The Latin kingdom of Jerusalem

The Latin kingdom of Jerusalem was thus proclaimed, with its first custodian Godfrey of Bouillon, who accepted the modest title of "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre" (Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri) . The chief duty of the "Advocatus" was to ensure the safety of the conquest, and this he did by defeating the first Egyptian army arriving from Cairo at Ascalon in the following month.

The crusades states

Apparently the winners of the day returned from that battlefield to Jerusalem laden with tremendous booty. Realizing the hopelessness of their plight, the Muslim amirs of the still unconquered coastal towns soon began to send Godfrey tributes in gold besants and presented him with horses loaded with provisions and fruits; and these peace overtures were accepted as stabilizing factors in the position of victors and vanquished who were destined to live together for many years to come.

At last, Godfrey died on July 18, 1100, and was succeeded by Baldwin of Boulogne as first king-elect of the new little theocratic state, who was crowned in the Holy Sepulchre on December 25, 1100. The genesis of this typically feudal monarchy, viewed in the broadest outline, may be found to consist of two general stages in two successive periods: the first kingdom of the twelfth century, whose monarchs, though elective, sought to control the nobility; and the second kingdom of the thirteenth century, becoming hereditary but controlled by its feudatories. In both cases, the power of the Church was supreme and the advice of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem usually was decisive. The kingdom consisted mainly of four semi-independent principalities: Jerusalem, Antioch, Edessa, and Tripoli. These in turn were broken up into smaller baronies and fiefs, while the administration of the coastal towns was largely confided to the greater merchant sea powers of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa.

The Latin Church also came into existence with two patriarchs at Jerusalem and Antioch, eight metropolitan provinces, and sixteen bishoprics, in addition to a considerable number of monastic establishments. It appeared at first as if Antioch, of ancient fame as the capital of the East from Seleucid days down to the Byzantine period, was going to regain the eminence which it had lost since the Arab invasion and become the new capital of another Christian kingdom; and indeed Bohemond worked hard for the realization of this ambitious project. But Jerusalem in the end won the day as the Rome of the East with the Holy Sepulchre, and Bohemond missed the chance of elevation to royal dignity, although the Church upheld his claims against those of Baldwin. It would even seem that the primate of Jerusalem, Dagobert, secretly envisaged some sort of Caesaro-papisrn in which the patriarchal throne, and not any temporal authority, should be the center of a great theocracy in the Holy Land. This accounts for the enduring struggle between Church and State in Jerusalem for at least the formative years of the first century of the existence of that monarchy.

From within, the seeds of discord had been apparent in the semi-autonomous feudal divisions of the kingdom. The Christians were planted as alien colonists in preponderantly hostile Muslim territories. The pilgrim Crusaders had fulfilled their vow and left, homeward bound for Europe, while the defeated enemies remained near at hand in permanent bases, ready to seize every opportunity to start the slow and nagging reconquest of lost possessions. As early as 1100, Bohemond was captured by the Danishmend Turcomans of Siwas, to be freed only in 1103; and in the following year (1104) Baldwin du Bourg, the future king, and Joscelin of Courtenay were seized by the enemy while fighting in the province of Harran. They were released only in 1108 on payment of a large ransom. The position of the Christians in the East never ceased to be critical.

In addition to the perpetual danger from without and the continuous disaffection from within, Emperor Alexius claimed both Antioch and Edessa as Byzantine acquisitions by virtue of the original agreement with the Crusaders at Constantinople. Thus growing Byzantine hostility to the Crusaders resulted in Bohemond's abortive attack on Durazzo in 1108.

On the other hand, the reign of Baldwin I (1110-1118) was memorable for a number of points which strengthened the structure of the nascent kingdom. He was a man of vision and considerable ability. He fought the theocratic policy of the Church, which found a strong exponent in the Tuscan patriarch of Jerusalem, Dagobert, who was subsequently deposed. He sallied to the Gulf of Aqabah and seized the historic Red Sea port of Ailah from Egypt, thus achieving the cleavage of the Arab world into two sections, in Africa and Asia. Not having enough reinforcements of manpower from the West, he started a policy of rapprochement with the Eastern Christians, notably the Maronites and the Armenians, who were gradually drawn toward Roman obedience. The Latins, who were becoming ostensibly Orientalized, began to intermingle with the natives; and mixed marriages with the Eastern Christians, and sometimes with evangelized Muslim women, produced a new generation o "Pullani." Baldwin struck his own coins with Arabic inscriptions in order to facilitate trade intercourse with the Muslims. He encouraged the Venetian, Genoese, and Pisan merchants to avail themselves of the possibilities of the trade emporia on his shores, thus enriching the kingdom with new sources of revenue.

The Latin kingdom received further strength from the creation of the military orders of religion. These consisted of groups of militant monks who combined the professions of monasticism and fighting the enemies of the Cross. The first of these organizations was that of the Knights Templar, inaugurated by a French knight, Hugh de Payens, and a few companions, who decided in 1119 to form a special contingent for the protection of pilgrims and the defense of the Holy Land. Baldwin II granted them a place of residence within the precincts of the Temple of Solomon, from which they acquired their name. St. Bernard of Clairvaux planned their rule for them on a Cistercian model of considerable asceticism, and Pope Honorius III gave them confirmation in 1128. They were robed in white with a red cross.

The second great order to play another role in upholding the Latin kingdom and the Crusading cause was that of the Hospitallers, or the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, whose remote origins could be traced to the year 1048, before the Crusades, when the merchants of Amalfi were allowed by the Muslim ruler of Jerusalem to build a hospital for Christian pilgrims. After the First Crusade, members of that hospital were actually engaged in caring for the sick and wounded warriors. About 1120 Raymond du Puy and his fellow workers in that hospital decided to set themselves up as Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, under the rule of celibacy, chastity, charity, helping the sick, and fighting in defense of the Holy Land. Their main headquarters during this period was the famous Krak des Chevaliers. They were robed in black with a white cross.

Other military orders on a similar model kept springing up, of which the Teutonic Order was perhaps the most famous. Members of those organizations were presumably men of free birth and an upright character. As time went on, they began to deviate from the tenets of their original rule, particularly the Templars, who became one of the richest banking concerns in Europe, until their suppression was engineered by the French monarchy, which had been heavily in their debt, and was executed by the Synod of Vienne in 1312.

Less abortive was the Norwegian Crusade of King Sigurd (1103-1130) , who had been meandering in Norse fashion on the high seas with a host of Jerusalemfarers from Norway and a fleet of fifty-five ships for some four years, sojourning in England, fighting the Moors in Spain, fraternizing with the Normans of Sicily, and at last aiding Baldwin I in the capture of the port of Sidon in 1110. In the same year, the Genoese had also helped the king to seize Beirut. Baldwin's efforts to take Tyre, however, failed; and it remained for his successor, Baldwin II du Bourg (1118-31), to accomplish this conquest in 1124, with the support of the Venetians.

Baldwin II's reign was, on the whole, a continuation of his predecessor's in the policy of consolidating the kingdom. He brought with him to the crown of Jerusalem his old county of Edessa, in which he installed during the following year one of his close supporters, Joscelin of Courtenay. In 1119 he became regent of Antioch. He Intensified the war against both Turks and Egyptians with mixed results. His foolhardy adventures led to his capture by the Turks in 1 123, though he was freed in the following year. The advantages of his reign in general outweighed the disadvantages, although by his sustained pressure on the Syrian and Egyptian frontiers he drove his divided enemies into prospective alliance and stirred Muslim armies out of their pathetic lethargy. The seeds of Christian defeat were sown, but it took the next phase for them to germinate and bear fruit.