Godfrey of Bouillon

Godfrey of Bouillon (1060-1100), the French crusader was one of the principal lay leaders of the First Crusade and the first ruler of the new formed crusader state of Jerusalem.

He was the second son of the Count of Boulogne (Eustace II), and Ida, daughter of the Duke of Lower Lorraine (Godfrey II). After years of hold up Emperor Henry IV eventually affirmed him in the duchy of Lower Lorraine. When he and his brothers, Eustace and Baldwin, joined the First Crusade, Godfrey was even so accommodated to assurance his castle in Bouillon, also the lordship of Verdun, to the bishop of Liège, presumptively to help finance the dispatch.

The crusaders arrived at Constantinople shortly before Christmas Day, 1096. For many months there were promises and perfidies and armed brushes with the Byzantine flocks. Finally the totally force of crusaders, now big by the Norman contingent and Bohemund’s army, crossed the Bosporus and set out for Nicaea. When Jerusalem was appropriated in July 1099, the higher clergy and the bigger barons offered the crown to Godfrey, having failed to convince Count Raymond to take it. Godfrey acceptable the leadership but arrogated alternatively the title of Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri (Defender of the Holy Sepulcher). This made him lay guarantor of the newly won lands, allowing for the Church to preserve, initially, its own concerns. The ecclesiastic claims to Jerusalem and its dependant towns were boosted by the forceful Daimbert, Archbishop of Pisa, who, backed by Bohemund, became patriarch a abruptly time later. Godfrey, who in reality had little effectual power, acquired an oath of homage to Daimbert and managed to retain hold of his small state till his death on July 18, 1100, near Tiberias. Agreeing to Moslem sources, he was killed in combat.

Godfrey was the first european ruler in Jerusalem, and this doubtless aided form the legend in later literature in which he was transmuted into the model for the valorous Christian knight, the Chevalier au Cygne (Swan Knight). Dante, in the Divine Comedy, bases him with the warrior-saints in Paradise. There is, yet, no reliable attest for his unusual piety or for his extraordinary knightly qualities. His chief achievement remains the administration of a executable feudal brass in Jerusalem based on accustomed fief holding and oaths of allegiance. That he was capable to do this in the face of overt and continual hostility from allies and enemies tells much about the character of the man.


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