The Kingdom of Jerusalem came into being with the capture of Jerusalem in July of 1099. The new kingdom contained nearly a score of fiefs, whose lords made war, administered justice, and coined money, like independent rulers. The main features of European feudalism were thus transplanted to Asiatic soil.
The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and other Crusader States
The winning of Jerusalem and the district about it formed hardly more than a preliminary stage in the conquest of Syria. Much fighting was still necessary before the crusaders could establish themselves firmly in the country. Instead of founding one strong power in Syria, they split up their possessions into the three principalities of
These small states of Tripoli, Edessa and Antioch owed allegiance to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Godfrey of Bouillon and the Kingdom of Jerusalem
At the head of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was placed Godfrey of Bouillon, the most valiant and devoted of the crusader knights of the Knights Templar order. Godfrey of Bouillon refused the title and vestments of royalty, declaring that he would never wear a crown of gold in the city where his Lord and Master had worn a crown of thorns. The only title he would accept was that of "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre." Many of the crusaders, considering their vows fulfilled, now set out on their return to their homes, some making their way back by sea and some by land. Godfrey, Tancred, and a few hundred other knights, were all that stayed behind to maintain the conquests that had been made, and to act as guardians of the holy places.
Baldwin of Boulogne the first King of Jerusalem
Baldwin of Boulogne was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, who became count of Edessa and then the first titled king of Jerusalem. He was the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon. After Godfrey's death, in July of 1100, Baldwin was invited to Jerusalem by the supporters of a secular monarchy. Baldwin was crowned the first king of Jerusalem on Christmas Day. The coronation took place in Bethlehem. Baldwin the first crowned ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem died on April 2, 1118. His cousin Baldwin of Bourcq was chosen as his successor, although the kingdom was also offered to Eustace III, who did not want it.
The Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
On July 4, 1187, the army of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by Saladin at the Battle of Hattin. Saladin then overran the entire Kingdom, except for the port of Tyre. Richard the Lionheart recaptured many of the cities in the Kingdom but the Kingdom of Jerusalem was forced to move its capital from Jerusalem to Acre. The Kingdom included the cities of Beirut, Tyre, Tripoli and Antioch. The Mamluks under Sultan Baibars took all of the cities of the Kingdom of Jerusalem one by one until, in 1291, Acre, the last stronghold, was taken by the Sultan Khalil. The Kingdom of Jerusalem ceased to exist.
The Rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Between 1099 and 1291 the Kingdom of Jerusalem was ruled by many Europeans. The Kings and Queens who ruled the Kingdom of Jerusalem often appointed regents for the role. The names of the rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem were as follows:
- Godfrey of Bouillon - Protector of the Holy Sepulchre (1099 -1100)
- Baldwin I (1100 - 1118)
- Baldwin II (1118 - 1131)
- Melisende and Fulk (1131 - 1153)
- Baldwin III (1143 - 1162)
- Amalric I (1162 - 1174)
- Baldwin IV (1174 - 1185)
- Baldwin V (1185 - 1186)
- Sibylla and Guy of Lusignan (1186 - 1187)
- Isabella I (1192 - 1205)
- Maria of Montferrat (1205 - 1212)
- John of Brienne (1210 - 1212)
- Yolande (Isabella II) and Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1212 - 1228)
- Conrad of Hohenstaufen, Conrad II (1228 - 1254)
- Conrad III of Jerusalem (1254 - 1268)
- Hugh I (1268 - 1284)
- Charles of Anjou (1277 - 1285)
- John II (1284 - 1285)
- Henry II (1285 - 1291)
Many European rulers claimed to be the rightful heirs to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, however none of these, have ever actually ruled over any part of the Kingdom.