The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Christian kingdom established in 1099 C.E. after the First Crusade. It lasted just under two hundred years, from 1099 C.E. until 1291 C.E. when the last remaining outpost, Acre, was captured and defeated by the Mamluks.
Initially, the kingdom was little more than a loose collection of towns and cities. However, at its height, the Kingdom roughly encompassed the territory of modern Israel, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; it extended from modern Lebanon in the north to the Sinai Desert in the south, and into modern Jordan and Syria in the east. There were also attempts to expand the kingdom into Fatimid Egypt. Its kings also held a certain amount of authority over the other crusader states, Tripoli, Antioch, and Edessa.
At first, the Muslim world had little concern for the fledgling kingdom, but as the twelfth century progressed, the notion of jihad was resurrected, and the kingdom's increasingly-united Muslim neighbors vigorously began to recapture lost territory. Jerusalem itself was captured by Saladin in 1187, and by the thirteenth century the Kingdom was reduced to a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, dominated by a few cities. In this period, sometimes referred to as the "Kingdom of Acre," the kingdom was dominated by the Lusignan dynasty of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus, and ties were also strengthened with Tripoli, Antioch, and Armenia. The kingdom was also increasingly dominated by the Italian city-states of Venice and Genoa, as well as the imperial ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperors. Meanwhile the surrounding Muslim territories were united under the Ayyubid and later the Mamluk dynasties in Egypt, and the kingdom became little more than a pawn in the politics and warfare in the region, which saw invasions by the Khwarezmians and Mongols in the mid-thirteenth century. The Mamluk sultans Khalil and Baibars eventually reconquered all the remaining crusader strongholds, culminating in the destruction of Acre in 1291.
The First Crusade was launched at the Council of Clermont in 1095 by Pope Urban II, with the goal of assisting the Byzantine Empire against the invasions of the Seljuk Turks. Very soon, however, the participants saw the main objective as the capturing or recapturing of the Holy Land. The kingdom came into being with the arrival of the crusaders in June 1099 C.E.; a few of the neighboring towns (Ramla, Lydda, Bethlehem, and others) were taken first, and Jerusalem itself was captured on July 15. There was immediately a dispute among the various leaders as to whom would rule the newly-conquered territory, the two most worthy candidates being Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, and Raymond of St. Gilles, Count of Toulouse. Neither wished to be crowned king in the city where Christ had worn his crown of thorns; Raymond was perhaps attempting to show his piety and hoped that the other nobles would insist upon his election anyway, but Godfrey, the more popular of the two, did no damage to his own piety by accepting a position as secular leader with an unknown or ill-defined title. With the election of Godfrey on July 22, Raymond, incensed, took his army to forage away from the city. The foundation of the kingdom, as well as Godfrey's reputation, was secured with the defeat of the Fatimid Egyptian army under al-Afdal Shahanshah at the Battle of Ascalon one month after the conquest, on August 12. However, Raymond and Godfrey's continued antagonism prevented the crusaders from taking control of Ascalon itself.
There was still some uncertainty as to the nature of the new kingdom. The papal legate Daimbert of Pisa convinced Godfrey to hand over Jerusalem to him as Latin Patriarch, forming the basis for a theocratic state. According to William of Tyre, Godfrey may have supported Daimbert's efforts, and he agreed to take possession of "one or two other cities and thus enlarge the kingdom" if Daimbert were permitted to rule Jerusalem. During his short reign, Godfrey indeed increased the boundaries of the kingdom, by capturing Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias, and other cities, and reducing many others to tributary status; he also set the foundations for the system of vassalage in the kingdom, including the Principality of Galilee and the County of Jaffa.
The path for a secular state was therefore set during Godfrey's rule, and when Godfrey died of an illness in 1100 C.E., his brother Baldwin of Boulogne successfully outmanoeuvered Daimbert and claimed Jerusalem for himself as a secular "king of the Latins of Jerusalem." Daimbert compromised by crowning Baldwin in Bethlehem rather than Jerusalem, but the path for a secular state had been laid. Within this secular framework, a Catholic church hierarchy was established, overtop of the local Eastern Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox authorities, who retained their own hierarchies. Under the Latin Patriarch there were four suffragan archdioceses and numerous dioceses.
During Baldwin's reign, the kingdom expanded even further. The numbers of Latin inhabitants increased, as the minor crusade of 1101 brought reinforcements to the kingdom. He also repopulated Jerusalem with Franks and native Christians, after his expedition across the Jordan in 1115. With help from the Italian city-states and other adventurers, notably King Sigurd I of Norway, Baldwin capturing the port cities of Acre (1104), Beirut (1110), and Sidon (1111), while also exerting his suzerainty over the other Crusader states to the north – the County of Edessa (which he had founded), the Principality of Antioch, and, after Tripoli was captured in 1109, the County of Tripoli. He successfully defended against Muslim invasions, from the Fatimids at the numerous battles at Ramla and elsewhere in the southwest of the kingdom, and from Damascus and Mosul in the northeast in 1113. As Thomas Madden says, Baldwin was "the true founder of the kingdom of Jerusalem," who "had transformed a tenuous arrangement into a solid feudal state. With brilliance and diligence, he established a strong monarchy, conquered the Palestinian coast, reconciled the crusader barons, and built strong frontiers against the kingdom's Muslim neighbours." However, the kingdom would never overcome its geographic isolation from Europe. For almost its entire history it was confined to the narrow strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River; land beyond this was subject to constant raiding and warfare. The kingdom's population centres could also easily be isolated from each other in the event of a major invasion, which eventually led to the kingdom's downfall in the 1180s.
Baldwin died without heirs in 1118, during a campaign against Egypt, and the kingdom was offered to his brother Eustace III of Boulogne, who had accompanied Baldwin and Godfrey on the crusade, but he was uninterested. Instead the crown passed to Baldwin's relative, probably a cousin, Baldwin of Le Bourg, who had previously succeeded him as Count of Edessa. Baldwin II was also an able ruler, and he too successfully defended against Fatimid and Seljuk invasions. Although Antioch was severely weakened after the Battle of Ager Sanguinis in 1119, and Baldwin himself was held captive by the emir of Aleppo from 1122-1124, Baldwin led the crusader states to victory at the Battle of Azaz in 1125. His reign also saw the establishment of the first military orders, the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar. The earliest surviving written laws of the kingdom were compiled at the Council of Nablus in 1120, and the first commercial treaty with Venice, the Pactum Warmundi, was written in 1124; the increase of naval and military support from Venice led to capture of Tyre that year. The influence of Jerusalem was also further extended over Edessa and Antioch, where Baldwin II acted as regent when their own leaders were killed in battle, although there were regency governments in Jerusalem as well during Baldwin's captivity. Baldwin was married to the Armenian princess Morphia of Melitene, and had four daughters: Hodierna and Alice, who married into the families of the Count of Tripoli and Prince of Antioch; Ioveta, who became an influential abbess; and the eldest, Melisende, who was his heir and succeeded him upon his death in 1131, with her husband Fulk V of Anjou as king-consort. Their son, the future Baldwin III, was also named co-heir by his grandfather.
Fulk was an experienced crusader, who had brought military support to the kingdom during a pilgrimage in 1120. He also brought Jerusalem into the sphere of the Angevin Empire, as the father of Geoffrey V of Anjou and grandfather of the future Henry II of England. Not everyone appreciated the imposition of a foreigner as king, however; in 1132 Antioch, Tripoli, and Edessa all asserted their independence and conspired to prevent Fulk from exercising the suzerainty of Jerusalem over them. He defeated Tripoli in battle, and settled the regency in Antioch by arranging a marriage between the countess, Melisende's niece Constance, and his own relative Raymond of Poitiers. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the native crusader nobles opposed Fulk's preference for his Angevin retinue. In 1134, Hugh II of Jaffa revolted against Fulk, allying with the Muslim garrison at Ascalon, for which he was convicted of treason in absentia. The Latin Patriarch intervened to settle the dispute, but an assassination attempt was then made on Hugh, for which Fulk was blamed. This scandal allowed Melisende and her supporters to gain control of the government, just as her father had intended. Accordingly, Fulk "became so uxorious that… not even in unimportant cases did he take any measures without her knowledge and assistance."
Fulk, a renowned military commander, was then faced with a new and more dangerous enemy: the Atabeg Zengi of Mosul, who had taken control of Aleppo and had set his sights on Damascus as well; the union of these three states would have been a serious blow to the growing power of Jerusalem. A brief intervention in 1137-1138 by the Byzantine emperor John II Comnenus, who wished to assert imperial suzerainty over all the crusader states, did nothing to stop the threat of Zengi; in 1139 Damascus and Jerusalem recognized the severity of the threat to both states, and an alliance was concluded which temporarily halted Zengi's advance. Fulk used this time to construct numerous castles, including Ibelin and Kerak. However, after the death of both Fulk and Emperor John in separate hunting accidents in 1143, Zengi successfully invaded and conquered Edessa in 1144. Queen Melisende, now regent for her elder son Baldwin III, appointed a new constable, Manasses of Hierges, to head the army after Fulk's death, but Edessa could not be recaptured, despite Zengi's own assassination in 1146. The fall of Edessa shocked Europe, and a Second Crusade arrived in 1148.
Meeting in Acre in 1148, the crusading kings Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany decided to attack the friendly Emir of Damascus, with whom there was still a peace treaty for mutual defense against Zengi and his son and successor Nur ad-Din. The western crusaders saw Damascus as an easy target, and young Baldwin III, perhaps eager to impress the famous European monarchs, agreed with their plan. This was in direct opposition to the advice of Queen Melisende and constable Manasses, as they and the other crusader states saw Aleppo as the main target that would allow for the recapture of Edessa. The crusade ended in defeat by 1148 with the disastrous Siege of Damascus.
Melisende continued to rule as regent long after Baldwin III came of age, until her government was overthrown by Baldwin in 1153: the two agreed to split the kingdom in half, with Baldwin ruling from Acre in the north and Melisende ruling from Jerusalem in the south, but both knew that this situation was untenable. Baldwin soon invaded his mother's possessions, defeated Manasses, and besieged his mother in the Tower of David in Jerusalem. Melisende surrendered and retired as regent, leaving Baldwin the sole monarch, but Baldwin appointed her his regent and chief advisor the next year. Baldwin III then conquered Ascalon from the Fatimids, the last Egyptian outpost on the Palestinian coast. At the same time, however, the overall crusader situation became worse, as Nur ad-Din succeeded in taking Damascus and unifying Muslim Syria under his rule.
Baldwin now faced formidable difficulties. He was chronically short of men and resources with which to defend his realm, and to make matters worse the supply of help from the west had dried up almost completely. Therefore, he turned to the only other source of aid available: the Byzantine Emperor. In order to bolster the defenses of the Kingdom against the growing strength of the Muslims, Baldwin III made the first direct alliance with the Byzantine Empire in the history of the kingdom, marrying Theodora Comnena, a niece of emperor Manuel I Comnenus; Manuel also married Baldwin's cousin Maria. As crusade historian William of Tyre put it, the hope was that Manuel would be able "to relieve from his own abundance the distress under which our realm was suffering and to change our poverty into superabundance." Although Baldwin died childless in 1162, a year after his mother Melisende, the kingdom passed to his brother Amalric I, who renewed the alliance negotiated by Baldwin. The value of the alliance was soon demonstrated in 1164 when, the crusaders suffered a very serious defeat at the Battle of Harim just outside Antioch. The Prince of Antioch, Bohemund III, was captured by Nur ed-Din along with many other important barons. As Amalric was away campaigning far to the south at the time, there seemed every chance that Antioch would fall to Nur ad-Din. The emperor Manuel immediately sent a large Byzantine force to the area, and Nur ad-Din retreated. Manuel also paid the ransom to release the Prince of Antioch. The new alliance had saved the kingdom from disaster.
Amalric was forced to divorce his first wife Agnes of Courtenay in order to succeed to the throne. Amalric's reign was characterized by competition between himself and Manuel on the one hand, and Nur ad-Din and his wily some-time subordinate Saladin on the other, over control of Egypt. Amalric's first expedition to Egypt came in 1163, and a long series of alliances and counter-alliances between Amalric, the viziers of Egypt, and Nur ad-Din led to four more invasions by 1169. The Egyptian campaigns were supported by Emperor Manuel, and Amalric married a great-niece of the emperor, Maria Comnena. In 1169, Manuel sent a large Byzantine fleet of some 300 ships to assist Amalric, and the town of Damietta was placed under siege. However, due to the failure of the Crusaders and the Byzantines to co-operate fully, the chance to capture Egypt was thrown away. The Byzantine fleet sailed only with provisions for three months: by the time the crusaders were ready, supplies were already running out, and eventually the fleet retired. Each side sought to blame the other for failure, but both also knew that they depended on each other: the alliance was maintained, and plans for another campaign in Egypt were made, which ultimately were to come to naught. Amalric ultimately failed in his bid to conquer Egypt. In the end, Nur ad-Din was victorious and Saladin established himself as Sultan of Egypt. The death of both Amalric and Nur ad-Din in 1174 ensured the dominance of Saladin, whose power soon spread over Nur ad-Din's Syrian possessions as well, completely surrounding the crusader kingdom. And with the death of the pro-western Emperor Manuel in 1180, the Kingdom of Jerusalem also lost its most powerful ally.
Amalric was succeeded by his young son, Baldwin IV, who was discovered at a very young age to be a leper. Baldwin nevertheless proved an effective and energetic king and military commander. His mother, Agnes of Courtenay, returned to court, but her influence has been greatly exaggerated by earlier historians. Her role in appointing Eraclius, archbishop of Caesarea, as Patriarch of Jerusalem, followed the precedent of Queen Melisende: however, it sparked a grudge in Eraclius's rival, William of Tyre. His writings, and those of his continuators in the Chronicle of Ernoul,damaged her political and sexual reputation until recent years.
Count Raymond III of Tripoli, his father's first cousin, was bailli or regent during Baldwin IV's minority. Baldwin reached his majority in 1176, and despite his illness he no longer had any legal need for a regent. Since Raymond was his nearest relative in the male line, with a strong claim to the throne, there was concern about the extent of his ambitions (although he had no direct heirs of his body). To balance this, the king turned from time to time to his uncle, Joscelin III of Edessa, after he was ransomed in 1176: as his maternal kin, the Courtenay family had no claim to the throne.
As a leper, Baldwin would never produce an heir, so the focus of his succession passed to his sister Sibylla and his younger half-sister Isabella. Baldwin and his advisors recognized that it was essential for Sibylla to be married to a Western nobleman in order to access support from Europe in a military crisis. In 1176, he married her to William of Montferrat, a cousin of Louis VII and of Frederick Barbarossa. Unfortunately, William died only a few months later in 1177, leaving Sibylla pregnant with the future Baldwin V. Meanwhile, Baldwin IV's stepmother Maria, mother of Isabella, married Balian of Ibelin.
Baldwin defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard in 1177, giving Jerusalem a brief respite from Saladin's continual attacks. The succession, however, remained a difficult issue. In 1180, Baldwin blocked moves by Raymond of Tripoli to marry Sibylla off to Baldwin of Ibelin by arranging her marriage to Guy of Lusignan. Guy was the younger brother of Amalric of Lusignan, who had already established himself as a capable figure in the kingdom, supported by the Courtenays. More importantly, internationally, the Lusignans were useful as vassals of Baldwin and Sibylla's cousin Henry II of England. Baldwin also betrothed Isabella (aged eight) to Humphrey IV of Toron, stepson of the powerful Raynald of Chatillon - thereby removing her from the influence of the Ibelin family and her mother. Guy was appointed bailli during the king's bouts of illness.
In 1183, Isabella married Humphrey at Kerak, during a siege by Saladin. Baldwin, now blind and crippled, went to the castle's relief on a litter, tended by his mother. He became disillusioned with Guy's military performance there (he was less competent than his brother Amalric), and was reconciled with Raymond. To cut Sibylla and Guy out of the succession, he had Sibylla's son Baldwin of Montferrat crowned Baldwin V, as co-king, although the boy was only five.
The succession crisis had prompted a mission to the west to seek assistance: in 1184, Patriarch Eraclius travelled throughout the courts of Europe, but no help was forthcoming. The chronicler Ralph Niger reports that his enormous retinue and opulent dress offended the sensibilities of many Westerners, who felt that if the east was so wealthy, no help was needed from the west. Eraclius offered the kingship to both Philip II of France and Henry II of England; the latter, as a grandson of Fulk, was a first cousin of the royal family of Jerusalem, and had promised to go on crusade after the murder of Thomas Becket, but he preferred to remain at home to defend his own territories. However, William V of Montferrat did come to support his grandson Baldwin V.
Baldwin IV died in spring 1185, and Baldwin V became king, with Raymond of Tripoli as regent and his great-uncle Joscelin of Edessa as his guardian. However, he was a sickly child and died in the summer of 1186. The kingdom passed to his mother Sibylla, on the condition that her marriage to Guy be annulled; she agreed, if only she could chose her own husband next time. The annulment did not take place: after being crowned, Sibylla immediately crowned Guy with her own hands. Raymond and the Ibelins attempted a coup, in order to place Sibylla's half-sister Isabella on the throne, with her husband Humphrey of Toron. Humphrey, however, defected to Guy. Disgusted, Raymond returned to Tripoli, and Baldwin of Ibelin also left the kingdom.
Guy proved a disastrous ruler. His close ally Raynald of Chatillon, the lord of Oultrejourdain and of Kerak, provoked Saladin into open war by attacking Muslim caravans and threatening to attack Mecca itself. To make matters worse, Raymond had allied with Saladin against Guy and had allowed a Muslim garrison to occupy his fief in Tiberias. Guy was on the verge of attacking Raymond before Balian of Ibelin effected a reconciliation in 1187, and the two joined together to attack Saladin at Tiberias. However, Guy and Raymond could not agree on a proper plan of attack, and on July 4, 1187, the army of the Kingdom was utterly destroyed at the Battle of Hattin. Raynald was executed and Guy was imprisoned in Damascus. Over the next few months Saladin easily overran the entire Kingdom, save for the port of Tyre, which was ably defended by Conrad of Montferrat, the paternal uncle of Baldwin V, lately arrived from Constantinople.
The subsequent fall of Jerusalem essentially ended the first Kingdom of Jerusalem. Much of the population, swollen with refugees fleeing Saladin's conquest of the surrounding territory, was allowed to flee to Tyre, Tripoli, or Egypt (whence they were sent back to Europe), but those who could not pay for their freedom were sold into slavery, and those who could were often robbed by Christians and Muslims alike on their way into exile. The capture of the city shocked Europe, resulting in the Third Crusade, which was launched in 1189, led by Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus and Frederick Barbarossa, though the last drowned en route.
Guy of Lusignan, who had been refused entry to Tyre by Conrad, began to besiege Acre in 1189. During the lengthy siege, which lasted until 1191, Patriarch Eraclius, Queen Sibylla and her daughters, and many others died of disease. With the death of Sibylla in 1190, Guy now had no legal claim to the kingship, and the succession passed to Isabella. Her mother Maria and the Ibelins (now closely allied to Conrad) argued that Isabella and Humphrey's marriage was illegal, as she had been underage at the time; underlying this was the fact that Humphrey had betrayed his wife's cause in 1186. The marriage was annulled amid some controversy. (The annulment followed the precedents of Amalric I and Agnes, and - though not carried out - Sibylla and Guy - of succession dependent on annulling a politically inconvenient match.) Conrad, who was nearest kinsman to Baldwin V in the male line, and had already proved himself a capable military leader, then married Isabella, but Guy refused to concede the crown.
When Richard arrived in 1191, he and Philip took different sides in the succession dispute. Richard backed Guy, his vassal from Poitou, while Philip supported Conrad, a cousin of his late father Louis VII. After much ill-feeling and ill-health, Philip returned home in 1191, soon after the fall of Acre. Richard defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf in 1191 and the Battle of Jaffa in 1192, recovering most of the coast, but could not recover Jerusalem or any of the inland territory of the kingdom. Conrad was unanimously elected king in April 1192, but was murdered by the Hashshashin only days later. Eight days later, the pregnant Isabella was married to Count Henry II of Champagne, nephew of Richard and Philip, but politically allied to Richard. Guy sold the Kingdom of Cyprus, after Richard had captured the island on the way to Acre, as compensation.
The crusade came to an end peacefully, with the Treaty of Ramla negotiated in 1192; Saladin allowed pilgrimages to be made to Jerusalem, allowing the crusaders to fulfill their vows, after which they all returned home. The native crusader barons set about rebuilding their kingdom from Acre and the other coastal cities. Shortly after Richard left, Saladin died and his realm fell into civil war, leaving the Crusader lords further embittered at what could have been accomplished had the European princes remained to help rebuild.
For the next hundred years, the Kingdom of Jerusalem clung to life as a tiny kingdom hugging the Syrian coastline. Its capital was moved to Acre and controlled most of the coastline of present day Israel and southern and central Lebanon, including the strongholds and towns of Jaffa, Arsuf, Caesarea, Tyre, Sidon, and Beirut. At best, it included only a few other significant cities, such as Ascalon and some interior fortresses, as well as suzerainty over Tripoli and Antioch. The new king, Henry of Champagne, died accidentally in 1197, and Isabella married for a fourth time, to Amalric of Lusignan, Guy's brother. A Fourth Crusade was planned after the failure of the Third, but it resulted in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and the crusaders involved never arrived in the kingdom.
Both Isabella and Amalric died in 1205 and again an underage girl, Isabella and Conrad's daughter Maria of Montferrat, became queen of Jerusalem. In 1210, Maria was married to an experienced sexagenarian knight, John of Brienne, who succeeded in keeping the tiny kingdom safe. She died in childbirth in 1212, and John continued to rule as regent for their daughter Yolande. Schemes were hatched to reconquer Jerusalem through Egypt, resulting in the failed Fifth Crusade against Damietta in 1217; King John took part in this, but the crusade was a failure. John travelled throughout Europe seeking assistance, and found support only from Emperor Frederick II, who then married John and Maria's daughter, Queen Yolande. Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade in 1228, and claimed the kingship of Jerusalem by right of his wife, just as John had done. Indeed, the sheer size of Frederick II's army and his stature before the Islamic world was sufficient to regain Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and a number of surrounding castles without a fight: these were recovered by treaty with the Ayyubid Sultan Al-Kamil. However, the nobles of Outremer, led by the regent John of Ibelin, not only felt more could have been recovered militarily, but also resented his attempts to impose Imperial authority over their kingdom, resulting in a number of military confrontations both on the mainland and on Cyprus.
The recovery was short-lived - not enough territory had been ceded to make the city defensible, and in 1244 the Ayyubids invited the Khwarezmian clans displaced by the Mongols to reconquer the city. In the resulting siege and conquest the Khwarezmians completely razed Jerusalem, leaving it in ruins and useless to both Christians and Muslims. The Seventh Crusade under Louis IX of France was inspired by this massacre, but it accomplished little save to replace the Ayyubids and Khwarezmians with the more powerful Mamluks as the Crusaders' main enemy in 1250.
Because the monarchy was now directly tied to powerful sovereigns in Europe, for the period from 1229 to 1268, the monarch resided in Europe and usually had a larger realm to pursue or take care of, thereby leaving governance to the Haute Cour. Kings of Jerusalem were represented by their baillis and regents. The title of King of Jerusalem was inherited by Conrad IV of Germany, son of Frederick II and Yolande, and later by his own son Conradin. With the death of Conradin the kingdom was inherited by King Hugh III of Cyprus. The territory descended into squabbling between the nobles of Cyprus and the mainland, between the remnant of the (now unified) County of Tripoli and Principality of Antioch, whose rulers also vied for influence in Acre, and especially between the Italian trading communities, whose quarrels erupted in the so-called "War of Saint Sabas" in Acre in 1257. After the Seventh Crusade, no organized effort from Europe ever arrived in the kingdom, although in 1277 Charles of Anjou bought the title of "King of Jerusalem" from a pretender to the throne. He never appeared in Acre but sent a representative, who, like Frederick II's representatives before him, was rejected by the nobles of Outremer.
Despite their precarious geopolitical situation, the Frankish realm managed to maintain an economically viable and influential power. Frankish diplomats aimed to keep the Muslim powers divided against each other, utilizing the feared Assassins as much as other Islamic rulers. In their later years, faced with the threat of the Egyptian Mamluks, the Crusaders' hopes rested with a Franco-Mongol alliance. The Mongols were thought to be sympathetic to Christianity, and some Frankish princes had already submitted to Mongol overlordship in the mid-1200s, though others had refused any kind of alliance. The Mongols successfully attacked as far south as Damascus on these campaigns, but suffered a historic defeat by the Mamluks at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, and the Mongols were limited to a few raids into Palestine in 1260 and 1300. The Mamluks eventually made good their pledge to cleanse the entire Middle East of the infidel Franks; in 1291, Acre, the last major Crusader stronghold, was taken by Sultan Khalil. This conquest was far less merciful than that of Saladin one hundred years before; much of the Frankish population was massacred or sold into slavery, such that Khalil could proclaim "A pearly white Frankish woman couldn't sell in the bazaar for a penny!"
Thereafter, the Kingdom of Jerusalem ceased to exist on the mainland, but the kings of Cyprus for many decades hatched plans to regain the Holy Land. For the next seven centuries, up to today, a veritable multitude of European monarchs have used the title of King of Jerusalem.
The Latin population of the kingdom was always small; although a steady stream of settlers and new crusaders continually arrived, most of the original crusaders who fought in the First Crusade simply went home. According to William of Tyre, "barely three hundred knights and two thousand foot soldiers could be found" in the kingdom in 1100 during Godfrey's siege of Arsuf. From the very beginning, the Latins were little more than a colonial frontier exercising rule over the native Muslim, Greek and Syrian population, who were more populous in number. But Jerusalem came to be known as Outremer, the French word for "overseas," and as new generations grew up in the kingdom, they also began to think of themselves as natives, rather than immigrants. Although they never gave up their core identity as Western Europeans or Franks, their clothing, diet, and commercialism integrated much Oriental, particularly Byzantine, influence. As the chronicler Fulcher of Chartres wrote around 1124,
"For we who were Occidentals now have been made Orientals. He who was a Roman or Frank has in this land been made into a Galilean or a Palestinean. He who was of Rheims or Chartres has now become a citizen of Tyre or Antioch. We have already forgotten the places of our birth; already these are unknown to many of us or not mentioned any more."
The crusaders and their descendants often learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and other eastern languages, and intermarried with the native Christians (whether Greek, Syrian, or Armenian) and sometimes with converted Muslims. Nonetheless, the Frankish principalities remained a distinctive Occidental colony in the heart of Islam.
Fulcher, a participant in the First Crusade and chaplain of Baldwin I, continued his chronicle up to 1127. Fulcher's chronicle was very popular and was used as a source by other historians in the west, such as Orderic Vitalis and William of Malmesbury. Almost as soon as Jerusalem had been captured, and continuing throughout the 12th century, many pilgrims arrived and left accounts of the new kingdom; among them are the English Saewulf, the Russian Abbot Daniel, the Frank Fretellus, the Byzantine Johannes Phocas, and the Germans John of Wurzburg and Theoderich. Aside from these, thereafter there is no eyewitness to events in Jerusalem until William of Tyre, archbishop of Tyre and chancellor of Jerusalem, who began writing around 1167 and died around 1184, although he includes much information about the First Crusade and the intervening years from the death of Fulcher to his own time, drawn mainly from the writings of Albert of Aix and Fulcher himself.
From the Muslim perspective, a chief source of information is Usamah ibn Munqidh, a soldier and frequent ambassador from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt, whose memoirs, Kitab al i'tibar, include lively accounts of crusader society in the east. Further information can be gathered from travellers such as Benjamin of Tudela and Ibn Jubayr.
In the thirteenth century, John of Ibelin drew up a list of fiefs and the number of knights owed by each; unfortunately this probably reflects the thirteenth-century kingdom, not the twelfth, and gives no indication of the non-noble, non-Latin population. The Kingdom at first was virtually bereft of a loyal subject population and had few knights and peers to implement the laws and orders of the realm. However, as trading firms from Europe and knights from the military orders arrived, the affairs of the Kingdom improved. Further immigration continued over time to increase the Frankish population to an estimated 25-35 percent of the realm by the 1180s. Many Muslims also returned to the Kingdom, having fled the initial conquest, and others emigrated from further east.
It is impossible to give an accurate estimate of the population of the kingdom, but it has been estimated that there were at most 120,000 Franks and 100 000 Muslims living in the cities, with another 250 000 Muslim and Eastern Christian peasants in the countryside. William of Tyre recorded that in 1183 a census was taken to determine the number of men available to defend against an invasion, and also to determine the amount of tax that could be obtained from the inhabitants, Muslim or Christian. If, however, the population was actually counted, William did not record the number.
The kingdom was essentially based on the feudal system of contemporary western Europe, but with many important differences. First of all, the kingdom was situated within a relatively small area, with little agricultural land. Since ancient times it had been an urban economy, unlike medieval Europe; in fact, although the nobility technically owned land, they preferred to live in Jerusalem or the other cities, closer to the royal court. As in Europe the nobles had their own vassals and were themselves vassals to the king. However, agricultural production was regulated by the iqta, a Muslim system of land ownership and payments roughly (though far from exactly) equivalent to the feudal system of Europe, and this system was not heavily disrupted by the Crusaders.
Although Muslims (as well as Jews and Eastern Christians) had virtually no rights in the countryside, where they were in theory the property of the Crusader lord who owned the land, tolerance for other faiths was in general higher than that found elsewhere in the Middle East. Greeks, Syrians, and Jews continued to live as they had before, subject to their own laws and courts, with their former Muslim overlords simply replaced by the Crusaders; Muslims now joined them at the lowest level of society. The ra'is, the leader of a Muslim or Syrian community, was a kind of vassal to whatever noble owned his land, but as the Crusader nobles were absentee landlords the ra'is and their communities had a high degree of autonomy. In the cities, Muslims and Eastern Christians were free, although no Muslims were permitted to live in Jerusalem itself. However, they were second-class citizens and played no part in politics or law, and owed no military service to the crown; likewise, citizens of the Italian city-states owed nothing despite living in their own quarters in the port cities.
At any given time there were also an unknown number of Muslim slaves living in the Kingdom. No Christian, whether Western or Eastern, was permitted by law to be sold into slavery, but this fate was as common for Muslim prisoners of war as it was for Christian prisoners taken by the Muslims. Escape was probably not difficult and fugitive slaves were always a problem, but the only legal means of manumission was conversion to (Catholic) Christianity.
There were many attempts to attract settlers from Europe, which would free the Kingdom economically from reliance upon the suspect Arab, Syrian, and Greek populations, but large-scale immigration and colonisation was beyond the ability of medieval Europe. Thus, although there was an incipient and growing free Frank peasant population in the countryside, it was relatively small, and crusader armies also tended to be small, drawn from the French families of the cities. This meant that a minority of Westerners were left to govern a large and very foreign population of Arabs, Greeks and Syrians, who could not be relied upon for manpower or ultimate allegiance to the kingdom.
The problem of lack of manpower was solved to some extent by the creation of the military orders. The Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller were both founded in the early years of the kingdom, and they often took the place of the nobles in the countryside. Although their headquarters were in Jerusalem, the knights themselves often lived in vast castles and bought land that the other nobles could no longer afford to keep. Templar and Hospitaller houses were established throughout Europe as well, and new recruits were sent to the Holy Land, further bolstering the manpower of the military orders. However, the military orders were under the direct control of the Pope, not the king; they were essentially autonomous and technically owed no military service, though in reality they participated in all the major battles.
After the loss of Jerusalem in 1187, virtually the entire population of Franks and Italians fled back to Europe. The recovery of the Mediterranean littoral during the Third Crusade allowed for some Frankish repopulation of the coastal cities. The remaining cities had a more homogenous Western, Catholic, population, and for the remainder of the Kingdom, the population remained predominantly Frankish and Italian.
The urban composition of the area, combined with the presence of the Italian merchants, led to the development of an economy that was much more commercial than it was agricultural. Palestine had always been a crossroads for trade; now, this trade extended to Europe as well. European goods, such as the woolen textiles of northern Europe, made their way to the Middle East and Asia, while Asian goods were transported back to Europe. Jerusalem was especially involved in the silk, cotton and spice trade; other items that first appeared in Europe through trade with Crusader Jerusalem included oranges and sugar, the latter of which chronicler William of Tyre called "very necessary for the use and health of mankind." In the countryside, wheat, barley, legumes, olives, grapes, and dates were also grown. The Italian city-states made enormous profits from this trade, thanks to commercial treaties like the Pactum Warmundi, and it influenced their Renaissance in later centuries.
Jerusalem also collected money through tribute payments, first from the coastal cities which had not yet been captured, and later from other neighboring states such as Damascus and Egypt, which the Crusaders could not conquer directly. After Baldwin I extended his rule over Oultrejordain, Jerusalem also gained revenue from the taxation of Muslim caravans passing from Syria to Egypt or Arabia. The money economy of Jerusalem meant that their manpower problem could be partially solved by paying for mercenaries, an uncommon occurrence in medieval Europe. Mercenaries could be fellow European crusaders, or, perhaps more often, Muslim soldiers, including the famous Turcopoles.
Jerusalem was the center of education in the kingdom. There was a school in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the basic skills of reading and writing Latin were taught; the relative wealth of the merchant class meant that their children could be educated there along with the children of nobles - it is likely that William of Tyre was a classmate of future king Baldwin III. Higher education had to be undertaken at one of the universities in Europe; the development of a university was impossible in the culture of crusader Jerusalem, where warfare was far more important than philosophy or theology. Nonetheless, the nobility and general Frankish population were noted for the high literacy: lawyers and clerks were in abundance, and the study of law, history, and other academic subjects was a beloved pastime of the royal family and the nobility. Jerusalem also had an extensive library not only of ancient and medieval Latin works but also of Arabic literature, much of which was apparently captured from Usamah ibn Munqidh and his entourage after a shipwreck in 1154. The Holy Sepulchre also contained the kingdom's scriptorium, where royal charters and other documents were produced. Aside from Latin, the standard written language of medieval Europe, the populace of crusader Jerusalem also communicated in vernacular forms of French and Italian; Greek, Armenian, and even Arabic were also not uncommonly mastered by Frankish settlers.
In Jerusalem itself the greatest architectural endeavor was the expansion of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in western Gothic style. This expansion consolidated all the separate shrines on the site into one building, and was completed by 1149. Outside of Jerusalem, castles and fortresses were the major focus of construction: Kerak and Montreal in Oultrejordain and Ibelin near Jaffa are among the numerous examples of crusader castles.
Crusader art was a mix of Western, Byzantine, and Islamic styles. The major cities featured baths, interior plumbing, and other advanced hygienic tools which were lacking in most other cities and towns throughout the world. The foremost example of crusader art are perhaps the Melisende Psalter, an illuminated manuscript commissioned between 1135 and 1143 and now located in the British Library, and the sculpted Nazareth Capitals. Paintings and mosaics were popular forms of art in the kingdom, but many of these were destroyed by the Mamluks in the thirteenth century; only the most durable fortresses survived the reconquest.
Immediately after the First Crusade, land was distributed to loyal vassals of Godfrey, forming numerous feudal lordships within the kingdom. This was continued by Godfrey's successors. The king was also assisted by a number of officers of state. The king and the royal court were normally located in Jerusalem, but due to the prohibition on Muslim inhabitants, the capital was small and underpopulated. The king just as often held court at the far more important cities of Acre, Nablus, Tyre, or wherever else he happened to be. In Jerusalem, the royal family lived firstly on the Temple Mount, before the foundation of the Knights Templar, and later in the palace complex surrounding the Tower of David; there was another palace complex in Acre.
Because the nobles tended to live in Jerusalem rather than on estates in the countryside, they had a larger influence on the king than they would have had in Europe. The nobles formed the haute cour (high court), one of the earliest forms of parliament that was also developing in western Europe. The court consisted of the bishops and the higher nobles, and was responsible for confirming the election of a new king (or a regent if necessary), collecting taxes, minting coins, allotting money to the king, and raising armies. The haute cour was the only judicial body for the nobles of the kingdom, hearing criminal cases such as murder, rape, and treason, and simpler feudal disputes such as recovery of slaves, sales and purchases of fiefs, and default of service. Punishments included forfeiture of land and exile, or in extreme cases death. The first laws of the kingdom were, according to tradition, established during Godfrey of Bouillon's short reign, but were more probably established by Baldwin II at the Council of Nablus in 1120, although no written laws survive from earlier than the thirteenth century (the so-called Assizes of Jerusalem).
There were other, lesser courts for non-nobles and non-Latins; the Cour des Bourgeois provided justice for non-noble Latins, dealing with minor criminal offences such as assault and theft, and provided rules for disputes between non-Latins, whose had fewer legal rights. Special courts such as the Cour de la Fond (for commercial disputes in the markets) and the Cour de la Mer (an admiralty court) existed in the coastal cities. The extent to which native Islamic and Eastern Christian courts continued to function is unknown, but the ra'is probably exercised some legal authority on a local level. For capital crimes, however, non-Latins would be tried in the Cour des Bourgeois (or even the Haute Cour if the crime was sufficiently severe). The king was recognized as head of the Haute Cour, although he was legally only primus inter pares.
The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which has gone through several different varieties of a cross Or (gold) on an argent (silver) field, is a famous violation, or exception to the rule, of tincture in heraldry, which prohibits the placement of metal on metal or colour on colour.
It is one of the earliest known coats of arms. The crosses are Greek crosses, one of the many Byzantine influences on the kingdom.
New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:
Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.