Godfrey of Bouillon: First Crusader Ruler of JerusalemThough coming from relatively obscure beginnings as the second son of a French count, Godfrey of Bouillon inherited the title of Duke of Lower Lorraine from his uncle. In the decades prior to the Crusades, Godfrey fought many battles for King Henry IV of Germany.
Though coming from relatively obscure beginnings as the second son of a French count, Godfrey of Bouillon inherited the title of Duke of Lower Lorraine from his uncle. In the decades prior to the Crusades, Godfrey fought many battles for King Henry IV of Germany.
But everything changed for Godfrey when Pope Urban II issued his famous call to arms that precipitated the Crusades in 1095. A pious Christian, Godfrey either sold or took out loans on his lands, and used the money to gather an army comprising thousands of knights.
In the course of their journey to the Holy Land, Godfrey’s army fought Muslims on behalf of King Alexius I of Byzantium, and achieved what had been a very uncertain victory at Antioch.
By the time Godfrey and the other armies of the First Crusade reached the gates of Jerusalem in 1099, they had participated in many battles across Europe and the Near East, changing the geography irrevocably as they conquered.
After the First Crusade armies succeeded in conquering Jerusalem in 1099, Godfrey was made ruler of the Holy City. He refused a crown, not wishing to wear one or to be called king in the city where Jesus had been killed. Some sources say that he took the title of “Advocate” or “Defender” of the Holy Sepulchre.
But it was only in 1100, mere months after the conquest of Jerusalem, that Godfrey died of an illness, leaving the throne open to his brother, Baldwin, who would crown himself king.
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