Post-classical history

Isabella I of Jerusalem (1172-1205)

Queen of Jerusalem (1192-1205), whose last two husbands ruled the kingdom in her name.

Isabella was the only child of King Amalric of Jerusalem and his second wife, Maria Komnene. Isabella married her first husband, Humphrey IV of Toron, in 1183. In 1186, some Frankish barons tried to establish the couple as rivals to Queen Sibyl (Isabella’s half-sister) and her husband, Guy of Lusignan, but the plan was abandoned when Humphrey swore fealty to his sister-in-law. In 1190 Sibyl died, and an annulment of Isabella’s marriage was procured by Maria Komnene and Conrad of Montferrat, to whom Isabella was now promptly married in order to bolster Conrad’s claim to the throne of Jerusalem against Guy.

In 1192 Conrad was recognized as king, but he was assassinated before he and Isabella could be crowned. Within eight days Isabella was married to Henry of Champagne, who ruled the kingdom in right of his wife, although the couple were never crowned. On Henry’s death (1197), the barons of the kingdom selected Aimery, king of Cyprus, as Isabella’s new husband, and the two were crowned in October.

Isabella was regularly associated with Henry and Aimery in the charters they issued, but there is little evidence that she took an active political role. The date of her death is unknown but probably occurred soon after that of Aimery (April 1205). She was predeceased by her only son (also called Aimery) and survived by five daughters: Maria of Montferrat (by Conrad), who succeeded her; Alice and Philippa (by Henry); and Melisende and Sibyl (by Aimery).

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