Baldwin III

(Baldwin III of Jerusalem )


Baldwin III
Baldwin III was the fifth of the Latin kings of Jerusalem. His reign was tampered by crusade as well as civil war, and even his later recovery did not completely undo the damage that had been wrought on the Jewish empire.

Following the death of his father, Baldwin was crowned king of Jerusalem at the age of thirteen. He ruled alongside his mother, the daughter of Baldwin II, and the political situation was tense following their appointment as monarch. Without a strong king to lead the people, the Northern states grew restless and defiant, and Muslim ruler Zengi found opportunity to seize the state of Edessa. This shocked the Western world and led to a resounding call for a second crusade. By the time the soldiers arrived in Jerusalem, however, Zengi had been assassinated and a treaty of mutual protection made between Baldwin and the governor of Damascus. Nevertheless, Baldwin, in an attempt to impress his European allies, laid siege to the northern city. The battle was a failure, lasting only four days, and the resulting loss of the city was a harsh blow to the Jewish capital. By 1149, the crusaders had returned to Europe, leaving Jerusalem severely devastated. Zengiís son took advantage of this weakness and invaded the Principality of Antioch and Turbessel, the last remnants of the county of Edessa. Several of Baldwinís friends and family members were killed as well, and by 1152, only Jerusalem retained some sense of leadership.

At this time, Baldwin had been of ruling age for seven years, and he began to assert more authority as he grew increasingly estranged from his mother. He demanded a second, separate coronation, but when he was refused in this request, Baldwin and his mother agreed to put their complaints before the royal council. The answer was simple: Baldwin would retain the province of Galilee, while his mother ruled Judea and Samaria. Neither king nor queen were pleased with this answer, but they reluctantly agreed to the split. Still, within weeks of the division, Baldwin had launched an attack against his mother, who in turn sought refuge in the Tower of David. The lower states chose to negotiate peacefully, and in the end the queen was allowed to retain the city of Nablus. Mother and son were reconciled, and Baldwin, realizing her expertise in matters of the state, allowed her to maintain influence in government affairs. Now that Syria was well united in the North, Baldwin turned his attention southward and took several cities on the Egyptian border. Later, in 1158, he was able to finally defeat Zengiís son, who had caused him so much grief in years past. Unfortunately, the king passed away only four years later, supposedly after eating poisoned pills given him by a Syrian doctor. He did not have any children but was succeeded by his brother Amalric I.

Key events during the life of Baldwin III:

Father died; Baldwin was crowned in joint with his mother
Zengi captured Edessa
Zengi was assassinated
Second crusade arrived in Jerusalem
Demanded a second coronation as sole ruler; northern and southern Isreal were separated
Invaded the southern states of the Jewish kingdom
Reconciled with his mother
Defeated Muslim leader Nur ad-Din
Married daughter of Byzantine leader
Mother died

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Baldwin of Jerusalem  in  Historic Boys  by  E. S. Brooks
Kingdom of Jerusalem  in  The Crusaders  by  Alfred J. Church

Image Links

Thou the king!' exclaimed the pilgrim. 'Thou that Baldwin of Jerusalem whom men do call the hero of the Jordan.'
 in Historic Boys

The patriarch of Jerusalem dragged to prison by the Turks
 in The Crusaders

Short Biography
Zengi Ruler of Northern Syria. Assassinated after capturing Edessa and beginning the second crusade.
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Conrad III First Hohenstaufen king of Germany. Involved in Guelph/Ghibelline struggle and also second crusade.