Post-classical history

Lignages d'Outremer

A genealogical work in Old French, originally compiled in Cyprus, probably in the entourage of John of Ibelin, lord of Jaffa, around 1268/1270.

The original version of the Lignages presents the genealogies of some fifteen noble families of Outremer and Cyprus. Starting from the ancestral pair Guy and Stephanie of Milly, it details in turn all of the families descended from them or linked to their descendants by marriage: the lords of Ibelin, the princes of Antioch, and the lords of Sidon, Caesarea, Beirut, Gibelet, and Tiberias, ending with the kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus. Essentially, the text represents a genealogical history of the Ibelins, and its aim was probably to glorify the ancestry of this family, whose origins are in fact obscure. These genealogies were intended to be exhaustive, and thus included as many names as possible. For each lineage, the author begins with the first known ancestor, giving the names of that ancestor’s spouse and their children, a pattern that is then repeated for each generation. This first version is found in two manuscripts dating from the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century: MSS Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr.19026, and Venezia, Biblioteca Marciana, Francese.

The original text of the Lignages underwent a number of revisions. A new augmented version was compiled during the first years of the fourteenth century. This version contains thirty chapters, which are organized according to a principle of social hierarchy, beginning with the kings of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Cilicia, and ending with less prestigious lineages, such as the Mimars or Le Petit. It includes numerous families that were not mentioned in the first version. This version is no longer about the ascent of the Ibelins, but constitutes a true remembrance de la gent desa mer (“remembrance of the people beyond the sea,” i.e., of Outremer), as it claims; the work originally created in the interest of a single family is transformed into something of more general significance. The sole extant text of this version is a sumptuous fifteenth-century manuscript (MS Città del Vat- icano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat.lat.4789). It is proof of the text’s importance and wide dissemination that an Armenian translation of the first four chapters was made almost immediately after its first appearance by He‘tum of Korykos, who included it in his Chronicle (in the version preserved in MS. Yerevan, Matenadaran Library, 1898).

The Lignages were revised again later and inserted into the official redaction of the Livre de Jean d’Ibelin drawn up by sixteen liege vassals in 1369. Two further but more limited versions continued the genealogies up to 1458/1459, the dates of the coronation and marriage of Queen Charlotte of Cyprus. One of these, written in French, is a highly abbreviated version, covering only the kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus (MS München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, gall.771). The other is a translation into Italian, undoubtedly made in 1459 and surviving only in a fragmentary copy possibly dating from the 1570s (MS Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat.lat.7806).

Although it gives only a partial view of the feudal society of Outremer and Cyprus, the Lignages d’Outremer is a rich and complex text that constitutes an invaluable source of information on dozens of families, amounting to over a thousand individuals.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!