Isabella Jerusalem
Queen of Jerusalem
Isabella Jerusalem
Isabella I was Queen regnant of Jerusalem from 1190/1192 until her death. By her four marriages, she was successively Lady of Toron, Marchioness of Montferrat, Countess of Champagne and Queen of Cyprus. She was the daughter of Amalric I of Jerusalem and his second wife Maria Comnena, making her a younger half-sister of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem.
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  • 1205
    Age 33
    King Amalric died in 1205 of food-poisoning caused by white mullet, four days before his wife, and shortly after their infant son.
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    On her death on 5 April 1205, Isabella was succeeded as Queen of Jerusalem by her eldest daughter Maria of Montferrat.
    More Details Hide Details The legality of Isabella's divorce from Humphrey was challenged in 1213, during the dispute over the succession to Champagne between her daughters Alice and Philippa and Henry's nephew Theobald IV. However, its validity seems to have been upheld: no challenge was made to the legitimacy of Maria and her descendants to succeed to the throne of Jerusalem, and in Champagne, Theobald bought off his cousins Alice and Philippa. Isabella's first marriage to Humphrey IV of Toron was childless. From her second marriage to Conrad of Montferrat she had one daughter: From her third marriage to Henry II, Count of Champagne she had three daughters: From her fourth and final marriage to Amalric I of Cyprus she had the following children: Isabella has made few fictional appearances, but she is a major character in Graham Shelby's The Knights of Dark Renown (1969) and its sequel The Kings of Vain Intent (1970). Shelby idealises her marriage to Humphrey, depicting them as his young romantic leads. He then goes on to depict her being beaten and raped by Conrad in a sadistically abusive relationship. This sensationalist depiction is not supported by any evidence. Shelby implies that Isabella plotted Conrad's murder in revenge for his abuse, and depicts her as mentally numbed and indifferent to Henry.
  • 1192
    Age 20
    The marriage was celebrated in Acre on 10 May 1192.
    More Details Hide Details Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani, who was present for the wedding, wrote: Henry died in 1197 when a balcony or window-trellis gave way and he fell out of a window. He and Isabella had three daughters, Marie of Champagne (died as a child before 1205), Alice (born 1196) and Philippa (born 1197). After his death, Isabella was married for a fourth time to Amalric II of Jerusalem (also Amalric I of Cyprus), brother of Guy of Lusignan. They were crowned together as King and Queen of Jerusalem in January 1198 in Acre. They had two daughters, Sybilla (born 1198) and Melisende (born 1200), and one son, Amalric (1201–1205).
  • 1185
    Age 13
    The High Court of Jerusalem stipulated that a committee of Western European rulers was entitled to choose between Sybilla and Isabella to succeed Baldwin V if he died before reaching the age of majority, but Sybilla and Guy of Lusignan were crowned soon after Baldwin V died in 1185.
    More Details Hide Details Guy's opponents tried to play Isabella and her husband off against him, but Humphrey did homage to the royal couple. Isabella was the daughter of Amalric, King of Jerusalem, by his second wife, Maria Comnena. Maria Comnena (who was a grandniece of the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel I Komnenos) married Amalric on 29 August 1171.
  • 1183
    Age 11
    The relationship between Baldwin IV and Guy of Lusignan deteriorated. Baldwin IV removed Guy from the regency and denied his right of succession, making Guy's stepson (Sybilla's son from her first marriage), Baldwin V, his heir and co-ruler on 20 November 1183.
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    The marriage of Isabella and Humphrey was celebrated in Kerak Castle in autumn 1183.
    More Details Hide Details Saladin, the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt and Syria, laid siege to the fortress during the wedding, but Baldwin IV forced him to lift the siege. Baldwin IV, who suffered from lepromatous leprosy, had made his nephew (the only son of his sister, Sybilla by her first husband), Baldwin V, his heir and co-ruler, to prevent Sybilla's second husband, Guy of Lusignan, from mounting the throne.
  • 1180
    Age 8
    Isabella returned Humphrey the Lordship of Toron that Baldwin IV had annexed to the crown in 1180.
    More Details Hide Details Guy of Lusignan refused to abdicate, but most barons regarded him the lawful monarch. Conrad and Isabella returned to Tyre. After Philip II of France, who landed at Acre on 20 April 1191, acknowledged Conrad's claim to Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan and Conrad's opponents (including Humphrey of Toron and Bohemond III of Antioch) sought assistance from Richard I of England, who decided to support them. Guy adopted the title of "king-elect of Jerusalem" in May. The crusaders captured Acre on 11 July 1191. On 28 July, Richard of England and Philip of France agreed that Guy could retain the title of king till the end of his life, but Conrad would rule Tyre, Beirut and Sidon; after Guy's death, the kingdom would be united under the rule of Conrad and Isabella or their issue. Three days later, Philip of France left left for France and Richard of England became the sole supreme commander of the crusaders. The native barons remained hostile towards Guy. After Richard decided to return to England in April 1192, the barons urged him to revise the previous decision about the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
    To secure Guy's position, the king arranged the betrothal of Isabella to Raynald of Châtillon's stepson, Humphrey IV of Toron, in October 1180.
    More Details Hide Details Isabella was sent to Kerak Castle to be educated by Humphrey's mother, Stephanie of Milly. Stephanie forbade her to pay visits to her mother and stepfather at Nablus.
  • 1177
    Age 5
    Isabella's mother married Balian of Ibelin in autumn 1177. His brother, Baldwin of Ibelin, wanted to marry Sybilla, but the king preferred an other candidate, Guy of Lusignan. After the marriage of Sybilla and Guy on Eastern 1180, a division emerged between Guy of Lusignan's supporters and opponents.
    More Details Hide Details The first group included the mother of Baldwin IV and Sybilla, Agnes of Courtenay, her brother, Joscelin, and Raynald of Châtillon, Lord of Oultrejordain. Their opponents included Isabella's mother and stepfather, and Raymond III of Tripoli.
  • 1172
    Age 0
    Isabella was born before September 1172.
    More Details Hide Details Amalric died unexpectedly on 11 July 1174. His son by his first marriage, Baldwin IV, was crowned king two weeks later. Before long, it became obvious that Baldwin suffered from lepromatous leprosy. To secure the succession of the ailing king, his sister, Sybilla, was given in marriage to William of Montferrat in November 1176, but he died seven months later. Baldwin's cousin, Philip I, Count of Flanders, who landed at Acre in August, offered Robert of Bethune for Sybilla's new husband, also proposing that Isabella (who was Baldwin's and Sybilla's half-sister) should marry Robert's younger brother, William of Bethune. The High Court of Jerusalem refused both proposals.
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