Post-classical history

Hugh of Jaffa

One of the leading nobles of the kingdom of Jerusalem during the reign of Baldwin II (1118-1131). He held the lord ship of Jaffa (mod. Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel) but was dispossessed by Baldwin’s successor Fulk.

Hugh was the son of Hugh II of Le Puiset, a lordship near Chartres in France, and was thus a member of a family related to many of the nobility of northern and northeastern France. Hugh II came to Outremer some time after 1106, and some time after the accession of his cousin Baldwin II (of Bourcq) as king of Jerusalem (1118), he was made lord of the important town of Jaffa.

The younger Hugh succeeded his father around 1123; the fact he was the first member of the nobility of Jerusalem to be given the title of count is an indication of his high status. He also seems to have made claims to the future lordship of the Muslim city of Ascalon (mod. Tel Ashqelon, Israel), situated to the south of the county of Jaffa. Hugh’s fortunes went into decline after the accession of Baldwin II’s daughter Melisende and her husband Fulk of Anjou (1131). The chronicler William of Tyre, writing fifty years later, claimed that Hugh was the queen’s lover. In fact it is clear that Fulk was attempting to govern on his own, in breach of the settlement made by Baldwin II, which made over the kingdom to the joint rule of Fulk, Melisende, and their young son Baldwin III. Hugh of Jaffa was Melisende’s closest adult male relative in the kingdom, and his opposition to Fulk derived from his desire to safeguard the rights of his kinswoman and her son.

This constitutional crisis culminated in a rebellion led by Hugh, which lost support after he allied himself with Muslim Ascalon (1133-1134). Hugh was obliged to submit and go into exile. He went to Sicily, where he died. Jaffa returned to the royal demesne until Baldwin III granted it to his younger brother Amalric.

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