Eight days after the capture of the Holy City a permanent government was established, known as the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. Godfrey was elected king, but declined the title of royalty, unwilling to wear a crown of gold where the Saviour had worn a crown of thorns.386 He adopted the title Baron and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. The kingdom from its birth was in need of help, and less than a year after the capture of the city the patriarch Dagobert made an appeal to the "rich" German nation for reënforcements.387 It had a perturbed existence of less than a century, and in that time witnessed a succession of nine sovereigns.
Godfrey extended his realm, but survived the capture of Jerusalem only a year, dying July 18, 1100. He was honored and lamented as the most disinterested and devout among the chieftains of the First Crusade. His body was laid away in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, where his reputed sword and spurs are still shown. On his tomb was the inscription:, Here lies Godfrey of Bouillon, who conquered all this territory for the Christian religion. May his soul be at rest with Christ."388
With the Latin kingdom was established the Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem. The election of Arnulf, chaplain to Robert of Normandy, was declared irregular, and Dagobert, or Daimbert, archbishop of Pisa, was elected in his place Christmas Day, 1099.389 Latin sees were erected throughout the land and also a Latin patriarchate of Antioch. Dagobert secured large concessions from Godfrey, including the acknowledgment of his kingdom as a fief of the patriarch. After the fall of Jerusalem, in 1187, the patriarchs lived in Acre.390
The constitution and judicial procedure of the new realm were fixed by the Assizes of Jerusalem. These were deposited under seal in the church of the Holy Sepulchre and are also called the Letters of the Holy Sepulchre.391 They were afterwards lost, and our knowledge of their contents is derived from the codes of Cyprus and the Latin kingdom of Constantinople, which were founded upon the Jerusalem code.
These statutes reproduced the feudal system of Europe. The conquered territory was distributed among the barons, who held their possessions under the king of Jerusalem as overlord. The four chief fiefs were Jaffa and Ascalon, Kerat, east of the Jordan, Galilee, and Sidon. The counts of Tripoli and Edessa and the prince of Antioch were independent of the kingdom of Jerusalem. A system of courts was provided, the highest being presided over by the king. Trial by combat of arms was recognized. A second court provided for justice among the burgesses. A third gave it to the natives. Villeins or slaves were treated as property according to the discretion of the master, but are also mentioned as being subject to the courts of law. The slave and the falcon were estimated as equal in value. Two slaves were held at the price of a horse and three slaves at the price of twelve oxen. The man became of age at twenty-five, the woman at twelve. The feudal system in Europe was a natural product. In Palestine it was an exotic.
The Christian occupation of Palestine did not bring with it a reign of peace. The kingdom was torn by the bitter intrigues of barons and ecclesiastics, while it was being constantly threatened from without. The inner strife was the chief source of weakness. The monks settled down in swarms over the country, and the Franciscans became the guardians of the holy places. The illegitimate offspring of the Crusaders by Moslem women, called pullani, were a degenerate race, marked by avarice, faithlessness, and debauchery.392
Godfrey was succeeded by his brother Baldwin, count of Edessa, who was crowned at Bethlehem. He was a man of intelligence and the most vigorous of the kings of Jerusalem. He died of a fever in Egypt, and his body was laid at the side of his brother’s in Jerusalem.
During Baldwin’s reign, 1100–1118, the limits of the kingdom were greatly extended.393 Caesarea fell in 1101, St. Jean d’Acre, otherwise known as Ptolemais, in 1104, and Berytus, or Beyrut, in 1110. Sidon capitulated to Sigurd, son of the king of Norway, who had with him ten thousand Crusaders. One-third of Asia Minor was reduced, a part of the territory reverting to the Greek empire. Damascus never fell into European hands. With the progress of their arms, the Crusaders reared strong castles from Petra to the far North as well as on the eastern side of the Jordan. Their ruins attest the firm purpose of their builders to make their occupation permanent. "We who were Westerners," said Fulcher of Chartres, "are now Easterners. We have forgotten our native land." It is proof of the attractiveness of the cause, if not also of the country, that so many Crusaders sought to establish themselves there permanently. Many who went to Europe returned a second time, and kings spent protracted periods in the East.
During Baldwin’s reign most of the leaders of the First Crusade died or returned to Europe. But the ranks were being continually recruited by fresh expeditions. Pascal II., the successor of Urban II., sent forth a call for recruits. The Italian cities furnished fleets, and did important service in conjunction with the land forces. The Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese established quarters of their own in Jerusalem, Acre, and other cities. Thousands took the cross in Lombardy, France, and Germany, and were led by Anselm, archbishop of Milan, Stephen, duke of Burgundy, William, duke of Aquitaine, Ida of Austria, and others. Hugh of Vermandois, who had gone to Europe, returned. Bohemund likewise returned with thirty-four thousand men, and opposed the Greek emperor. At least two Christian armies attempted to attack Islam in its stronghold at Bagdad.
Under Baldwin II., 1118–1131, the nephew of Baldwin I., Tyre was taken, 1124. This event marks the apogee of the Crusaders’ possessions and power.
In the reign of Fulke of Anjou, 1131–1143, the husband of Millicent, Baldwin II.’s daughter, Zengi, surnamed Imaded-din, the Pillar of the Faith, threatened the very existence of the Frankish kingdom.
Baldwin III., 1143–1162, came to the throne in his youth.394 His reign witnessed the fall of Edessa into Zengi’s hands, 1144, and the progress of the Second Crusade, as also the rise of Zengi’s son, Nureddin, the uncle of Saladin, who conquered Damascus, 1154.
Amalric, or Amaury, 1162–1173, carried his arms and diplomacy into Egypt, and saw the fall of the Fatimite dynasty which had been in power for two centuries. The power in the South now became identified with the splendid and warlike abilities of Saladin, who, with Nureddin, healed the divisions of the Mohammedans, and compacted their power from Bagdad to Cairo. Henceforth the kingdom of Jerusalem stood on the defensive. The schism between the Abassidae and the Fatimites had made the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 possible.
Baldwin IV., 1173–1184, a boy of thirteen at his accession, was, like Uzziah, a leper. Among the regents who conducted the affairs of the kingdom during his reign was the duke of Montferrat, who married Sybilla, the king’s sister. In 1174 Saladin, by the death of Nureddin, became caliph of the whole realm from Damascus to the Nile, and started on the path of God, the conquest of Jerusalem.
Baldwin V., 1184–1186, a child of five, and son of Sybilla, was succeeded by Guy of Lusignan, Sybilla’s second husband. Saladin met Guy and the Crusaders at the village of Hattin, on the hill above Tiberius, where tradition has placed the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount. The Templars and Hospitallers were there in force, and the true cross was carried by the bishop of Acre, clad in armor. On July 5, 1187, the decisive battle was fought. The Crusaders were completely routed, and thirty thousand are said to have perished. Guy of Lusignan, the masters of the Temple395 and the Hospital, and Reginald of Châtillon, lord of Kerak, were taken prisoners by the enemy. Reginald was struck to death in Saladin’s tent, but the king and the other captives were treated with clemency.396 The true cross was a part of the enemy’s booty. The fate of the Holy Land was decided.
On Oct. 2, 1187, Saladin entered Jerusalem after it had made a brave resistance. The conditions of surrender were most creditable to the chivalry of the great commander. There were no scenes of savage butchery such as followed the entry of the Crusaders ninety years before. The inhabitants were given their liberty for the payment of money, and for forty days the procession of the departing continued. The relics stored away in the church of the Holy Sepulchre were delivered up by the conqueror for the sum of fifty thousand bezants, paid by Richard I.397
Thus ended the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. Since then the worship of Islam has continued on Mount Moriah without interruption. The Christian conquests were in constant danger through the interminable feuds of the Crusaders themselves, and, in spite of the constant flow of recruits and treasure from Europe, they fell easily before the unifying leadership of Saladin.
After 1187 a line of nominal kings of Jerusalem presented a romantic picture in European affairs. The last real king, Guy of Lusignan, was released, and resumed his kingly pretension without a capital city. Conrad of Montferrat, who had married Isabella, daughter of Amalric, was granted the right of succession. He was murdered before reaching the throne, and Henry of Champagne became king of Jerusalem on Guy’s accession to the crown of Cyprus. In 1197 the two crowns of Cyprus and Jerusalem were united in Amalric II. At his death the crown passed to Mary, daughter of Conrad of Montferrat. Mary’s husband was John of Brienne. At the marriage of their daughter, Iolanthe, to the emperor Frederick II., that sovereign assumed the title, King of Jerusalem.