Alice of Champagne

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Alice
Alice of Champagne.jpg
Queen consort of Cyprus
Reign 1210–1218
Spouse Hugh I of Cyprus
Bohemond V of Antioch
Raoul de Soissons
Issue Henry I of Cyprus
Marie, Countess of Brienne
Isabella, Princess of Antioch
House House of Champagne
Father Henry II, Count of Champagne
Mother Isabella I of Jerusalem
Born 1195/1196
Jerusalem
Died 1246
Acre, Israel

Alice of Champagne (1195/1196–1246) was a Queen consort of Cyprus by her marriage to Hugh I of Cyprus. She was the daughter of Queen Isabella I of Jerusalem and her third husband Henry II, Count of Champagne. Alice was a regent of Cyprus for her minor son in 1218, and a nominal regent of Jerusalem for her great nephew in 1244-47. She and her sister Philippa spent part of their life fighting for their father's homeland of Champagne, over another branch of their family.

Family[edit]

Alice was the second daughter of Henry II, Count of Champagne and Queen Isabella I of Jerusalem.

In 1197, her father died after falling from a window in Acre. The county of Champagne passed to his brother Theobald III. Following Henry's death, Isabella married her fourth husband, King Amalric II of Jerusalem. The marriage produced three half-siblings for Alice, Maria, Marguerite and Philippa: Sybilla, Melisende, and Amalric. In 1205, her mother, stepfather, and infant half-brother all died, leaving Alice an orphan at the age of nine. Her eldest half-sister, Maria of Montferrat succeeded as Queen of Jerusalem.

Engagement and marriage[edit]

Shortly after Alice's birth, her father negotiated a treaty of reconciliation between the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus. The plan was to marry his three daughters: Marguerite, Alice and Philippa to Amalric of Cyprus's sons: Guy, John and Hugh.[1]

With the death of Alice's father, the approximation provided between the two realms lead to a union between Amalric, who was elected king of Jerusalem[2] and Alice's mother Isabella. The proposed engagements were subsequently forgotten, besides Alice's sister Marguerite, Alice's proposed husband John and his brother Guy all died.[3] This left Alice, Philippa and Hugh.

After the death of Amalric II and Isabella I, the two kingdoms were again separated and regents were elected because the heirs were still minors. John of Ibelin took the regency of Jerusalem in the name of Alice's half-sister Maria de Montferrat. Gautier de Montbéliard took regency over Cyprus on behalf of Hugh.[4] The two regents took up the proposed combination of the kingdoms and negotiated the marriage of Alice and Hugh. Alice's maternal grandmother Maria Komnene conducted the marriage negotiations with Cyprus in 1208. The marriage was celebrated in September 1210.

Regency of Cyprus[edit]

Hugh died eight years later on January 10, 1218, leaving two daughters and a son Henry I of Cyprus, who was only a few months old. Alice became regent of Cyprus on behalf of her son.[5]

Alice's uncle Philip of Ibelin wished to become regent instead of Alice. He did so in September 1218.

In 1225, a dispute between Philip and Alice broke out. Pope Honorius III rejected Alice as regent in favour of Philip. Apparently Alice tried to remove Philip as regent and replace him with her new husband Bohemond V of Antioch, whom she had married in July 1225.

She retired to Syria and separated from her second husband in 1227 on the grounds of consanguinity. On the death of Philip of Ibelin, the regency was taken over his brother, John of Ibelin, Lord of Beirut. Opponents of the latter supported Alice, this led to the involvement of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor who had married Alice's half-niece Isabella II of Jerusalem on the death of her mother Maria. They tried to end the regency of Ibelin. Frederick was on the Sixth Crusade at the time. John of Ibelin resigned from office, and a committee of five Cypriot barons became the regents of Cyprus.[6]

Throne claimant of Champagne[edit]

When her father Henry II had enlisted in the Third Crusade, she was not yet married and he had stated in his will that the County of Champagne be left to his brother Theobald III, Count of Champagne unless he returned from the East. Theobald died in 1201 leaving a minor son and his wife Blanche of Navarre; however, the daughters of Henry II felt that their father could not disinherit them and would give them Champagne if he knew the sisters had children. Alice and Philippa claimed the county of Champagne. First Philippa and her husband Erard of Brienne triggered the War of Succession of Champagne, then gave up the county in 1221 but Alice did not give up. She was supported by a large number of French barons who had also drawn more or less in rebellion against Blanche of Castile for supporting Blanche of Navarre as regent. Alice was not dispatched and arrived in France at the beginning of 1233, which seriously harmed the project, since the chief baron made their submission to Louis IX of France. In September 1234, Alice was offered the sum of forty thousand crowns and an area of two thousand livres income if she gave up her claim, which she did.[7]

Alice returned to Syria. In 1236 she tried to move to Cyprus, but her son made it clear she was not welcome.[8] In 1241 she married Raoul de Soissons, Lord of Couevre. Two years before, in 1239 fighting had broken out in the Holy Land involving Theobald I of Navarre, who was Theobald III and Blanche of Navarre's son.

Regency of Jerusalem[edit]

During her absence, civil war had raged between the Levantine barons and supporters of the emperor. The emperor had lost his wife, Alice's niece Isabella II of Jerusalem. Isabella left a son, Conrad. Frederick wanted to become regent of Jerusalem but the barons were against this idea. The barons legitimized their position by appointing Alice and her husband Raoul de Soissons as regent, to secure a legitimate political position against Richard Filangieri, who was representing the emperor. Raoul then asked to receive the city of Tyre, on behalf of her regency, but Philip of Montfort, Lord of Tyre preferred to keep it to increase his stronghold of Toron, and supported by other barons, made it clear to Raoul that the title of regent was only symbolic. In the end Raoul left the Holy Land and his wife and went to the West early in 1244.[9]

Alice of Jerusalem and Champagne remained at Saint-Jean d'Acre and assumed the title of (symbolic) regent of the kingdom of Jerusalem and died in 1247.[10] Her son took over as regent for Conrad.

Issue[edit]

Alice had three children all from her first marriage to Hugh:

  1. Mary of Lusignan, Countess of Brienne (before March 1215 – 5 July 1251 or 1253), who married Count Walter IV of Brienne in 1233 (ca. 1200 – murdered at Cairo, 1244). She became mother of Hugh of Brienne (ca. 1240–1296), who was Count of Lecce and Brienne and pursued the kingdoms in Levant for himself when his uncle Henry's line began to go extinct. This claim fell to her grandson Walter V of Brienne and his descendants. They are the heirs-general of King Amalric I of Cyprus and Hugh I himself.
  2. Isabelle de Lusignan (1216–1264), who married Henry of Antioch, and who was the mother of Hugh III of Cyprus and ancestress of the line named later as the second dynasty of Lusignan
  3. Henry I of Cyprus (1217–1253), namesake of his maternal grandfather, who became King of Cyprus upon his father's death in 1218, with his mother acting as regent.

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grousset 1936, p.170-1.
  2. ^ Grousset 1936, p.186-8.
  3. ^ Medieval Lands Project
  4. ^ Grousset 1936, p.216-8.
  5. ^ Grousset 1936, p.218.
  6. ^ Grousset 1936, p.311-6.
  7. ^ de Mas Latrie 1861, p.305-310.
  8. ^ Morembert 1989, p.940.
  9. ^ Grousset 1936, p.413-8.
  10. ^ Jerusalem, Medieval Lands
Royal titles
Preceded by
Isabella I of Jerusalem
Queen consort of Cyprus
1210–1218
Succeeded by
Alix of Montferrat