Amalric Jerusalem
Amalric Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem (1136 – 11 July 1174) 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. He was the father of three rulers of Jerusalem, the eldest Sibylla, the second Baldwin IV, and the third Isabella I, who ruled after the Siege.
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  • 1174
    Age 38
    Neither they nor Latin doctors could help, and he died on July 11, 1174.
    More Details Hide Details Maria Comnena had borne Amalric two daughters: Isabella, who would eventually marry four husbands in turn and succeed as queen, was born in 1172; and a stillborn child some time later. On his deathbed Amalric bequeathed Nablus to Maria and Isabella, both of whom would retire there. The leprous child Baldwin IV succeeded his father and brought his mother Agnes of Courtenay (now married to her fourth husband) back to court. William was a good friend of Amalric and described him in great detail. "He had a slight impediment in his speech, not serious enough to be considered as a defect but sufficient to render him incapable of ready eloquence. He was far better in counsel than in fluent or ornate speech." Like his brother Baldwin III, he was more of an academic than a warrior, who studied law and languages in his leisure time: "He was well skilled in the customary law by which the kingdom was governed – in fact, he was second to no one in this respect." He was probably responsible for an assize making all rear-vassals directly subject to the king and eligible to appear at the Haute Cour. Amalric had an enormous curiosity, and William was reportedly astonished to find Amalric questioning, during an illness, the resurrection of the body. He especially enjoyed reading and being read to, spending long hours listening to William read early drafts of his history.
  • 1171
    Age 35
    Nevertheless, in 1171 Amalric visited Constantinople himself and envoys were sent to the kings of Europe for a second time, but again no help was received.
    More Details Hide Details Over the next few years the kingdom was threatened not only by Saladin and Nur ad-Din, but also by the Hashshashin; in one episode, the Knights Templar murdered some Hashshashin envoys, leading to further disputes between Amalric and the Templars.
  • 1169
    Age 33
    In January 1169 Shirkuh had Shawar assassinated.
    More Details Hide Details Shirkuh became vizier, although he himself died in March, and was succeeded by his nephew Saladin. Amalric became alarmed and sent Frederick de la Roche, Archbishop of Tyre, to seek help from the kings and nobles of Europe, but no assistance was forthcoming. Later that year however a Byzantine fleet arrived, and in October Amalric launched yet another invasion and besieged Damietta by sea and by land. The siege was long and famine broke out in the Christian camp; the Byzantines and crusaders blamed each other for the failure, and a truce was signed with Saladin. Amalric returned home. Now Jerusalem was surrounded by hostile enemies. In 1170 Saladin invaded Jerusalem and took the city of Eilat, severing Jerusalem's connection with the Red Sea. Saladin, who was set up as Vizier of Egypt, was declared Sultan in 1171 upon the death of the last Fatimid caliph. Saladin's rise to Sultan was an unexpected reprieve for Jerusalem, as Nur ad-Din was now preoccupied with reining in his powerful vassal.
  • 1168
    Age 32
    In 1168 Amalric and Manuel negotiated an alliance against Egypt, and William of Tyre was among the ambassadors sent to Constantinople to finalize the treaty.
    More Details Hide Details Although Amalric still had a peace treaty with Shawar, Shawar was accused of attempting to ally with Nur ad-Din, and Amalric invaded. The Knights Hospitaller eagerly supported this invasion, while the Knights Templar refused to have any part in it. In October, without waiting for any Byzantine assistance (and in fact without even waiting for the ambassadors to return), Amalric invaded and seized Bilbeis. The inhabitants were either massacred or enslaved. Amalric then marched to Cairo, where Shawar offered Amalric two million pieces of gold. Meanwhile Nur ad-Din sent Shirkuh back to Egypt as well, and upon his arrival Amalric retreated.
  • 1167
    Age 31
    Once Amalric gave up on this point he was able to marry Maria in Tyre on August 29, 1167.
    More Details Hide Details During this time the queen dowager, Baldwin III's widow Theodora, eloped with her cousin Andronicus to Damascus, and Acre, which had been in her possession, reverted into the royal domain of Jerusalem. It was also around this time that William of Tyre was promoted to archdeacon of Tyre, and was recruited by Amalric to write a history of the kingdom.
    After his return to Jerusalem in 1167, Amalric married Maria Comnena, a great-grandniece of Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus.
    More Details Hide Details The negotiations had taken two years, mostly because Amalric insisted that Manuel return Antioch to Jerusalem.
    In 1167, Nur ad-Din sent Shirkuh back to Egypt and Amalric once again followed him, establishing a camp near Cairo; Shawar again allied with Amalric and a treaty was signed with the caliph al-Adid himself.
    More Details Hide Details Shirkuh encamped on the opposite side of the Nile. After an indecisive battle, Amalric retreated to Cairo and Shirkuh marched north to capture Alexandria; Amalric followed and besieged Shirkuh there, aided by a Pisan fleet from Jerusalem. Shirkuh negotiated for peace and Alexandria was handed over to Amalric. However, Amalric could not remain there indefinitely, and returned to Jerusalem after exacting an enormous tribute.
  • 1166
    Age 30
    The year 1166 was relatively quiet, but Amalric sent envoys to the Byzantine Empire seeking an alliance and a Byzantine wife, and throughout the year had to deal with raids by Nur ad-Din, who captured Banias.
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  • 1165
    Age 29
    Amalric rushed to take up the regency of Antioch and Tripoli and secured Bohemund's ransom in 1165 (Raymond remained in captivity until 1173).
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  • 1164
    Age 28
    Amalric returned to Egypt in 1164 and besieged Shirkuh in Bilbeis until Shirkuh retreated to Damascus.
    More Details Hide Details Amalric could not follow up on his success in Egypt because Nur ad-Din was active in Syria, having taken Bohemund III of Antioch and Raymond III of Tripoli prisoner at the Battle of Harim during Amalric's absence.
    Amalric returned home but Shawar fled to the court of Nur ad-Din, who sent his general Shirkuh to settle the dispute in 1164.
    More Details Hide Details In response Dirgham sought help from Amalric, but Shirkuh and Shawar arrived before Amalric could intervene and Dirgham was killed. Shawar, however, feared that Shirkuh would seize power for himself, and he too looked to Amalric for assistance.
  • 1163
    Age 27
    Amalric led his first expedition into Egypt in 1163, claiming that the Fatimids had not paid the yearly tribute that had begun during the reign of Baldwin III.
    More Details Hide Details The vizier, Dirgham, had recently overthrown the vizier Shawar, and marched out to meet Amalric at Pelusium, but was defeated and forced to retreat to Bilbeis. The Egyptians then opened up the Nile dams and let the river flood, hoping to prevent Amalric from invading any further.
    Baldwin III died on 10 February 1163 and the kingdom passed to Amalric, although there was some opposition among the nobility to Agnes; they were willing to accept the marriage in 1157 when Baldwin III was still capable of siring an heir, but now the Haute Cour refused to endorse Amalric as king unless his marriage to Agnes was annulled.
    More Details Hide Details The hostility to Agnes, it must be admitted, may be exaggerated by the chronicler William of Tyre, whom she prevented from becoming Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem decades later, as well as from William's continuators like Ernoul, who hints at a slight on her moral character: "car telle n'est que roine doie iestre di si haute cite comme de Jherusalem" ("there should not be such a queen for so holy a city as Jerusalem"). Nevertheless, consanguinity was enough for the opposition. Amalric agreed and ascended the throne without a wife, although Agnes continued to hold the title Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon and received a pension from that fief's income. Agnes soon thereafter married Hugh of Ibelin, to whom she had been engaged before her marriage with Amalric. The church ruled that Amalric and Agnes' children were legitimate and preserved their place in the order of succession. Through her children Agnes would exert much influence in Jerusalem for almost 20 years.
  • 1157
    Age 21
    Amalric married Agnes of Courtenay in 1157.
    More Details Hide Details Agnes, daughter of Joscelin II of Edessa, had lived in Jerusalem since the western regions of the former crusader County of Edessa were lost in 1150. Patriarch Fulcher objected to the marriage on grounds of consanguinity, as the two shared a great-great-grandfather, Guy I of Montlhéry, and it seems that they waited until Fulcher's death to marry. Agnes bore Amalric three children: Sibylla, the future Baldwin IV (both of whom would come to rule the kingdom in their own right), and Alix, who died in childhood.
  • 1153
    Age 17
    In 1153 Baldwin captured the Egyptian fortress of Ascalon, which was then added to Amalric's fief of Jaffa (see Battle of Ascalon).
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  • 1151
    Age 15
    Amalric, who had been given the County of Jaffa as an apanage when he reached the age of majority in 1151, remained loyal to Melisende in Jerusalem, and when Baldwin invaded the south, Amalric was besieged in the Tower of David with his mother.
    More Details Hide Details Melisende was defeated in this struggle and Baldwin ruled alone thereafter.
  • 1143
    Age 7
    After the death of Fulk in a hunting accident in 1143, the throne passed jointly to Melisende and Amalric's older brother Baldwin III, who was still only 13 years old.
    More Details Hide Details Melisende did not step down when Baldwin came of age two years later, and by 1150 the two were becoming increasingly hostile towards each other. In 1152 Baldwin had himself crowned sole king, and civil war broke out, with Melisende retaining Jerusalem while Baldwin held territory further north.
  • 1136
    Age 0
    Amalric was born in 1136 to King Fulk, the former count of Anjou who had married the heiress of the kingdom, Melisende, daughter of King Baldwin II.
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