Baldwin III (1143–1163)

A month later King Baldwin II. secured his liberation. In 1 129 he strengthened his throne by the marriage of his daughter, Melisende, to Foulque of Anjou, son of the notorious Bertrade, who had deserted her legitimate husband for the embrace of King Philip of France. This monarch had put away his wife Bertha for this new union. Thus was brought upon Philip the famous excommunication of the Pope. Two years later (August 13, 1 131) Baldwin II. died and was buried with Godfrey and Baldwin I. in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Foulque ascended the throne. His first work was to settle a dispute for the lordship of Antioch, which was accomplished only after bloodshed between brethren. Next he baffled the Greek emperor, John Comnenus, who attempted to gain for himself the kingdom of Jerusalem. Later he made alliance with the Mussulman Prince of Damascus and fought against Zenghi, Prince of Mosul. His queen, Melisende, by her rumored amours brought him additional perplexity. King Foulque died from an injury while hunting (November 13, 1143), leaving two children, Baldwin and Amalric.

Baldwin III succeeded his father at the age of thirteen, with Melisende as regent. Effeminacy not only marked the government, but infected the spirit of the people. The heroism of the founders of the kingdom seemed to die in the blood of their successors, or, if danger fired the ancient valor, it was without the light of discretion.

Young Baldwin III. inaugurated his reign by a foolish expedition to take Bozrah, which had been offered in surrender by its traitorous commandant. To accomplish this it was necessary to break a fair and useful alliance which the Christians had made with the Sultan of Damascus, the rightful lord of Bozrah. On reaching Bozrah, instead of the keys of the city, there was placed in the hands of the king an announcement from the wife of the treacherous governor that she herself would defend the walls. The perplexity of the king and his equally callow advisers was followed by an ignoble retreat. The enemy pursued not only with sword, but with fire. The wind, which seemed to the retreating army to be the breath of God's wrath, covered them with smoke and cinders, while the flames of the burning grass chased their fleeing feet. The Christians would have perished had not, say the chronicles, the wood of the True Cross, raised with prayer, changed the direction of the breeze and beaten back the pursuers.

At this time there was felt the need of an astute mind at the head of the kingdom. Christian progress had been arrested, and events of evil omen were thickening, especially tThe star of Zenghi, the ruler of Mosul, the father of Nourredin, and the forerunner of Saladin, had arisen.


Archer (T. A.) and Others, The Crusades; The story of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, New York, 1902.

James (M. L.), The age of the crusades, New York, 1914.

Murray (A. V.), The Crusades: an encyclopedia, CA : ABC-CLIO, 2006.