Baldwin III of Jerusalem

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Baldwin III (1130 – 10 February 1162) was king of Jerusalem from 1143 to 1162. He was the eldest son of Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem, and the grandson of Baldwin II of Jerusalem.



Baldwin was among the second generation of children born to the descendents of the original crusaders. He was 13 years old when his father Fulk died, and the kingdom legally passed to his mother as the daughter of Baldwin II. Melisende had ruled with Fulk as a consort, and Baldwin was crowned co-ruler and heir to his mother. However, Melisende also appointed Manasses of Hierges, constable of Jerusalem, as an advisor and the two essentially excluded Baldwin from power.

With a woman and a child legally ruling Jerusalem, the political situation was somewhat tense; the northern crusader states increasingly looked to assert their own independence, and there was no king to lead an army to impose the suzerainty of Jerusalem as Baldwin II or Fulk had done. In the Muslim world, Zengi ruled northern Syria from the cities of Mosul and Aleppo, and desired to add Damascus in the south to his control. According to William of Tyre, Fulk had not completely seen to the defense of the Crusader states in the north, and it was there that Zengi was most threatening. In 1144, he captured Edessa, which was a shock to the Western world and led to call for a Second Crusade.

This crusade took some time to reach Jerusalem, and in the meantime Zengi was assassinated in 1146. He was succeeded by his son Nur ad-Din, who was just as eager to bring Damascus under his control. To counter this, Jerusalem and Damascus had made an alliance for their mutual protection. However, in 1147 Nur ad-Din and Mu'in ad-Din Unur, the governor of Damascus, made an alliance against Jerusalem, as the kingdom had already broken the treaty by allying with one of Unur's rebellious vassals. Baldwin marched out from Jerusalem and was defeated at the Battle of Bosra, although the former truce with Damascus was later restored.

Second Crusade

In 1148 the crusade finally arrived in Jerusalem, led by Louis VII of France, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Conrad III of Germany. Baldwin held a council at Acre in 1148, but in-fighting and poor planning plagued the crusaders, and Conrad unwisely advised Baldwin to attack Damascus despite the peace treaty. Baldwin, perhaps eager to impress the great magnates of Europe who had arrived in his kingdom, agreed to the plan, but the ensuing siege of Damascus was a fiasco and ended in defeat after only four days. Damascus fell under Nur ad-Din's control in 1154, and the loss of a Muslim counterweight to Nur ad-Din was a diplomatic disaster from which no subsequent king of Jerusalem could recover.

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