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Godfrey of Bouillon

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Jeremy Dokken
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« on: May 19, 2007, 03:29:24 am »

Godfrey of Bouillon, Lord of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, Defender of the Holy Sepulcher (King of Jerusalem) (c. 1060, Baisy-Thy, near Brussels, Belgium – July 18, 1100, Jerusalem), (Dutch: Godfried van Bouillon, French: Godefroy (or Godefroi or Godefroid) de Bouillon) was a medieval knight and duke of the region of Lower Lorraine (in present-day northwestern Germany). He played a major part in directing military operations in the latter part of the First Crusade (1095-99), the European Christian mission to retake the Holy Land in Palestine from the Islamic and Turkish forces that held it. One of several powerful families of landed nobility who raised and commanded armies against the Muslims, he was chosen, after Jerusalem fell to the Christians in 1099, as the first ruler of what was called the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

He was the second son of Eustace II, Count of Boulogne, and Ida, daughter of Godfrey III, Duke of Lower Lorraine.

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Jeremy Dokken
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2007, 03:31:50 am »

Early life

Godfrey of Bouillon was born around 1060 in either Boulogne in France or Baisy, a city in the region of Brabant (part of present-day Belgium). During Godfrey's lifetime this region was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a loose collection of principalities, or small royal states. Godfrey was the second son of Count Eustace II of Boulogne and Ida of Lower Lorraine. That he was the second son was very important to Godfrey's future. In the Middle Ages it was the first son who inherited the lands of the parents. As the second-born son, Godfrey had fewer opportunities. Were it not for a bit of family luck, he would have become just one more minor knight in service to a rich landed nobleman. It happened that Godfrey the Hunchback, his uncle on his monther's side, died childless, naming his nephew, Godfrey of Bouillon, as his heir and next in line to his duchy of Lower Lorraine. This duchy was an important one at the time, serving as a buffer between the kingdom of France and the German lands.

In fact, Lower Lorraine was so important to the German kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire that Henry IV, the German king and future emperor (ruled 1084-1105), decided in 1076 that he would place it in the hands of his own son and give Godfrey only Bouillon and the Mark of Antwerp, as a test of Godfrey's abilities and loyalty. Godfrey served Henry IV loyally, supporting him even when Pope Gregory VII was battling the German king over who should have more power in Europe, the church or the secular powers of the kings and princes (Investiture Controversy). Godfrey fought with Henry and his forces against the rival forces of Rudolf of Swabia and also took part in battles in Italy when Henry IV actually took Rome away from the pope.

At the same time, Godfrey was struggling to maintain control over the lands that Henry IV had not taken away from him. Matilda of Tuscany, the widow of his uncle, said that these lands should have come to her. Another enemy outside the family also tried to take away other bits of his land, and Godfrey's brothers, Eustace and Baldwin, both came to his aid. Following long struggles, and after proving that he was a loyal subject to Henry IV, Godfrey finally won back his duchy of Lower Lorraine in 1087, becoming Godfrey V, duke of Lower Lorraine. Still, Godfrey would never have had much power in the German kingdom or in Europe if it had not been for the coming of the Crusades.

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Jeremy Dokken
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2007, 03:35:55 am »

First Crusade

In 1095 Urban II, the new pope, called for a holy war against the Islamic forces that held Jerusalem and other religious locations in Palestine. Crusader fever caught on throughout Europe, partly because of the power of the pope but also because there were many knights and second and third sons, such as Godfrey, who were looking for opportunities outside Europe. The pope promised that all sins would be forgiven for anyone who served in the Crusades, but there was also talk of lands to be won there, of new duchies that could be carved out of Muslim lands.

Godfrey took out loans on most of his lands or sold them to the bishops of Liège and Verdun. With this money he gathered thousands of knights to fight in the Holy Land. In this he was joined by his older brother, Eustace, and his younger brother, Baldwin, who had no lands in Europe. He was not the only major nobleman to gather such an army. Raymond of Saint-Gilles, also known as Raymond of Toulouse, created the largest army. At age 55 he was also the oldest and perhaps the best known of the Crusader nobles. Because of his age and fame, Raymond expected to be the leader of the entire First Crusade. Adhemar, the assistant to the pope and bishop of Le Puy, traveled with him. There was also the fiery Bohemond, a Norman knight who had formed a small kingdom in southern Italy. He had Viking blood in his veins and fought like a real warrior, going into battle himself and fiercely combatting the enemy until they perished. For Bohemond this Crusade was simply another chance to add lands to his kingdom. There was also a fourth group under Robert of Flanders. No kings participated in this First Crusade.

Each of these armies traveled separately, some going southeast across Europe trough Hungary and others sailing by water across the Adriatic Sea from southern Italy. Godfrey, along with his two brothers, started in August 1096 at the head of an army from Lorraine (some say 40,000 strong) along "Charlemagne's road," as Urban II seems to have called it (according to the chronicler Robert the Monk)—the road to Jerusalem. After some difficulties in Hungary, where he was unable to stop his men from pillaging fellow Christians, he arrived in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, in November. The pope had, in fact, called the Crusade in order the help the Byzantine emperor Alexius I fight the Islamic Turks who were invading his lands from Central Asia and Persia.

Godfrey and his troops were the second to arrive (after Hugh of Vermandois) in Constantinople. During the next several months the other Crusader armies arrived. Suddenly the Byzantine emperor had an army of about 4000 mounted knights and 25,000 infantry camped on his doorstep. But Godfrey and Alexius I had different goals. The Byzantine emperor wanted the help of the Crusader soldiers to recapture lands that the Seljuk Turks had taken. The Crusaders however had the main aim of taking the Holy Land in Palestine from the Muslims and setting up a Christian occupying force there. For them, Alexius I and his Turks were only a sideshow. Worse, the Byzantine emperor expected the Crusaders to take an oath of loyalty to him. Godfrey and the other knights agreed to a modified version of this oath, promising to help return some lands to Alexius I. By the spring of 1097 the Crusaders were ready to march into battle.

Their first major victory, with Byzantine soldiers at their side, was at the city of Nicaea, close to Constantinople, which the Seljuk Turks had taken some years earlier. Godfrey and his knights of Lorraine played a minor role in the siege of Nicaea, with Bohemond successfully commanding much of the action. Just as the Crusaders were about to storm the city, they suddenly noticed the Byzantine flag flying from atop the city walls. Alexius I had made a separate peace with the Turks and now claimed the city for the Byzantine Empire. These secret dealings were a sign of things to come in terms of relations between Crusaders and Byzantines.

Godfrey continued to play a minor role in the battles against the Muslims until the Crusaders finally reached Jerusalem in 1099. Before that time, he helped to relieve the vanguard at the Battle of Dorylaeum after it had been pinned down by the Seljuk Turks under Kilij Arslan I, with the help of the other crusader princes in the main force and went on to sack the Seljuk camp. In 1098 Godfrey took part in the capture of Antioch, which fell in June of that year after long and bitter fighting. During the siege some of the Crusaders felt that the battle was hopeless and left the Crusade to return to Europe. Alexius I, hearing of the desperate situation, thought that all was lost at Antioch and did not come to help the Crusaders as promised. When the Crusaders finally took the city, they decided that their oaths to Alexius I were no longer in effect. Bohemond, the first to enter the city gates, claimed the prize for himself. A Muslim force under Kerbogha, from the city of Mosul, arrived and battled the Crusaders, but the Christians finally defeated these Turkish Islamic troops.

After this victory the Crusaders were divided over their next course of action. The bishop of Le Puy had died at Antioch. Bohemond decided to remain behind in order to secure his new kingdom and Godfrey’s younger brother, Baldwin, also decided to stay in the north at the Crusader state he had established at Edessa. Most of the foot soldiers wanted to continue south to Jerusalem, but Raymond IV of Toulouse, by this time the most powerful of the princes, having taken others into his employ, such as Tancred, hesitated to continue the march. After months of waiting, the common people on the crusade forced Raymond to march on to Jerusalem, and Godfrey quickly joined him. As they traveled south into Palestine, the Crusaders faced a new enemy. No longer were the Seljuk Turks the rulers of these lands. Now the Christian army had to deal with armies of North African Muslims called Fatimids, who had adopted the name of the ruling family in Cairo, Egypt. The Fatimids had taken Jerusalem in August 1098. The Crusaders would be battling them for the final prize of the First Crusade in the siege of Jerusalem.

It was in Jerusalem that the legend of Godfrey of Bouillon was born. The army reached the city in June 1099 and built wooden ladders to climb over the walls. The major attack took place on July 14 and 15, 1099. Godfrey and some of his knights were the first to get over the walls and enter the city. Once inside, the Crusaders went wild, ultimately killing every Muslim man, woman, and child. Jews were also slaughtered. It was a shameful end to three years of fighting by the Crusaders, but they had finally done what they had set out to do in 1096—namely, to recapture the Holy Land and, in particular, the city of Jerusalem and its holy sites, such as the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Once the city was captured, some form of government had to be set up. On July 22, when Raymond refused to be named king of Jerusalem, Godfrey was elected in his place.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2007, 03:47:31 am by Jeremy » Report Spam   Logged
Jeremy Dokken
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2007, 03:37:28 am »

Kingdom of Jerusalem

Coat of arms of the kingdom of JerusalemHowever, perhaps considering the controversy which had surrounded Tancred's seizure of Bethlehem, Godfrey refused to be crowned "king" in the city where Christ had died. The exact nature and meaning of his title is thus somewhat of a controversy. Although it is widely claimed that he took the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, "advocate" or "defender" of the Holy Sepulchre, this title is only used in a letter which was not written by the Duke. Instead, Godfrey himself seems to have used the more ambiguous term 'Princeps'. During his short reign of a year Godfrey had to defend the new Kingdom of Jerusalem against Fatimids of Egypt, who were defeated at the Battle of Ascalon in August. He also faced opposition from Dagobert of Pisa, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had allied with Tancred. Although the Latins came close to capturing Ascalon, Godfrey's attempts to prevent Raymond of St Gilles from securing the city for himself meant that the town remained in Muslim hands, destined to be a thorn in the new kingdom's side for years to come.

In 1100 Godfrey was unable to directly expand his new territories through conquest. However, his impressive victory in 1099 and his subsequent campaigning in 1100 meant that he was able to force Acre, Ascalon, Arsuf, Jaffa, and Caesarea, to become tributaries. Meanwhile, the struggle with Dagobert continued; although the terms of the conflict are difficult to trace. Dagobert may well have visualised turning Jerusalem into a fiefdom of the pope, however his full intentions are not clear. Much of the evidence for this comes from William of Tyre, whose account of these events is troublesome - It is only William who tells us that Dagobert forced Godfrey to concede Jerusalem and Jaffa, while other writers such as Albert of Aachen and Ralph of Caen suggest that both Dagobert and his ally Tancred had sworn an oath to Godfrey to accept only one of his brothers or blood relations as his successor. Whatever Dagobert's schemes, they were destined to come to nought. Being at Haifa at the time of the Duke's death, he could do nothing to stop Godfrey's supporters from seizing Jerusalem and requesting that the Duke's brother Baldwin take up the reins of power. Dagobert was subsequently forced to crown Baldwin as the first Latin king of Jerusalem on December 25, 1100.

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Jeremy Dokken
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2007, 03:39:13 am »


"While he was besieging the city of Acre, Godfrey, the ruler of Jerusalem, was struck by an arrow, which killed him," reports the Arab chronicler Ibn al-Qalanisi. Christian chronicles make no mention of this; instead, Albert of Aix and Ekkehard of Aura report that Godfrey contracted an illness in Caesarea in June, 1100. It was later believed that the emir of Caesarea had poisoned him, but there seems to be no basis for this rumour; William of Tyre does not mention it. It is also said that he died after eating a poisoned apple. He died in Jerusalem after suffering from a prolonged illness.

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Jeremy Dokken
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2007, 03:40:50 am »

Bronze statue in the Hofkirche of Innsbruck.

Godfrey in history and legend
 According to William of Tyre, the later 12th-century chronicler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Godfrey was "tall of stature, not extremely so, but still taller than the average man. He was strong beyond compare, with solidly-built limbs and a stalwart chest. His features were pleasing, his beard and hair of medium blond."

Because he had been the first ruler in Jerusalem Godfrey was idealized in later stories. He was depicted as the leader of the crusades, the king of Jerusalem, and the legislator who laid down the assizes of Jerusalem, and he was included among the ideal knights known as the Nine Worthies. In reality he was only one of several leaders of the crusade, which also included Raymond IV of Toulouse, Bohemund of Taranto, Robert of Flanders, Stephen of Blois and Baldwin of Boulogne to name a few, along with papal legate Adhémar of Montiel, Bishop of Le Puy. Baldwin I of Jerusalem, Godfrey's younger brother, became the first titled king when he succeeded Godfrey in 1100. The assizes were the result of a gradual development.

Godfrey's role in the crusade was described by Albert of Aix, the anonymous author of the Gesta Francorum, and Raymond of Aguilers amongst others. In fictional literature, Godfrey was the hero of numerous French chansons de geste dealing with the crusade, the "Crusade cycle". This cycle connected his ancestors to the legend of the Knight of the Swan, most famous today as the storyline of Wagner's opera Lohengrin.

By William of Tyre's time later in the twelfth century, Godfrey was already a legend among the descendants of the original crusaders. Godfrey was believed to have possessed immense physical strength; it was said that in Cilicia he wrestled a bear and won, and that he once beheaded a camel with one blow of his sword.

Torquato Tasso made Godfrey the hero of his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata.

In the Divine Comedy Dante sees the spirit of Godfrey in the Heaven of Mars with the other "warriors of the faith."

Godfrey is depicted in Handel's first opera "Rinaldo" (1711) as Goffredo.

Since the mid-19th century, an equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon has stood in the center of the Royal Square in Brussels, Belgium. The statue was made by Eugène Simonis, and inaugurated on August 24, 1848.

Godfrey plays a key figure in the pseudohistorical theories put forth in the books The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and The DaVinci Code.

In 2005 he came in 17th place in the Walloon version of De Grootste Belg (the Greatest Belgian).
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Jeremy Dokken
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 03:45:48 am »


I. Godfrey of Bouillon
    After the misfortune of the first crusade to liberate the Holy Sepulchre a new, this time well prepared military expedition, was set up from the four corners of Europe. (see History)
     Raymond of Toulouse, Bohemond of Tarente, Robert of Flanders and Godfrey of Bouillon all had armies prepared and agreed to unite forces on the banks of Bosphorde.

     In order to finance his crusade, Godfrey of Bouillon sold his fortress of Bouillon, with rights to recover, to OTBERT Prince-Bishop of Liège, for the very important sum of 1300 pieces of silver, 3 pieces of gold, and one pound of gold.
     As head of the northerly crusaders, he left his fortress of Bouillon on August 15th 1096 on his way to Constantinople.

Fortress of Godfrey of Bouillon in Belgium

     The moment the 4 army leaders joined forces on the banks of Bosphorde, they were confronted with a typical problem a united army has to deal with, the ultimate command. It is not surprising that Godfrey of Bouillon was elected leader of the combined forces by reason of his remarkable talents, amongst which his knowledge of Germanic and Latin languages. Our regions, estuary of large rivers, have always been the cross roads of Europe where the Latin, German, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures met, as well in times of war as in peace.
     Godfrey was therefore appointed by his equals to negotiate with Alexis I Comnenus, Emperor of Byzantium, the crossing of his territories. and obtained the supreme command of the allies forces to prepare the final attack which would lead them to conquer Jerusalem.

     The crusaders finally conquered the Holy City on the 15th of July 1099 shouting 'DEUS LO VULT' which the Order up till today preserves as its motto.
      Godfrey of Bouillon was offered to assume the kingship of the newly re-won territory but refused the golden crown there where Christ was crowned with thorns. He preferred instead the title of 'Protector of the Holy Sepulchre'.

     Godfrey of Bouillon is for our Order an example of courage, efficiency and humility.

     To keep alive the memory of Godfrey of Bouillon, one may see on the wall of the sacristy of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre a cabinet displaying a sword and spears, and a stone bearing thefollowing inscription: "From Bouillon to Jerusalem, a stone from the Castle of our Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre. May he rest in peace in these walls."


The sword of Godfrey of Bouillon is wel kept bij the Franciscan Guard
in the sacristy of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Next to it a slab from the castle of Bouillon is sealed on the wall.

II. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre in the Low Conbtries
     The archives kept over the years can tell us how many people were knighted in front of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem between 1336 and 1498. In the 14th century of the 20 men knighted there were 5 coming from theLow Countries. In the 15th century there were 515 of which the larger part came from Germany.
     In Belgium a certain Anselme Adornes left in 1470 for the Holy Land. His tomb can still be found in the Church of Jerusalem in Bruges, which was build by his father (cfr. Jean Pierre de Gennes).
Between 1500 and 1560, a quarter of the new knights came from our regions, while between 1597 and 1739 this was only 3%. The low number is probably caused by the troubles of the Reformation. Between 1815 and 1848 only 2% of the new knights came from our region. (cfr.Guy Stair Sainty)

     The acting custody of the Holy Land possesses very valuable archives, which contain names of people knighted between 1561 and 1847. From this document, though with many errors and shortcomings, our former Lieutenant late Baron de Meester de Ravestein, tried to put together a list of the Belgian knights of the Holy Sepulchre from the beginning up till 1939. Should there be interest in this list, we would be happy to reproduce it on this website.

III. The General Chapter of Hoogstraten (1558)
     In the beginning of the 16th century, since the Ottomen were in command of the Mediterranean basin, the Muslim presence was most worrying. The westerners, after having faced a poignant defeat in front of the island of Djerba in 1560, organised an international fleet under the command of Don Juan of Austria, whom in 1571 achieved an overwhelming victory at sea in Lepanto.
      The fame of this victory was enormous. It was the first time indeed that the Cristians succeded to inflict a heavy defeat to the armed forses of the Crescent. Unfortunately it did not significantly modify the political or military situation.

     Because of this area of tension between the Christians and the Arabs in the 16th century, the military orders revived. Some 30 Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, most of them Flemish, united in Hoogstraten on the 26th of March 1558. Their objective was the creation of an Order so that their personal capacity as Knights of the Holy Sepulchre would be united under the Grand Mastership of King Philip II.
     We reproduce below, for illustration purposes only, the start of the official document that was drawn up to conclude the Chapter in Hoogstraten. The full document of the Chapter can be found in the archives of Simancus in Spain.

Two weeks later on the 10th of April, the king accepts the Grand Mastership and appoints his son and crown prince Don Carlos, Prince of the Order. Philip II sent an ambassador to Rome to obtain the approval of the Pope. A number of political intrigues made the attempt fail.
      After the death of the Pope, Philip II made a final desperate attempt with the successor, Pope PIUS IV, without any success.

     It is interesting to note that the Church of Saint Catherine in Hoogstraten (Belgium), where the chapter took place in 1558, was build in 1525 by Antoine of Lalaing, the first Count of Hoogstraten and Ysabeau of Culembourg, who's mother was the grand daughter of Philip the Good, Duke of Brabant.
     The choir of the church, after all these years is intact and the members of the Order still gather in front of the same church windows where their forefathers united. In such occasions, mass is celebrated with the priestly vestments of that time, carrying the coats of arms of the families Lalaing-Culembourg

IV. The Lieutenancy of Belgium today

     The Lieutenancy of Belgium was created in 1926 and carried at that time the title of Province of Belgium. On the 11th of April 1930, the Church of Our Lady of Victories in the centre of Brussels was designated Collegiate Church of the Lieutenancy by H.E. Cardinal Van Roey, Archbishop of Malines, Primate of Belgium and Knight Grand Cross of the Order.
      Below, you see a picture of the document affirming the appointment.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2007, 03:49:16 am by Jeremy » Report Spam   Logged
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