Baldwin II of Jerusalem

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Baldwin II
King of Jerusalem
Reign 1118 – 1131
Coronation 14 April 1118
Predecessor Baldwin I
Successors Fulk and Melisende
Count of Edessa
Reign 1100 – 1118
Predecessor Baldwin I
Successor Joscelin
Died 21 August 1131
Burial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Spouse Morphia of Melitene
Issue Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem
Alice, Princess of Antioch
Hodierna, Countess of Tripoli
Iovetta, Abbess of Bethany
House House of Rethel
Father Hugh I, Count of Rethel
Mother Melisende of Monthléry

Baldwin II, also known as Baldwin of Bourcq or Bourg (French: Baudouin; died 21 August 1131), was count of Edessa from 1100 to 1118, and king of Jerusalem from 1118 until his death. He accompanied his cousins, Godfrey of Bouillon, and Baldwin of Boulogne, to the Holy Land during the First Crusade. He succeeded Baldwin of Boulogne in the County of Edessa when his cousin left the county for Jerusalem. Baldwin fell into captivity in the Battle of Harran on 7 May 1104. He was held first by Sökmen of Mardin, then by Jikirmish of Mosul, and finally by Jawali Saqawa. During his captivity, Tancred, the crusader ruler of Antioch, and Tancred's cousin, Richard of Salerno governed Edessa.

Joscelin of Courtenay ransomed Baldwin in the summer of 1108. Tancred tried to retain Edessa, but Bernard of Valence, the Latin Patriarch of Antioch, persuaded him to restore the county to Baldwin. Baldwin soon made an alliance with Jawali, but Tancred and his ally, Radwan of Aleppo, defeated them at Turbessel. Baldwin and Tancred were reconciled at an assembly of the crusader leaders near Tripoli in April 1109.

Early life[edit]

Baldwin was a younger son of Hugh I, Count of Rethel and Melisende of Monthléry.[1] He was closely related to the lords of Courtenay and Le Puiset, and other noble families in the Ile-de-France.[2] He was also a kinsman of the brothers, Eustace III of Boulogne, Godfrey of Bouillon, and Baldwin of Boulogne, but the exact manner in which they were related is unknown.[1][3] According to historian Alan V. Murray, the primary sources suggest that their connection "was not particularly close", and Baldwin was most probably related to their mother, Ida of Lorraine.[4] Thomas Asbridge says that Baldwin was their second cousin.[5]

He was the lord of Bourcq when he joined the army of Godfrey of Boulogne at the beginning of the First Crusade.[6] The army departed for the Holy Land on 15 August 1096, and reached Constantinople on 23 December.[7] The Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos urged the crusader leaders to take an oath fealty to him.[8] Godfrey of Bouillon appointed Baldwin, Conon of Montaigu and Geoffrey of Esch to represent him during a meeting with Alexios in January 1097.[9] After Godfrey and his principal commanders swore fealty to the emperor, the crusader army was transferred to Asia Minor in February.[10]

Baldwin of Boulogne and the Norman Tancred broke away from the main army to invade Cilicia around 15 September 1097.[11] Baldwin accompanied them in Boulogne's contingent.[12][13] He also participated in Boulogne's military campaigns against the Seljuq rulers of the fortresses in the plains near the river Euphrates.[14] After seizing Ravendel, Turbessel and Edessa, Boulogne established the first crusader state, the County of Edessa, in early 1098.[15][16]

Baldwin again joined the main crusader army, which was marching towards Jerusalem, near Tyre in late May 1099.[17] He and Tancred seized Bethlehem without fight, because the town was inhabited by local Christians.[18] Shortly after the crusaders laid siege to Jerusalem on 13 June,[19] During the siege, Baldwin and Tancred captured an old Muslim nobleman.[5] After he refuted to convert to Christianity, Baldwin's soldiers beheaded him at the Tower of David to frighten the defenders of Jerusalem.[20] Jerusalem fell to the crusaders on 15 July.[21] Baldwin left Jerusalem in the retinue of Robert II, Count of Flanders, in late August.[22] Robert returned to Europe, but Baldwin remained in Syria.[23] Geoffrey of Bouillon died on 18 July 1100.[21] Baldwin of Boulogne decided to hurry to Jerusalem to take possession of Geoffrey's inheritance.[24]

Count of Edessa[edit]

First years[edit]

Baldwin was staying in Antioch when Baldwin of Boulogne decided to leave Edessa.[25] He was a military commander of the troops of Bohemond I of Antioch who had recently been captured by Danishmend Gazi.[25][26][27] Baldwin of Boulogne summoned Baldwin from Antioch and granted the County of Edessa to him.[28][29] Baldwin swore fealty to Baldwin of Boulogne,[30] who left Edessa for Jerusalem on 2 October 1100.[31]

Baldwin married Morphia, the daughter of Gabriel, the Armenian lord of Melitene,[32] which enabled him to consolidate his position among his mainly Armenian subjects.[30][33] Sökmen, the Artuqid ruler of Mardin, attacked Saruj in early 1101.[34][35] Baldwin hurried to the town, but Sökmen routed his army, forcing him to return to Edessa.[35][36] When relating the events, the Armenian historian, Matthew of Edessa, described Baldwin as a coward who was "pitiful in body".[34] Sökmen soon captured the town, but the fortress resisted the siege.[35] Baldwin went to Antioch to raise new troops before returning to Saruj.[34][35] He forced Sökmen to leave the town and murdered all the townspeople who had cooperated with the Artuqids.[35]

One of his cousins, Joscelin of Courtenay, came to Edessa in 1102.[30] Baldwin soon granted him the lands west to the Euphrates.[30][37] When the Egyptians invaded the Kingdom of Jerusalem in May, Baldwin of Boulogne—who had been crowned king of Jerusalem—sent envoys to Tancred (who ruled Antioch) and Baldwin, seeking their assistance.[38] They soon assembled their troops and marched to Jerusalem, but by the time they arrived in late September, the Egyptians had returned to their headquarters at Ascalon.[39][40] The three crusader rulers made a raid against Ascalon, but Tancred and Baldwin soon returned to their realms.[41]

Tancred's ambitions in Northern Syria irritated both Baldwin and Bernard of Valence, the Latin Patriarch of Antioch.[37] They started negotiations with Danishmend Gazi about Bohemond's release.[37][42] Kogh Vasil, the Armenian lord of Raban and Kaisun, and Bohemond's Italian kinsmen also contributed to his ransom.[37][42] Bohemond was set free in May 1103.[43] Baldwin granted villages to the Armenian prelate, Barsegh Pahlavuni,[44] because he wanted to strengthen his position among his Armenian subjects.[45]


Baldwin's troops made frequent raids against the fertile plains around Harran.[46][47] Sökmen and Jikirmish, the atabeg of Mosul, made an alliance and invaded Edessa in May 1104.[46] While their troops were assembling at Ras al-Ayn, Baldwin sent envoys to Joscelin and Bohemond and persuaded them to make a joint attack against Harran.[48][49] Baldwin, Bohemond and Joscelin hurried to Harran and entered into negotiations with the Seljuq garrison about a peaceful surrender.[50][49] However, both Baldwin and Bohemond wanted to seize the wealthy town and the crusader army started disintegrating because of their conflict.[47]

Sökmen and Jikirmish attacked the crusaders' camp at Harran on 7 May.[47][51] Applying the tactic of feigned retreat, they ambushed the crusaders and captured Baldwin and Joscelin.[49][47] Bohemond and Tancred rode to Edessa to save the town.[52] Benedict, Archbishop of Edessa, and the Edessene knights elected Tancred regent for the captive Baldwin.[52][47] Baldwin had been first taken to Sökman's tent, but Jikirmish's soldiers broke into it and dragged him away.[53][54]

Jikirmish laid siege to Edessa, but Tancred routed his troops, forcing him to flee.[55] He brought Baldwin to Mosul.[56] Tancred captured a Seljuq princess of Jikirmish's household at Edessa.[55][57] Jikirmish offered to pay 15,000 bezants in ransom, or to release Baldwin in return for her liberty.[55][57] Bohemond and Tancred preferred the money and Baldwin remained imprisoned.[55][58] Before his departure for Europe in the autumn, Bohemond appointed Tancred to rule Antioch and their kinsman, Richard of Salerno, was entrusted with the administration of Edessa.[59][60]

A Turkish soldier of fortune, Jawali Saqawa, captured Jikirmish and seized Mosul in 1107.[60][61] Joscelin started negotiations with Jawali about the release of Baldwin.[56] Jawali demanded 60,000 dinars and the release of the Moslim prisoners from Edessa.[56] The Seljuq Sultan, Muhammad I Tapar, made the Mamluk Mawdud atabeg of Mosul.[62] When Mawdud expelled Jawali from Mosul, Jawali fled to the fortress of Qalat Jabar, taking Baldwin with him.[63] Joscelin paid 30,000 dinars to Jawali and offered himself as hostage to guarantee the paying off the arrears.[63][64] Jawali, who needed allies against Mawdud, accepted the offer and released Baldwin in the summer of 1108.[63][65][66]


Baldwin went to Edessa after his release, but Tancred demanded his oath of fealty in exchange for the town.[66][67] Baldwin refuted and hurried to Turbessel.[51][63] After Tancred made a raid against Turbessel, they started peace negotiations, but could not reach a compromise.[63] Baldwin made an alliance with Kogh Vasil against Tancred at Raban.[63][60] Oshin of Lampron, also sent reinforcements—300 Pecheneg horsemen—to them.[68] Their raids against the Principality of Antioch persuaded Tancred to accept the arbitration of the Catholic prelates.[51][69][70] They decided in favor of Baldwin who returned to Edessa on 18 September 1108.[71][70]

In accordance with his treaty with Jawali, Baldwin released most Muslim prisoners from Edessa.[67][69] He also allowed the Muslim burghers of Saruj to build a mosque and executed the unpopular rais (or governor) of the town who was a convert from Islam.[69][72] Jawali's alliance with Baldwin alarmed Fakhr al-Mulk Radwan, the Seljuq ruler of Aleppo, which brought about a rapprochement between Radwan and Tancred.[69][57] When Jawali launched a military expedition against Aleppo, Baldwin and Joscelin of Courtney joined him, while Tancred came to assist Radwan.[51][69] Radwan and Tancred routed Jawali, Baldwin and Joscelin near Turbessel in late September 1108.[71][73]

Baldwin fled to a nearby fortress from the battlefield.[71][73] Tancred laid siege to the fortress, but lifted the siege as soon as he learnt of Jawali's approach.[70] Believing that Baldwin had died, the Armenian burghers of Edessa held an assembly to set up a provisional government.[73][57] After his return, Baldwin thought that the Armenians wanted to dethrone him and ordered the blinding of the ringleaders.[73][74] The Armenian bishop of the town was obliged to pay a huge fine.[73] To put an end to the conflicts between the crusader leaders, Baldwin I of Jerusalem summoned them in the name of the "church of Jerusalem" to Mount Pilgrim near Tripoli in April 1109.[71][75] At the meeting, the king mediated a reconciliation between Baldwin and Tancred who acknowledged Baldwin's rule in the County of Edessa in exchange for Galilee and other fiefs in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.[76][77] Thereafter Baldwin participated in the siege of Tripoli, which ended with the capture of the town by the crusaders.[71][76]

Mawdud's campaigns[edit]

The Seljuq sultan instructed Mawdud to unite his troops with the Seljuq ruler of Armenia, Sökmen el-Kutbî, and the Artuqid Ilghazi against the crusaders.[76][78] They laid siege to Edessa in April 1110.[71] Baldwin sent envoys to Baldwin I of Jerusalem, who was besieging Beirut, and urged him to come to his rescue, but the king did not abandon the siege until Beirut fell on 13 May.[71][78] Before departing to Edessa, Baldwin I celebrated Pentecost in Jerusalem.[78] The king persuaded Bertrand of Tripoli, Joscelin of Courtenay and other crusader leaders to join his campaign, and the Armenian Kogh Vasil and Abu'l-Garib also sent reinforcements.[79][80] On their arrival, Mawdud and his allies lifted the siege of Edessa and withdrew towards Harran.[81]

Baldwin and Tancred accused each other of having incited the invasion.[82] Tancred also claimed sovereignty over the County of Edessa, saying that its territory had been subject to Antioch already in the Byzantine Empire.[82] Baldwin I refuted Tancred's claim, declaring himself the head of the Latin East.[82] After a short campaign against the neighboring Muslim territories, the rulers of the other crusader states decided to leave the county.[83] On the king's advice, Baldwin ordered the transfer of the local Christian (predominantly Armenian) peasants to the lands to the west of the Euphrates.[82][84] Taking advantage of the gathering of the Christian peasants and the mainly Armenian rear guard on the river, Mawdud attacked and massacred them.[81][85][86] Baldwin, who had already crossed the river along with the other crusader leaders, hastily returned and assaulted Mawdud's troops, although they outnumbered his small retinue.[87] Baldwin and his men were only saved by Baldwin I and Tancred, who followed them to the left bank of the river.[88]

Mawdud launched a new invasion against the county and laid siege to Turbessel in July 1111.[89][90] While Mawdud was besieging Turbessel, Sultan, the Munquidite emir (or ruler) of Shaizar, sent envoys to him, seeking his assistance against Tancred.[91] Mawdud lifted the siege of Turbessel and hastened to Shaizar.[92] Toghtekin, the atabeg of Damascus, joined him and they decided to reconquer Tripoli in September.[92][93] The concentration of Muslim forces alarmed the crusaders and Baldwin I of Jerusalem summoned all crusader rulers to his camp.[92] Baldwin hurried to the south, accompanied by his two powerful vassals, Joscelin and Pagan of Sajar.[92][90] The smaller Muslim rulers had meanwhile left Mawdud's camp and returned to Mesopotamia.[90] Mawdud did not risk a pitched battle with the united crusader armies and retired first to Shaizar, and later to Mosul.[94][90] In April 1112, Mawdud returned and besieged Edessa.[93] His agents started secret negotiations with some Armenian soldiers in the town, but Joscelin of Courteney who was informed of the plot warned Baldwin.[90][95] Mawdud could not capture the town and withdrew to Mosul in June.[96] Next year, he was murdered by Assassins at Damascus.[97]

Mawdud's invasions destroyed the eastern regions of the county, but Joscelin's fief at Turbessel still flourished.[84][95] Baldwin persuaded Joscelin to come to Edessa, saying that he was dying and want to make his last will in 1113.[95] Stating that Joscelin had not sent enough food to Edessa, Baldwin had him imprisoned and only released him after Joscelin renounced Turbessel.[95][98] Joscelin soon left the county for Jerusalem, where Baldwin I granted Galilee to him.[98] A new reconciliation between the crusader leaders was broght about by marriage alliances: Baldwin's sister, Cecilia, was given in marriage to Roger of Salerno, who had succeeded Tancred in Antioch in late 1112, and Joscelin married Roger's sister, Maria.[99]


While Baldwin was away from his capital to take possession of Turbessel, the Armenians of Edessa staged a new plot against him.[100] He returned to the town and ordered the transportation of the Armenian townspeople to Samosata.[98][100] After the Armenians started to move to Kaisun, Baldwin allowed those who remained in Samosata to return to Edessa in early 1114.[98][100]

Mawdud's successor, Aqsunqur al-Bursuqi, invaded the county in May 1114, but Edessa resisted his siege, forcing him to return to Mosul.[97][100] The sultan made Bursuq bin Bursuq of Hamadan the supreme commander of the Seljuq armies.[101] Bursuq invaded Edessa in early 1115, but he soon marched on to Aleppo.[102] Lulu, the atabeg of Aleppo, sought assistance from Ilghazi and Toghtekin, who also persuaded Roger of Salerno to join their coalition against Bursuq.[102][103] At Roger's request, Baldwin I of Jerusalem, Pons of Tripoli and Baldwin also gathered their troops and hurried to Apamea in August.[102] Bursuq chose to retreat and the crusader rulers returned to their realms.[102]

Taking advantage of the weakening of the Seljuqs' power after Roger of Salerno's victory in the Battle of Sarmin, Baldwin decided to annex the small Armenian principalities in the valley of the Euphrates.[104] The Armenian Thoros I of Cilicia captured Kogh Vasil's successor, Vasil Dgha, who had made an alliance with Bursuq.[100] Thoros soon sold Vasil Dgha to Baldwin who forced his prisoner to renounce Raban and Kaisun in 1116.[104][100] Next, Baldwin, laid siege to Abu'l-Garib's fortress of Birejik.[104] The siege lasted for a year and Abu'l-Garib was forced into surrender in 1117.[104][100] Baldwin granted the fortress to his cousin, Waleran of Le Puiset.[100] In the same year, Kogh Vasil's brother, Bagrat, had to abandon Cyrrhus and Baldwin captured Constantine of Gargar.[104][105]

King of Jerusalem[edit]

Ascension to the throne[edit]

The childless Baldwin I of Jerusalem died on 2 July 1118, during a campaign against Egypt.[106][107] He had willed the kingdom to his eldest brother, Eustace III of Boulogne, "if by chance he would come", but also stipulated that Baldwin of Bourcq should be elected king, if Eustace were unable to come "because of his age", according to Alber of Aachen.[107] Baldwin arrived Jerusalem around the day when the late king's body was carried to the town.[107] Albert of Aachen stated that Baldwin had no knowledge of the king's death and come to celebrate Easter to Jerusalem.[107] Shortly after a delegation was sent to Eustace to inform him of his brother's death, Arnulf of Chocques, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Joscelin of Courtenay, who held the largest fief in the kingdom, proposed that Baldwin should be elected without delay.[108][109] They soon convinced their peers to support them and Baldwin was anointed on Easter Day (that is on 14 April).[110] His coronation, however, was delayed for unknown reasons.[111]

Upon the death of Baldwin I in 1118, the crown was offered to the king's elder brother Eustace III, but Joscelin of Courtenay insisted that the crown pass to Baldwin of Bourcq, despite Count Baldwin having exiled Joscelin from Edessa in 1113. Baldwin of Edessa accepted and was crowned king of Jerusalem as Baldwin II on Easter Sunday, 14 April 1118. Almost immediately, the kingdom was simultaneously invaded by the Seljuks from Syria and the Fatimids from Egypt. Showing himself ready and willing to defend his territory, Baldwin forced the Muslim army to back down without a battle. In 1119, the crusader Principality of Antioch was invaded, and Baldwin hurried north with the army of Jerusalem. Roger of Salerno, prince of Antioch, would not wait for Baldwin's reinforcements, and the Antiochene army was destroyed in a battle the crusaders came to call Ager Sanguinis (the Field of Blood). Although it was a crushing blow, Baldwin helped Antioch recover and drove out the Seljuks later that year.

Around this time, the second of three military orders were created. In 1118, Hugues de Payens founded the Knights Templar in Jerusalem, while the Knights Hospitaller, which had been founded in 1113, evolved into a military order from the charitable order that they had originally been. Baldwin also called the Council of Nablus in 1120, where he probably established the first written laws for the kingdom, and extended rights and privileges to the growing bourgeois communities. King Baldwin allowed Hugues de Payens to set up quarters in a wing of the royal palace, the captured Al Aqsa Mosque. Because it was buil on Temple Mount, the Crusaders referred to this structure as the Temple of Solomon, and it was from this structure that they took their name of "Knights of the Temple", or Templars.

In 1122 Joscelin, who had been appointed count of Edessa when Baldwin became king, was captured in battle against Belek Ghazi.[112] Baldwin returned to the north to take over the regency of the county, but he too was taken captive by Belek in a battle near the castle Gargar in 1123, and was held captive with Joscelin.[113] Eustace Grenier acted as regent in Jerusalem, and at the Battle of Yibneh defeated an Egyptian invasion hoping to take advantage of the king's absence. In 1124, Joscelin escaped from captivity with help from the Georgians. but Baldwin was recaptured and later ransomed for Joscelin's son, the future Joscelin II and Baldwin's daughter, Yvette.[114] Meanwhile, the crusaders besieged and captured Tyre, with help from a Venetian fleet. This would lead to the establishment of Venetian and other Italian trading colonies in the coastal cities of the kingdom, which were autonomous and free from taxes and military duties, under the terms of the Pactum Warmundi.

In 1125 Baldwin assembled the knights from all the crusader territories and met the Seljuks at the Battle of Azaz. Although the Seljuk army was much larger, the crusaders were victorious, and they restored much of the influence they had lost after the Ager Sanguinis. Had Antioch and Edessa not been fighting amongst themselves after the battle, Baldwin may have been able to attack Aleppo; however, Aleppo and Mosul were soon united under Zengi in 1128. Baldwin attempted to take Damascus in 1126 with the help of the Templars, but the attempt was pushed back by emir Toghtekin.


Also assisting Baldwin during the attack on Damascus was his new son-in-law, Fulk V of Anjou. Baldwin had no sons with Morphia, but four daughters:

In 1129 Baldwin named Melisende his heir, and arranged for her to marry Fulk. His daughters Alice and Hodierna also married important princes, Bohemund II of Antioch and Raymond II of Tripoli respectively (his fourth daughter Ioveta became abbess of the convent in Bethany). In 1131 Baldwin fell sick and died on 21 August, and was buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

William of Tyre described Baldwin as "a devout and God-fearing man, notable for his loyalty and for his great experience in military matters," and said that he was nicknamed "the Thorny" (cognominatus est Aculeus). Ibn al-Qalanisi, who calls him "Baldwin the Little" (Baghdawin al-ru'aiuis) to distinguish him from Baldwin I, remarked that "after him there was none left amongst them possessed of sound judgment and capacity to govern." Galbert of Bruges was not so favourable; he called Baldwin "grasping and penurious", and believed he had been captured because he "had not governed the people of God well." Galbert even claims the kingdom was offered to Charles I, Count of Flanders during Baldwin's captivity; it is possible that Eustace Grenier, a native of Flanders, made such an offer.[116]

Melisende, by law the heir to the kingdom, succeeded her father with Fulk as her co-ruler. The new queen and king were crowned on 14 September.


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Primary sources[edit]

  • William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E. A. Babcock and A. C. Krey. Columbia University Press, 1943.

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Asbridge, Thomas (2004). The First Crusade: 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. 
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  • Maalouf, Amin (1984). The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. SAQI. ISBN 978-0-86356-023-1. 
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  • Murray, Alan V. (1992). "Dynastic continuity or dynastic change? Accession of Baldwin II and the nobility of the Kingdom of Jerusalem". Medieval Prosopography. 13: 1–27. ISSN 0198-9405. 
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External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Baldwin I
Count of Edessa
Succeeded by
Joscelin I
King of Jerusalem
Succeeded by