Baldwin I of Jerusalem

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Baldwin I
Baldwin 1 of Jerusalem.jpg
King of Jerusalem
Reign 1100  – 1118
Coronation 25 December 1100
Predecessor Godfrey (As Lord of Jerusalem)
Successor Baldwin II
Count of Edessa
Reign 1098 – 1100
Successor Baldwin II
Born after 1060
Died 2 April 1118
Al-Arish, Egypt
Burial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Spouse Godehilde de Tosni
Arda of Armenia
Adelaide del Vasto
House House of Flanders
Father Eustace II of Boulogne (c.  1015–1020 – c. 1087)
Mother Ida of Lorraine (c. 1040–1113)

Baldwin I, also known as Baldwin of Boulogne (born after 1060, died on 2 April 1118), was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, who became the first Count of Edessa in 1098, and the second ruler and first titled King of Jerusalem in 1100. He was the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon, who was the first ruler of the crusader state of Jerusalem, although Godfrey refused the title of 'king' which Baldwin accepted.

Early life[edit]

Born after 1060,[1] Baldwin was the third son of Eustace II, Count of Boulogne and Ida of Lorraine.[2] Being his parents' youngest son, he was intended for a career in the Church in his childhood,[3][4] he studied the liberal arts and held prebends in the cathedrals of Cambrai, Rheims and Liège.[5] For unknown reasons, he abandoned his church career and became a knight.[3][5]

Baldwin married Godehilde who was the daughter of an influential Norman nobleman, Raoul II of Tosny,[3][6] he regularly visited his father-in-law's fortress at Conches-en-Ouche, according to Orderic Vitalis.[7] He allegedly lived in the court of his eldest brother, Eustace III of Boulogne,[7] they jointly hurried to Stenay to help their brother, Godfrey of Bouillon, to repel an attack by Albert III, Count of Namur and the Bishop of Liège in 1086.[8] From the 1090s, Baldwin was customarily mentioned in the charters of Godfrey, who had become duke of Lower Lotharingia in 1087,[9] the documents indicate that Baldwin was regarded his childless brother's heir.[10][11]

First Crusade[edit]

Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade for the liberation of Jerusalem at the Council of Clermont on 27 November 1095.[12][13] Godfrey of Bouillon decided to join the military campaign and started to sell or mortgage his inherited domains to raise funds.[14] One of the alienated domains, the County of Verdun was seized by Richer, Bishop of Verdun, but he soon granted it to Baldwin.[15] Baldwin decided to accompany his brother to the Holy Land, possibly because the dissolution of Godfrey's allodial lands had deprived all future dukes of Upper Lotharingia of the basis of their authority,[15] their third brother, Eustace, also joined the crusade.[11] According to a letter of Pope Urban, only the army that Peter the Hermit had mustered for the People's Crusade outnumbered the crusaders who joined the three brothers.[16]

Baldwin departed for the crusade in Godfrey's army on 15 August 1096,[12] his wife accompanied him, suggesting that he did not want to return to his homeland.[17] The crusaders reached the Leitha River, which formed the frontier between the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary, in September,[18] before starting negotiations with Coloman, King of Hungary about the conditions of the crusaders' march across the country, Godfrey left Baldwin in charge of his troops at the border.[18] For the previous crusader groups did much damage, Coloman only allowed Godfrey's troops to enter Hungary after Baldwin and his wife had been handed over to him as hostages to ensure the crusaders' good conduct.[19][20] Baldwin and Godehilde were released soon after the crusaders left Hungary in late November.[17]

Godfrey's army reached Constantinople on 23 December 1096,[21][22] after he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, the emperor imposed a blockade on the crusaders' camp.[23] Baldwin made raids against the suburbs, forcing Alexios to lift the blockade,[22][23] the emperor also had to hand over his son and heir, John II Comnenus, as a hostage to the crusaders.[22] John was entrusted to the care of Baldwin.[24]

Godfrey's envoys and Alexios started negotiations, but they could not reach a compromise.[23] To put pressure on the crusaders, Alexios ordered the reduction of the fodder and food that the Byzantines had been sending to them.[23] Baldwin again attacked the suburbs, killing or capturing dozens of Pecheneg guards.[25] Outnumbered by the imperial troops, the crusaders were forced to seek a reconciliation,[26] their commanders, including Baldwin, swore fealty to the emperor, also promising that they would cede all conquered lands which had been part of the Byzantine Empire to the emperor's representatives.[22][27] They were soon transferred to a camp established by the road between Chalcedon and Nicomedia in Asia Minor.[28] Godfrey and Baldwin returned to Constantinople to be present when the commanders of a new crusader army did homage to Alexios.[28] According to Anna Comnena, Baldwin reprimanded one of the knights who dared to sit on Alexius' throne during the ceremony.[29]

After the crusaders defeated Kilij Arslan I, the Seljuq Sultan of Rum, in the Battle of Dorylaeum on 1 July 1097, Baldwin and the Normann Tancred broke away from the main body of the army.[30] The and their troops marched as far as Heraclea where they again joined the crusaders around 15 August.[31] To secure the supply of food and forage for the main army, Baldwin and Tancred were sent to the fertile plains of Cilicia,[31][32] the crusaders could also take advantage of the presence of a significant Armenian population in the region, especially because Baldwin had already been befriended by an Armenian nobleman, Bagrat.[32][33]

Baldwin and Tancred led two separate contingents.[31] Baldwin and his troops—about 500 knights and 2000 foot-soldiers—left Heraclea around 15 September, shorty after the departure of Tancred and his smaller army.[34] Tancred was the first to reach Tarsus and started negotiations with the Seljuq garrison about their surrender,[35] the Seljuqs agreed to raise Tancred's flag on the citadel on 21 September, but Tancred's troops had not seized the town by the time of the arrival of Baldwin and his army.[35][36] Next day, Baldwin demanded the town for himself and persuaded the Seljuqs to replace Tancred's banner with his flag.[37] Tancred realized that he could not defeat Baldwin and left the town without resistance, but the Seljuqs only allowed Baldwin to take possession of two towers,[38] on 24 October, a Norman contingent arrived, but Baldwin denied entry to them, which enabled the Seljuqs to attack and murdered the 300 Norman knights during the night.[36][39][38] Even his own retainers blamed Baldwin for their death.[40] Shortly thereafter a pirate captain, Guynemer of Boulogne, sailed up the Berdan River to Tarsus,[40] after Guynemer did homage to him, Baldwin hired his men to garrison the town.[40]

In September 1097 he took Tarsus from Tancred, and installed his own garrison in the city, with help from a fleet of pirates under Guynemer of Boulogne. Tancred and Baldwin's armies skirmished briefly at Mamistra, but the two never came to open warfare and Tancred marched on towards Antioch, after rejoining the main army at Marash, Baldwin received an invitation from an Armenian named Bagrat, and moved eastwards towards the Euphrates, where he occupied Turbessel.

Count of Edessa[edit]

Baldwin of Boulogne entering Edessa in February 1098. He is shown being welcomed by the Armenian clergy, who welcomed the end of tutelage to Constantinople.[41]
Baldwin of Boulogne receiving the hommage of the Armenians in Edessa.

Another invitation came from Thoros of Edessa, where Baldwin was adopted as Thoros' son and successor. When Thoros was assassinated in March 1098, Baldwin became the first count of Edessa, although it is unknown if he played any role in the assassination, he ruled the county until 1100, marrying Arda, the daughter of Thoros of Marash, and acting as an ambassador between the crusaders and Armenians.

During these two years he captured Samosata and Suruç (Sarorgia) from the Muslims, and defeated a conspiracy by some of his Armenian subjects in 1098. During the Siege of Antioch he sent money and food to his fellow crusaders, although he himself did not participate. Kerbogha, the governor of Mosul, was marching to relieve Antioch but first stopped at Edessa, which he besieged for three weeks, to no avail. Kerbogha was later defeated at Antioch and the crusaders established a principality there. Later that year Baldwin had consolidated his power enough that he was able to march out with his brother Godfrey and besiege Azaz where they defeated the forces of Ridwan of Aleppo.

At the end of 1099 he visited Jerusalem along with Bohemund I of Antioch, but he returned to Edessa in January, 1100, after returning to Edessa, Baldwin aided in relieving the siege of Melitene, at which Bohemund was captured by the Danishmends. The Armenian ruler of the city, Gabriel, then recognized Baldwin as overlord of the city.

King of Jerusalem[edit]

In July 1100, after Godfrey's death, Baldwin was invited to Jerusalem by the supporters of a secular monarchy, led by his kinsman Warner of Grez. Baldwin granted Edessa to a cousin, Baldwin of Bourcq, on the way to Jerusalem, Baldwin was ambushed by Duqaq of Damascus near Beirut. Duqaq's troops were defeated and there was no further trouble on the way to Jerusalem.[citation needed]

At the beginning of November 1100, Baldwin arrived in Jerusalem, where he was opposed by his old enemy Tancred, as well as the new patriarch, Dagobert of Pisa, who would have preferred to set up a theocratic state while Godfrey was still alive. As soon as he arrived, Baldwin set out on an expedition against the Egyptian territory to the south and did not return until the end of December.[citation needed]

On 25 December 1100, Baldwin was crowned the first king of Jerusalem by the patriarch himself, who had in the meantime given up his opposition to Baldwin, although he refused to crown Baldwin in Jerusalem, the coronation took place instead in Bethlehem.[citation needed]

The struggle between church and state continued into the spring of 1101, when Baldwin had Dagobert suspended by a papal legate, while later in the year the two disagreed on the question of the contribution to be made by the patriarch towards the defence of the Holy Land, the struggle ended in the deposition of Dagobert in 1102.[citation needed]

Expansion of the kingdom[edit]

In 1101, Baldwin captured Arsuf and Caesarea, with assistance from a Genoese fleet. In return the Genoese were granted trading quarters in these towns, and an archbishopric was established in Caesarea; in September of that year Baldwin defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Ramlah, although it was believed in Jerusalem that the crusader army had been defeated and Baldwin had been killed. Tancred was prepared to take up the regency before it was finally reported that Baldwin had been victorious.[citation needed]

In 1102, another battle was fought at Ramlah, with remnants of the Crusade of 1101, including Stephen, Count of Blois, William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, and Hugh VI of Lusignan. This time the Egyptians were victorious; Baldwin lost most of his army including Stephen of Blois, but he himself escaped back to Arsuf on his horse (unusual for this period, especially considering the high death rate of horses during the First Crusade and afterwards, the name of the horse has survived: she was called Gazala). He did not want to risk venturing out of the city for fear of being captured by the Egyptians, so he was ferried back to Jaffa by the English pirate Godric of Finchale, and thence secretly to Jerusalem. The Egyptians were still in the field, however, and Baldwin met them again outside Jaffa, and this time was victorious.[citation needed]

In 1103 Baldwin besieged Acre, without success as it was relieved by an Egyptian fleet, that year he also paid the ransom for Bohemund of Antioch, who was still in prison following his defeat at Melitene; Baldwin preferred Bohemund to Tancred, who ruled Antioch as regent, and was also prince of Galilee earlier in Baldwin's reign. In 1104, however, Baldwin was assisted by a Genoese fleet and Acre was captured; in 1105 another battle was fought at Ramlah and Baldwin was victorious here as well. In 1109 he acted as arbitrator of a council of the greatest barons outside the walls of Tripoli, and forced Tancred to give up his claim to the city. Soon after, the city fell to the crusaders, forming the nucleus of the County of Tripoli; in 1110, Beirut was added to the territory of Jerusalem, again with help from the Genoese. Baldwin then travelled north to assist Edessa, under siege from Mawdud of Mosul.[citation needed]

On his return, Sidon was captured with aid from Ordelafo Faliero (who brought a Venetian fleet of 100 ships) and Sigurd I of Norway;[42] in 1111 Baldwin assisted Tancred in besieging Shaizar, and then also besieged Tyre, but was pushed back by a Muslim force under Toghtekin of Damascus. In 1113 Baldwin faced a large invasion by the combined forces of Toghtekin of Damascus and Aksunk-ur of Mosul, and though the kingdom was on the brink of destruction Baldwin was assisted by troops from Antioch and new arrivals of European pilgrims at the Battle of Al-Sannabra.[citation needed]

In 1113, Baldwin married Adelaide del Vasto, having had abandoned his Armenian wife Arda five years earlier in 1108, on the pretext that she had been unfaithful, although Guibert of Nogent reported that the real reason was because Arda had been raped by pirates on the way to Jerusalem, it is more likely that she was simply politically useless in Jerusalem, which had no Armenian population. Under the marriage agreement, if Baldwin and Adelaide had no children, the heir to the kingdom would be Roger II of Sicily, Adelaide's son by her first husband Roger I. Technically the marriage to Adelaide was bigamous because Arda was still alive in a monastery in Jerusalem, and it would later cause many problems both for Baldwin and Patriarch Arnulf, who had sanctioned it.[citation needed]

In 1115, Baldwin led an expedition into Oultrejordain and built the castle of Montreal, the Syrian Christians who lived in the area were invited to settle in Jerusalem to replenish the population, which had been mostly massacred in 1099. In 1117, he built the castle of Scandalion near Tyre, which was still in Muslim hands, at this point the army in the Kingdom of Jerusalem consisted of only 6,000 men, including 1,000 knights who were augmented with 5,000 turcopoles.[43]


Death of Baldwin I (Gustave Doré).

In 1117, Baldwin fell ill. Becoming convinced that the sickness was due to his bigamous marriage to Adelaide, he sent Adelaide back to Sicily, much to her disgust. Baldwin recovered, and in 1118, he marched into Egypt and plundered Farama. According to Fulcher of Chartres:

"Then one day he went walking along the river which the Greeks call the Nile and the Hebrews the Gihon, near the city, enjoying himself with some of his friends. Some of the knights very skillfully used their lances to spear the fish found there and carried them to their camp near the city and ate them. Then the king felt within himself the renewed pangs of an old wound and was most seriously weakened."[citation needed]

The 17th-century historian Thomas Fuller summed up that Baldwin had "caught many fish, and his death in eating them".[citation needed]

Baldwin was carried back to Jerusalem on a litter but died on the way, at the village of Al-Arish, on 2 April 1117. Fulcher of Chartres said: "The Franks wept, the Syrians, and even the Saracens who saw it grieved also."[citation needed]

Baldwin's cousin Baldwin of Bourcq was chosen as his successor, after Eustace III had refused the offer of the kingdom.[citation needed]

The name of the nearby Lake Bardawil is believed to derive from "Baldwin".[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Fulcher described him as another Joshua, "the right arm of his people, the terror and adversary of his enemies." William of Tyre remarked that he was similar to Saul. Although William did not know him personally as Fulcher did, he left a detailed description of him:

"He is said to have been very tall and much larger than his brother…He was of rather light complexion, with dark-brown hair and beard. His nose was aquiline and his upper lip somewhat prominent, the lower jaw slightly receded, although not so much that it could be considered a defect. He was dignified in carriage and serious in dress and speech, he always wore a mantle hanging from his shoulders…[He] was neither stout nor unduly thin, but rather of a medium habit of body. Expert in the use of arms, agile on horseback, he was active and diligent whenever the affairs of the realm called him."

Baldwin's personal life was controversial, after abandoning Arda and marrying Adelaide it was suspected that he was homosexual,[44][45] since he had no children with either, though he had sons with his first wife, Godvere of Tosni,[46] daughter of Ralph of Tosny. Godvere accompanied her husband, along with their butler, seneschal and chamberlain, on his quest in the First Crusade.[47] William said that he "struggled in vain against the lustful sins of the flesh."

The Historia Hierosolymitana of Fulcher, who had accompanied Baldwin to Edessa as Baldwin's chaplain, and had lived in Jerusalem during his reign, is the primary source for Baldwin's career.



  1. ^ Jaspert 2006, p. 41.
  2. ^ Murray 2000, pp. 158, 239.
  3. ^ a b c Runciman 1989a, p. 146.
  4. ^ Murray 2000, pp. 30, 158.
  5. ^ a b Murray 2000, p. 30.
  6. ^ Murray 2000, p. 203.
  7. ^ a b Murray 2000, p. 32.
  8. ^ Murray 2000, pp. 18, 30.
  9. ^ Murray 2000, pp. 21, 32-33.
  10. ^ Murray 2000, p. 34.
  11. ^ a b Tanner 2003, p. 84.
  12. ^ a b Lock 2006, p. 20.
  13. ^ Barber 2012, p. 4.
  14. ^ Murray 2000, pp. 38-40.
  15. ^ a b Murray 2000, p. 35.
  16. ^ Tanner 2003, p. 85.
  17. ^ a b Runciman 1989a, p. 147.
  18. ^ a b Murray 2000, p. 52.
  19. ^ Tyerman 2006, p. 109.
  20. ^ Asbridge 2004, p. 95.
  21. ^ Asbridge 2004, p. 104.
  22. ^ a b c d Tyerman 2006, p. 110.
  23. ^ a b c d Runciman 1989a, p. 150.
  24. ^ Murray 2000, p. 53.
  25. ^ Runciman 1989a, pp. 150-151.
  26. ^ Runciman 1989a, p. 151.
  27. ^ Barber 2012, pp. 7-8.
  28. ^ a b Runciman 1989a, p. 152.
  29. ^ Runciman 1989a, p. 153.
  30. ^ Tyerman 2006, pp. 130-131.
  31. ^ a b c Tyerman 2006, p. 131.
  32. ^ a b Barber 2012, p. 75.
  33. ^ Runciman 1989a, p. 197.
  34. ^ Runciman 1989a, pp. 197-198.
  35. ^ a b Asbridge 2004, p. 143.
  36. ^ a b Runciman 1989a, p. 198.
  37. ^ Asbridge 2004, p. 144.
  38. ^ a b Asbridge 2004, p. 145.
  39. ^ Tyerman 2006, p. 132.
  40. ^ a b c Runciman 1989a, p. 199.
  41. ^ "Les Croisades, Origines et consequences", Claude Lebedel, p.50
  42. ^ J. Norwich, A History of Venice, 83
  43. ^ A. Konstam, Historical Atlas of the Crusades, 133
  44. ^ The Crusader States by Malcolm Barber, Yale University Press, 2012, p113
  45. ^ Albert of Aachen 274
  46. ^ Runciman, pp. 130, 171, 173, of the Italian edition by Einaudi
  47. ^ Murray, Alan V. "The Army of Godfrey of Bouillon" (PDF). 


Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Asbridge, Thomas (2004). The First Crusades: A New History: The Roots of Conflict between Christianity and Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517823-4. 
  • Barber, Malcolm (2012). The Crusader States. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11312-9. 
  • Jaspert, Nikolas (2006). The Crusades. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-35967-8. 
  • Lock, Peter (2006). The Routledge Companion to the Crusades. Routledge. ISBN 9-78-0-415-39312-6. 
  • Murray, Alan V. (2000). The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: A Dynastic History, 1099–1125. Prosopographica et Geneologica. ISBN 978-1-9009-3403-9. 
  • Runciman, Steven (1989a). A History of the Crusades, Volume I: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-06161-X. 
  • Runciman, Steven (1989b). A History of the Crusades, Volume II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East, 1100-1187. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-06162-8. 
  • Tanner, Heather J. (2003). "In His Brother's Shadow: The Crusading Career and Reputation of Eustace III of Boulogne". In Semaan, Khalil I. The Crusades: Other Experiences, Alternate Perspectives: Selected Proceedings from the 32nd Annual CEMERS Conference. Global Academic Publishing. pp. 83–100. ISBN 1-58684-251-X. 
  • Tyerman, Christopher (2006). God's War: A New History of the Crusades. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02387-1. 

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
New creation Count of Edessa
Succeeded by
Baldwin II
Preceded by
as Defender of
the Holy Sepulchre
King of Jerusalem