Melisende of Jerusalem
Melisende was Queen 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....

 from 1131 to 1153, and regent for her son between 1153 and 1161 while he was on campaign. She was the eldest daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem
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,...

, and the Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

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

. She was named after her paternal grandmother, Melisende of Montlhéry
Montlhéry is a commune in the Essonne department in Île-de-France in northern France. It is located from Paris.Inhabitants of Montlhéry are known as Montlhériens.-History:...

, wife of Hugh I, Count of Rethel. She had three younger sisters: Alice
Alice of Antioch
Alice of Jerusalem was a Princess of Jerusalem. She later became Princess of Antioch.- Biography :Alice was the second daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and Morphia of Melitene. She has three sisters...

, princess 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:...

; Hodierna
Hodierna of Tripoli
Hodierna of Jerusalem was a Countess consort of Tripoli. She was the daughter of Baldwin II of Jerusalem and the Armenian noblewoman Morphia. She was countess of Tripoli through her marriage to Raymond II of Tripoli...

, countess 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...

; and Ioveta
Ioveta of Bethany
Ioveta was the fourth and youngest daughter of King Baldwin II and Morphia of Melitene. She was the princess of Jerusalem.- Names :...

, abbess of St. Lazarus in Bethany
Bethany (Israel)
Bethany is recorded in the New Testament as the home of the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as that of Simon the Leper...

. Hodierna's daughter, Melisende of Tripoli
Melisende of Tripoli
Melisende of Tripoli was the daughter of Hodierna of Tripoli and Raymond II, count of Tripoli.- Biography :Melisende was named for her aunt, Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem. She was a cousin of Kings Baldwin III and Amalric I....

, was named in honor of the queen.

Crown Princess

Jerusalem had recently been conquered by Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 in 1099 during the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

, and Melisende's paternal family originally came from the County of Rethel in France. Her father Baldwin was a crusader knight who carved out the Crusader State of Edessa
County of Edessa
The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states in the 12th century, based around Edessa, a city with an ancient history and an early tradition of Christianity....

 and married Morphia, daughter of the Armenian Prince 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...

, in a diplomatic marriage to fortify
Fortify may refer to:* the verb to fortify, meaning to build a fortification* Fortify Software's software code analysis product* Fortify , a software hack for the Netscape Navigator...

 alliances in the region. Melisende grew up in Edessa until she was 13, when her father was elected as the King of Jerusalem as successor of his cousin 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...

. By the time of his election as king, Baldwin II and Morphia already had three daughters. As the new king, Baldwin II had been encouraged to put away Morphia in favor of a new younger wife with better political connections- one that could yet bear him a male heir. Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa
Matthew of Edessa
Matthew of Edessa was an Armenian historian in the 12th century from the city of Edessa . Matthew was the superior abbot of Karmir Vank' , near the town of Kessoun, east of Marash , the former seat of Baldwin of Boulogne...

 wrote that Baldwin II was thoroughly devoted to his wife, and refused to consider divorcing her. As a mark of his love for his wife, Baldwin II had postponed his coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 until Christmas Day 1119 so that Morphia and his daughters could travel to Jerusalem, and so that Morphia could be crowned alongside
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 him as his queen. For her part, Morphia did not interfere in the day to day
Day to Day
Day to Day was a one-hour weekday American radio newsmagazine distributed by National Public Radio , and produced by NPR in collaboration with Slate. Madeleine Brand served as host since 2006...

 politics of Jerusalem, but demonstrated her ability to take charge of affairs when events warranted it. When Melisende's father was captured during a campaign in 1123, Morphia hired a band of Armenian mercenaries to discover where her husband was being held prisoner, and in 1124 Morphia took a leading part in the negotiations with Baldwin's captors to have him released, including traveling to Syria and handing over her youngest daughter Yveta as hostage and as surety for the payment of the king's ransom. Both of her parents stood as role models for the young Princess Melisende, half Frankish
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and half Armenian, growing up in the Frankish East
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 a state of constant warfare.

As the eldest child, Melisende was raised
Heir Presumptive
An heir presumptive or heiress presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir or heiress apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question...

 as the Crown Princess, her father's successor. Frankish women in the Outremer had a higher life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 then among men, in part due to the constant state of war in the region, and as a result Frankish women exerted a wide degree of influence in the region and provided a strong sense of continuity to Eastern Frankish society. Women who inherited territory usually did so because war and violence brought many men to premature death, and women who were recognized as queen regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

 rarely exercised their authority directly, with their spouse exercising authority jure uxoris
Jure uxoris
Jure uxoris is a Latin term that means "by right of his wife" or "in right of a wife". It is commonly used to refer to a title held by a man whose wife holds it in her own right. In other words, he acquired the title simply by being her husband....

, through the medium of their wife. Contemporaries of Melisende who did rule, however, included Urraca of Castile
Urraca of Castile
Urraca was Queen regnant of León, Castile, and Galicia, and claimed the imperial title as suo jure Empress of All the Spains from 1109 until her death in childbirth, as well as Empress of All Galicia.- Childhood :...

 (1080–1129), Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda , also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood...

 (1102–1169), and Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France and of England...

 (1122–1204). During her father's reign Melisende was styled as daughter of the king and heir of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and took precedence above other nobles and Christian clergy in ceremonial occasions. Increasingly she was associated with her father on official documents, including in the minting of money, granting of fiefdoms and other forms of patronage, and in diplomatic correspondence. Baldwin raised his daughter as a capable successor to himself and Melisende enjoyed the support of the Haute Cour
Haute Cour of Jerusalem
The Haute Cour was the feudal council of the kingdom of Jerusalem. It was sometimes also called the curia generalis, the curia regis, or, rarely, the parlement.-Composition of the court:...

, a kind of royal council composed of the nobility and clergy of the realm.

However, Baldwin II also thought that he would have to marry Melisende to a powerful ally, one who would protect and safeguard Melisende's inheritance as Queen and her future heirs. Baldwin deferred to King Louis VI of France
Louis VI of France
Louis VI , called the Fat , was King of France from 1108 until his death . Chronicles called him "roi de Saint-Denis".-Reign:...

 to recommend a Frankish vassel for his daughter's hand. The Frankish connection remained an important consideration for Crusader Jerusalem, as the nascent kingdom depended heavily on manpower and connections from France, Germany, and Italy. By deferring to France, Baldwin II was not submitting Jerusalem to the suzerainty
Suzerainty occurs where a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal state some limited domestic autonomy. The dominant entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the more powerful entity itself, is called a...

 of France, rather was placing the moral guardianship of the Outremer with the West for its survival, reminding Louis VI that the Outremer was, to some extent, Frankish lands.

Louis VI chose Fulk V, Count of Anjou and Main
Fulk of Jerusalem
Fulk , also known as Fulk the Younger, was Count of Anjou from 1109 to 1129, and King of Jerusalem from 1131 to his death...

, a renownedly rich crusader and military commander, and to some extent a growing threat to Louis VI himself. Fulk's son from a previous marriage, Geoffrey was married to Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda , also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood...

, Henry I of England
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

's designated heir as England's next queen regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

. Fulk V could be a potential grandfather to a future ruler of England, a relationship that would out-flank Louis VI. Fulk's wealth, connections, and influence made him as powerful as the King of France, according to historian Zoe Oldenbourg. Throughout the negotiations Fulk insisted on being sole ruler of Jerusalem. Hesitant, Baldwin II initially acquiesced to these demands though would come to reconsider. Baldwin II perceived that Fulk, an ambitious man with grown sons to spare, was also a threat to Baldwin II's family and interest, and specifically a threat to his daughter Melisende. Baldwin II suspected that once he had died, Fulk would repudiate Melisende, set her and her children aside in favor of Elias, Fulk's younger but full grown son from his first marriage as an heir to Jerusalem.

When Melisende bore a son and heir in 1130, the future Baldwin III
Baldwin III of Jerusalem
Baldwin III was king of Jerusalem from 1143 to 1163. He was the eldest son of Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem, and the grandson of Baldwin II of Jerusalem.-Succession:...

, her father took steps to ensure Melisende would rule after him as reigning Queen of Jerusalem. Baldwin II held a coronation ceremony investing the kingship of Jerusalem jointing between his daughter, his grandson Baldwin III, and with Fulk. Strengthening her position, Baldwin II designated Melisende as sole guardian for the young Baldwin, excluding Fulk. When Baldwin II died the next year in 1131, Melisende and Fulk ascended to the throne as joint rulers. Later, William of Tyre
William of Tyre
William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

 wrote of Melisende's right to rule following the death of her father that the rule of the kingdom remained in the power of the lady queen Melisende, a queen beloved by God, to whom it passed by hereditary right. However, with the aid of his crusader knights, Fulk excluded Melisende from granting titles, offering patronage, and of issuing grants, deplomas, and charters. Fulk openly and publicly dismissed her hereditary authority. The fears of Baldwin II seemed to be justified, and the continued mistreatment of their queen irritated the members of the Haute Cour, whose own positions would be eroded if Fulk continued to dominate the realm. Fulk's behavior was in keeping with his ruling philosophy, as in Anjou Fulk had squashed any attempts by local towns to administer themselves and strong armed his vassals into submission. Fulk's autocratic style contrasted with the somewhat collegic association with their monarch that native Eastern Franks had come to enjoy.

Palace intrigue

The estrangement between husband and wife was a convenient political tool that Fulk used in 1134 when he accused Hugh II of Le Puiset
Hugh II of Le Puiset
Hugh II of Le Puiset was a crusader knight and Count of Jaffa, who revolted against King Fulk in 1134.-Arrival in the kingdom:...

, Count of Jaffa
County of Jaffa and Ascalon
The double County of Jaffa and Ascalon was one of the four major seigneuries comprising the major crusader state, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, according to 13th-century commentator John of Ibelin.-History:...

, of having an affair with Melisende. Hugh was the most powerful baron in the kingdom, and devotedly loyal to the memory of Baldwin II. This loyalty now extended to Melisende, though Hugh, by strict male succession
Family law
Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

, held a better claim to the throne. Hugh was a cousin of Melisende, and also a member of the royal family. Contemporary sources, such as William of Tyre
William of Tyre
William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

, discount the alleged infidelity of Melisende and instead point out that Fulk overly favoured newly arrived Frankish crusaders from Anjou over the native nobility of the kingdom. Had Melisende been guilty the Church
Catholic Church hierarchy
The term Hierarchy in the Catholic Church has a variety of related usages. Literally, "holy government", the term is employed in different instances. There is a Hierarchy of Truths, which refers to the levels of solemnity of the official teaching of the faith...

 and nobility likely would not have later rallied to her cause.

Hugh allied himself with the Muslim city of Ascalon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

, and was able to hold off the army set against him. He could not maintain his position indefinitely, however. His alliance with Ascalon cost him support at court. The Patriarch
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is the title possessed by the Latin Rite Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem. The Archdiocese of Jerusalem has jurisdiction for all Latin Rite Catholics in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Cyprus...

 negotiated lenient terms for peace, and Hugh was exiled for three years. Soon thereafter an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Hugh was attributed to Fulk or his supporters. This was reason enough for the queen's party to openly challenge Fulk, as Fulk's unfounded assertions of infidelity was a public affront that would damage Melisende's position entirely.

Through what amounted to a palace coup, the queen's supporters overcame Fulk, and from 1135 onwards Fulk's influence rapidly deteriorated. One historian wrote that Fulk's supporters "went in terror of their lives" in the palace. William of Tyre wrote that Fulk "did not attempt to take the initiative, even in trivial matters, without [Melisende's] knowledge". Husband and wife reconciled by 1136 and a second son, Amalric
Amalric I of Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem was King of Jerusalem 1163–1174, and Count of Jaffa and Ascalon before his accession. Amalric was the second son of Melisende of Jerusalem and Fulk of Jerusalem...

, was born. When Fulk was killed in a hunting accident in 1143, Melisende publicly and privately mourned for him.

Melisende's victory was complete. Again she is seen in the historical record granting titles of nobility, fiefdoms, appointments and offices, granting royal favours and pardons and holding court. Of Melisende, William of Tyre wrote "reseditque reginam regni potestas penes dominam Melisendem, Deo amabilem reginam, cui jure hereditario competebat." Melisende was no mere regent-queen for her son Baldwin III, but a Queen Regnant, reigning by right of hereditary and civil law.

Patroness of the church and arts

Melisende enjoyed the support of the Church throughout her lifetime; from her appointment as Baldwin II's successor, throughout the conflict with Fulk, and later when Baldwin III would come of age. In 1138 she founded the large convent of St. Lazarus in Bethany where her younger sister Ioveta would rule as abbess. In keeping with a royal abbey, Melisende granted the convent the fertile plains of Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

. Additionally, the queen supplied rich furnishings and liturgical vessels, so that it would not be in any way inferior to religious houses for men. According to author and historian Bernard Hamilton, Melisende also gave large
"endowments to the Holy Sepulchre, our Lady of Josaphat, the Templum Domini, the Catholic Order of the Hospital (Knights of Malta), the leper hospital of Saint Lazarus, and the Praemonstratensians of Saint Samuel's."

Sometime between 1131 and 1143, the queen received the Melisende Psalter
Melisende Psalter
The Melisende Psalter is an illuminated manuscript commissioned around 1135 in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, probably by King Fulk for his wife Queen Melisende...

. It has been argued that the Psalter was given as a gift from Fulk after their dispute and alleged infidelity surrounding Hugh. The reason for this is the Falcon that is engraved into the ivory back cover, which is a word-play on the word Fulk. Though influenced by Byzantine and Italian traditions in the illuminations, the artists who contributed to it had a unique and decidedly 'Jerusalem style'. The historian Hugo Buchtal
Hugo Buchtal
Hugo Buchthal was a German-Jewish art historian, best known for his standard work Miniature Painting in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem ....

 wrote that
"Jerusalem during the second quarter of the twelfth century possessed a flourishing and well-established scriptorium which could, without difficulty, undertake a commission for a royal manuscript de grand luxe".

Second Crusade

In 1144 the Crusader state
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...

 of Edessa
County of Edessa
The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states in the 12th century, based around Edessa, a city with an ancient history and an early tradition of Christianity....

 was besieged in a border war that threatened its survival. Queen Melisende responded by sending an army led by constable
Officers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
There were six major officers of the kingdom of Jerusalem: the constable, the marshal, the seneschal, the chamberlain , the butler and the chancellor...

 Manasses of Hierges
Manasses of Hierges
Manasses of Hierges was an important crusader lord, and constable of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.He was the son of Hodierna of Rethel and Héribrand II of Hierges; Hodierna was a sister of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem...

, Philip of Milly
Philip of Milly
Philip of Milly , also known as Philip of Nablus, was a baron in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the seventh Grand Master of the Knights Templar...

, and Elinand of Bures. Raymond of Antioch
Raymond of Antioch
Raymond of Poitiers was Prince of Antioch 1136–1149. He was the younger son of William IX, Duke of Aquitaine and his wife Philippa, Countess of Toulouse, born in the very year that his father the Duke began his infamous liaison with Dangereuse de Chatelherault.-Assumes control:Following the...

 ignored the call for help, as his army was already occupied against the Byzantine Empire in Cilicia. Despite Melisende's army, Edessa fell
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 :...


Melisende sent word to the Pope in Rome, and the west called for a 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...

. The crusader expedition was led by French King Louis
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI . He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles , and saw the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England...

 and the German Emperor Conrad III
Conrad III of Germany
Conrad III was the first King of Germany of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. He was the son of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia, and Agnes, a daughter of the Salian Emperor Henry IV.-Life and reign:...

. Accompanying Louis was his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France and of England...

, with her own vassal lords in tow. Eleanor had herself been designated by her father, William X
William X of Aquitaine
William X , called the Saint, was Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, and Count of Poitou between 1126 and 1137. He was the son of William IX by his second wife, Philippa of Toulouse....

, to succeed him in her own right, just as Melisende had been designated to succeed her father.

During the Crusader meeting in Acre
Council of Acre
The Council of Acre met at Palmarea, near Acre, a major city of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, on 24 June 1148. The Haute Cour of Jerusalem met with recently-arrived crusaders from Europe, to decide on the best target for the crusade. The Second Crusade had been called after the fall of Edessa...

 in 1148 the battle strategy was planned. Conrad and Louis advised 16-year old Baldwin III to attack the Muslim city-state of Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, though Melisende, Manasses, and Eleanor wanted to take 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...

, which would aid them in retaking Edessa. The meeting ended with Damascus as their target. Damascus and Jerusalem were on very good diplomatic terms and there was a peace treaty between them. The result of this breach of treaty was that Damascus would never trust the Crusader states again, and the loss of a sympathetic Muslim state was a blow from which later monarchs of Jerusalem could not recover. After 11 months Eleanor and Louis departed for France, ending the Second Crusade.

Mother and son

Melisende's relationship with her son was complex. As a mother she would know her son and his capabilities, and she is known to have been particularly close to her children. As a ruler she may have been reluctant to entrust decision making powers to an untried youth. Either way there was no political or social pressure to grant Baldwin any authority before 1152, even though Baldwin reached majority in 1145. Baldwin III and Melisende were jointly crowned as co-rulers on Christmas Day, 1143. This joint crowning was similar to Melisende's own crowning with her father in 1128, and may have reflected a growing trend to crown one's heir in the present monarch's lifetime, as demonstrated in other realms of this period.

Baldwin grew up to be a capable, if not brilliant, military commander. By age 24 however, Baldwin felt he could take some responsibility in governance. Melisende had hitherto only partially associated Baldwin in her rule. Tension between mother and son mounted between 1150 and 1152, with Baldwin blaming Manasses for alienating his mother from him. The crisis reached a boiling point early 1152 when Baldwin demanded the patriarch Fulcher
Patriarch Fulk of Jerusalem
Fulk or Fulcher of Angoulême was the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1146 to his death in 1157.Fulk came from Angoulême. According to William of Tyre, he was "religious and God-fearing, possessed of little learning, but a faithful man and a lover of discipline." In France he had been abbot of...

 to crown him in the Holy Sepulchre, without Melisende present. The Patriarch refused. Baldwin, in protest, staged a procession in the city streets wearing laurel wreaths, a kind of self-crowning.

Baldwin and Melisende agreed to put the decision to the Haute Cour. The Haute Cour decided that Baldwin would rule the north of the kingdom and Melisende the richer Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 and Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, and Jerusalem itself. Melisende acquiesced, though with misgivings. This decision would prevent a civil war but also divide the kingdom's resources. Though later historians criticized Melisende for not abdicating in favor of her son, there was little impetus for her to do so. She was universally recognized as an exceptional steward for her kingdom, and her rule had been characterized as a wise one by church leaders and other contemporaries. Baldwin had not shown any interest in governance prior to 1152, and had resisted responsibility in this arena. The Church clearly supported Melisende, as did the barons of Judea and Samaria.

Despite putting the matter before the Haute Cour, Baldwin was not happy with the partition any more than Melisende. But instead of reaching further compromise, within weeks of the decision he launched an invasion of his mother's realms. Baldwin showed that he was Fulk's son by quickly taking the field; Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 and Jerusalem fell swiftly. Melisende with her younger son Amalric and others sought refuge in the Tower of David
Tower of David
The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City's defenses, the citadel that stands today was constructed during the 2nd century BC and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by,...

. Church mediation between mother and son resulted with the grant of the city of Nablus and adjacent lands to Melisende to rule for life, and a solemn oath by Baldwin III not to disturb her peace. This peace settlement demonstrated that though Melisende lost the "civil war" to her son, she still maintained great influence and avoided total obscurity in a convent.


By 1153 son and mother had been reconciled. Since the civil war, Baldwin had shown his mother great respect. Melisende's connections, especially to her sister Hodierna, and to her niece Constance of Antioch
Constance of Antioch
Constance of Antioch was the only daughter of Bohemund II of Antioch by his wife Alice, princess of Jerusalem. She was also Princess regnant of the Principality of Antioch from 1130 to her death.-Early life:...

, meant that she had direct influence in northern Syria, a priceless connection since Baldwin had himself broken the treaty with Damascus in 1147.

As Baldwin III was often on military campaigns he realized he had few reliable advisers. From 1154 onwards she is again associated with her son in many of his official public acts. In 1156 she concluded a treaty with the merchants of Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

. In 1157, with Baldwin on campaign in Antioch, Melisende saw an opportunity to take el-Hablis, which controlled the lands of Gilead
In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, , a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew . From its mountainous character...

 beyond the Jordan. Also in 1157, on the death of patriarch Fulcher, Melisende, her half-sister Sibylla of Flanders, and Ioveta the Abbess of Bethany, had Amalric of Nesle appointed as patriarch of Jerusalem. Additionally, Melisende was witness to her son Amalric's marriage to Agnes of Courtenay
Agnes of Courtenay
Agnes of Courtenay was the daughter of Joscelin II of Courtenay by his wife Beatrice , and the mother of king Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and queen Sibylla of Jerusalem.-Dynasty:...

 in 1157. In 1160 she gave her assent to a grant made by her son Amalric to the Holy Sepulchre, perhaps on the occasion of the birth of her granddaughter Sibylla
Sibylla of Jerusalem
Sibylla of Jerusalem was the Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon from 1176 and Queen of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1190. She was the eldest daughter of Amalric I of Jerusalem and Agnes of Courtenay, sister of Baldwin IV and half-sister of Isabella I of Jerusalem, and mother of Baldwin V of Jerusalem...

 to Agnes and Amalric.


In 1161 Melisende had what appears to be a stroke. Her memory was severely impaired and she could no longer take part in state affairs. Her sisters, the countess of Tripoli and abbess of Bethany, came to nurse her before she died on 11 September 1161. Melisende was buried next to her mother Morphia in the shrine of Our Lady of Josaphat. Melisende, like her mother, bequeathed property to the Orthodox monastery of Saint S'eba.

William of Tyre, writing on Melisende's 30-year reign, wrote that "she was a very wise woman, fully experienced in almost all affairs of state business, who completely triumphed over the handicap of her sex so she could take charge of important affairs...", and "striving to emulate the glory of the best princes, Melisende ruled the kingdom with such ability that she was rightly considered to have equalled her predecessors in that regard." William of Tyre's comments may seem rather patronizing to a modern audience, wrote professor Bernard Hamilton of the University of Nottingham; however, this was a great show of respect from a society and culture in which women were regarded as having fewer rights and less authority than their brothers, fathers, and even sons.


  • Tranovich, Margaret, Melisende of Jerusalem: The World of a Forgotten Crusader Queen (Sawbridgeworth, East and West Publishing, 2011).

Historical fiction

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