Baldwin III of Jerusalem

From Academic Kids

Baldwin III (11301162) was king of Jerusalem from 1143–1162. He was the eldest son of Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem. He was crowned co-ruler and heir to his mother from 1143 until he overthrew her government in 1153. His early diplomatic and strategic military blunders would contribute to Jerusalem's later conquest.


Second Crusade

According to William of Tyre, Baldwin's father Fulk had not completely seen to the defense of the Crusader states in Syria before his death in 1143, resulting in Edessa's capture by Zengi in 1144. Edessa's fall was a shock to the Western world and led to call for a Second Crusade. Louis VII, Conrad III the German Emperor, and Louis' wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (at the head of her own army) answered the Crusader call and arrived in Jerusalem by 1147.

In-fighting and poor planning plagued the crusade, however. In 1148 Conrad badly advised 18-year-old Baldwin to attack Damascus, despite the peace treaty between the city and Jerusalem. The loss of a sympathetic Muslim state on Jerusalem's northern border was a diplomatic defeat from which no monarch of Jerusalem could recover afterwards. Damacus would later ally itself with Zengi's successor Nur ad-Din, and Jerusalem's enemies would pour through the exposed frontier. (See Siege of Damascus.)

By 1149 the crusaders had returned to Europe, leaving a weakened Jerusalem. Baldwin III became regent of Antioch when Raymond was killed at the Battle of Inab. Raymond's wife, Constance, was Baldwin's cousin through his mother and heiress of Antioch by right of her father. Later Baldwin would try to marry her to an ally but with no success. Baldwin was unable to help defend Turbessel, the last remnant of the county of Edessa, and was forced to cede it to Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus.

Civil war

By 1152 Baldwin began to assert himself in political affairs. Though he had not previously expressed an interest in the administration of the country, he now demanded more authority. He and his mother the queen had become estranged since 1150, and Baldwin blamed constable Manasses. In early 1152 Baldwin demanded a second coronation from Patriarch Fulcher, separate from his mother. The patriarch refused and as a kind of self-coronation Baldwin paraded through the city streets with laurel wreaths on his head.

Baldwin and Melisende agreed to put the matter before the Haute Cour, or royal council. The Haute Cour returned a decision that would divide the kingdom into two administrative districts. Baldwin would retain the north while Melisende held the richer Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem itself. Neither Baldwin nor Melisende was pleased with the decision, Baldwin wanted to rule the entire kingdom and Melisende realized it would divide the country's resources, but in order to prevent a civil war Melisende agreed to the compromise.

Within weeks of the division Baldwin launched an invasion of the south. Nablus fell quickly and to prevent violence Jerusalem opened its gates to Baldwin. Melisende and Amalric sought refuge in the Tower of David. Throughout the siege the church negotiated with Baldwin. The peace that was settled allowed for Melisende to rule in Nablus for life, with a solemn oath by Baldwin not to disturb her peace.

By 1154 mother and son were reconciled, as Baldwin was astute enough to realize his mother's expertise in statecraft. Though she was "retired", she maintained great influence in court and government affairs, acting as regent for Baldwin while he was on campaign.


Baldwin successfully besieged and captured Ascalon in the spring of 1153, securing the border with Egypt, although this would later lead to aggressive campaigns against Jerusalem's southern border by the Fatimids of Egypt.

In 1156 Baldwin was forced to sign a treaty with Nur ad-Din. However, in the winter of 11571158 Baldwin captured Harim, a former territory of Antioch, and in 1158 he defeated Nur ad-Din himself.

Byzantine alliance

Baldwin's modest recovery garnered him enough prestige to marry Theodora, a niece of Emperor Manuel. The alliance was more favourable to Byzantium then Jerusalem, as Baldwin was forced to recognize Byzantine suzerainty over Antioch, and if Theodora were to be widowed she would be provided the city of Acre. Though Theodora personified the Byzantine-Jerusalem alliance, she was not to exercise any authority outside of Acre.

Relations between Jerusalem and Byzantium improved and in 1159 Baldwin met with Manuel in Antioch. The two became friends, with Manuel adopting western clothes and customs and participating in a tournament against Baldwin. Manuel personally attended to Baldwin when the king was thrown from his horse during the tournament. Later in 1159 Baldwin became regent of Antioch once more, after Raynald of Chatillon, the second husband of Constance, had been captured in battle.


Baldwin died on 10 February, 1162, a year after his mother's death. Theodora, now queen-dowager, retired to Acre. Their marrage was childless and Baldwin was succeeded by his brother, Amalric I.

Baldwin III, like his mother, was born in Jerusalem, but he was the first crusader king born in the country. His male predecessors were all French-born. Additionally, Baldwin was not as involved in the affairs of the church, focusing his attention solely in the defense of the kingdom.

William of Tyre wrote that Baldwin spent much of his spare time reading history and was knowledgeable in the jus consuetudinarium of the kingdom, later collected by lawyers like John of Ibelin and Philip of Novara as "the assizes of Jerusalem". He earned the respect of his subjects by the way he treated his mother after the civil war, and even the respect of his enemy Nur ad-Din, who said of Baldwin's death, "the Franks have lost such a prince that the world has not now his like."


Bernard Hamilton, "Women in the Crusader States: The Queens of Jerusalem", in Medieval Women, edited by Derek Baker. Ecclesiatical History Society, 1978

Preceded by:
Fulk and Melisende
King of Jerusalem
(with Melisende, 1143–1153)
Succeeded by:

Template:End boxfr:Baudouin III de JÚrusalem de:Balduin III. (Jerusalem) pl:Baldwin III


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