Morphia of Melitene
|Morphia of Melitene|
|Spouse(s)||Baldwin II of Jerusalem|
|Father||Gabriel of Melitene|
|Died||either 1 October 1126 or 1 October 1127|
Morphia was the daughter of an Armenian nobleman named Gabriel (or Khoril, in Armenian), the ruler of the city of Melitene. Although ethnically Armenian, the family practised the Greek Orthodox faith. Melitene was a neighbour of the crusader County of Edessa, and Gabriel soon became a vassal of the county. The future Baldwin II of Jerusalem was also count of Edessa after 1100, and he consolidated his position in the county by marrying Morphia around 1101. Gabriel, who was very wealthy, gave 50,000 gold bezants as a dowry.
Baldwin was a crusader knight who carved out the Crusader State of Edessa and married Morphia, daughter of the Armenian Prince Gabriel of Melitene, in a diplomatic marriage to fortify alliances in the region. Baldwin and Morphia had four daughters: Melisende, Alice, Hodierna, and Ioveta. The family lived in Edessa until 1118, when her spouse was elected as the King of Jerusalem as successor of his cousin Baldwin I. When Baldwin became King of Jerusalem in 1118, Morphia and her children remained in Edessa.
By the time of his election as king, Baldwin II and Morphia already had three daughters. As the new king, Baldwin II had been encouraged to put away Morphia in favor of a new younger wife with better political connections- one that could yet bear him a male heir. Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa wrote that Baldwin II was thoroughly devoted to his wife, and refused to consider divorcing her. As a mark of his love for his wife, Baldwin II had postponed his coronation until Christmas Day 1119 so that Morphia and his daughters could travel to Jerusalem, and so that Morphia could be crowned alongside him as his queen.
For her part, Morphia did not interfere in the day to day politics of Jerusalem, but demonstrated her ability to take charge of affairs when events warranted it. When Baldwin was captured during a campaign in 1123, Morphia hired a band of Armenian mercenaries to discover where her husband was being held prisoner, and in 1124 Morphia took a leading part in the negotiations with Baldwin's captors to have him released, including traveling to Syria and handing over her youngest daughter Ioveta as hostage and as surety for the payment of the king's ransom.
According to the Melisende Psalter, Morphia died on October 1, but the year is unknown; it was either 1126 or 1127, more likely 1126. With no male heir, Baldwin II designated Melisende, his oldest daughter, as his heir, and married her to Fulk V of Anjou. Two of their other daughters also married influential crusader lords: Alice married Bohemund II of Antioch, and Hodierna married Raymond II of Tripoli. Ioveta became a nun.
Morphia was probably partially responsible for the Greek and Armenian cultural influences that appeared in the Latin kingdom. Art from the kingdom, such as the Melisende Psalter, often shows a mixture of eastern and western styles, just as the western crusaders had begun to accustom themselves to eastern culture. Morphia was buried at the abbey of St. Mary Josaphat, just outside of Jerusalem.
- Tyerman, Christopher, God's War, (Harvard University Press, 2008), 186.
- Hamilton, Bernard, Queens of Jerusalem, Ecclesiastical History Society, 1978, Frankish women in the Outremer, pg 143, Melisende's youth pgs 147, 148, Recognized as successor pg 148, 149, Offers patronage and issues diplomas, Marriage with Fulk, Birth of Baldwin III, Second Crowing with father, husband, and son, pg 149,
- Oldenbourg, Zoe, The Crusades, Pantheon Books, 1966, Baldwin II searches for a husband for Melisende, feudal relatiolnship between France and Jerusalem, Fulk V of Anjou, pg 264,
- Jackson-Laufer, Guida Myrl, Women Rulers throughout the Ages: An illustrated guide, (ABC-CLIO, 1999), 288.
- Jackson-Laufer, Guida Myrl, Women Rulers throughout the Ages: An illustrated guide, ABC-CLIO, 1999.
- Tyerman, Christopher, God's War, Harvard University Press, 2008.
Title last held byAdelaide del Vasto
|Queen consort of Jerusalem