Baldwin I of Constantinople

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Baldwin I (July 1172 – c. 1205), the first emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, as Baldwin IX Count of Flanders and as Baldwin VI Count of Hainaut, was one of the most prominent leaders of the Fourth Crusade, which resulted in the capture of Constantinople, the conquest of the greater part of the Byzantine Empire (then called as "Empire of Romania" by westerners), and the foundation of the Latin Empire, also known as Romania (not to be confused with the modern state Romania).



Early life and family history

Baldwin was the son of Baldwin V of Hainaut and Margaret I, Countess of Flanders and sister of Count Philip of Alsace.[1] When the childless Philip of Alsace left on his first crusade in 1177, he designated his brother-in-law Baldwin V his heir. When Philip returned in 1179 after an unsuccessful siege of Harim during his campaign for the Principality of Antioch, he was designated as the chief adviser of prince Philip II Augustus by his sickly father Louis VII of France.[1] One year later, Philip of Alsace had his protégé married to his niece, Isabelle of Hainaut, offering the County of Artois and other Flemish territories as dowry, much to the dismay of Baldwin V.[2] In 1180, war broke out between Philip II and his mentor, resulting in the devastation of Picardy and Île-de-France; King Philip refused to give open battle and gained the upper hand, and Baldwin V, at first allied with his brother-in-law, intervened on behalf of his son-in-law in 1184, in support of his daughter's interests.[3]

Count Philip's wife Elisabeth died in 1183, and Philip Augustus seized the province of Vermandois on behalf of Elisabeth's sister, Eleonore. Philip then remarried, to Princess Matilda of Portugal, daughter of Afonso I, the first King of Portugal, and Maud of Savoy. Philip gave Matilda of Portugal a dowry of a number of major Flemish towns, in an apparent slight to Baldwin V. Fearing that he would be surrounded by the royal domain of France and the County of Hainaut, Count Philip signed a peace treaty with Philip Augustus and Count Baldwin V on 10 March 1186, recognizing the cession of Vermandois to the king, although he was allowed to retain the title Count of Vermandois for the remainder of his life. When Philip died of disease in 1191, unsuccessful in producing an heir with Countess Matilda, he was succeeded in Flanders by Baldwin V, although the two had been on seemingly uncordial terms since the 1186 treaty.[3] Baldwin V thereupon ruled as Baldwin VIII of Flanders by right of marriage.[3] When Countess Margaret I died in 1194, Flanders descended to her eldest son Baldwin, who ruled as Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders.[3]

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