of Jerusalem (1161–16 March 1185), called the Leper or the
Leprous, the son of Amalric I of Jerusalem and his first wife,
Agnes of Courtenay, was king of Jerusalem from 1174 to 1185. His
full sister was Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem and his nephew through
this sister (who succeeded him) was the child-king Baldwin V. He
had a half sister through his father's second marriage, the
princess Isabella of Jerusalem, and a younger brother who was the
child of both his parents but who died in infancy.
Baldwin spent his youth in his
father's court in Jerusalem, having little contact with his
mother, Agnes of Courtenay, Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon, and
later Lady of Sidon, whom his father had been forced to divorce.
Baldwin IV was educated by the historian William of Tyre (later
Archbishop of Tyre and Chancellor of the kingdom), who made a
disturbing discovery about the prince: he and his friends were
playing one day, attempting to injure each other by driving their
fingernails into each other's arms, but Baldwin felt no pain.
William immediately recognized this as a sign of serious illness,
but it was not conclusively identified as leprosy until a few
years later: the onset of puberty accelerated his disease, in its
most serious lepromatous form.
Baldwin's father died in 1174 and
the boy was crowned at the age of thirteen, on 15 July that year.
In his minority the kingdom was ruled by two successive regents,
first Miles of Plancy, though unofficially, and then Raymond III
of Tripoli, his father's cousin. In 1175, Raymond III, the acting
king of Jerusalem, made a treaty with Saladin.
As a leper, Baldwin was not
expected to reign long or produce an heir, and courtiers and lords
positioned themselves for influence over Baldwin's heirs, his
sister Princess Sibylla and his half-sister Princess Isabella.
Sibylla was being raised by her great-aunt Ioveta in the convent
of Bethany, while Isabella was at the court of her mother, the
dowager queen Maria Comnena, in Nablus.
Raymond's regency ended on the
second anniversary of Baldwin's coronation: the young king was now
of age. He did not ratify Raymond's treaty with Saladin, but
instead went raiding towards Damascus and around the Beqaa Valley.
He appointed his maternal uncle, Joscelin III, the titular count
of Edessa, seneschal after he was ransomed. Joscelin was his
closest male relative who did not have a claim to the throne, so
he was judged a reliable supporter: indeed, he proved his loyalty.
In his capacity as regent, Raymond
of Tripoli had begun negotiations for the marriage of princess
Sibylla to William of Montferrat, a first cousin of Louis VII of
France and of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. William arrived in
early October and became Count of Jaffa and Ascalon upon his
marriage. It was hoped that he would be able to govern for the
king when he became incapacitated, and succeed him with Sibylla.
Meanwhile, Baldwin was planning an
attack on Saladin's power-base in Egypt. He sent Raynald of
Chatillon (the former prince of Antioch through marriage to
Amalric I's cousin Constance of Antioch) to Constantinople as
envoy to Manuel I Comnenus, to obtain Byzantine naval support.
Raynald had recently been released from captivity in Aleppo:
Manuel paid his ransom, since he was the stepfather of the Empress
Maria of Antioch. Manuel sought the restoration of the Orthodox
patriarchate in the kingdom, and arranged the marriage of Bohemond
III of Antioch to his great-niece Theodora Comnena, sister of the
queen-dowager Maria. Reynald returned early in 1177, and was
rewarded with marriage to Stephanie of Milly, a widowed heiress.
This made him lord of Kerak and Oultrejourdain. Baldwin tried to
ensure that Reynald and William of Montferrat co-operated on the
defence of the South. However, in June, William died at Ascalon
after several weeks' illness, leaving the widowed Sibylla pregnant
with the future Baldwin V.
In August the king's first cousin,
Philip of Flanders, came to Jerusalem on crusade. Philip demanded
to wed Baldwin's sisters to his vassals. Philip, as Baldwin's
closest male kin on his paternal side (he was Fulk's grandson and
thus Baldwin's first cousin; Raymond was Melisende's nephew and
thus first cousin of Baldwin's father), claimed authority
superseding Raymond's regency. The Haute Cour refused to agree to
this, with Baldwin of Ibelin publicly insulting Philip. Offended,
Philip left the kingdom, campaigning instead for the Principality
of Antioch. The Ibelin family were patrons of the dowager queen
Maria, and it is possible that Baldwin of Ibelin acted this way in
hopes of marrying one of Baldwin's sisters himself.
In November, Baldwin and Raynald of
Chatillon defeated Saladin with the help of the Knights Templar at
the celebrated Battle of Montgisard. That same year, Baldwin
allowed his stepmother the dowager-queen to marry Balian of Ibelin,
a concilatory move to both, but it carried risks, given the
Ibelins' ambitions. With Maria's patronage, the Ibelins tried to
have the princesses Sibylla and Isabella married into their family
In 1179, the king met with some
military setbacks in the north. On 10 April, he led a cattle-raid
on Banias, but was surprised by Saladin's nephew Farrukh Shah.
Baldwin's horse bolted, and in saving him, the much-respected
constable of the kingdom Humphrey II of Toron, was mortally
wounded. On 10 June, in response to cavalry raids near Sidon,
Baldwin took a force, with Raymond of Tripoli and the Grand Master
of the Templars, Odo of St Amand, to Marj Uyun. They defeated the
raiders fording the Litani River, but were caught by Saladin's
main force. The king (unable to remount unaided) was unhorsed, and
had to be carried off the field on the back of another knight as
his guard cut their way out. Count Raymond fled to Tyre, and the
king's stepfather Reginald of Sidon rescued a number of the
fugitives, but the prisoners included the Grand Master, Baldwin of
Ibelin, and Hugh of Tiberias, one of Raymond of Tripoli's
stepsons. In August, the unfinished castle at Jacob's Ford fell to
Saladin after a brief siege, with the slaughter of half its
and Guy of Lusignan
In the summer of 1180, Baldwin IV
married Sibylla to Guy of Lusignan, brother of the constable
Amalric of Lusignan. Earlier historians claimed that Sibylla's
second marriage was entirely due to the influence of the King's
mother; however, Hamilton argues that this is to reflect
uncritically the personal grievances of William of Tyre and of the
Ibelins. A plan to marry Sibylla to Hugh III of Burgundy had
broken down; Raymond of Tripoli seems to have been attempting to
marry her to Baldwin of Ibelin to bolster his power-base. A
foreign match was essential to the kingdom, bringing the
possibility of external aid. With the new French king Philip II a
minor, Guy's status as a vassal of the King's cousin Henry II of
England - who owed the Pope a penitential pilgrimage - was useful
in this respect. Baldwin also betrothed his 8-year-old half-sister
Isabella to Humphrey IV of Toron, repaying a debt of honour to
Humphrey's grandfather, who had given his life for him at Banias,
and removing Isabella from the control of her mother and the
Ibelin faction. (Her betrothed was Raynald of Chatillon's
Guy had previously allied himself
with Raynald, who was by now taking advantage of his position at
Kerak to harass the trading caravans travelling between Egypt and
Damascus. After Saladin retaliated for these attacks in the
campaign and Battle of Belvoir Castle in 1182, Baldwin, now blind
and unable to walk, appointed Guy regent of the kingdom.
Nevertheless, in 1183, Baldwin had
become offended by Guy's actions as regent. Guy attended the
wedding festivities for Isabella (now about 11) and Humphrey, held
in Kerak; however, the festivities were interrupted by Saladin,
who besieged the fortress with the wedding guests inside. Baldwin
marshalled what strength he had and lifted the siege, but Guy
refused to fight Saladin and Saladin's troops simply went home.
Baldwin could not tolerate this and deposed Guy as regent. In
disgrace, Guy retired to Ascalon, taking his wife the princess
Sibylla with him.
kingship with Baldwin V, and death
Although Baldwin seems to have held
no ill-will towards his sister, Baldwin appointed his 5-year-old
nephew Baldwin of Montferrat as his heir and successor, with the
support of Agnes and her husband Reginald of Sidon, Raymond, and
many of the other barons, excluding Sibylla from the succession.
Raymond was to act as guardian of the infant heir, and later as
regent if Baldwin IV was to expire, but Baldwin IV himself would
continue to rule. The child was crowned co-king as Baldwin V on
November 20, 1183.
In the early months of 1184 Baldwin
attempted to have the marriage between Sibylla and Guy annulled.
The couple had foiled this attempt by holding fast in Ascalon, not
attending the annulment proceedings. The military expedition to
relieve Kerak and the dynastic struggle had weakened Baldwin
considerably. He died in Jerusalem in spring 1185, a few months
after the death of his mother Agnes in Acre late in 1184. Though
often suffering from the effects of leprosy and ruling with
regency governments, Baldwin was able to maintain himself as king
for much longer than otherwise might have been expected. As had
been decided, Baldwin V succeeded his uncle, with Raymond of
Tripoli as regent.
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem Leprosy Foundation (next page)