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Near East Kingdoms

Levantine States


Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem
AD 1099 - 1187

The First Crusade found a divided Islamic empire, governed by the Seljuq Turks, and quickly and forcefully carved a large swathe of territory out of it.

Formerly (and later) the capital of Israel. and originally a Canaanite city state called Shalem, following the creation of Outremer, the kingdom of Jerusalem came into being with the Crusader capture of Jerusalem in 1099. On the day of the victory, 15 July 1099, and still covered in the blood of their dead enemies, the Crusaders assembled inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to give thanks for their victory. Godfrey de Bouillon subsequently refused to take the title of king, saying that no man should wear a crown where Christ had worn his crown of thorns. Instead, he took the title Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. But when Godfrey died the next year his brother and successor, Baldwin I, was not so scrupulous and had himself immediately crowned king of Jerusalem.

The following two centuries would see a peak of Crusader activity create a short-lived European empire in the Near East, before the tide turned and Islamic forces began to gain the upper hand. During that period, however, the opening up of the Levantine coastline to European trade and passage persuaded many Jewish groups to return to their ancestral home. Documents from the period indicate that three hundred rabbis from France and England arrived in a group, some settling in Acre (ancient Akko), and others in Jerusalem.

Saladin and Guy de Lusignan at Hattin

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from the BBC documentary series, The Crusades, first broadcast on 18 January 2012, from The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted and Philip Augustus, Sidney Painter (in A History of the Crusades - The Later Crusades, 1189-1311, Kenneth M Setton, Robert Lee Wolff, & Harry W Hazard (Eds, University of Wisconsin Press, 1969)), from Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol 2, André Wink (Brill, 2002), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), and from External Links: The Story of the First Crusade (dead link), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and History: Foreign Domination (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now available only via the Wayback Machine).)

1098 - 1099

Lesser Armenia is raised to a kingdom by the crusaders.

1099 - 1100

Godfrey de Bouillon (Boulogne)

Duke of Lower Lorraine (1087-1100). Protector of Jerusalem.


Emir Duqaq of Damascus manages to ambush Baldwin I of Edessa and his bodyguard at Nahr al-Kalb (just outside Beirut). Baldwin is travelling to Jerusalem to succeed his brother, Godfrey de Bouillon, as king. The Crusaders are caught in a narrow pass which they hold successfully, and Baldwin is soon able to continue his journey.

1100 - 1118

Baldwin I de Bouillon

Brother. Count of Edessa (1098-1100).

1102 - 1103

Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, one of the leaders of the First Crusade, begins a lengthy war with the Banu Ammar emirs of Tripoli (theoretical vassals of the Fatimid caliphs in Cairo). He gradually seizes much of their territory and besieges them within Tripoli itself before gaining total victory. Raymond's county of Tripoli is the last of the four major Crusader states in the Levant to be created.


The kingdom gains the province which was previously known as Moab.

1107 - 1110

King Sigurd I Jorsalfer 'the Crusader' of Norway leads the Norwegian Crusade in support of Jerusalem.

King Sigurd Jorsalfer on Crusade
Sigurd Jorsalfer's reign was long and prosperous for Norway, but his death and the country's confusing succesion laws plunged it into a series of civil wars

1109 - 1110

Zahir ad-Din Toghtekin of Damascus has managed to end raids by Crusaders into the Golan Heights and Hauran, aided by Sharaf al-Din Mawdud of Mosul. But Mawdud's assassination in 1109 ends the involvement of the north in Syria's defence, so Toghtekin is forced to agree a truce with the Crusaders in 1110.

1118 - 1131

Baldwin II de la Bourg

Cousin. Count of Edessa (1100-1118).


Eustace Grenier

Regent and constable of Jerusalem.


King Baldwin is captured by the Ortoqids in northern Syria. In his absence the kingdom is governed by the constable of Jerusalem, Eustace Grenier, and the Fatamid military vizier, Al-Ma'mum, spies an opportunity to capture the coastal stronghold of Jaffa. Launching his attack from Egypt, Al-Ma'mum's force is intercepted by Crusader troops at the Battle of Yibneh (or Yibna), close to the Fatamid coastal fortress of Ashkelon (Ascalon). The battle is short and decisive, with the Fatamid fleet also being destroyed by the Venetians, and the Fatamid threat is virtually ended for the next thirty years.


By the time of the accession of Fulk and Melisande to the throne, the Christian invaders have become acclimatised to their new eastern home. They have gained a taste for the new foodstuffs the region has to offer, and for the fine silks that they can afford to wear. They have also largely been accepted by their mixed group of subjects, which include Muslims and eastern Christians.

1131 - 1152

Queen Melisende

Heiress of Jerusalem. Half-Armenian.

1131 - 1143

Fulk (V) of Anjou

m Melisende in 1130.

1143 - 1163

Baldwin III

1147 - 1149

When Edessa falls to the Saracens in 1145, Pope Eugenius calls upon Louis VII of France to play his part in defending the Holy Land. The king embarks for Jerusalem in 1147.

Baldwin III of Jerusalem
Baldwin III was one of the key Christian leaders who were involved in the Second Crusade, although one of its first acts was a failure in front of the walls of Damascus


The Second Crusade besieges Damascus with support from Jerusalem. With the city apparently ready to capitulate, the Crusaders switch their main attack against a fresh section of the city walls and are driven back by the combined forces of Damascus and Aleppo.

1163 - 1174

Amalric I / Amaury


Shortly before this year, the Fatamids agree a deal with Amalric for the price of two hundred thousand gold pieces to protect them from the Sunni Muslims. But this first attempt to capture Egypt ends in a stalemate between Crusaders and Sunnis and both agree to withdraw. Amalric returns and massacres the population of the Nile Delta city of Bilbeis on 3 November 1168. This act unites the Egyptians just as the Crusaders advance to the capital and place it under siege.


The formal career of Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (or Saladin), begins when he is involved in the race against Jerusalem to conquer Fatamid Egypt. On 2 January 1169, the Crusaders retreat from their siege of the walls of Cairo and evacuate the region, allowing Saladin's uncle, Shirkuh, to take control as vizier (prime minister) under the Fatamids. Shirkuh founds the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt (although not, at this stage, an independent one).

1174 - 1185

Baldwin IV the Leper

Guy de Lusignan

Regent. Dismissed for incompetence.

? - 1186

Raymond III of Tripoli

Regent. Arranged truce with Saladin.

1182 - 1183

Saladin leaves his newly-founded sultanate Egypt to fight the Crusaders in Syria, never to return to the seat of his authority. The following year he conquers Damascus and Aleppo from Sinjar and, with his power secure on the eastern borders of Outremer, Saladin begins to build up a massive army at Damascus with which he can take Jerusalem.


By the time of his death, Baldwin IV is blind and almost entirely unable to walk. His sister, Sibylla begins to exert influence over the control of the kingdom. Her first marriage had been an arranged one to William de Montferrat. He had died soon afterwards and she had later chosen to marry Guy de Lusignan. Sibylla's son by William de Montferrat now succeeds Baldwin IV while Raymond III of Tripoli remains regent.

1185 - 1186

Baldwin V

Son of William de Montferrat & Sibylla. Died.

1186 - 1187

Queen Sibylla

Assumed direct control on her son's death.

1186 - 1187

Guy de Lusignan

Joint rule.


The Christians are defeated by the Ayyubid governor Saladin at the Battle of Hattin. As partially depicted in a somewhat distorted version of history in the film Kingdom of Heaven, 2005, Balian of Ibelin (sometimes referred to as being of the 'Balians of Jerusalem'), who is married to Maria Comnena, Sibylla's step-mother and a former queen of Jerusalem) and Raymond III of Tripoli are present at the Battle of Hattin and manage to fight their way out.

Reynald de Châtillon, the bloodthirsty prince of Antioch (and not a Templar as depicted in the film), is not so fortunate, and is personally killed by Saladin. Although the other captured nobles are ransomed, all of the captured Knights Templars and Knights Hospitallers are executed.

Saladin accepts the surrender of Guy de Lusignan
Saladin accepts the surrender of Guy de Lusignan and the Christian armies following the massive success of his army at the Battle of Hattin

Balian returns to a Jerusalem which has already been abandoned by Sibylla and Guy and, after allowing Saladin to escort his wife and children to safety, takes control of the defence of the city from the incompetent patriarch.

Following a siege, Saladin and Balian agree terms, and Jerusalem is evacuated by the crusader knights. The 'kingdom' withdraws to Acre, this becoming its focus. Sibylla and the weak Guy de Lusignan continue to rule. Balian's descendants continue to remain active in Outremer and in Cyprus.

Kingdom of Jerusalem at Acre
AD 1187 - 1228

Following defeat at the Battle of Hattin and the handover of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187, the royal court retreated to Acre, which became the focus of the Crusader states. For the Europeans, Acre was only accessible by sea, so much of their supplies came via Italy, especially Venice. Almost as soon as news of the fall reached Europe, Pope Gregory VIII called for a Third Crusade to regain the Holy Land. One of the first to pledge himself to the cause was King Richard of England. In December 1189 he crossed from Dover to Calais (part of his Angevin empire) to team up with Philip of France on the venture. On his way to the Holy Land he attacks Sicily and Cyprus (aided in the latter exercise by his vassal, Guy de Lusignan, thanks to the latter's lands in Poitiers), and then delivers a merciless wave of warfare against Saladin.

The holy military orders all based themselves at Acre, and were responsible for building a series of impressive strongholds, such as Montfort Castle (now in northern Israel). to protect the fragile Christian foothold in the Holy Land. Only they had the financial wealth and the manpower to do so. The military orders received lavish donations from Europe's nobility (especially if it saved that nobility from having to visit the Holy Land itself to fight), and also became heavily involved in trade, farming, and manufacture. By the end of the twelfth century, the Knights Templars had become so rich that they were able to operate as semi-independent bankers for Europe. Acre itself benefited greatly from this increase in trade, becoming a hub between Islam and Europe.

Saladin and Guy de Lusignan at Hattin

(Additional information from the BBC documentary series, The Crusades, first broadcast on 18 January 2012, from The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted and Philip Augustus, Sidney Painter (in A History of the Crusades - The Later Crusades, 1189-1311, Kenneth M Setton, Robert Lee Wolff, & Harry W Hazard (Eds, University of Wisconsin Press, 1969)), and from External Link: History Extra.)

1187 - 1193

Queen Sibylla

Ruler at Jerusalem (1186-1187).

1187 - 1192

Guy de Lusignan

Joint rule until Guy became king of Cyprus (1192-1194).

1189 - 1192

The Third Crusade sweeps across Outremer, bringing with it a wave of enthusiastic Latin Christians, including entire tranches of some noble families. The Angevin ruler of England, Richard the Lionheart, is the leader of the expedition, after spending a fortune in equipping his forces. Rather than follow the established route of marching across Europe, Richard decides on an ambitious naval voyage, which is launched from Marseille in France.

After conquering Cyprus on his way there (supported by Guy de Lusignan), he arrives at Acre and immediately places Saladin's garrison under siege. Other supporting forces include Rudolf of Zähringen, prince-bishop of Liège. Saladin is forced to surrender Acre under terms, but when the Ayyubid sultan attempts to play for time, Richard massacres the garrison and lays down a marker for the way this new phase in the Crusader war is going to be fought. Later in the year, the brotherhood of the Teutonic Knights makes its headquarters in Acre.

Richard's army proceeds south along the coastline of Palestine, to Asuf and Jaffa, carefully avoiding outright battle with Saladin's massive field army. Eventually forced into such a battle, Richard's forces shatter the shocked Muslims, scattering them. However, with the prize of a weakened Jerusalem in sight, from which Saladin is preparing to withdraw, Richard decides the city's defences are too great to attack when defeat would be a huge blow to his own name and reputation. Instead he agrees a three-year truce with Saladin and withdraws.


Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa enters Anatolia via the Dardanelles as part of the Third Crusade. His impressive and large force swiftly hands out defeats at the battles of Philomelium and Iconium, both against the sultanate of Rum. The sultanate's capital is occupied and Rum hits one of its lowest points. On his way towards a besieged Acre, the aging but still capable Barbarossa subsequently drowns in the River Saleph, seemingly while bathing but possibly having been exhausted by the Anatolian summer heat. The death causes hundreds of German Crusaders to return home.


Conrad I of MontferratI

Elected as heir, but assassinated before succeeding.

1192 - 1193

The choice of Conrad de Montferrat as king has been a contentious one (much of the contentiousness having taken place prior to Richard's campaign towards Jerusalem). Despite being a major player in the Third Crusade and being the rightful successor to the throne through his marriage to Isabella, younger sister of Queen Sibylla, Conrad is opposed by Richard of England. However, all the barons support Conrad, as do his cousins, Leopold V of Austria and Philip II of France.

Satisfied, Philip returns home, meaning that Richard is now the leader of the Third Crusade, although Philip leaves Hugh III of Burgundy in charge of the French troops. Manoeuvring politically against Richard for supremacy, Conrad is attacked in the street by assassins and dies of his wounds. Richard himself leaves the Holy Land, to be captured and imprisoned by Leopold of Austria. The pregnant Isabella, now heir to the throne of Jerusalem by near-universal agreement, is quickly married off to Henry de Champagne.

1193 - 1205

Queen Isabella I

Younger half sister to Sibylla. Wife of Conrad.

1192 - 1197

Henry II de Champagne

Husband and dominant co-ruler.

1197 - 1205

Amalric II de Lusignan

Almaric I of Cyprus (1194-1205).

1197 - 1198

Philip Hohenstaufen, youngest brother of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI and a former bishop of Würzburg, has already been made duke of Tuscany in 1195. In 1196 he had become duke of Swabia on the death of his brother Conrad, and now appears to be the guardian of Henry's son, the infant Frederick (II). In 1197, Philip sets out to fetch Frederick from Sicily for his coronation as king of the Germans when he hears of the emperor's death and returns at once to Germany.

Philip Hohenstaufen
Philip Hohenstaufen climbed through the ranks of the nobility during his lifetime, from bishop of Würzburg, through duke of Tuscany and then Swabia, to become emperor of the Germans

Many other members of the German nobility also hurry back to their seats in order to protect their interests during the coming struggle. They have been involved in the short-lived German Crusade (otherwise known as the Crusade of 1197 or the Crusade of Henry VI), including Ulrich II of Carinthia. Henry VI had been determined to complete the work of his father in the Holy Land with a fresh expedition, but he himself had died before even embarking. Those who remain in the Holy Land capture territory for the kingdom of Jerusalem between Tyre and Tripoli, restoring the land link to the county of Tripoli, but the campaign ends abruptly with the recapture of the lordships of Beirut and Sidon in 1198 (both lost to Saladin in 1187 - the brotherhood of the Teutonic Knights is also elevated in this year to a spiritual military order, and its priors become grand masters).

1202 - 1204

The Fourth Crusade takes place, but its main 'success' is the capture of Orthodox Christian Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman empire. Latin emperors are established in the city.

The Byzantines withdraw to Nicæa in Anatolia, but rival claimants also established holdings in Trebizond, Epirus, Thessalonica, Athens, and Achaia so that, at one point, there are four claimants to the Byzantine throne, as well as the Bulgar and Serb states which also claim dominance over it.

Close allies of Constantinople through intermarriage and trade, including Alania and the Rus, are badly affected by this disaster, but it does no harm to Ottoman efforts to advance through conquest into Roman territory.

1205 - 1210

Queen Maria de Montferrat


The Teutonic Knights side with the Hospitallers and the barons in Acre against the Templars, something which sparks a long-standing feud between the Templars and the Teutonic Knights.

1210 - 1225

John de Brienne

1210 - 1228

Queen Yolanda / Isabella II

1225 - 1228

Frederick II Hohenstaufen

King of Naples & Sicily (1197). Duke of Swabia (1212). HRE (1215).

1228 - 1229

The Fifth Crusade sees Jerusalem regained. It is ceded to the Christians at Acre while the Ayyubids squabble amongst themselves. One of its intended participants, Louis the Pious, landgrave of Thuringia, dies unexpectedly of fever on his way to the Holy Land.

Second Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem
AD 1229 - 1244

Saladin and Guy de Lusignan at Hattin

1228 - 1254

Conrad II Hohenstaufen

HRE Conrad IV (1250-1254).


Sultan as Salih I Ismail of Damascus reaches an agreement with Jerusalem so that the Crusaders will protect southern Palestine from possible attacks from Sultan as Salih II Ayyub of Egypt. The price is high, though, as he is forced to cede all of the land west of the Jordan (won by Saladin in 1187), including Gaza, Jerusalem, and Nablus, along with his own fortresses at Hunin, Safad, and Tiberias. He is denounced throughout the Arab world for his actions.

1244 - 1245

The forces of Khwarazm sack Christian Jerusalem, before going on to support Sultan as Salih II Ayyub of Egypt in his attack on Damascus. At the Battle of La Forbie, they defeat Ismail and Ayyub is able to reclaim the sultanate for himself. The following year, Ayyub defeats Khwarazm itself for failing to recognise him as its overlord.


The Ayyubids re-conquer Jerusalem.


With the death of Conrad by malaria, his young son, Conradin is recognised as the new duke of Swabia and also as the new Holy Roman Emperor by his supporters. He fails to actually succeed his father to the latter title, however, and no single emperor is recognised. His throne in Jerusalem is held in his name by a relative from the royal house of Cyprus who acts as regent.

1254 - 1268

Conrad III / Conradin Hohenstaufen

Duke Conrad IV of Swabia. Last Hohenstaufen. Executed.

1248 - 1254

The Sixth Crusade takes place under the leadership of the pious and devout, and militarily aware Louis IX of France. He is the first major European monarch in seventy years to contemplate a major crusade against the Muslims, and he effectively mortgages France to pay for a great army (about 25,000 fully armed professional troops) and a vast collection of ships (around 18,000) to carry them. He invades Ayyubid Egypt in 1249 while the Ayyubids are seriously disorganised, carrying a forced beach landing against withering enemy firepower at Damietta. The town is successfully occupied. However, Louis' crusade eventually comes to nothing, as a regime change in Egypt and a vigorous new leadership sees he and his forces cut off and made prisoner.


The Mongol army marches on Aleppo and it quickly falls (within a week). Most of the inhabitants are killed or sold into slavery and the Great Mosque and the defensive Citadel are razed. When the army arrives at Damascus the city surrenders immediately. Samaria is captured, with the garrison of Nablus being put to the sword, and Gaza is taken. Baybars of Egypt sends a Mameluke army which inflicts a defeat on the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut. Damascus is freed five days later and within a month most of Syria is in Baybars' hands. He, leading the Mamelukes, and the Mongols are now the two major powers in the region, with the Christian states clinging to their coastal territories now a sideshow.


Sultan Baybars mobilises a large army of his highly professional troops in Egypt to counter an expected thrust by the Mongols. That attack never comes so, never one to waste a good war, Baybars turns his attention to the Crusader states. However, weak as they are, the Crusaders still have their powerful line of forts and their holy military orders. Baybars deploys the full force of his Mameluke military machine in front of the fearsome castle of Arsuf, a little way to the south of Caesarea, and it takes three days of hard fighting for the castle to fall. The surviving defenders are paraded through the streets of Cairo with a cross around their necks, and the castle is demolished so that it can never again be used by the Crusaders.


Baybars continues his campaigns against the Christian kingdoms, three years after destroying the castle at Arsuf. Antioch, the first major conquest made by the First Crusade in 1099, now falls to Baybars in just a day. Once his troops have access, the city's gates are barred from within so that no one may escape, and the Christian population is massacred. The message is clear. The Crusaders will not be returning to Antioch.


Charles d'Anjou

Claim accepted by Pope, rejected by Outremer nobility.

1269 - 1284

Hugh III of Cyprus

King of Cyprus (1267-1284).


The Seventh Crusade. The kingdom is briefly re-unified with the kingdom of Cyprus under one ruler.

1284 - 1285

John I

King of Cyprus (1284-1285).

1285 - 1306

Henry I

Henry II of Cyprus (1310-1324).


Acre is conquered by the Mamelukes, signalling the end of Outremer. The Christian kingdom of Cyprus continues, while the Teutonic Knights retire to Venice from where they become involved in the conquest of the Baltic tribes.

1504 - 1715

Although the titular claim to Cyprus and Jerusalem has legally passed out of the hands of the Savoyards, Charles decides to perpetuate Duke Philibert's claim to them, as does his successors. The true heirs are the lords of La Tremoille, princes of Talmond and Taranto.


As part of the resolution of the War of Succession, Savoy's claim to the crown of Jerusalem is now legally confirmed by France and Spain, both of which had also claimed them since 1499.

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