Armenian queens of Jerusalem

  • by Western Armenia, January 19, 2024 in History

It is no secret that the Armenian kingdom of Kilikia was important for the Crusades.

 Crusaders were perhaps more welcome in Armenia than anywhere else.

Pope Gregory XIII testifies to that. "When the Christian princes and warriors went to reclaim the Holy Land,  Armenians people  came to aid  crusaders with  faith and enthusiasm helped the them with horses, food and guidance.

Armenians helped the warriors during the Holy Wars with their courage and devotion." But much more interesting is the fact that during the 200-year existence of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, almost all the queens were Armenians. In fact the  five queens and 4 of the six kings' wives had Armenian roots, in whole or in part. 

Many of them played a significant role in the country's history as guardians of minor crown princes, as well as in the administration of the kingdom.

Arda Arda was the daughter of Marashi Tatul (or Toros), an Armenian nobleman, and the wife of the first king of Jerusalem.

His real name is not mentioned in modern sources, but since the 17th century he was traditionally called Arda.

She was married to King Baldwin I of Boulogne of Jerusalem, who had become the first count of Edessia (Urfa) with the help of Arda's father. When the Crusaders first conquered Jerusalem under Gottfried of Boulogne, Baldwin became king.

Thus Arda became the first queen of Jerusalem. Morphia Morphia of Malatia was the daughter of Prince Gabriel (or Khoril), ruler of Malatia.

She married the crusader Baldwin II, who died in 1100. then became the Count of Edesia. They had 4 daughters: Melisinda, Alisa, Godierna and Ioveta.

This family resided in Edessa until 1118, when the husband was elected King of Jerusalem as Baldwin's successor.

There are reports that Baldwin II loved his wife very much and as a sign of that love he delayed his coronation until  Christmas Holidays in 1119,  so that his wife and children would travel in Jerusalem and Morphia would accompany him as queen.

For his part, Morphia did not get involved in Jerusalem's internal political day-to-day issues, but he fully demonstrated his ability to take responsibility when necessary.

When in 1123 Baldwin is kidnapped, Morphia, through Armenian mercenaries, discovers the place where her husband was held captive, and in 1124 personally negotiates with the abductors on the terms of her husband's release.

In the end, the kidnapped Baldwin and other officials are saved from the kidnappers by the efforts of 50 Armenian soldiers who pose as merchants and thus enter the fortress. They manage to kill the guards and  release the hostages

 Morphia was probably partially responsible for the cultural influence in Jerusalem. The art of the kingdom shows a mixture of Eastern and Western styles.

Morphia died in 1126. on October 1. Childless, Baldwin was succeeded by Melisinda, his eldest daughter, whom Baldwin married to Fulkin, Duke of Anjou. Their other 2 daughters also married dignitaries and Iovetta became a nun. Melisinda (1105 -1161) Melisinda, as mentioned above, was the daughter of the Armenian Queen Morphia and Baldwin II.

She married Duke Fulkin of Anjou and in 1130 had a son, the future heir of the Baldwins.

Melisinda's position.

1135 the king's authority plummeted. Modern historians note that after all that, Fulkin, without warning the queen, did not dare to deal with even the smallest issues.1136 the queen and Fulkin reconciled and their second son, Amarlik, was born.

 In 1143 When Fulkin was killed in a hunting accident, the queen mourned his death both publicly and privately. She ruled as the Queen of Jerusalem from 1131-1153. and replaced his son in 1153-1161 when the latter went on a campaign.

He was universally recognized as an exceptional administrator, his rule described as wise by both spiritual leaders and contemporaries. “She was a very intelligent woman, thoroughly experienced in all matters of state affairs. 

She completely bypassed the disadvantages artificially attributed to her gender and took responsibility for important affairs.

Aspiring to follow the glory of the best princes, the queen might justly equal all her predecessors.' Melisinda attached great importance to the church and the arts.

He founded St. in Bethany.  Lazarus Church and Convent, where his younger sister Ioveta ruled as matron.

The history of the reconstruction of the tomb-temple of the Virgin Mary is also connected with his name. The three queens of Jerusalem of Armenian origin are buried in that temple.

Melisinda died in 1184. and is buried next to his mother, Morphia. Agnes (1136 -1184) Queen Agnes was the granddaughter of the Armenian princess Beatrice (daughter of King Constantine I of Cilicia). She became Queen of Jerusalem after her marriage to Queen Melisinda's son.

Agnes was married at an early age to Reynald of Marash, but the latter was killed in battle. Agnes was engaged for the second time, but this time her husband-to-be was kidnapped in the fighting against the Muslims.

1157 Baldwin III's brother, the heir to the throne Amarlik, married Agnes (some sources say by kidnapping her). Agnes had  three children: Sibyl, Baldwin IV, the third child died young.

Agnes and Amarlik made their home in the royal court. Soon, however, their marriage was declared invalid because Amarlik and Agnes were descendants of the same pope, which means  they were bound by a bond of friendship contrary to Christian tradition.

However, his children remained as heirs to the throne. Amarlik then married another girl with Armenian roots, Maria. Agnes married for the fourth time, and in 1184 died in his castle at Jaffa. 

Maria was the daughter of Maria Taronitissa, a Byzantine military ruler and descendant of the ancient Armenian kings of Taron.

She married King Amarlic of Jerusalem when Agnes and Amarlic's marriage was annulled. Their marriage was celebrated with great pomp.

Amarlik died in 1174 and Maria became the widowed queen. Maria later married again  Balian, who led the defense of Jerusalem against Saladin. They had four children.

Sibyl (1160 -1190),  Sibyl was the daughter of the King Amarlik and his first wife, Agnes.

Therefore, he has Armenian blood both from his father's and from his mother's side. Sibyl studied the scriptures and followed church traditions.

She married William Longsword, eldest son of Marquess William V and cousin of Louis V of France. The following year, William died, leaving Sibyl pregnant.

 According to royal tradition, Sibyl named her son Baldwin. Sibyl married  second time in 1180 with Guy.

 She was installed as queen and ruled alone. Before her coronation, Sibylla agreed to annul her second marriage to please members of the opposition court until the court allowed her to choose her next husband.

The opposition disagreed and she began to rule, but to their surprise, immediately after becoming queen, Sibyl announced that she had chosen Gaius as her husband and crowned him.

Sibyla was distinguished with  great cunning and political courage in her relations with opposition groups.

His main concern was Saladin's forces advancing on the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The troops led by her husband, however, were defeated, and the queen's husband was captured. Until 1187 Saladin's troops besieged the Holy City, and Sibyl personally led the defense.

In October, the defense forces were disbanded, and Sibyl and her daughters were allowed to leave for Tripoli.

Sibyl's captive husband is released when Saladin realizes that returning him would cause hostility in the crusader camp, and that Guy was a less viable leader than those currently ruling. When Guy was released, the queen joined him, but Sibyl's first husband's brother, Conrad Menferat, had already assumed the defense of the city and refused to recognize Guy's authority.

After spending 1 month at the city gates, Guy led the vanguard of the Third Crusade and besieged the city of Acre for two years.

1190 Sibylla reportedly died of an epidemic in the military camp. A few days ago, her little daughters also died.

Acre is soon conquered by troops brought by King Philip II of France and Richard I of England.

Isabel Isabel was the daughter of the Armenian Maria and King Amarlik. His Armenian origin is noticeable on both his father's and his mother's side. She had 7 children from different husbands.

Isabel was the reigning queen of Jerusalem from 1190 until her death. As a result of 4 marriages, she successively became Lady of Toron, Marquise of Montferrat, Duchess and Queen of Cyprus.

Isabel is described by the poet Amroze as "exceedingly fair and beautiful". The Muslim historian Ima al-Din al-Isfahani states that he had black hair and was pale.