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Baldwin I, also known as Baldwin of Boulogne (1060s – 2 April 1118), was the first count of Edessa from 1098 to 1100, and the second crusader ruler and first king of Jerusalem from 1100 to his death. Being a younger son, he was destined for a church career, but he abandoned it and married a Norman noblewoman, Godehilde of Tosny. He received the County of Verdun in 1096, but he soon joined the crusader army of his brother Godfrey of Bouillon and became one of the most successful commanders of the First Crusade.

Baldwin I
Baldwin 1 of Jerusalem.jpg
King of Jerusalem
Coronation25 December 1100
PredecessorGodfrey (as lord)
SuccessorBaldwin II
Count of Edessa
SuccessorBaldwin II
Died2 April 1118
Al-Arish, Fatimid Caliphate
SpouseGodehilde of Tosny
Adelaide del Vasto
HouseHouse of Flanders
FatherEustace II of Boulogne
MotherIda of Lorraine

Baldwin and the Norman Tancred launched a separate expedition against Cilicia in the autumn of 1097. Tancred tried to capture Tarsus, but Baldwin forced him to leave it, which gave rise to an enduring conflict between them. Baldwin seized important fortresses in the lands to the west of the Euphrates with the assistance of local Armenians. Thoros of Edessa invited him to come to Edessa to fight against the Seljuqs. Taking advantage of a riot against Thoros, Baldwin seized the town and established the first crusader state on 10 March 1098. To strengthen his rule, the widowed Baldwin married an Armenian ruler's daughter (who is now known as Arda). He supplied the main crusader army with food during the siege of Antioch. He defended Edessa against Kerbogha, the governor of Mosul, for three weeks, preventing him from reaching Antioch before the crusaders captured it.

Godfrey of Bouillon, whom the crusaders had elected their first ruler in Jerusalem, died in 1100. Daimbert, the Latin patriarch, and Tancred offered Jerusalem to Tancred's uncle, Bohemond I of Antioch. Godfrey's retainers took possession of the town and urged Baldwin to claim Godfrey's inheritance. Since a Muslim ruler captured Bohemond, Baldwin marched to Jerusalem meeting little resistance. The Patriarch crowned him king in Bethlehem on 25 December. He captured Arsuf and Caesarea in 1101, Acre in 1104, Beirut in 1110, and Sidon in 1111, with the assistance of Genoese and Venetian fleets and of several smaller crusader groups, but all his attempts to capture Ascalon and Tyre failed. After his victory at the third battle of Ramla in 1105, the Egyptians launched no further major campaigns against the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Baldwin helped Bertrand, Count of Toulouse, to capture Tripoli in 1109. Being the only crowned monarch in the Latin East, Baldwin claimed suzerainty over other crusader rulers. Baldwin II of Edessa and Bertrand swore fealty to him. Tancred, who ruled the Principality of Antioch, also obeyed his summons. He supported Baldwin II and Tancred against Kerbogha's successor, Mawdud, who launched a series of campaigns against Edessa and Antioch in the early 1110s. He erected fortresses in Oultrejordain—the territory to the east of the river Jordan—to control the caravan routes between Syria and Egypt. He died during a campaign against Egypt.


Early lifeEdit

Born some time 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.[3][4] He studied the liberal arts and held prebends in the cathedrals of Cambrai, Rheims and Liège.[5] He abandoned his church career because he wanted to be a knight, according to William of Tyre.[3][5] Historian John France says that Baldwin most probably realised that the Gregorian Reform had diminished his chance to seize rich benefices.[6]

Baldwin married a Norman noblewoman, Godehilde of Tosny.[7] Her family owned land and property in both Normandy and England.[3][8] Baldwin and his wife most probably settled in the court of his eldest brother, Eustace III of Boulogne.[9] Eustace and Baldwin jointly fought for their brother, Godfrey of Bouillon, against Albert III, Count of Namur, and Theoderic, Bishop of Verdun, at Stenay in 1086.[10][11] The childless Godfrey, who became duke of Lower Lotharingia in 1087, mentioned Baldwin in most of his charters of grant, indicating that Baldwin was regarded as his designated heir.[12][13] Baldwin regularly visited the fortress of his wife's family at Conches-en-Ouche.[9]

First CrusadeEdit

The farewell of Ida of Lorraine to her sons departing for the First Crusade

Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont on 27 November 1095.[14][15] Godfrey of Bouillon decided to join the military campaign and sold or mortgaged his inherited domains to raise funds.[16] One of his domains, the County of Verdun, was seized by Richer, Bishop of Verdun, who soon granted it to Baldwin.[17] The dissolution of Godfrey's allodial lands deprived all future dukes of the basis of their authority in Lower Lotharingia, which facilitated Baldwin's decision to take the Cross.[17] Eustace III of Boulogne also joined the crusade.[12] According to a letter from Pope Urban, only the army that Peter the Hermit had mustered for the People's Crusade outnumbered the three brothers' force.[18]

Baldwin departed for the crusade with Godfrey's army on 15 August 1096.[14] His wife accompanied him, suggesting that he had decided not to return to his homeland.[19] The crusaders stopped at the frontier of Hungary in September.[20] Godfrey left Baldwin in charge of his troops during his conference with Coloman, King of Hungary, regarding the conditions of the crusaders' march across the country.[20] He agreed to hand over Baldwin, along with Baldwin's wife and retainers, as hostages to ensure their troops' good conduct.[21][22][23] Baldwin and Godehilde were released soon after the crusaders left Hungary, and entered the Byzantine Empire in late November.[19][24]

The crusaders reached Constantinople on 23 December 1096.[25][26] The Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos demanded an oath of allegiance from their leaders and imposed a blockade on their camp to enforce it.[27] Baldwin made raids against the suburbs, compelling Alexios to lift the blockade.[26][27] The Emperor also agreed to hand over his son and heir, John, as a hostage,[26] who was entrusted to Baldwin's care.[28]

Since the crusaders continued to resist the emperor's demand, the Byzantines reduced the fodder and food supplied to them.[27] Baldwin again attacked the suburbs and killed or captured dozens of Pecheneg guards.[29] The crusaders realised that they could hardly defeat the imperial army and decided to yield to the emperor's demand.[30] Their commanders (including Godfrey and Baldwin) swore fealty to Alexios and pledged that they would cede all conquered lands that the Seljuq Turks had seized from the Byzantines to the Emperor's representatives.[26][31][32] The crusaders were transferred to a camp established on the road between Chalcedon and Nicomedia in Asia Minor, but Godfrey and Baldwin soon returned to Constantinople to be present when the commanders of a new crusader army did homage to Alexios.[33] A knight sat on the emperor's throne during the ceremony, but Baldwin "took him by the hand and made him rise"[34] and gave a severe reprimand to him.[35]

After the crusaders defeated Kilij Arslan I, the Seljuq Sultan of Rum, in the Battle of Dorylaeum on 1 July 1097, Baldwin and the Norman Tancred broke away from the main body of the army.[36] They marched as far as Heraclea where they again joined their fellows around 15 August.[37] The long march across Asia Minor in the heat of summer exhausted the crusaders and most knights' horses died.[38] To secure a supply of food and forage, Baldwin and Tancred were sent to the fertile plains of Cilicia.[37][39] They could count on the local Armenians' support, especially as Baldwin had already been befriended by an Armenian nobleman, Bagrat.[39][40]

Baldwin and Tancred led two separate contingents.[37] Tancred was the first to leave Heraclea, accompanied by 100–200 troops; Baldwin and his 300 knights departed around 15 September.[41][42] Tancred persuaded the Seljuq garrison of Tarsus to raise his flag on the citadel on 21 September, even before his troops were granted access to the town.[42] Baldwin took advantage of the strength of his troops and compelled Tancred to leave Tarsus on the following day.[43][44] The Turks replaced Tancred's banner with Baldwin's flag and allowed Baldwin to take possession of two towers.[43] Shortly thereafter, about 300 Norman knights arrived, but Baldwin denied entry to them, which enabled the Turks to attack and murder the Normans during the night.[45][46][47] Baldwin's own men blamed him for their fate and massacred the remnants of the Seljuq garrison.[47] Fearful of vengeance, Baldwin took shelter in a tower, but finally convinced his soldiers of his innocence.[47] A pirate captain, Guynemer of Boulogne, sailed up the Berdan River to Tarsus and swore fealty to Baldwin.[48] He hired Guynemer's men to garrison Tarsus and continued his campaign.[48][49]

Tancred had meanwhile seized the prosperous town of Mamistra.[50] Baldwin reached the town on around 30 September.[50] Tancred's cousin, Roger of Salerno, wanted to take revenge for the Normans who had perished at Tarsus, which caused a skirmish between the soldiers of Baldwin and Tancred.[50][51] This was the first occasion when crusaders fought against each other.[52] After one or two men were killed and many more were injured or captured on both sides, Baldwin and Tancred made peace and Baldwin left Mamistra.[52][51] He joined the main army at Marash, but Bagrat persuaded him to launch a campaign towards the River Euphrates across a region densely populated by Armenians.[46][52] About 80–100 knights accompanied him when he again left the main army on 17 October.[52][53][54]

Count of EdessaEdit


The Armenians regarded Baldwin as a liberator[55][56] and two Armenian chiefs, Fer and Nicusus, joined him soon after he started his campaign.[55][57] The local population massacred the Seljuq garrisons and officials, or forced them to flee.[58] The Seljuqs' fear of the crusaders contributed to Baldwin's success.[59] He seized two important fortresses, Ravendel and Turbessel, without a fight before the end of 1097.[58][59] He made Bagrat the governor of Ravendel[59] and appointed Fer to administer Turbessel.[58]

The Armenian Thoros of Edessa sent envoys—the Armenian bishop of Edessa and twelve leading citizens—to Baldwin in early 1098, seeking his assistance against the nearby Seljuq rulers.[53][59][60] Being the first town to convert to Christianity, Edessa had played an important role in Christian history.[38] Before departing for Edessa, Baldwin ordered the arrest of Bagrat, whom Fer had accused of secret correspondence with the Seljuqs.[57][61] Bagrat was tortured, but he managed to escape and fled to his brother, Kogh Vasil, the lord of Raban and Kaisun.[61] Baldwin left for Edessa in early February, but Balduk, the emir of Samosata,[61] prevented him from crossing the Euphrates.[59][62] His second attempt was successful and he reached Edessa in mid-February.[62][63] Baldwin did not want to serve Thoros as a mercenary.[64][65] The Armenian townspeople persuaded Thoros to adopt him, because they had feared that otherwise he would leave the town.[66] Strengthened by troops from Edessa, Baldwin raided Balduk's territory and placed a garrison in a small fortress near Samosata.[67]

In the view of the twelve governors' and all their fellow citizens' steadfastness and goodwill towards Baldwin, [Thoros of Edessa] had to grant their request whether he liked it or not, and he made Baldwin his own adopted son according to the custom of that region and people, binding him to his naked chest and clothing him once for all under the garment closest to his own flesh, with pledges given and received by both parties. With the father-and-son relationship thus confirmed on both sides, [Thoros] one day suggested to Baldwin, in his position as son, that he call his men together, all the army and those serving for pay, taking the citizens of Edessa likewise, and set out for the fortification at Samosata which was next to the Euphrates and conquer Balduk, prince of the Turks, who had unjustly seized that same citadel, which belonged to Edessa, and was holding it.

— Albert of Aix: History of the Journey to Jerusalem[68]
Baldwin receiving the homage of the Armenians in Edessa.

Unlike the majority of the Armenians, Thoros adhered to the Orthodox Church, which made him unpopular among his Monophysite subjects.[66][69] Shortly after Baldwin's return from campaign, the local nobles started plotting against Thoros, possibly with Baldwin's consent (as is stated by contemporary chronicler Matthew of Edessa).[70][71] A riot broke out in the town, forcing Thoros to take refuge in the citadel.[67] Baldwin pledged to save his adoptive father, but he did nothing when the rioters broke into the citadel on 9 March.[67][72] Thoros and his wife were captured and murdered.[63][65] On the following day, the townspeople acknowledged Baldwin as their ruler (or doux).[72][73] He assumed the title of count and established the first crusader state.[65][74]

The Seljuqs had captured Edessa from the Byzantines in 1087, but Alexios I Komnenos did not demand that Baldwin hand over the town.[75] MacEvitt argues that the local population did not regard Baldwin's ascension as "a change in regime, but the replacement of one strongman with vague Byzantine ties with another of the same ilk".[71] The acquisition of Ravendel, Turbessel and Edessa strengthened the position of the main crusader army during the siege to Antioch, which was taking place at the same time.[76] The fertile lands along the Euphrates secured a supply of food for the crusaders.[77] The three fortresses also hindered the movement of the Seljuq troops towards Syria and Palestine.[78]


Baldwin had to use his diplomatic skills to secure his rule in Edessa, because his retinue was small.[79] He married the daughter of the Armenian lord of a nearby town and also encouraged his retainers to marry local women.[80][81] Thoros' rich treasury enabled him to employ mercenaries and to seize Samosata from Balduk.[80][82] Baldwin offered a salary to Balduk who settled in Edessa.[83] Their treaty was the first friendly arrangement between a crusader leader and a Muslim ruler.[84] An Artuqid emir, Balak ibn Bahram, hired Baldwin to suppress a revolt in Saruj.[82][83] The Muslim burghers of the town approached Balduk to come to their rescue.[83] Balduk hurried to Saruj, but the townspeople soon realised that his retinue was too small to resist a siege and yielded to Baldwin.[83] He ordered the execution of Balduk who had refused to hand over his wife and children as hostages.[83]

Expansion of the County of Edessa from 1098 to 1131 (the territory conquered by Baldwin is depicted with the darkest color)

Baldwin granted the usufruct of Turbessel and Ravendel to his brother, Godfrey, to secure his and his retainers' accommodation during the siege of Antioch.[85][86] Kerbogha, the governor of Mosul, gathered a large army to relieve the town.[74] During his march towards Antioch, Kerbogha did not wish to risk allowing the crusaders' to hold Edessa.[74] He besieged Edessa for three weeks in May, but he could not capture it.[87] His delay enabled the crusaders to capture Antioch on 3 June 1098.[63][74] Antioch became the capital of a new crusader state, with Tancred's uncle, Bohemond of Hauteville, as its first prince.[63]

Baldwin levied high taxes, which made him unpopular among his native subjects.[88] He also ignored the local noble's advice and granted property to his retainers and other crusaders who moved to Edessa.[86][88] A dozen Armenian chiefs plotted against Baldwin in December.[86][88] They approached the nearby Seljuq emirs for assistance, but Baldwin learnt of the conspiracy and ordered the arrest of the conspirators.[88] The two ringleaders were mutilated in accordance with Byzantine laws, but the others were allowed to redeem themselves for large fees.[86][88] Nevertheless, Baldwin continued to appoint Armenian noblemen to important offices.[88] He made the Armenian Abu'l-Garib the commander of Bijerik, an important fort controlling the road between Edessa and Turbessel.[89]

The main crusader army captured Jerusalem on 15 July 1099.[90] A week later, Godfrey of Bouillon was elected ruler of the city, but he was never crowned king.[90] Baldwin decided to complete his pilgrimage and left Edessa for Jerusalem in November.[76] At Buluniyas, he joined the pilgrims who had departed from Antioch with Bohemond I and the papal legate, Daimbert of Pisa.[76][91] Attacks by Muslim troops, fatigue and diseases caused heavy casualties during the journey, but most of the pilgrims reached Jerusalem on 21 December.[90][92] Four days later, Daimbert was elected and installed as the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.[90][92] The new patriarch confirmed Godfrey and Bohemond in the possession of their lands, but no similar ceremony was recorded in connection with Baldwin.[93][94] Baldwin and Bohemond left Jerusalem on 1 January 1100.[95] Duqaq, the Seljuq ruler of Damascus, sent forces to attack them, but they were routed near Baalbek.[95] Baldwin arrived back in Edessa in February.[95]

Godfrey died unexpectedly on 18 July 1100.[90] He had extracted oaths from Daimbert and other leading crusaders that they "would not confer the throne on anyone except his brothers or one of his blood",[96] according to Albert of Aix, a contemporary historian of the First Crusade,.[97] Warner of Grez, Godfrey's most influential retainer took possession the Tower of David in Jerusalem to secure control of the town.[98] Although Walter soon died, Geldemar Carpenel and Arnulf of Chocques sent a delegation to Baldwin, urging him to come to Jerusalem.[98]

To prevent Baldwin from seizing Godfrey's realm, Daimbert and Tancred sought assistance from Bohemond I of Antioch.[98] Daimbert sent a letter to him, stating that Baldwin's rule would "bring about the downfall of the church and the destruction of Christianity itself", according to later chronicler William of Tyre.[98] Bohemond, however, was captured by Danishmend Gazi in the hills near Melitene around 15 August.[90] Baldwin hurried to Melitene and pursued Danishmend for three days, but he was unable to rescue Bohemond.[99] After his return, the Armenian lord of Melitene, Gabriel, swore fealty to him.[99] Baldwin appointed 50 knights to defend the town.[99]

King of JerusalemEdit


Battle of Nahr al-Kalb

News of Godfrey's death reached Edessa shortly after Baldwin's return from Melitene.[100] His chaplain, Fulcher of Chartres, noticed that Baldwin "grieved somewhat over the death of his brother, but rejoiced more over his inheritance".[100] To finance his journey, Baldwin seized gold and silver from his subjects.[100] He appointed his relative, Baldwin of Le Bourcq, his successor in the county and Le Bourcq swore fealty to him.[100][101]

About 200 knights and 300–700 foot-soldiers accompanied Baldwin when he left Edessa on 2 October 1100.[100][102] He spent four days in Antioch, but did not accept the local inhabitants' offer to administer the principality during Bohemond's captivity.[100] Duqaq of Damascus wanted to ambush him on the narrow road near the mouth of the Nahr al-Kaib River.[100] Fakhr al-Mulk, the qadi of Tripoli, secretly warned Baldwin, enabling him to make arrangements to defeat the attack and he routed the Damascene troops.[103] Tancred wanted to stop him at Jaffa, but the townspeople refused to resist Baldwin.[104]

Baldwin reached Jerusalem around 9 November.[105] Daimbert withdrew to a monastery on Mount Zion, but the townspeople stopped Baldwin outside the walls and ceremoniously accompanied him to the Holy Sepulchre.[105][106] Albert of Aix's sporadic references suggest that Baldwin adopted the title of prince.[107] Baldwin first raided the environs of Ascalon, which was still held by the Egyptians, then launched a punishing expedition against the bandits who had their headquarters in the caves near Jerusalem.[100] He made an incursion across the river Jordan before returning to Jerusalem on 21 December.[100]

Baldwin was reconciled with Daimbert who agreed to anoint and crown him king.[106][108] The ceremony took place in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.[108][109] Thereafter Baldwin was most frequently styled either king or king and defensor.[107] For instance, a charter of grant in 1104 referred to him as "Baldwin, king of Judea and Jerusalem, and defensor of the Holiest Sepulchre of our Lord, Jesus Christ".[110] In most of his charters, he also emphasised that he was Godfrey's lawful heir.[107]

First successesEdit

Ruins of the city wall at Arsuf

Geldemar Carpenel laid claim to Haifa, stating that Tancred had arbitrarily seized it.[111] Baldwin summoned Tancred to Jerusalem, but Tancred did not recognise him as the lawful monarch.[100] They met at a river near Jaffa, but could not reach a compromise.[111] The conflict was only resolved when Tancred was invited to Antioch to administer the principality on Bohemond's behalf.[111] Before leaving for Antioch in March, Tancred renounced his domains in Palestine, but also stipulated that the same domains should be granted in fief to him if he were to leave Antioch within fifteen months.[111] Baldwin gave Haifa to Geldemar and the Galilee to Hugh of Fauquembergues.[111]

A new papal legate, Maurice of Porto, came to Jerusalem in early March 1101.[112] Baldwin accused Daimbert of treachery and convinced Maurice to suspend him on 15 April.[108][112] Daimbert had to bribe Baldwin with 300 bezants to persuade the legate to restore him to his office.[108][112] The towns along the coast which were still under Egyptian rule—Arsuf, Caesarea, Acre and Tyre—sent gifts to Baldwin to secure his benevolence.[113]

Always in need of funds, Baldwin concluded an alliance with the commanders of a Genoese fleet, offering commercial privileges and booty to them in the towns that he would capture with their support.[114] They first attacked Arsuf, which surrendered without resistance on 29 April, securing a safe passage for the townspeople to Ascalon.[114][115] The Egyptian garrison at Caesarea resisted, but the town fell on 17 May.[114] Baldwin's soldiers pillaged it, massacring almost all adult men and many women.[114][116] He granted a street in each town to the Genoese.[113]

Battles at RamlaEdit

While Baldwin and the Genoese were besieging Caesarea, the Egyptian vizier, Al-Afdal Shahanshah, started mustering troops at Ascalon.[113] Baldwin moved his headquarters to nearby Jaffa and fortified Ramla to hinder any attempt at a surprise attack against Jerusalem.[113] He demanded more funds from Daimbert to cover the costs of this defense, but the patriarch refused.[112] During a passionate debate in the presence of the papal legate, Daimbert stated that Baldwin should not "presume to make tributary and servant the holy Church".[112][117][118] The legate persuaded Daimbert to promise that he would "maintain thirty soldiers by a money agreement",[119] but the patriarch failed to raise the promised troops.[118]

The lightly armed and undisciplined Egyptian army approached Ramla in early September.[120] The much smaller, but experienced and well equipped crusader forces were the first to attack, at dawn on 7 September.[121] Three of the five crusader corps were almost annihilated during the first phase of the battle, but Baldwin persuaded the remnants of his army to launch a fresh attack, surprising the Egyptians.[122] After a short resistance, they fled in panic, pursued by the crusaders as far as Ascalon.[121][123]

Roger Borsa, Duke of Apulia, sent money to Daimbert, partially for the recruitment of soldiers, but Daimbert retained the whole sum.[124] After learning of this embezzlement, Baldwin convinced the papal legate to dismiss Daimbert in late 1101.[125][126] Daimbert fled to Tanced in Antioch.[118] The vacancy enabled Baldwin to freely use the patriarchs' rich treasury.[118]

Stephen, Count of Blois, Hugh of Lusignan and other survivors of the catastrophic crusade of the previous year came to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem in 1102.[125][127] Shortly thereafter, an Egyptian army about 20,000 strong invaded the kingdom.[123] Ignoring all advice, Baldwin rode out against them with about 500 horsemen, including dozens of new crusaders, from Jerusalem on 17 May.[123][128] Another battle was fought at Ramla, but this time the Egyptians were victorious, forcing Baldwin and his men to take refuge in Ramla.[123] Baldwin escaped from the fortress before the Egyptians laid siege to it, but his troops were murdered or captured.[129] He first fled to Arsuf, then an English pirate, Godric of Finchale, took him to Jaffa, although the Egyptian army had blockaded it from the land.[123] He went to Jerusalem to gather new troops and returned to Jaffa with more than 100 horsemen.[130] However, only the arrival of a fleet filled with hundreds of English, French and German pilgrims forced the Egyptians to lift the siege on 27 May.[131] Baldwin urged Alexios I Komnenos not to obstruct their journey in a letter.[132]

During the siege of Jaffa, Baldwin had sent envoys to Antioch and Edessa, seeking assistance from Tancred and Baldwin II.[126] They arrived only after the Egyptians' withdrawal.[126] Tancred tried to persuade the new papal legate, Robert of St Eusebio, to restore Daimbert, but Baldwin convinced Robert to discuss the issue with the local bishops and abbots.[126][133] After the prelates unanimously stated that Daimbert had almost provoked a civil war and had abused his ecclesiastic authority, the legate allowed them to elect a pious priest, Evremar, as patriarch.[134][135]

Baldwin laid siege to Acre in April 1103, but an Egyptian fleet relieved the town.[136][137] He launched a raid against the bandits who had settled on Mount Carmel, but he was wounded in the kidneys and did not recover until the end of the year.[136] A new Genoese fleet arrived at Haifa in April 1104[138] and Baldwin made an alliance with their commanders and again besieged Acre.[138][139] The town surrendered on 26 May after Baldwin promised a free passage to those who wanted to move to Ascalon, but the Genoese plundered the wealthy emigrants and killed many of them.[140][141] Baldwin wanted to punish the Genoese, but the patriarch mediated a reconciliation and Baldwin granted one-third of the town to them.[138] Acre had always been the most important port of trade between Syria and Europe, and the harbour dues generated significant revenues for Baldwin.[142][138]

Duqaq's death on 14 June gave rise to internal conflict in Damascus.[139] The atabeg (or regent) Toghtekin emerged as the ruler, but he had to face strong opposition.[143] Baldwin promised support to Duqaq's minor brother, Irtash, against Toghtekin.[143] His intervention brought about a rapprochement between the Sunnite Toghtekin and the Shiite Al-Afdal.[143][144] After Egyptian horsemen and foot soldiers invaded the kingdom from the south, and Syrian mounted archers from the west in August 1105, Baldwin assembled the largest crusader army since the beginning of his reign.[144] At his request, Patriarch Evremar displayed the True Cross before the army to strengthen the crusaders' self-confidence.[144] In the ensuing battle, the Egyptian and Syrian armies suffered a decisive defeat at Ramla on 27 August.[145]


The Egyptians did not launch any major military campaigns against the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but their raids across the southern frontiers continued.[145] They massacred hundreds of pilgrims near Jaffa and defeated the governor of the town while Baldwin was fighting against Damascene troops in Galilee in October 1106.[145] In the following year, the Egyptians attacked Hebron, but Baldwin forced them to lift the siege.[146] The Egyptian raids did not prevent Baldwin from pursuing an expansionist policy.[146] He compelled the governor of Sidon to pay a large tribute for a two-year truce in early 1106.[146] Early the following year, he made a raid into Oultrejordain and destroyed a fortress that Damascene troops had recently erected to control the caravan routes.[147] Baldwin laid siege to Sidon with the assistance of a band of Italian adventurers in August 1108, but the arrival of an Egyptian fleet and Turkish horsemen from Damascus forced him to abandon it.[146] In late 1108, he concluded a ten-year truce with Toghtekin in exchange for one-third of state revenues from the northern regions of Oultrejordain.[148]

Bertrand, Count of Toulouse came to Syria to claim the lands that his father, Raymond of Saint Gilles, had conquered around Tripoli.[149] Bertrand's cousin, William Jordan, who had ruled these lands since Raymond's death, refused to cede them to him.[149] Bertrand sought Baldwin's assistance, while William Jordan secured Tancred's support.[149] Tancred had already outraged Baldwin II of Edessa through refusing to abandon Turbessel.[150][151] Baldwin convoked an assembly to put an end to the crusader leaders' conflicts.[152] Since neither Tancred nor Jordan were his vassals, he summoned them in the name of "the whole church of Jerusalem" to the castle of Mount Pilgrim near Tripoli.[151][153] At the assembly in June 1109, Tancred agreed to abandon Turbessel in return for his restoration to his old domains in the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Galilee, Haifa and the Temple of the Lord).[149][154] Tancred did not take possession of his old domain, which remained under Baldwin's control.[155] Raymond's inheritance was distributed between Bertrand and Jordan, with Bertrand swearing fealty to Baldwin, and Jordan to Tancred.[152]

The crusader leaders united their forces to complete the conquest of Tripoli that Raymond had commenced.[149] On 26 June, the Egyptian governor, Sharaf ad-Daulah, offered to surrender the town if a safe passage for those who wanted to leave the town was guaranteed.[153][156] Baldwin accepted the offer, but he could not prevent the Genoese from killing all burghers whom they could capture.[153][157] Two thirds of the town was granted to Bertrand of Toulouse who again took an oath of fealty to Baldwin.[156] Baldwin captured Beirut on 13 May 1110, with the assistance of Bertrand and a Genoese fleet.[158] He was again unable to prevent a general massacre of the townspeople.[159][160]

Mawdud, the atabeg of Mosul, and his allies invaded the County of Edessa during the siege of Beirut.[161] After the fall of Beirut, Baldwin and Bertrand[154] hurried to Edessa to fight against the invaders.[162] Baldwin II of Edessa accused Tancred of having incited the Muslim rulers to take actions against him.[162] Regarding himself as the leader of all crusaders, Baldwin ordered Tancred to join the campaign and make peace with Baldwin II, otherwise he would declare Tancred the enemy of Christianity.[162] Since most crusaders supported the king, Tancred had no choice but to obey.[162] The incident strengthened Baldwin's suzerainty over Edessa.[163] After the new reconciliation, the crusaders pursued Mawdud, but rumours about Muslim attacks against Antioch and Jerusalem forced them to stop the campaign.[164] Before leaving the county, Baldwin suggested that the Christian (mainly Armenian) peasants should be transferred to the lands west of the Euphrates, because the Seljuq rulers had frequently raided the eastern regions.[164] While the peasants were gathering at a ferry on the river, Mawdud made a sudden raid and massacred most of them.[164]

Sigurd I of Norway—the first king to visit the Kingdom of Jerusalem—had meanwhile landed at Acre.[159] Baldwin made an alliance with him and they laid siege to Sidon in October 1110.[159] An Egyptian fleet routed the Norwegians, but the Doge of Venice, Ordelafo Faliero, and his fleet soon joined the crusaders and the town capitulated on 5 December.[158][159] Baldwin spared the life of the townspeople and many of them moved to Tyre and Damascus.[160] The following year Baldwin marched to Ascalon;[165] to prevent a siege the Egyptian governor of the town, Shams al-Khalīfa, promised to pay 70,000 dinars as a tribute and allowed crusader troops into the citadel.[165][166] However, the townspeople rose up against al-Khalīfa in July[166] and his Berber guards joined the rioters, murdering him and the crusader troops.[165]

Mawdud launched a new expedition against the northern crusader states in August.[167] At Tancred's request, Baldwin mustered his troops and hurried to Shaizar.[167] Bertrand of Tripoli, Baldwin II of Edessa and the Armenian rulers also came to fight against Mawdud, who was compelled to return to Mosul in the autumn.[168] Shortly thereafter, Baldwin attacked a caravan carrying the most precious possessions of the highest-ranking officials of Tyre to Damascus and seized the rich cargo.[169] In late November, he laid siege to Tyre, although he had no fleet.[169] He was still besieging the town when a Byzantine embassy arrived.[170] The Byzantines tried to persuade him to join a coalition against Tancred, while he wanted to secure their assistance against Tyre.[170] They could not reach a compromise, but Izz al-Mulk, the Egyptian governor of Tyre, persuaded Toghtekin to come to the rescue of the besieged town.[171] Toghtekin compelled Baldwin to lift the siege and withdraw to Acre in April 1112.[172]

Baldwin made an incursion against Damascene territory in the summer of 1113.[173] Mawdud and an Artuqid emir, Ayaz, came to assist Toghtekin against the crusaders.[174] They routed Baldwin in the Battle of Al-Sannabra on 13 June, forcing him to seek assistance from the new rulers of Tripoli and Antioch, Pons and Roger.[174] Toghtekin, Mawdud and Ayaz invaded Galilee, but they did not risk attacking Tiberias after the arrival of the troops from Tripoli and Antioch.[175] Toghtekin and Mawdud returned to Damascus where an Assassin murdered Mawdud in late September.[176] The Seljuq sultan, Muhammad I Tapar, sent a large army to northern Syria in spring 1115.[177] In an attempt to maintain the equilibrium in the region, Toghtekin soon sought reconciliation with the crusaders.[176] He made an alliance with the crusader rulers, and their coalition forced the Seljuq troops to withdraw without a fight.[177]

With the pressure on the northern regions diminished, Baldwin was able to again deal with the Egyptians.[176] The Egyptians had already approached Jerusalem in 1113, and made a fresh attempt to capture Jaffa in 1115.[176] Baldwin led an expedition across the Jordan and ordered the construction of the castle of Montreal in the autumn 1115.[178][179] The following year, he returned to the region and marched as far as Akaba on the Red Sea.[179][180] After the local inhabitants fled from the town, Baldwin erected castles in the town and on a nearby island and left a garrison in both fortresses.[179] The three strongholds—Montreal, Eilat and Graye—secured the control of the caravan routes between Syria and Egypt.[179] They also enabled Baldwin to continuously survey the movements of the Egyptian troops.[180] From the Red Sea coast, Baldwin hastened to Tyre and began the construction of a new fortress, known as Scandelion Castle, at the Ladder of Tyre, which completed the blockade of the town from the mainland.[181][182]


Death of Baldwin I (Gustave Doré).

Baldwin fell seriously ill in late 1116.[183] Thinking that he was dying, he ordered that all his debts should be paid off and started to distribute his money and goods, but he recovered at the start of the following year.[183] To strengthen the defence of the southern frontier, he launched an expedition against Egypt in March 1118.[184][185] He seized Farama on the Nile Delta without a fight, because the townspeople had fled in panic before he reached the town.[184][186][187] The late 12th-century Muslim historian Ibn Zafír wrote that Baldwin had destroyed the mosques in the town.[188] Baldwin's retainers urged him to attack Cairo, but the old wound that he had received in 1103 suddenly opened.[184][189]

The dying Baldwin was carried back as far as Al-Arish on the frontier.[189] On his deathbed, he named Eustace III of Boulogne as his successor, but also authorised the barons to offer the throne to Baldwin II of Edessa or "someone else who would rule the Christian people and defend the churches" if his brother did not accept the crown.[190] Baldwin died on 2 April 1118.[189] In accordance with his last wishes, his cook, Addo, removed Baldwin's intestines and his body was preserved in salt, because Baldwin wanted to secure his burial in the Holy Sepulchre.[189][191] He was buried in the Calvary Chapel next to Godfrey of Bouillon five days later, on Palm Sunday.[191]


Fulcher of Chartres described Baldwin as his subjects' "shield, strength and support; their right arm; the terror of his enemies."[192] The Muslim historian, Ali ibn al-Athir, who completed his chronicle a century after Baldwin's death, thought that "al-Bardawil" had started the First Crusade.[103] Presenting a fictional correspondence between Baldwin and Roger I of Sicily, Al-Athir claimed that Baldwin had initially wanted to conquer Ifriqiya, but Roger, who wanted to secure the territory for himself, talked into him into attacking Jerusalem.[187]

Among modern historians, Thomas Asbridge states that Baldwin was one of the commanders of the First Crusade "whose skill, ambition and devotion drove the enterprise, and by turns threatened to rip it apart".[193] Christopher Tyerman emphasises that Baldwin was a talented military commander and a clever politician, who "established a stable kingdom with defined and defensible borders".[194] Amin Maalouf also concludes that Baldwin was the "principal architect of the occupation" of the Holy Land by the crusaders.[195] Maalouf attributes Baldwin's success primarily to the "incorrigible fragmentation of the Arab world", which made the crusaders a "genuine regional power".[195]

Baldwin's earliest extant charters were issued in the early 1100s, but the establishment of a chancellery lasted for years.[180][196] Initially, clerics from Lotharingia compiled the royal documents.[180] The first chancellor, Pagan, was appointed only in 1115.[180] Pagan had came to the Holy Land in the entourage of Baldwin's third wife, Adelaide del Vasto.[195][197]


Baldwin repudiates Adelaide del Vasto

Baldwin's first wife, Godehilde, was the daughter of Raoul II of Tosny and Isabella of Montfort-l'Amaury.[7] She died during the First Crusade, around 15 October 1097 at Marash.[7] Malcolm Barber argues that her death "may have been the decisive event that persuaded" Baldwin "to seek out a lordship in the East".[199] Historians Steven Runciman and Christopher MacEvitt write that Baldwin and Godehilde had children who did not long survive her.[51][54] Historian Alan V. Murray emphasises that no primary source evidences that Baldwin fathered children.[7] According to Murray, Runciman was wrong when he translated William of Tyre's words about Baldwin's "familia" as a reference to his family, because William of Tyre was referring to Baldwin's household.[7]

The name and family of his second wife is uncertain.[81] Modern historians call her Arda and associate her father with Tathoul of Marash.[81][200] Baldwin married her in the summer of 1098.[201] Her father promised a dowry of 60,000 bezants and also pledged that she would inherit his lands, but he actually paid off only 7,000 bezants to Baldwin.[81][202] The marriage was childless.[203] Baldwin banished her to the convent of St Anne in Jerusalem before 1109, but she was soon allowed to move to Constantinople.[81][204] Although they were separated, the marriage was never annulled.[81]

Baldwin's third wife, Adelaide, was the wealthy widow of Roger I of Sicily.[205] Her first husband died in 1102 and she acted as regent for their minor sons until the end of 1111.[206] She was more than forty, when Baldwin asked her to marry in 1112.[205] According to William of Tyre, he wanted to marry her because he had learnt of her wealth. Baldwin even agreed to make her son, Roger II of Sicily, his heir in Jerusalem.[205] She landed at Palestine in August 1113, accompanied by hundreds of soldiers and bringing her rich dowry.[207] The marriage of Baldwin and Adelaide was bigamous, because his second wife was still alive.[183][208] After recovering from a serious illness in late 1116, Baldwin accepted the clergymen's advice and dismissed Adelaide.[178][183] She sailed for Sicily on 25 April 1117.[183] Her humiliation outraged Roger II so much that he denied all support to the Kingdom of Jerusalem during his lifetime.[183]

Summarising Baldwin's marriages, historian Jonathan Phillips concludes that Baldwin "regarded women as useful sources of financial and political advancement but little else".[208] Hans Eberhard Mayer, Christopher Tyerman and Malcolm Barber agree that Baldwin was most probably homosexual.[205][192] Tyerman writes that a converted Muslim was one of Baldwin's lovers, but he betrayed Baldwin during the siege of Sidon.[192] He proposed that the defenders of the town kill the King, but a Christian burgher warned Baldwin.[209]


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Primary sourcesEdit

  • Albert of Aachen: Historia Ierosolimitana—History of the Journey to Jerusalem (Edited and translated by Susan B. Edgington) (2007). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-920486-1.
  • Anna Comnena: The Alexiad (Translated by E. R. A. Sewter) (1969). Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-044958-7.

Secondary sourcesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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