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Medieval Sourcebook:
William of Tyre:
Godfrey Of Bouillon Becomes "Defender Of The Holy Sepulcher


When the Holy City had, by the superabundant grace of the Lord, been restored and affairs had returned to a more or less tranquil state, the army spent seven days rejoicing greatly, With spiritual gladness and fear of the Lord. On the eighth day [July 22 1099] the princes gathered in order that, after calling on the grace of the Holy Spirit, they might deal with the business of electing one of their group to rule over the area and take charge of the royal duties in the province. While they were gathered, some of the clergy assembled. The latter were puffed up with spiritual pride. They sought their own ends, not those of Jesus Christ. They professed to have a secret message which they wished to convey to the princes who were participating in the conclave. The clergy's representatives, when admitted, said: "It has been announced to the clergy that you have assembled in order to elect one of yourselves as king. Your proposal seems to us a just and useful one and worthy to be carried out if only the proper order in this matter be observed, For it is certain that spiritual matters are of greater dignity than secular affairs and, truly, what is of greater dignity ought to have precedence. It seems to us, therefore, that unless a backward order be followed, a religious person, a man pleasing to God, ought first to be chosen, who will know how to preside and rule over the Church of God. This, rather than the election of a secular power, ought to be done first. If you will follow this procedure, we shall indeed be pleased and we shall be with you body and soul. If you do not, however, we shall judge and decree that whatsoever you have ordained out of our order is invalid and without force among men .... "

The princes, however, considered the aforementioned message frivolous and without weight.... Some say that in order to proceed to an election which was pleasing to God and which took account of individual merits, the princes called in some of the household of each of the great leaders, made them take a solemn oath, and questioned them about the conduct and habits of their lords so that they would tell the truth without any admixture of falsehood. This was done so that the electors might thus be more fully and more faithfully informed of the merits of the candidates. Those who were later very closely questioned under the required oath by the electors were forced to confess in secret the vices of their lords and likewise to enumerate their virtues, so that it might be made plain just what sort of men their lords were. When the Duke 'S6 household were questioned among the others, they replied that, among all the Duke's actions, the one which most irritated his servants was this: that when he entered a church, even after the celebration of the liturgy had been finished, he could not be drawn out. Rather, be demanded of the priests and those who seemed experienced in such matters an account of each picture and statue. His associates, who were interested in other things, found this boring, even nauseating. Further, his meals, which had been prepared for a certain and appropriate hour, grew cold and most unappetizing because of these long and vexing delays. The electors who heard these things said: "Blessed is the man to whom are ascribed as faults those traits which would be called virtues in another." At length, after consulting with one another and after many deliberations, they unanimously elected the lord Duke. They brought him to the Holy Sepulcher of the Lord most devoutly, chanting hymns and canticles.

It is said, however, that most of the nobles bad agreed upon Lord Raymond, Count of Toulouse. When they learned, however, that if the kingdom were not given to Raymond he would immediately return home, they were led by their desire for their native land to invent reasons to bold him unfitted, and they even went against the dictates of their consciences to do so. Count Raymond, nonetheless, spurned his native land and did not return home, but, instead, most devoutly followed Christ. He extended further the pilgrimage upon which be bad embarked and followed it in voluntary poverty to the end....

After the oft­mentioned Lord Duke had, by God's grace, been confirmed as the bead of the Kingdom and after all the quarrels which had arisen had abated, the Kingdom in his days grew more secure and well established. He reigned but one year, for, because men's sins, the Kingdom was deprived of the continued consolation of such a prince. He refreshed the newly planted Kingdom and gave it protection against the molestations of attacker He was wrenched away in mid­career, lest his heart be affected by evil; as it is written: "The men of mercy are taken away and there is none that understandeth."',

Duke Godfrey was born in the French kingdom, in the province of Reims, in the city of Boulogne by the English Sea. He w descended from illustrious and religious forebears. His father was the elder Lord Eustace, the famous and splendid Count of that region, whose many and memorable works are still recalled by the old men of the neighboring provinces and his memory as a religious and God­fearing man is like a blessing" in the pious recollection of men. Duke Godfrey's mother was well­known among the noble matrons of the West, as much for her way of life as for her noble generosity. She was named Ida and was a sister of the exalted Duke Godfrey of Lorraine who was known as Struma. That Duke Godfrey, since he had no children, adopted his nephew Godfrey as his own son and bestowed his entire patrimony upon young Godfrey as his heir. Thus, when the elder Duke Godfrey died, the young Godfrey succeeded him as Duke.

The younger Duke Godfrey had three brothers who, by reason of their worthy lives and their distinguished virtues, were true brothers to such a prince. They were the Lord Baldwin, Count of Edessa, who succeeded Godfrey in the kingdom; and the Lord Eustace, Count of Boulogne, who was his father's namesake, successor to his father as Count and inheritor of the paternal estate…The third was Lord William, a famous man, no less virtuous and energetic than his father and brothers. Of these three, the first two followed their lord and brother, Duke Godfrey, on the expedition, while the third remained at home.

Godfrey was the eldest of them by birth and the foremost in his inner qualities as well.... He was a religious man, mild mannered, virtuous, and God­fearing. He was just, he avoided evil, he was trustworthy and dependable in his undertakings. He scorned the vanities of the world, a quality rare in that age and especially among men of the military profession. He was assiduous in prayer and pious works, renowned for his liberality, graciously affable, civil, and merciful. His whole life was commendable and pleasing to God. His body was tall and although he was shorter than the very tall, yet he was taller than men of average height. He was a man of incomparable strength, with stout limbs, a manly chest, and a handsome face. His hair and beard were a medium blond. He was considered by everyone to be most outstanding in the use of weapons and in military operations.


Source:

William of Tyre, Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, IX, 1-2, 5, Patrologia Latina 201, 433-35, 437-38, Translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 70-73
Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for use of his translations.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall December 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu