egypt was busy with its own endless internal squabbles. Ascalon was still a danger, for as long as it stood, Egypt could send armies north. Unable to take the city, Fulk built three fortresses, partly to hem it in and partly to control the roads north. These fortresses were Ibelin, Blanchegarde, and Bethgibelin. Fulk gave Ibelin to Balian the Old, a comrade in arms. This family eventually became one of the most powerful and influential in all Outremêr.

Fall of Edessa

Fulk's unexpected death, and the minority that followed, helps explain why Jerusalem was so conspicuously absent when Zengi finally made his move against Edessa. The city fell to him on December 24, 1144. Melisende had sent an army north under Constable Manasses, but it came too late to be of any help. Its arrival in January managed to discourage Zengi from a siege, but now as so many other times, events in the Muslim world distracted the Muslim leader and he returned to Mosul.

The city of Edessa had fallen, but Joscelin II kept his title and tried to rule from Turbessel. A Crusade was being preached in the West and armies were forming. The Christians in the Holy Land could not hope to prevail against Zengi by themselves. Fortunately for them, Zengi decided to turn his attention now to Damascus, and so the shreds of the County of Edessa yet remained. By an even greater fortune for the Christians, Zengi was murdered in his sleep on September 14, 1146, by one of his eunuchs whom he had angered.

All the Christians tried to profit from the death of Zengi, though none succeeded. In the north, Nuradin was able to rescue the Muslim position, though the Franks very nearly recovered Edessa and even attacked Aleppo. In Jerusalem, the young king (now sixteen years old) led an expedition in the Hauran that failed and nearly resulted in a rupture of the alliance with Damascus. But in general, Nuradin and his brother Safadin moved so quickly to restore the situation that Christians north and south gained little or nothing out of Zengi's death; indeed, by 1147 Nuradin was successfully invading Antiochene lands.

Fulk was at the height of his power and popularity, well-respected and obeyed. On November 7, 1143, the king was out hunting when his horse stumbled and threw him. He struck his head, and three days later, King Fulk died.

He was survived by his wife, Melisende, and two sons: Baldwin, aged thirteen, and Amalric, aged seven. Both would eventually be king, but right now their mother was regent. She had Baldwin crowned king and she ruled with him. She then chose Manasses of Hierga, lord of Ramleh, as her Constable.

Even during Fulk's reign, the fiction of a single Kingdom of Jerusalem in which Antioch and Edessa and Tripoli were vassal states, had been steadily eroding. In fact, the Prince of Antioch had in 1139 actually recognized the Byzantine Emperor as his overlord, and at one point or another Tripoli had openly claimed indepence, while Edessa had done so implicitly. With no strong king at Jerusalem, these changing relationships accelerated. The Kingdom of Jerusalem was really only the southern kingdom. The other Crusader states might be allies, but they were not under royal control. The Christians had proved no more able to unite into a single state than had the Muslims.

The Second Crusade

This was the situation in the summer of 1148 when the armies of the Second Crusade began arriving in Jerusalem. Nuradin was in the north, but could come south if needed. Unur of Damascus was trying to be the ally both of Nuradin and of Jerusalem. One faction of the Palestinian barons wished to keep the Damascus alliance, arguing that now was not the time to break it; another faction, though, argued that now was exactly the right time because of the presence of the Second Crusade.

The failure of the Second Crusade is recounted elsewhere. The young king had staked his reputation on the attack, but its failure was blamed more on the newcomers than on the locals. The German king Conrad went home almost immediately. King Louis stayed around for a few months, but by 1149 the Second Crusade was gone, having accomplished nothing. Even the attack on Damascus had not completely severed the link between it and Jerusalem.

Events were now increasingly dominated by Nuradin. In 1149 he defeated and killed Raymond of Antioch. In 1150, he defeated and captured Joscelin of Edessa, whom he blinded and kept prisoner until his death ten years later. King Baldwin hurried to Antioch's rescue and managed to save the city itself, but all of the Antiochene fortresses and towns were now in Muslim hands. Joscelin's widow held out at Turbessel and King Baldwin marched to her rescue. She sold the remaining Edessan fortresses (six of them) to Emperor Manuel and withdrew to Antioch, King Baldwin providing protection.

King Baldwin III

Baldwin III was nineteen when he led an army north in 1149. He spent the next three years repeatedly having to save the situation there, as Nuradin pressed the Christians hard. By 1152 he was an experienced commander and widely respected not only as a warrior but as a king. Events had kept him so busy that it was not until this year that he was finally formally crowned King of Jerusalem.

In 1153, Baldwin launched a major attack on Ascalon, with an army large enough to invest the great city completely. The siege dragged on for months, with the Egyptians unable to challenge the Franks on land, but the Christians unable to gain superiority over the Egyptians at sea. But eventually the garrison realized that there was no rescue in sight. The city surrendered on August 10, on condition that the garrison be allowed to leave peacefully. This was allowed, and the Christians occupied the city, gaining a great store of treasure.

1153 thus marks the high-tide of Outremer, at least as far as the Kingdom of Jerusalem was concerned. The victory caused Damascus to reaffirm its friendship and it opened up the possibility of conquering Egypt. No one suspected at the time that within thirty-five years most of the Kingdom would be swept away.

But the signs were soon evident for those who could read them. The very next summer, Nuradin conquered Damascus. He did so with little bloodshed, for the citizens did not like their ruler and Nuradin's reputation was growing steadily. Even though Nuradin reaffirmed the treaty with the Kingdom for another three years, Damascus gave him the base he needed to realize his dream of sweeping the Christians into the sea.

In 1156 and 1157 a series of terrible earthquakes rocked the Near East. The worst hit northern Syria in August 1157. Antioch suffered terribly. The towns of Hama and of Homs were all but destroyed. At Shaizar, the family of the ruling emir was wiped out completely, except for one young princess. The devastation put a stop to military activities on both sides. The Muslims were further impeded by a severe illness that struck Nuradin in October 1157. He was sick for weeks, and nearly died. Although he recovered, he never again had the success in the field that he had enjoyed up until that time.

The final years of Baldwin's reign were split between small raids into Damascene territory and visits north to Tripoli and Antioch to settle various family matters. On his return from one of these trips in 1162, Baldwin fell ill. Although he was thirty-three and in good health, he continued to weaken. The king died February 10, 1162. He was widely regarded as a notable king and his passing was greatly mourned. Since he was childless, the crown passed to his brother, Amalric, Lord of Jaffa and Ascalon.

King Amalric and Egypt

Amalric was perhaps not as good a king as his brother. His personality was less appealing, and he was not quite as successful in battle. But he was no weakling and he was not only able to defend the kingdom but to extend its reach. Indeed, the usual criticism levelled at him is that his repeated invasions of Egypt weakened the Kingdom needlessly and were doomed from the start. Possibly. But his contemporaries rarely argued thus, and his reputation was still high at his death.

Amalric struck at Egypt almost immediately, invading in September of 1163. He marched all the way to the Nile unopposed, but it was flood season and the Egyptians simply broke a few levees and made the crossing impossible. Amalric returned to Palestine. He returned the following year, this time at the invitation of the Egyptian vizier, Shawar.

Why would Shawar invite a Frankish army into his territory? Simply because another army was already in his land, one that he feared even more than the Latins: Nuradin. Actually, Nuradin himself did not come, but he had sent an army led by one of his emirs, Shaizar. The politics of this are a little complicated and I'll leave them for the Islamic narrative. Suffice it to say that the Fatimids of Egypt feared the power of Nuradin, so they appealed for help from the Franks. Shaizar and Amalric fought to a standstill in a war that was mostly one of siege and position. After a couple of months, Amalric was able to get Shaizar to agree that both armies would retreat from Egypt, which they did.

Victory in Egypt

Amalric was eager to leave Egypt because there had been another disaster in the north. The lords of both Tripoli and Antioch had been captured by Nuradin, and Amalric went immediately to Antioch to defend the city. He had not even enough time to secure the situation there before he had to march south to try to save Banyas, which had been attacked by Nuradin. He was too late, and that great fortress fell into Muslim hands. Nuradin kept Amalric busy all through 1165 and 1166.

Early in 1167, Nuradin again set Shirkuh against Egypt. Once again, the Egyptian vizier Shawar appealed to Amalric for help. Shirkuh arrived at Cairo first and tried to persuade Shawar to make common cause against the Christians, but the Shi'ite would not have a Sunni for an ally. Instead, upon Amalric's arrival, Shawar made a formal treaty with him.

The Frankish army was on one side of the Nile, the Syrian army on the other. Amalric was eventually able to cross, whereupon Shaizar immediately retreated southward up the Nile. Amalric and Shawar set out in pursuit. They caught up with him at Minya and gave battle on March 18, 1167. The Franco-Egyptian army was soundly defeated and fled back to Cairo. Shaizar pursued, but instead of trying to attack Cairo, he kept going and occupied Alexandria instead, which was undefended and whose citizens welcomed him. This turned out to be a poor idea, for Amalric and Shawar now pursued him and besieged him in Alexandria. An Italian fleet blockaded the river and within a month Shawar's army was facing starvation.

After some maneuvering, the Syrians were finally allowed to leave Egypt, after paying a ransom and releasing their prisoners. Amalric left soon after, in August. Shawar promised to pay a large annual payment to Jerusalem for the alliance, and a Frankish garrison was resident in Cairo with control of the city gates. This was a tremendous victory for Amalric and won him great prestige. If the Christians could not actually conquer Egypt, perhaps they could reduce it to the status of a client-state. At least the danger from the south seemed to be removed.

Defeat in Egypt

The arrangement was far too unstable to last. In 1168 a Crusader army led by Count William of Nevers arrived in Palestine, looking for a war, but none seemed in the offing. But the Order of the Hospital was arguing urgently for an attack on Egypt. Shawar had not helped matters by being late with his tribute payments. Worse yet, his son Kamil was rumored to be secretly negotiating an alliance with Shaizar. King Amalric summoned a council in the summer and despite the King's reluctance, it was decided to invade Egypt.

The army set out October 10, 1168. The frontier fortress of Bilbeis held out for three days. Angry at the delay, the Christians slaughtered the inhabitants. Soon after, a Frankish fleet entered the Nile, captured the city of Tanis, and slaughtered its inhabitants as well. These massacres alienated those factions in Egypt, especially the Coptic Christians who were numerous in these towns, that might have been sympathetic to the invaders' cause. Most of Egypt was now united against them.

Because of the delay at Bilbeis, Amalric was unable to take Cairo by surprise. His army was too small to consider besieging the city, so he withdrew a few miles and made camp. He was there only a short time when word came that the Syrians were coming.

Shawar had decided to invite Shirkuh into Egypt. Nuradin gave his emir a large army and plenty of money, with instructions to conquer Egypt. Shawar now tried to play both sides against each other, but he was overmatched. All three armies--the Egyptians, the Syrians, and the Franks--were enemies of one another. At any moment, two of them might combine against the other. But the likely losers were the Franks, so Amalric led his army back out of Egypt on January 2, 1169.

A few days later, Shirkuh entered Cairo. By the end of the month, Shawar was dead. By the end of March, Shirkuh himself had died. His second in command, Saladin, took over the reins of power. Not only had Amalric's Egyptian policy failed, he had been instrumental in bringing into Egypt the most dangerous adversary the Christians had yet faced.

Nuradin and Amalric

The Franks knew what they had lost and tried to recover it quickly, before the Syrians should become too secure in Egypt. Amalric got Emperor Manuel to send a Byzantine fleet and army (in fact, this was the very assistance that Amalric had wanted to wait for in 1168). Together they attacked Damietta in late 1169, but the expedition was badly handled and the invaders had to withdraw in December after having accomplished nothing.

Amalric knew that he would need assistance to continue his offensives against the Muslims, and he knew that such offensives were necessary. He had already dispatched representatives to the West to plead for reinforcements, with little success. In 1171 he himself went to Constantinople, where he was well received by Emperor Manuel, but where he again got more promises than men and money.

Saladin's triumph in Egypt did have one beneficial effect for Outremer: it made Nuradin more than a little nervous. While the two Muslim leaders never openly broke, relations between them steadily worsened and neither made serious moves against Jerusalem because of fear of what the other might do while they were occupied.

The end of the Fatimid caliphate in 1171 had another effect. It meant the end of the Shi'ite dynasty, which gave a special urgency to the political programme of the Assassins. They now made alliance with the Franks and were somewhat unreliable partners over the next few decades.

In May of 1174, Nuradin was in Damascus, planning his invasion of Egypt to bring Saladin to heel. He fell ill while there and died on May 15. His son was still a child and the Muslim world fractured once again. Amalric immediately rode to Banyas where he met with Damascene representatives. They proposed an alliance against Saladin, which he accepted. But the King was already suffering from dysentery. He worsened on his journey back to Jerusalem and died there on July 11, 1174.

King Baldwin IV

With both Nuradin and Amalric gone, the political situation was thrown well up into the air. While various emirs contested with each other over the regency, Amalric was succeeded by his young son Baldwin IV. But Baldwin's case was tragic. Not only was he only thirteen years old and so a little too young yet to be king in his own right, but signs of leprosy had been recognized in him when he was only nine. Everyone knew that this king would not have a long life.

After a delay of a couple of months, Count Raymond of Tripoli was chosen as regent. There now began to form two factions within the Kingdom that would eventually tear it apart and help lead to its destruction. One faction formed around Raymond of Tripoli. He was supported by many of the local barons, the Order of the Hospital, Reynald of Sidon, the Ibelin family, and the old Constable Humphrey II of Toron.

The other faction consisted of the Templars, the family of the Courtenays, and that of the Lusignans. They found their leader in 1175 when Reynald of Châtillon and Joscelin of Courtenay were both released from captivity by the atabeg of Aleppo. The young king tried to steer a course between them, but it was exceedingly difficult. Given the ferocity of the rivalry and the King's illness, it's amazing that he held out so well.


The general story of the next decade is that of Saladin trying to maneuver into a position where he could strike at the Christians effectively, while he was distracted from his principal goal by various problems among the Muslims. On the Christian side, we see regular defeats sprinkled with occasional victories, while all the time the two factions within the Kingdom rendered it more and more vulnerable. Both sides were trying to stop Saladin, but neither side was willing to yield advantage to the other in the struggle.

In 1175 the Franks helped the atabeg of Aleppo save the city from Saladin. In gratitude he released Joscelin of Courtenay, who still took the title of Count of Edessa, and Reynald of Châtillon, a charming and ambitious adventurer from the West who had been in prison for a decade. Soon after his release, Reynald married Stephanie of Oultrejourdain and took up residence there.

In 1176, Saladin was in the north again, bringing Aleppo to heel, though he was unable to take the city itself. King Baldwin's leprosy continued to progress and the barons sought out a wife for his older sister Sibylla. They found one in William of Montferrat, but he had hardly even been married before he died of malaria early in 1177.

The Leper King was able to inflict one major defeat on Saladin in 1177, at Montgisard. Saladin had managed to besiege the Templars at Gaza and the King at Ascalon, then he marched on Jerusalem itself. Believing there was no army in the field to oppose him, he grew careless and let large foraging parties plunder the region. In the meantime, Baldwin sent word to Gaza. The Templars broke out of their fortress and came to the King's rescue. The Franks now had enough men to call an army, so they set out in pursuit of Saladin. They caught up with him near Jerusalem on November 25th, catching him completely by surprise.

Montgisard was a tremendous victory for Jerusalem and Saladin's prestige suffered. This helps explain why 1178 was quiet and why Saladin sought revenge as soon as he could. He was able to gain some redress in 1179 when he inflicted a defeat on the Franks at Marj Ayun (the Valley of the Springs), capturing the Master of the Temple. A two-year truce followed.

The Kingdom still needed someone to marry Sibylla and so succeed to the Kingdom. Sibylla had fallen in love with a young adventurer named Guy of Lusignan and they were married on Easter 1180. Reynald of Châtillon supported Guy while Raymond of Tripoli had serious reservations, so Guy now fell into the factional fighting as well.

Despite the truce between Cairo and Jerusalem, Reynald of Châtillon in 1181 raided a rich caravan of pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The violation of the peace in the form of plundering pilgrims enraged Saladin and he vowed to put an end to the Franks. He set out with a large army on May 11, 1182. He never returned to Cairo.

New Leaders

Once Saladin had passed to the north, Reynald immediately set out on a daring raid into the Red Sea. His idea was to raid the pilgrim caravans at sea and in their ports, and even possibly to raid Mecca itself. It was a mad scheme, but he undertook it with such daring and the Muslims were caught so unprepared, that he nearly succeeded. He brought disassembled ships with him, recaptured the port of Aila (which the Muslims had taken in 1170), built his ships and set them to raiding.

He himself remained behind because another nearby fortress held out. His fleet sank pilgrim ships, burned ships at harbor, raided the ports of Medina and Mecca, and in general wreaked havoc for a few weeks. The Egyptians mobilized as quickly as they could and eventually destroyed all the Frankish ships. They also drove Reynald back out of Aila and he retreated to the Oultrejourdain. The whole expedition galvanized both side, but Saladin vowed that Reynald would be punished for his crimes against the faithful.

By 1183, Saladin was in a very strong position to punish whom he pleased. He was Sultan in his own right now, recognized at Baghdad. The Egyptian Shi'ites hated him, but his reputation was such that they did not dare rebel openly. Reynald's actions precluded any thought of alliance with the Franks. Elsewhere, Saladin had at last taken over direct rule of Aleppo, and so his power stretched from the Euphrates to the Nile. Mosul was his only rival, and its emir dared do nothing. Saladin could turn his full attention to the Franks.

The Franks, for their part, were seriously weakened. Antioch was preoccupied as always. Reynald and his faction were openly disputing with Raymond and his faction. At one point, the Lusignan party accused Raymond of plotting against the King himself. Raymond was able to clear himself of these charges, but King Baldwin was less and less able to arbitrate such disputes. He was going blind. He fell sick of fevers regularly. His limbs were visibly decaying. In 1183, he was persuaded to hand the regency to Guy of Lusignan, Sibylla's husband.

The Pools of Goliath

Saladin marched out from Damascus on September 17, 1183 with a large army. The Franks raised the force of the Kingdom to meet him. They were reinforced by two Crusader armies from the West, one led by the Duke of Brabant, Godfrey III, and the other by a knight of Aquitaine, Ralph of Mauléon. Saladin chose to march through the plain of Jezreel, north of Jerusalem and south of the Sea of Galilee. The Christians camped at the Pools of Goliath; Saladin's army was so numerous that it was able nearly to surround them.

Raymond of Tripoli advised the King to stay put. Saladin could not keep such a large army stationary for very long, he argued. The Christians had water and enough food to get by, though it was tight. Wait, and Saladin would have to retire. Many of the local barons agreed with him. Reynald of Châtillon, of course, argued for an attack. He was supported by the Hospitallers and by most of the knights from the West.

Guy hesitated, undecided. Worse, his indecision was evident to everyone. He looked like either a weakling or a coward. Raymond was right, however; Saladin tried several times to lure the Franks out, but when he was unsuccessful, he retreated. The Christian army returned to Jerusalem.

Guy had lost face from this incident at the Pools of Goliath, so much so that when the King quarreled with him soon after, he withdrew from court entirely. He made matters worse by openly defying the king, and soon King Baldwin had rallied himself from his sickbed to take over the government directly again. He took possession of Jaffa and tried to pry Guy out of Ascalon, but the city was too strong. When the Patriarch, along with the Masters of the Temple and the Hospital tried to intercede, Baldwin banished them from court as well.

There was now an odd pause in the drama. Baldwin sent the Patriarch and the two Masters to the West, to try to raise a Crusading army to rescue the Kingdom, for he knew that Saladin's strength was such that Jerusalem could not stand unaided against him. Guy was still defiant in Ascalon. Saladin tried in 1183 and again in 1184 to take the great castle of Kerak in the Moab, but both times the castle held out and a relieving army from Jerusalem forced Saladin back again. Kerak was commanded by Reynald.

Succession Woes

In 1185, illness and death stalked both sides. King Baldwin's condition deteriorated and he knew that his time was near. He summoned Raymond of Tripoli to him and made up his will. His little nephew was to be crowned Baldwin V and Raymond was to serve as regent. Guy was expressly forbidden to be made regent. Baldwin IV, the Leper King, died in March.

Later that summer, Saladin also fell ill and nearly died. He had marched north to Mosul, to bring that great city under his control as well. But the city held against him, the summer came and his troops sickened. Then, in August, the Sultan also became sick. Despite the best doctors, he did not recover and for a time was convinced that he would die. But by January 1186 he was recovered. In March, the ruler of Mosul agreed to become Saladin's vassal. By April he was back at Damascus, having extended his empire to the Tigris River and the borders of Persia.

Baldwin V was still only a little boy. In the summer of 1186, he, too, fell ill and died in August at the age of eight. Both Raymond of Tripoli and Joscelin of Courtenay, who acted as co-regents, were at his bedside. Knowing that the Patriarch was a partisan of Queen Sibylla, Joscelin persuaded Raymond to go to Tripoli and to summon the barons to meet him there, away from the Patriarch's influence.

Once he was gone, Joscelin sent troops loyal to him to occupy Tyre and Beirut. He remained at Acre, where the little King had died, and there he proclaimed Sibylla the Queen of Jerusalem. Guy and Sibylla immediately left Ascalon. Reynald of Châtillon came from Kerak, and the Templars conducted the King's body to Jerusalem. Raymond found himself completely shut out of the government.

When he learned he had been duped, Raymond went to Nablus, which was closer to the Kingdom's heartland, and summoned the barons of the realm. All of his faction came to him. He sent representatives to Jerusalem to remind the conspirators that they were breaking the King's will, but they ignored this and closed the city gates. They then proceeded to crown Sibylla as Queen. She then immediately herself crowned Guy as King.

The Lusignan faction had won, much to the disgust of many of the Palestinian barons. Baldwin of Ibelin openly refused homage to Guy, then rode north to enter into the service of Bohemond of Antioch, who favored Raymond. Other barons followed him. Raymond was isolated at Tripoli.

War With Saladin

Now once again the pot was stirred by Reynald of Châtillon. During these years of truce, trade had flourished. Unable to resist the temptation, Reynald plundered a caravan in December 1186, netting an enormous haul. Saladin demanded he return the goods, but Reynald refused. The Sultan's ambassadors then went to King Guy to remind him of the treaty. The new King ordered Reynald to make satisfaction, but the lord of Oultrejourdain simply ignored him. The ambassadors returned to Damascus and Saladin decided to punish the Franks himself. Once again, Guy was shown to be too weak to order his own house.

With war brewing, Antioch settled for a truce. Raymond of Tripoli did likewise, both for himself and on behalf of his wife's lands in Galilee. Guy's advisors finally persuaded him to make up with Raymond, and the Count at last agreed. The Kingdom had no outside friends, but at least it was united internally for the battle that would certainly come the next year.

Guy stripped the Kingdom to make ready for Saladin. Bohemond sent troops down from the north. By June, Guy had twelve hundred knights at his command, one of the largest forces the Latins ever fielded. Saladin assembled his army at the border and set out on June 26, 1187. He crossed the Jordan River on July 1st. On July 2nd, he attacked Tiberias. The city fell immediately, but the garrison, led by Count Raymond's wife Eschiva, held out in the citadel. Raymond, of course, was with the army.

Raymond counselled caution from the beginning, using much the same arguments he had four years previously. The Franks should avoid battle, keep their army in the field in well-defended positions. Reynald of Châtillon called Raymond a coward and accused him of being a friend to the Muslims. Grand Master of the Temple, Gerard, echoed him. Guy gave the order to march.


The Christians camped at Sephoria on July 2. They were in an excellent position with a large army. The situation was eerily like that of the Pools of Goliath four years before, except that the Frankish army was stronger. But that evening, word came from Tiberias that the city had fallen. Guy called a council in his tent.

Eschiva's sons were there and they pleaded for help for their mother. Many knights were moved to think of the lady holding out against the infidel. Guy was inclined to try for the rescue. After everyone else had spoken, Raymond stood up. He argued caution. He declared that he was willing to sacrifice even his own wife for the safety of the Kingdom. To march out into the desert would mean disaster.

Now Guy was persuaded the other way. He gave the order that the army should stay put.

Then, some time during the night, Gerard, the Master of the Temple, came to Guy's tent. He accused Raymond of being a traitor. He shamed the King and told him that the Templars would never abandon a city so close by. Once again Guy changed his mind and gave the order to move out at dawn.

The Horns of Hattin

The army march on July 3rd. They moved through desert hills where there was no water. The soldiers brought none with them, evidently thinking to replenish at Tiberias. But Saladin's spies had kept him well informed. He moved his army up to a small pass only a couple of miles from Tiberias, at a place called the Horns of Hattin. The day was ferociously hot and the Muslims harassed the Christians every step of the way. Some of the soldiers urged Guy to fight his way through to the lake, but he decided to camp for the night when the Templars said they could go no further that day.

Guy set up camp on the slope of one of the two hills that made up the Horns. There was a well there, but after they had stopped and were hemmed in, they discovered the well was dry. There would be no water and no relief. And in the morning, they would have to fight.

Saladin made his arrangements, anticipating a victory. During the night, his troops set fire to the brush and smoke drifted over the Christian camp, making them even more miserable. At dawn on the 4th, the Muslims attacked.

In Christian infantry tried to move as a single mass toward the lake and water, but they were cut off and slaughtered. The knights formed their own ranks and fought with great courage through the day. In the afternoon, Raymond formed up his own knights and charged, trying to cut a path out, but the Muslims simply let him pass through then formed up again. The Count was now outside the battle, unable to help. Balian of Ibelin and Reynold of Sidon broke out in similar fashion a little later.

King Guy fought well that day. He and his men moved to the top of the hill and defended themselves from there. They fought until literally exhausted. When the Muslims finally gained the summit, they found Guy and his men lying on the ground, unable to move from weakness.

King Guy was captured, as was his brother Amalric, now the Constable of the Kingdom. The Grand Master of the Temple was captured. The Bishop of Acre was killed as were hundreds of knights. The True Cross, which had been borne into battle numerous times, now had fallen into the hands of the Muslims. It was the worst disaster Outremêr had ever endured.

Aftermath of Hattin

Guy was taken to Saladin's tent, along with his brother Amalric, Humphrey of Toron, and his uncle Reynald of Châtillon. After a few pleasantries, Saladin himself took out his sword and beheaded Reynald. Saladin then assured Guy that he was safe and gave orders that none of the other captives should be killed. He did, however, order that every Templar and every Hospitaller, save only the Grand Master himself, should be executed. This the Muslims did immediately.

Tiberias surrendered the next day. Saladin treated Eschiva with great courtesy and allowed her to go with her household to Tripoli. He then moved on to Acre, arriving there on July 8th. The city capitulated almost immediately and quickly became Saladin's new headquarters for the conquest.

Nablus surrendered after a few days and Toron a couple of weeks later. Jaffa made the mistake of resisting. Saladin's brother, al-Adil, took the city by storm and sold the entire population into slavery. Meanwhile, Saladin himself moved up to Tyre. That city proved too strong, so he passed it by. Sidon surrendered on July 29th. Beirut fell on August 9th and Jebail a few days after that.

He then turned south. He laid siege to Ascalon at the beginning of September and the city fell on September 4th. Gaza surrendered after that, its garrison obeying the order of the captive Grand Master to yield without a fight. With the exception of Tyre, the coast south of Tripoli was in Muslim hands; it was time to go to Jerusalem.

Fall of Jerusalem

The defense of Jerusalem was organized by Balian of Ibelin. He had fought at Hattin and had escaped and gone to Tyre. But his wife and children were in Jerusalem. Balian asked for and received permission from Saladin to go to Jerusalem to fetch his family, on condition that he not remain there more than one night. Once he got to the city, though, the Patriarch and citizens begged him to stay. Balian wrote to Saladin to explain why he was breaking his agreement. Saladin, famous for his chivalry, not only forgave Balian, but provided Balian's family safe conduct back to Tyre.

The situation in Jerusalem was literally hopeless. There was a grand total of three knights in the entire city . . . counting Balian. For every adult male there were fifty women and children. Balian commandeered every bit of money he could find and armed every man, whether or not he knew how to fight. The Christians simply would not give up Jerusalem without a fight. They could always hope for a miracle--Crusader legends were filled with them.

Saladin arrived on September 20th. He spent a few days trying to decide where best to attack the city, for the great walls were now Jerusalem's best defense. The defenders fought well, but there was no reason to hope, unless the ground itself should swallow up the Muslim army, for there was no Christian army near or even far that could help. Only Saladin's reluctance to storm the city and initiate a massacre saved the defenders. On the 30th, Balian went out to negotiate.

Even as the battle proceeded, the two men talked. Balian was at least able to arrange terms, which were quite generous, given the situation. The city was to surrender unconditionally, but the Christians were allowed to buy their freedom: ten dinars for a man, five for a woman, one for a child. Seven thousand of the poor would be freed for a lump sum of thirty thousand dinars. Balian agreed.

The fighting stopped on October 1st; Saladin entered the city the next day. While the Muslim troops kept order, two streams of Christians left the city--one for freedom, the other for slavery. The Patriarch Heraclius and his priests each paid their ten dinars, then left the city laden with gold and silver and relics by the cartload. Saladin's brother al-Adil was so moved by the sight that he asked for a thousand captives as a reward for his services. Saladin granted this, and al-Adil immediately set them free. Saladin in his turn set free all the aged. Not all the Muslims were so generous, and other Christians were tricked and blackmailed by various emirs, but Saladin's behavior was recognized by both the Muslim and Christian world as an act of great generosity.

The refugees could not all fit into Tyre, which admitted only fighting men (few enough). The rest continued to Tripoli, which was likewise bursting at the seams, and many wound up having to go all the way to Antioch to find refuge at last. Back in Jerusalem, the Orthodox and Jacobite Christians were allowed to stay, having only to pay the special tax imposed by Islam. Most of the holy places were turned over to the Greek Orthodox Church. In fact, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was closed for only three days, and the stream of Latin pilgrims soon recommenced.

Saladin Triumphant

Saladin's triumphs continued after the fall of Jerusalem. With most of the cities in Muslim hands, he turned his efforts to reducing the castles that were other pillar of Outremer (the cities, the castles, and the Crusaders). The Lady Stephanie of Oultrejourdain, Reynald of Châtillon's wife, had been at Jerusalem. When she was freed, she asked Saladin to free her son Humphrey of Toron, who had been captured at Hattin. The Sultan agreed on condition that Kerak and Montreal should be surrendered to him. Humphrey was released, but the castles refused to yield. A chivalrous lady, Stephanie returned her son to captivity. Saladin was so impressed with this that he freed Humphrey anyway a few months later.

In the meantime, Kerak and Montreal held out under terrible conditions. Kerak withstood a siege of a year; Montreal lasted even longer. Toward the end at Kerak, the men were eating their own horses, and were selling their own kin into slavery to the Bedouins in exchange for food. But both fortresses eventually capitulated. All of southern Palestine belonged to Saladin.

Safed surrendered on December 6, 1188; Belvoir followed in January. In 1189 Saladin moved into the County of Tripoli. Count Raymond had died childless at the end of 1187. The County was given to Bohemond of Antioch, but there was little anyone could do against the Sultan. He passed by the Krak des Chevaliers, but Jabala surrendered on July 15th and Lattakieh surrendered a week later. The great Hospitaller castle of Sahyun surrendered on July 29th. Other castles fell almost weekly, culminating in the capture of Baghras on August 26th.

Saladin had now penetrated into Antiochene territory. His army was weary, his emirs were glutted or restless or both. It seemed a good time to rest. Of all Outremer, only a handful of outposts remained. Three great cities: Antioch, Tripoli and Tyre. Plus Antioch's port of Saint Symeon, the Hospitaller castles at Marqab and Krak, plus the Templar castle at Tortosa (the city itself had fallen).

Conrad of Montferrat

Of all these strongholds, Tyre proved to be the key to a Frankish resurgence. This is another one of those amazing Crusader tales. Tyre was an ancient and powerful city. It had once been an island city, but Alexander the Great had conquered it by building an isthmus from the mainland out to the island. That isthmus still remained, but now there was a great wall across it to protect the city from a land assault. Saladin had been at the gates in July 1187. Reynald of Sidon, recently fled from Hattin, was actually negotiating the surrender when a ship sailed into the harbor.

On board was Conrad of Montferrat. Conrad's older brother was the grandfather of King Baldwin V. Another of Conrad's brothers had come East but had wound up in Constantinople, where he had had a brief career but had died. Conrad himself had delayed two years in Constantinople, but had gotten into trouble there and had sailed away in the company of some other Frankish knights. They were going to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They had no idea of what was happening.

When they arrived at Acre, the captain of the vessel, an experience sailor, refused to put in at the harbor because he did not hear the harbor-bell rung. That bell was always rung when a sail was sighted. Soon after, a Muslim ship came along side with a Muslim harbor-master. Conrad, pretending to be a merchant, asked for news and was told that Saladin had captured the city four days previously. Conrad thanked him, then made sail for Tyre.

As soon as he arrived, he took command. The surrender terms were rejected and the city prepared for a defense. A few days later, Saladin paraded old William of Montferrat before the city walls, threatening to kill him if Conrad did not surrender. Conrad held firm, and of course Saladin did not kill the old man. Ascalon still stood. Jerusalem still stood. Saladin raised the siege of Tyre and went south.

 Tyre began to serve as an assembly point for those who still were determined to defend Outremer and recover Jerusalem. Conrad's vigorous defense of Tyre, along with his decisive bearing, soon made him the leader of the Franks. Even after Guy was released by Saladin, Conrad was much preferred by the Palestinian barons. Saladin made a second attempt on the city in October 1187, but by then Conrad had used his own money to strength the land walls, and Saladin failed in that attempt as well.

Conrad and Guy

The forces of defense gradually began to assemble. Queen Sibylla wrote repeatedly to Saladin begging that her husband be returned to her. He relented in July 1188, releasing at the same time the aged Marquis William of Montferrat. Guy was released on condition that he immediately leave the Holy Land and never return. Instead, he went directly to Tripoli, where a local priest absolved him of his oath made under duress to a Muslim.

Tensions arose immediately between Conrad and Guy. Conrad was the leader of the moment, and he was supported by the Balians and the Garniers, the leading families of Palestine. Guy, along with the other Lusignans and their friends the Courtenays, quite naturally regarded Conrad as an interloper. When Guy arrived at Tyre, demanding to be recognized as king, Conrad shut the gates to him, arguing that the question of kingship was unresolved and that everyone should wait until the Western monarchs should arrive. By this time, it was known that the kings of England, France and Germany had all agreed to go on Crusade to rescue the Kingdom. Since the house of Montferrat was related to the Hohenstaufen and an ally of the Capetian, this argument was very convenient to Conrad.

The remarkable story continues. In April 1189, a Pisan fleet of fifty-two ships arrived at Tyre. They quarreled with Conrad during the summer and were glad to throw in with Guy. Saladin was still resting at Damascus and posed no immediate threat. In August, against all sense and reason, Guy took his tiny army, supported by ships from Pisa and from Sicily, and marched down the coast to attack Acre.

Now, this was clearly a dumb enterprise. The garrison of the city alone was more than twice the size of Guy's entire army. Saladin could stir at any moment and swat Guy out of existence, nor was Conrad likely to march to his rescue. Acre was a great city with a double curtain of walls and an easily-defended port from which the city could be supplied indefinitely. Besides, Guy's army could not begin to cut off supplies from the landward side. What can he have been thinking? Simply this: Tyre was denied to him, and there was no other city within the Kingdom close at hand to attack. It was Acre or nothing.

It was very brave, it was very stupid. What's especially remarkable is that anyone should have followed him, but they did. His followers had no place for them at Tyre, and they could always hope for God to intervene on the side of the just.

Awaiting the Crusade

Out-runners of the Third Crusade continued to arrive.  The Sicilians went home upon hearing of the death of their King William II, but they were almost immediately replaced by a Danish and Frisian fleet that arrived in September. This was followed a few days later by an army of Flemings and northern French, led by James of Avesnes. Toward the end of the month, a group of Germans arrived, led by the Margrave Louis of Thuringia.

All these forces landed at Tyre but made immediately for Acre. This was not necessarily because they found Conrad to be inhospitable, but that they had come to the Holy Land to fight the infidel and Acre was where the fighting was to be found. Conrad had the support of the local baronage still, but the newcomers saw him as inexplicably hostile. Guy was the king, after all, and he was fighting Muslims, after all, and what was Conrad doing besides sulking?

Besides, the Christians besieging Acre obviously needed help, for Saladin had at last moved against them. With what small forces he could muster on short notice, he arrived in September and attacked almost immediately, on the 15th.  This finally persuaded Conrad to join, further reinforcing the Latin position. In a ferocious battle on 4 October, Saladin was delivered a sharp reverse but at the expense of heavy Christian casualties. Gerard de Ridefort, the Master of the Temple who had managed to escape from Hattin, was captured and executed. Conrad himself was very nearly captured during the battle and had to be rescued by none other than King Guy.

Crusaders continued to arrive steadily, allowing the Christians finally to blockade the city on land (the Italians had already managed to blockade it by sea).  Although battles continued, both sides settled in for the winter. During these months, especially at the beginning, there was a good deal of fraternization between the two sides, complete with competitions, gambling, and dinners.  Guy and Conrad temporarily resolved their differences by Conrad recognizing Guy as king in exchange for which the King gave Tyre, Beirut and Sidon to Conrad.

The besiegers grew increasingly desperate during the late winter and early spring as supplies ran terribly short. Disease and starvation stalked the camps. Saladin determined that he had to break the siege, for his spies told him of a huge army gathering in the West, an army that included the Christian Emperor himself. Saladin was very much afraid of what Frederick Barbarossa might accomplish and hastened to sew up Acre to meet this greater threat. He attacked for eight days in May but was unable to break the Christian position.  Then he received tremendous news:  the German emperor was dead, and his army was dissolving.

The Third Crusade

But other crusaders were arriving: Count Henry of Champagne in the summer of 1190, the remnants of Frederick's army in October, and the English a few days after that.   Saladin kept the Christians pinned down before Acre, but was as unable to dislodge them as they were unable to capture the city.

Queen Sibylla died that autumn, only a few days after losing both her daughters by Guy to disease. This made her other daughter, Isabella, the heiress, which at the same time made Guy's claim to the kingship suddenly tenuous, for he was king only by virtue of being Sibylla's husband.

The barons, most of whom intensely disliked Guy for having led them into disaster at Hattin, looked about for a husband for Isabella and decided to choose Conrad. Isabella (reluctant but unable to resist) was married to him on 24 November 1190.  Guy was furious and went so far as to challenge Conrad to trial by combat, but Conrad refused and withdrew with his new wife to Tyre.

That winter and the following spring, conditions before Acre worsened. Disease and famine stalked the camps. Only the arrival of supply ships in March 1191 saved the siege. Then King Philip of France arrived in April and King Richard of England in June, and everything changed.  Richard was able to capture the city and the Third Crusade was well under way.

Guy was from Lusignan and was friendly toward Richard. He knew that Conrad was King Philip's cousin and so he determined that he had to have a powerful ally. Before the English king ever set foot in the Holy Land, Guy met him at Cyprus and won his support. After the fall of Acre in July 1191, the leading princes met and declared that Guy was King, but that Conrad and Isabella would succeed to the throne and that Conrad should have Tyre, Beirut and Sidon as his own, and that the two men should share in the royal revenues.  Conrad went back to Tyre, and Guy went off to war with Richard.

But the locals still hated Guy and favored Conrad. After having failed to reach Jerusalem, Ricahrd was back in Acre in April 1192 where he summoned the barons and offered them a choice between Guy and Conrad. Much to his surprise, not one man spoke up for Guy.   Richard was sensible enough to realize that Guy would never be accepted and so he declared that Conrad was now the rightful King of Jerusalem.

Death and Marriage

Conrad was overjoyed when he received the news at Tyre. He had come to the Holy Land as just another crusader and God had made him a King. It was the stuff of Crusader legend, the sort of story that got told in the castles of Europe over and over again. But this particular story was not quite over.

Word of Richard's decision reached Conrad on 20 April 1192. On the 28th, he was returning home from dinner in the company of a few friends. Out of the darkness, two men sprang upon Conrad and stabbed him to death. One oof the two assailants was killed on the spot; the other died of his wounds not long after, but was able to confess that he was an Assassin.

No one then or now has been able to establish why the Assassins might want to kill Conrad. Rumor said that King Richard had engineered it.  Rumor said that Saladin was behind it.  Rumor said all manner of things, but the only thing clear was that Guy was deposed and Conrad was dead, and Jerusalem needed a new king.

Isabella shut herself up in her castle and refused to give the keys to anyone but Richard. Her advisors pleaded with her to marry immediately, for the sake of the Kingdom. The nearly unanimous choice of the barons was Henry of Champagne. After two days, Isabella agreed.  With Richard giving his consent, the two were married on 5 May 1192.

Conrad had been about sixty years old, a grim warrior from northern Italy.  Henry was in his twenties, was handsome and gallant and well-trained in the ways of chivalry. Isabella married him out of duty, but to everyone's surprise, the two of them fell in love and lived quite happily together.

Guy, meanwhile, was mollified with a new prize.  Richard had seized Cyprus from the Byzantines but had no real interest in ruling it. He had sold it to the Templars. They, however, found the island uncongenial and so the island was re-sold to Guy.   His descendants became Kings in Cyprus and ruled it for two centuries.

King Henry I

The Third Crusade rolled out of town in April 1192, once again leaving the barons of Outremer to deal with the aftershocks. Richard had managed to achieve open access to Jerusalem for pilgrims, and to recover the cities of Acre, Ascalon, Jaffa and Daron. Outremer had managed to go from hanging by its fingernails to hanging by its fingernails and toes. Nowhere did the Kingdom of Jerusalem stretch inland for more than ten miles.

But their nemesis, Saladin, died the following year. He had seventeen sons, and much of the next twenty years or so was conditioned by the rivalries among the brothers. No matter what the political climate, one or more emirs found it convenient to allow the Franks to continue to reside in the Holy Land, or at least that prying them out was more trouble than they were worth.

Henry ruled well, working in much-straitened circumstances.  Worse, the intense rivalries among the Italian city-states were now spilling over into Outremer. In May 1193, Henry uncovered a Pisan plot to seize Tyre and hand it over to Guy of Cyprus. Henry arrested the ringleaders and the Pisans began raiding the cost in retaliation, so Henry booted them out of Acre altogether.  They were reconciled in 1194, but this flare-up was an indication of future troubles.

Guy died in May 1194 and was succeeded by Amalric. Henry made an alliance with Amalric, whose three sons were married to the three daughters of Isabella (she had two girls by Henry).  All were child marriages and only one of them bore fruit.  But at least the rivalry between Lusignan and the Palestinian barons was at last laid to rest, for Amalric seemed to bear no ill-will on behalf of his brother, and we was respected by all.

Henry also interested himself in affairs in Syria, where Antioch was engaged in a bitter and desperate dispute with Leo of Armenia. On his journey north to arbitrate in this dispute, Henry had a remarkable and memorable encounter.

He was approached by the Assassins, who wished to renew the traditionally friendly relations between them and the Franks.  The famous Old Man of the Mountain, Sinan, had died the previous year and the new leader was anxious to secure Frankish cooperation. To this end, he invited King Henry up to his mountain fortress at al-Kahl.

There Henry was entertained lavishly. The Assassin lord wanted to impress the Frankish king with his great wealth and power, so no expense was spared. After the dinner, the sheik indicated the many followers who were gathered here and there about the castle, high atop the mountain. At a motion from him, one of these followers suddenly leaped off a parapet to his death.  This is the power I wield, the sheik seemed to be saying, that my followers will die without question at my command. To drive the point home, he motioned again and another man leaped to his death. The sources do not say how many died, only that Henry finally begged the sheik to have mercy and to order no more deaths.  He went away from that place properly impressed.

Death of King Henry I

Back in Europe, a new crusade was forming, brewed up by the son of Frederick Barbarossa, Henry VI.  The young emperor was determined to lead a large army eastward, to finish what his father had begun. There are some indications that he even contemplated an attack on Byzantium.  But we'll never know, for he died just as the armies were forming in Italy.

Lead contingents of this abortive crusade arrived in Acre in the summer of 1997.   Conditions in Outremer were fairly stable, and King Henry was not pleased to receive these Westerners. Worse, the Germans would not follow the advice of the locals and quietly await developments. No, they had come to kill Saracens and that's what they were going to do. The marched to to attack the nearest Muslims they could find.

Al-Adil summoned help from his brothers and sent a force against the Germans. Rumor made the Muslim far larger that it was in fact, and the Germans fled without ever seeing it, scurrying back toward Acre. As usual, the knights out-distanced the infantry.

Meanwhile, King Henry had sent reinforcements. As these arrived, the German infantry decided to stand and fight after all. Al-Adil was not prepared to undertake a pitched battle, so he suddenly marched on Jaffa instead, which was only lightly defended. The city fell immediately, but the citadel held out.

Jaffa was too important to give up without a fight, so Henry summoned his vassals and organized a relieving force.  On 10 September 1197, he was in Acre, reviewing the troops from a balcony window, eagerly awaiting word from the Pisans that their ships and soldiers were likewise ready.

The Pisan delegation arrived in the room and Henry turned to greet them. As he did so, he took a step backward and lost his balance. As he pitched over, his little dwarf, Scarlet, grabbed at his robes. But instead of saving his master, the dwarf fell, too.   Both men crashed to the ground below and died instantly.

Once again a city was threatened and a Muslim army was in the field and Outremer was all alone.  And, once again, Queen Isabella was a widow.

King Amalric II

Jaffa was still in peril, with a Muslim army at its gates. Isabella, who had loved Henry, was too distraught to rule. The barons assembled and debated a successor. As they debated, Jaffa fell without a battle. The barons then chose Amalric of Cyprus, the brother of the former King Guy.

Amalric engineered a campaign that recovered Beirut and Sidon, and turned out to be a wise and cautious ruler. The two kingdoms of Cyprus and Jerusalem were united in his person, but he kept the two strictly separate in practice. His main concern while in Acre was to find a way to achieve peace, for the Kingdom was too weak to resist any concerted attacks.

His chief problem was the German crusade. They proved to be headstrong and unwilling to listen to local advice to proceed carefully. Instead, they rushed right out to besiege Toron. This stirred al-Adil into action. On hearing rumors of a massive Egyptian army (there was one advancing, but it wasn't large), the Germans promptly raised the siege and fled back to Acre and then went home. The only real result of the campaign was the founding of the Teutonic Knights.

Amalric struggled to stay at peace with his Muslim neighbors, but it was not easy. Civil war in Antioch created problems, and the few crusaders who went to the Holy Land in connection with the Fourth Crusade stirred things up and then got themselves killed by the Emir of Jabala. Despite the difficulties, though, Amalric managed a peace treaty with al-Adil in 1204.

The King died of an illness 1 April 1205. On his death, Cyprus and Jerusalem fell to separate heirs, as Amalric intended. John of Ibelin became regent for Jerusalem, ruling for the young princess Maria.

The princess turned seventeen in 1208 and Ibelin sent to King Philip of France for help in finding a husband. This proved to be rather difficult, and a match was not found until 1210, when John of Brienne accepted. John was not at all wealthy and he was sixty years old, but he was willing to take on the burden, in part because he was Philip's friend.   He arrived in September and the two were married on 3 October.

John of Brienne, King and Regent

John ruled well and was well liked by the barons. He renewed the truce with al-Adil in 1212 and continued to look for opportunities to consolidate the position of the Kingdom. His authority was lessened somewhat by the death of his wife in childbirth that same year of 1212. He was king only by virtue of his marriage to Queen Maria. With her death, he became regent for the new-born princess, Yolanda. Still, his personal prestige was such that he was generally followed and supported.

In 1216, John got word of the Fifth Crusade. His truce with al-Adil was not due to expire until 1217, which left him free to help the Crusaders in their attack on Egypt. As usual, there were financial and transportation problems back in Europe, and only a trickle of knights arrived in 1217. Among these was the King of Hungary, who accomplished nothing and went home the same year. A Frisian fleet arrived in 1218, and it was John and the Frisians who decided to attack at Damietta.

John's participation in the Fifth Crusade is covered elsewhere. He quarreled with the papal legate, Pelagius, and returned to Acre for a time in 1220. He went back to Damietta in 1221, where he helped negotiate terms after the humiliating defeat at Mansourah.

John was now in his seventies and needed to find a husband for Yolanda, who was eleven. The old warrior travelled to Europe in 1222. At Herman von Salza's suggestion, he betrothed her to Emperor Frederick II. It seemed to be a brilliant match. Frederick had already taken the crusader vow, and adding the Kingdom of Jerusalem to his collection of titles would be quite prestigious. And he could afford the financial drain. And Outremer would gain a powerful patron. As matters turned out, however, this one marriage turned out to be debilitating for the Kingdom.

That was in the future, however. While John was still in Europe, his old friend King Philip died (14 July 1223), leaving 50,000 marks to Outremer. John stayed to attend the coronation of Louis VIII, then went on pilgrimage to Compostella, and returned to Acre in 1224.

Outremer remained at peace during these years in part due to John's diplomacy and in part because al-Adil was disinclined to press matters. The Franj in Outremer were not much of a threat, though the Military Orders were always to be feared. The problem for the Muslim leaders was always that they might be too successful. As had been demonstrated by both Zengi and Saladin, a sudden or striking success would stir up a crusade in the West, bringing large armies and great risks.  Better to leave the local Franj at peace, clinging to the shores of Palestine and Syria, and have a free hand against more dangerous enemies at home.

As for the Kingdom of Jerusalem itself, John was unable to go on the offensive because he lacked resources. Now began a slow process that would continue for the rest of the century in which barons would sell their estates, often to the Military Orders, and either go back to Europe or move to Cyprus. The island kingdom proved to be a powerful attraction: it was safe from the Muslims, but was still close to the Holy Land. Knights could and did cross the water to campaign in Palestine or Syria, but only as it pleased them, and they likewise returned home as it pleased them. John could never count on them, much less summon them.

Outremer needed a strong leader with deep pockets if it was ever going to recover any significant portion of the lands lost to Saladin.  Frederick II was both strong and rich. He was to marry Yolanda in 1225, as soon as she reached the legal age of fourteen.   Matters then would surely improve!

Frederick II

In August 1225, Count Henry of Malta arrived with an entourage at Acre to take Yolanda back to Italy for her marriage. Before she left, she was crowned Queen, so that her marriage would then make Frederick King of Jerusalem.

She arrived at Brindisi in October, where she was met by John of Brienne and her future husband. The were married at Brindisi on 9 November. Jerusalem once again had a king, and one of the most powerful monarchs in all Europe besides.

The next day, 10 November, Frederick abruptly left town with his new bride, without even talking to John.  The old man was no longer Regent, and technically had no claim, but the action was rude at the very best. John hurried after the Emperor. When he caught up with him, Yolanda confided in tears that Frederick had seduced on of her cousins who was travelling with her. John and Frederick quarrelled mightily.  The Emperor declared that John was no longer regent and so deserved nothing in particular, and he even seized control of the money King Philip had given.

John of Brienne went to Rome for help.  He got sympathy, but no practical help, for indeed there was nothing anyone could do.  Frederick now ruled Jerusalem, and he sent Thomas d'Aquino to Acre to serve as bailli until he should arrive.

He was still under his pilgrim's vow, and the new pope, Gregory IX, was determined to hold him to it.  At Gregory's prodding, Frederick sent a thousand men to Syria in 1227, but they did little except wait for their Emperor. 

Yolanda was sent to Palermo, where she gave birth to a son, Conrad, on 25 April 1228. But the birth was more than she could bear, and she died on the first of May, at the age of sixteen. Jerusalem now had a King and an heir, but its Queen was dead and John of Brienne was an outcast, and the Kingdom was in effect ruled by foreigners.

Frederick set out on his crusade at last on 28 June 1228. When he arrived in Cyprus, he immediately intervened in the affairs of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He summoned John d'Ibelin, Lord of Beirut, to Limassol, where he demanded that Ibelin turn the city over to him.  John refused.  At a banquet, Frederick posted men with drawn swords behind his guests as he repeated his demands, but John would not budge, claiming that the dispute could only be settled by the High Court.

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