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Godfrey of Bouillon: Leader in the First Crusades and Ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 20:14
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Illustration of Godfrey of Bouillon (central figure) from William of Tyre's Histoire d'Outremer, in the care of the British Museum.

Godfrey of Bouillon was a medieval Frankish nobleman best known for his role as one of the main leaders during the First Crusade. As a consequence of this successful military expedition to the Holy Land, Godfrey became the first ruler of the newly-established Kingdom of Jerusalem. Godfrey is said to have refused to accept the title ‘King’, choosing to adopt the title of Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, which means ‘Advocate / Protector of the Holy Sepulchre’ instead.

Early Life of Godfrey

Godfrey of Bouillon was born in 1060, and was the second son of Eustace II, Count of Boulogne, and his wife, Ida, the daughter of Godfrey III (the Bearded), Duke of Lower Lorraine. Whilst his elder brother, Eustace III, was heir to the County of Boulogne and was to inherit the family’s estate in England, Godfrey was named as the heir of his maternal uncle, Godfrey IV (the Hunchback). When this uncle was assassinated in 1076, Godfrey inherited his lands, which included the Duchy of Lower Lorraine the County of Verdun and the Marquisate of Antwerp.

Godfrey of Bouillon, from a fresco painted by Giacomo Jaquerio in Saluzzo, northern Italy, in 1420.

Godfrey of Bouillon, from a fresco painted by Giacomo Jaquerio in Saluzzo, northern Italy, in 1420. (Public Domain) – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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