Feudal Holdings in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 12th Century


Map Code: Ax00109

The First Crusade achieved the capture of Jerusalem in July 1099, within months of its arrival in Palestine. No clear plan for governing the captured territory was in place. The papal legate Daimbert of Pisa sought the creation of a theocratic state modelled upon and directly controlled by the papacy, but realpolitik in a highly precarious situation required a military strongman to take charge. Godfrey of Bouillon obliged, deferring to papal sentiment with a title of ‘Defender of the Sepulcher’ rather than king, establishing a network of feudal vassalage before succumbing to illness. His brother Baldwin succeeded, promptly seizing the title of king, and justifying it by a series of victories against invading Muslims: a strong, centralized kingdom seemed in prospect. However, he died without heirs, and the ephemerality of his successors, and a series of feudal fiefdoms, represented through the haute cour, a feudal council, kept rulers in check.

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