Post-classical history

Sibyl of Jerusalem (d. 1190)

Queen of Jerusalem (1186-1190).

Sibyl was born before 1161, the eldest child of King Amalric of Jerusalem and his first wife, Agnes of Courtenay. Despite the annulment of her parents’ marriage in 1163, she and her brother Baldwin (IV) were declared legitimate. After Baldwin became king (1174), his leprosy meant that a husband was needed for Sibyl, his heir, to assume the regency and father a male successor. In the autumn of 1176 Sibyl was married to William of Montferrat, but he died in June 1177, leaving a posthumous son, the future Baldwin V. At Easter 1180 Sibyl married a Poitevin nobleman, Guy of Lusignan; the reasons for the marriage are unclear, but it may have been precipitated by the advance of Bohemund III of Antioch and Raymond III of Tripoli on the kingdom, ostensibly to impose their candidate on Sibyl.

Guy’s elevation was resented and led to factional strife. Baldwin IV had Baldwin V crowned in 1183, hoping that on his own death Sibyl and Guy would be kept from the throne. However, the young Baldwin V died in 1186, only a year after his uncle the king; while the High Court debated the succession in Nablus, Sibyl had herself crowned in Jerusalem and proceeded to crown Guy.

Sibyl was associated with Guy in his charters, but their rule ended with the defeat at Hattin in July 1187. After Guy’s release from captivity by Saladin they both traveled to Tyre (mod. Soûr,Lebanon) but were refused access to the city by Conrad of Montferrat. They then laid siege to Acre (mod. ‘Akko, Israel), where Sibyl died of disease (25 July 1190) along with her two young daughters. These deaths left Guy without a secure claim to the throne and provoked renewed discord among the Franks over the kingship of Jerusalem.

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