The Throne of Charlemagne. Palatine Chapel, Aachen, c. 790

King of the Latin People of Jerusalem, King of Babylon and Asia, Commanders of the Christian Army of Asia …

A selection of the many titles experimented with by the new Latin rulers of the Holy Land.

Godfrey died on 18 July 1100. All the Muslim sources claim that Godfrey was killed by a Muslim arrow whilst besieging Acre. Western sources state that he died of an illness in Caesarea.

The succession of his brother Baldwin of Edessa was ‘natural’ in terms of consanguinity but contestable simply because the throne he would sit upon was the holiest in Christendom and had been obtained through the efforts of multiple lords, the Church and the laity.

Bohemond of Antioch was certainly the preferred candidate of Archbishop Daimbert of Pisa, who had recently arrived as the new Patriarch of Jerusalem. He certainly favoured the Normans of Outremer and was suspicious of Baldwin given his family’s pro-imperial history during the conflict between the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor over investitures.

Even Baldwin’s journey from Edessa to Jerusalem was made perilous by attempted ambushes by Turks, very possibly acting on intelligence given to them by the Normans. In fact Baldwin was fortunate that Bohemond had been captured by the Turkish lord Danishmend of western Anatolia and Tancred was away from the Holy City with Daimbert besieging Haifa when he arrived at Jerusalem.

Baldwin acted quickly after he arrived on 9 November. He assumed the title of king on 13 November and was crowned in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Christmas Day, just as Charlemagne had been in Rome in the year 800. Legend told of Charlemagne’s crowning in Jerusalem and this ‘lore’ had transferred into the creation of the Jerusalem throne in Aachen. That Baldwin identified with the ‘wonder working king’ is not surprising, and he used such ideas to ensure that the King of Jerusalem would not be the vassal of the Church. Through his influence the men who held the throne of Jerusalem would became far more powerful than Godfrey had ever been. The prestige attached to possession of the holiest throne in Christendom partly accounted for this, and the king also held the most lands, which could be distributed as fiefs and could also use finance-based fiefs from the trade of the kingdom to maintain his base of vassals.


From Baldwin onwards the king also selected the Patriarch of Jerusalem and he appears to have been able, generally, to avoid the Church acting as an alternative power in the state, though Baldwin II continually disputed the exercise of power in the Kingdom with the Patriarch.

The strength of the King of Jerusalem and his executive power in the other Latin states in the first half of the twelfth century despite the existence of four distinct states – Edessa, Tripoli, Antioch and Jerusalem – is shown by Baldwin II’s campaigns for Tripoli and his holding of the regency of Antioch ‘in trust’ for Bohemond II between 1119 and 1126. His status in the principality of Antioch and Counties of Edessa and Tripoli appears to have been similar to that of contemporary European monarchs, in that he could not directly exert his power as a king but was primus inter pares.

The opportunities afforded the Crusaders by an ineffective and disunited Muslim response to their incursions were more than ample for these courageous, highly motivated and effective fighters to build a strong state that would be difficult for their later foes to eradicate.

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