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Baldwin III

Article from the 1911 Encyclopedia

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BALDWIN III., king of Jerusalem (1143-1162), was the eldest son of Fulk of Jerusalem by his wife Melisinda. He was born in 1130, and became king in 1143, under the regency of his mother, which lasted till 1152. He came to the throne at a time when the attacks of the Greeks in Cilicia, and of Zengi on Edessa, were fatally weakening the position of the Franks in northern Syria; and from the beginning of his reign the power of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem may be said to be slowly declining, though as yet there is little outward trace of its decay to be seen. Edessa was lost, however, in the year after Baldwin's accession, and the conquest by Zengi of this farthest and most important outpost in northern Syria was already a serious blow to the kingdom. Upon it in 1147 there followed the second crusade; and in that crusade Baldwin III., now some eighteen years of age, played his part by the side of Conrad III. and Louis VII. He received them in Jerusalem in 1148; with them he planned the attack on Damascus and with them he signally failed in the attack. In 1149, after the failure of the crusade, Baldwin III. appeared in Antioch, where the fall of Raymund, the husband of the princess Constance, made his presence necessary. He regulated affairs in Antioch, and tried to strengthen the north of Palestine generally against the arm of Zengi's successor, Nureddin, by renewing the old and politic alliance with Damascus interrupted since 1147, and by ceding Tellbashir, the one remnant of the county of Edessa, to Manuel of Constantinople. In 1152 came the inevitable struggle between the young king and his mother, who had ruled with wisdom and vigour during the regency and was unwilling to lay down the reins of power. Baldwin originally planned a solemn coronation, as the signal of his emancipation. Dissuaded from that course, he nevertheless wore his crown publicly in the church of the Sepulchre. A struggle followed: in the issue, Baldwin agreed to leave his mother in possession of Jerusalem and Nablus, while he retained Acre and Tyre for himself. But he repented of the bargain; and a new struggle began, in which Baldwin recovered, after some fighting, the possession of his capital. From these internal dissensions Baldwin was now summoned to the north, to regulate anew the affairs of Antioch and also those of Tripoli, where the death of Count Raymund had thrown on his shoulders the cares of a second regency. On his return to Jerusalem he was successful in repelling an attack by an army of Turcomans; and his success encouraged him to attempt the siege of Ascalon in the spring of 1153. He was successful: the " bride of Syria," which had all but become the property of the crusaders in 1099, but had since defied the arms of the Franks for half a century, became part of the kingdom of Jerusalem. From 1156 to 1158 Baldwin was occupied in hostilities with Nureddin. In 1156 he had to submit to a treaty which cut short his territories; in the winter of 1157-1158 he besieged and captured Harim, in the territory once belonging to Antioch: in 1158 he defeated Nureddin himself. In the same.year Baldwin married Theodora, a near relative of the East Roman emperor Manuel; while in 1159 he received a visit from Manuel himself at Antioch. The Latin king rode behind the Greek emperor, without any of the insignia of his dignity, at the entry into Antioch; but their relations were of the friendliest, and Manuel - as great a physician as he was a hunter - personally attended to Baldwin when the king was thrown from his horse in attempting to equal the emperor's feats of horsemanship. In the same year Baldwin had to undertake the regency in Antioch once more, Raynald of Chatillon, the second husband of Constance, being captured in battle. Three years later he died (1162), without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother Amalric I.

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