County of Edessa
Overview
 
The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states
Crusader states
The Crusader states were a number of mostly 12th- and 13th-century feudal states created by Western European crusaders in Asia Minor, Greece and the Holy Land , and during the Northern Crusades in the eastern Baltic area...

 in the 12th century, based around Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

, a city with an ancient history and an early tradition of Christianity.

Unlike the other Crusader states, the County was landlocked; it was remote from the other states and was not on particularly good terms with its closest neighbor, the Principality of Antioch
Principality of Antioch
The Principality of Antioch, including parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria, was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade.-Foundation:...

. Half of the county, including its capital, was located east of the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

, far to the east of the others, rendering it particularly vulnerable.
Encyclopedia
The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states
Crusader states
The Crusader states were a number of mostly 12th- and 13th-century feudal states created by Western European crusaders in Asia Minor, Greece and the Holy Land , and during the Northern Crusades in the eastern Baltic area...

 in the 12th century, based around Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

, a city with an ancient history and an early tradition of Christianity.

Unlike the other Crusader states, the County was landlocked; it was remote from the other states and was not on particularly good terms with its closest neighbor, the Principality of Antioch
Principality of Antioch
The Principality of Antioch, including parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria, was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade.-Foundation:...

. Half of the county, including its capital, was located east of the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

, far to the east of the others, rendering it particularly vulnerable. The part west of the Euphrates was controlled from the stronghold of Turbessel.

Foundation

In 1098, Baldwin of Boulogne
Baldwin I of Jerusalem
Baldwin I of Jerusalem, formerly Baldwin I of Edessa, born Baldwin of Boulogne , 1058? – 2 April 1118, was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, who became the first Count of Edessa and then the second ruler and first titled King of Jerusalem...

 left the main Crusading army, which was travelling south towards Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 and Jerusalem, and went first south into Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

, then east to Edessa. There, he convinced its lord, Thoros
Thoros of Edessa
Thoros was an Armenian ruler of Edessa at the time of the First Crusade.Thoros was a former officer in the Byzantine Empire and a lieutenant of Philaretos Brachamios. He was Armenian but practised the Greek Orthodox faith...

, to adopt him as a son and heir. Thoros was a Christian of Armenian origin but of Greek Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 religion and was largely disliked by his Armenian Orthodox
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

 subjects; in March 1098 he was assassinated
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 or abdicated (here historians conflict), although it is unknown if Baldwin had any part in whichever of the two options did happen. Nonetheless, Baldwin succeeded Thoros as ruler, taking the title of Count (having been Count of Verdun
Count of Verdun
The counts of Verdun, now in eastern France, were often during the Middle Ages rulers of Lorraine; the descendants of the early counts were also margraves in Tuscany and Latin rulers in the Latin East after the First Crusade....

 as a vassal of his brother in Europe).

In 1100, Baldwin became King of Jerusalem when his brother Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey of Bouillon was a medieval Frankish knight who was one of the leaders of the First Crusade from 1096 until his death. He was the Lord of Bouillon, from which he took his byname, from 1076 and the Duke of Lower Lorraine from 1087...

 died. The County of Edessa passed to his cousin Baldwin of Bourcq
Baldwin II of Jerusalem
Baldwin II of Jerusalem , formerly Baldwin II of Edessa, also called Baldwin of Bourcq, born Baldwin of Rethel was the second count of Edessa from 1100 to 1118, and the third king of Jerusalem from 1118 until his death.-Ancestry:Baldwin was the son of Hugh, count of Rethel, and his wife Melisende,...

. He was joined by Joscelin of Courtenay, who became lord of the fortress of Turbessel on the Euphrates, an important outpost against the Seljuk Turks.

The Frankish lords formed a good rapport with their Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n subjects, and there were frequent intermarriages; the first three counts all married Armenians. Count Baldwin's wife had died in Maraş in 1097, and after he succeeded to Edessa he married Arda
Arda of Armenia
Arda was the wife of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem. She was the first Queen consort of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, as Baldwin's brother and predecessor Godfrey of Bouillon was unmarried....

, a granddaughter of the Armenian Roupenid chief Constantine
Constantine I of Armenia
Constantine I or Kostandin I was the second lord of Armenian Cilicia or “Lord of the Mountains”...

. Baldwin of Bourcq
Baldwin II of Jerusalem
Baldwin II of Jerusalem , formerly Baldwin II of Edessa, also called Baldwin of Bourcq, born Baldwin of Rethel was the second count of Edessa from 1100 to 1118, and the third king of Jerusalem from 1118 until his death.-Ancestry:Baldwin was the son of Hugh, count of Rethel, and his wife Melisende,...

 married Morphia
Morphia of Melitene
Morphia of Melitene, or Morfia, or Moraphia was the wife of Baldwin II, king of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem....

, a daughter of Gabriel of Melitene
Gabriel of Melitene
Gabriel of Melitene was the ruler of Melitene . Along with Thoros of Edessa, Gabriel was a former officer of Philaretos Brachamios. Philaretos had installed Gabriel as the ruler of Melitene. Following the death of Philaretos in 1086 Melitene became completely independent of Byzantine control with...

, and Joscelin of Courtenay married a daughter of Constantine.

Conflicts with Muslim neighbours

Baldwin II quickly became involved in the affairs of northern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

. He helped secure the ransom of Bohemond I of Antioch from the Danishmends
Danishmends
The Danishmend dynasty was a Turcoman dynasty that ruled in north-central and eastern Anatolia in the 11th and 12th centuries. The centered originally around Sivas, Tokat, and Niksar in central-northeastern Anatolia, they extended as far west as Ankara and Kastamonu for a time, and as far south as...

 in 1103, and, with Antioch, attacked the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 in Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 in 1104. Later in 1104, Edessa was attacked by Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, and both Baldwin and Joscelin were taken prisoner when they were defeated at the Battle of Harran
Battle of Harran
The Battle of Harran took place on May 7, 1104 between the Crusader states of the Principality of Antioch and the County of Edessa, and the Seljuk Turks. It was the first major battle against the newfound Crusader states in the aftermath of the First Crusade marking a key turning point against...

. Bohemond's cousin Tancred
Tancred, Prince of Galilee
Tancred was a Norman leader of the First Crusade who later became Prince of Galilee and regent of the Principality of Antioch...

 became regent in Edessa (although Richard of Salerno
Richard of Salerno
Richard of Salerno , who is not to be confused with his homonym cousin Richard of Hauteville, was a participant in the First Crusade and regent of the County of Edessa from 1104 to 1108....

 actually governed the territory), until Baldwin and Joscelin were ransomed in 1108. Baldwin had to fight to regain control of the city; Tancred was eventually defeated, though Baldwin had to ally with some of the local Muslim rulers.

In 1110, all lands east of the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 were lost to Mawdud
Mawdud
Mawdud ibn Altuntash was a Turkic military leader who was atabeg of Mosul from 1109 to 1113...

 of Mosul. This was not followed by an assault on Edessa itself as the Muslim rulers were more concerned with consolidating their own power.

Baldwin II became King of Jerusalem (also as Baldwin II) when Baldwin I died in 1118. Although Eustace of Boulogne had a better claim as the late Baldwin's brother, he was in France and did not want the title. Edessa was given to Joscelin in 1119. Joscelin was taken prisoner once again in 1122; when Baldwin came to rescue him, he too was captured, and Jerusalem was left without its king. Joscelin escaped in 1123, and obtained Baldwin's release the next year.

Fall of the county

Joscelin was gravely injured during a siege in 1131 and was succeeded by his son Joscelin II. By this time, Zengi
Zengi
Imad ad-Din Zengi was the atabeg of Mosul, Aleppo, Hama and Edessa and founder of the Zengid dynasty, to which he gave his name.-Early life:...

 had united Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 and began to threaten Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

; meanwhile, Joscelin II paid little attention to the security of his county, and argued with the counts of Tripoli
County of Tripoli
The County of Tripoli was the last Crusader state founded in the Levant, located in what today are parts of western Syria and northern Lebanon, where exists the modern city of Tripoli. The Crusader state was captured and created by Christian forces in 1109, originally held by Bertrand of Toulouse...

 who then refused to come to his aid. Zengi besieged the city
Siege of Edessa
The Siege of Edessa took place from November 28 to December 24, 1144, resulting in the fall of the capital of the crusader County of Edessa to Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo.- Background :...

 in 1144, capturing it on December 24 of that year. Joscelin continued to rule his lands west of the Euphrates, and he also managed to take advantage of the death of Zengi in September 1146 to regain and hold briefly his old capital. The city was again lost in November, and Joscelin barely escaped. In 1150 he was captured by Zengi's son Nur ad-Din, and was kept a prisoner in Aleppo until he died in 1159. His wife sold Turbessel and what was left of the County to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus, but these lands were conquered by Nur ad-Din and the Sultan of Rum
Sultanate of Rûm
The Sultanate of Rum , also known as the Anatolian Seljuk State , was a Turkic state centered in in Anatolia, with capitals first at İznik and then at Konya. Since the court of the sultanate was highly mobile, cities like Kayseri and Sivas also functioned at times as capitals...

 within the year. Edessa was the first Crusader state to be created, and also the first to be lost.

Population and demographics

Edessa was one of the largest of the Crusader states
Crusader states
The Crusader states were a number of mostly 12th- and 13th-century feudal states created by Western European crusaders in Asia Minor, Greece and the Holy Land , and during the Northern Crusades in the eastern Baltic area...

 in terms of territory but had one of the smallest populations. Edessa itself had about 10,000 inhabitants. The rest of the county consisted mostly of fortresses. The county's territory extended from Antioch in the west to across the Euphrates in the east at its greatest extent. It also often occupied land as far north as Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 proper. To the south and east were the powerful Muslim cities of Aleppo and Mosul, and the Jazira (northern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

). The inhabitants were mostly Assyrian
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 Syriac Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

 Christians, with some Greek Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Arab Muslims. Although the numbers of Latins always remained small, there was a Roman Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 Patriarch. The fall of the city was the catalyst for the Second Crusade
Second Crusade
The Second Crusade was the second major crusade launched from Europe. The Second Crusade was started in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year to the forces of Zengi. The county had been founded during the First Crusade by Baldwin of Boulogne in 1098...

 in 1146.

Lordship of Turbessel

Turbessel was firstly the lordship of Joscelin I when he was not yet the Count of Edessa. It controlled the area west of the Euphrates, and held the border against Antioch. It then was a special holding of Courtenay counts of Edessa, and again became their seat after the loss of the city of Edessa. It was sold with the remaining parts of the County to the Byzantines just before it was conquered by Muslims. After the sale, the wife and family of Joscelin II moved with the proceeds to the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, near Acre.

Counts of Edessa, 1098–1150

  • Baldwin I
    Baldwin I of Jerusalem
    Baldwin I of Jerusalem, formerly Baldwin I of Edessa, born Baldwin of Boulogne , 1058? – 2 April 1118, was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, who became the first Count of Edessa and then the second ruler and first titled King of Jerusalem...

     1098–1100
  • Baldwin II
    Baldwin II of Jerusalem
    Baldwin II of Jerusalem , formerly Baldwin II of Edessa, also called Baldwin of Bourcq, born Baldwin of Rethel was the second count of Edessa from 1100 to 1118, and the third king of Jerusalem from 1118 until his death.-Ancestry:Baldwin was the son of Hugh, count of Rethel, and his wife Melisende,...

     1100–1118
    • Tancred, Prince of Galilee
      Tancred, Prince of Galilee
      Tancred was a Norman leader of the First Crusade who later became Prince of Galilee and regent of the Principality of Antioch...

       regent (with Richard of Salerno
      Richard of Salerno
      Richard of Salerno , who is not to be confused with his homonym cousin Richard of Hauteville, was a participant in the First Crusade and regent of the County of Edessa from 1104 to 1108....

       as governor, 1104–1108)
  • Joscelin I 1118–1131
  • Joscelin II 1131–1150 (d.1159)
  • Joscelin III
    Joscelin III of Edessa
    Joscelin III of Edessa was the titular Count of Edessa 1159 – after 1190. He was the son of Joscelin II of Edessa and his wife Beatrice...

    , titular Count from 1159
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