‘For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.’ DANIEL XI, 13
In 115 3, while Nur ed-Din’s attention was fixed upon Damascus and while King Baldwin and his army lay before Ascalon, the Princess of Antioch decided her own destiny. Amongst the knights that followed King Louis of France to the Second Crusade was the younger son of Geoffrey, Count of Gien and lord of Chatillon-sur-Loing. Reynald of Chatillon had no prospects in his own country; so he had stayed behind in Palestine when the Crusaders returned home. There he took service under the young King Baldwin, whom he accompanied to Antioch in 1151. The widowed Princess soon took notice of him. He seems to have remained in her principality, no doubt in possession of some small fief; and it may have been his presence that induced her to refuse the husbands suggested for her by the King and the Emperor. In the spring of 1153 she decided to marry him. Before she announced her intention she asked permission of the King; for he was official guardian of her state and the overlord of her bridegroom. Reynald hastened to Ascalon, where the King’s camp had just been established, and delivered Constance’s message. Baldwin, knowing Reynald to be a brave soldier, and, above all, thankful to be relieved of the responsibility for Antioch, made no difficulty. As soon as Reynald arrived back in Antioch the marriage took place and Reynald was installed as Prince. It was not a popular match. Not only the great families of Antioch but also the humbler subjects of the Princess thought that she was degraded by giving herself to this upstart.
It would have been courteous and correct of Constance to have asked permission also from the Emperor Manuel. The news of the marriage was ill-received at Constantinople. But Manuel was at the moment involved in a campaign against the Seldjuks. He could not give practical expression to his wrath. Conscious of his rights, he therefore sent to Antioch offering to recognize the new Prince if the Franks of Antioch would fight for him against the Armenian Thoros. He promised a money-subsidy if the work were properly done. Reynald willingly complied. Imperial approval would strengthen him personally; moreover, the Armenians had advanced into the district of Alexandretta, which the Franks claimed as part of the Antiochene principality. After a short battle near Alexandretta he drove the Armenians back into Cilicia; and he presented the reconquered country to the Order of the Temple. The Order took over Alexandretta, and to protect its approaches reconstructed the Castles of Gastun and Baghras, which commanded the Syrian Gates. Reynald had already decided to work in with the Templars and thus started a friendship that was to be fatal for Jerusalem.
1156: Reynald’s Raid on Cyprus
Having secured the land that he wanted, Reynald demanded his subsidies from the Emperor, who refused them, pointing out that the main task had yet to be done. Reynald changed his policy. Encouraged by the Templars he made peace with Thoros and his brothers; and while the Armenians attacked the few remaining Byzantine fortresses in Cilicia, he decided to lead an expedition against the rich island of Cyprus. But he lacked money for the enterprise. The Patriarch Aimery of Antioch was very rich; and he had been outspoken in his disapproval of Constance’s marriage. Reynald determined to punish him to his own profit. Aimery had earned the respect of the Antiochenes by his courage and energy in the dark days after Prince Raymond’s death; but his illiteracy and the looseness of his morals damaged his reputation and made him vulnerable. Reynald demanded money from him and on his refusal lost his temper and cast him into prison. There the prelate was cruelly beaten on the head. His wounds were then smeared with honey, and he was left for a whole summer day chained in blazing sunshine on the roof of the citadel to be a prey for all the insects of the neighbourhood. The treatment achieved its object. The miserable Patriarch hastened to pay rather than face another day of such torment. Meanwhile the story reached Jerusalem. King Baldwin was horrified and sent at once his chancellor, Ralph, and the Bishop of Acre to insist on the Patriarch’s immediate release. Reynald, having secured the money, let him go; and Aimery accompanied his rescuers back to Jerusalem, where he was received with the highest honours by the King and Queen Melisende and his brother-Patriarch. He refused meanwhile to return to Antioch.
The Patriarch’s experience shocked responsible Frankish circles; but Reynald was unabashed. He could now attack Cyprus; and in the spring of 1156 he and Thoros made a sudden landing on the island. Cyprus had been spared the wars and invasions that had troubled the Asian continent during the last century. It was contented and prosperous under its Byzantine governors. Half a century before, Cypriot food-parcels had done much to help the Franks of the First Crusade when they lay starving at Antioch; and, apart from occasional administrative disputes, relations between the Franks and the island government had been friendly. As soon as he heard of Reynald’s plan, King Baldwin sent a hasty message to warn the island. But it was too late; reinforcements could not be rushed there in time. The governor was the Emperor’s nephew, John Comnenus; and with him in the island was the distinguished soldier Michael Branas. When news came of the Frankish landing, Branas hurried with the island militia down to the coast and won a small initial victory. But the invaders were too numerous. They soon overpowered his troops and captured him himself; and when John Comnenus came to his aid, he too was taken prisoner. The victorious Franks and Armenians then marched up and down the island robbing and pillaging every building that they saw, churches and convents as well as shops and private houses. The crops were burnt; the herds were rounded up, together with all the population, and driven down to the coast. The women were raped; children and folk too old to move had their throats cut. The murder and rapine was on a scale that the Huns or the Mongols might have envied. The nightmare lasted about three weeks. Then, on the rumour of an imperial fleet in the offing, Reynald gave the order for re-embarkation. The ships were loaded up with booty. The herds and flocks for which there was no room were sold back at a high price to their owners. Every Cypriot was forced to ransom himself; and there was no money left in the island for the purpose. So the governor and Branas, together with the leading churchmen, the leading proprietors and the leading merchants, with all their families, were carried off to Antioch to remain in prison till the money should be forthcoming; except for some who were mutilated and sent in derision to Constantinople. The island of Cyprus never fully recovered from the devastation caused by the Frenchmen and their Armenian allies. The earthquakes of 1157, which were severe in Cyprus, completed the misery; and in 1158 the Egyptians, whose fleet had not ventured into Cypriot waters for many decades, made some raids on the defenceless island, possibly without the formal permission of the Caliph’s government; for amongst the prisoners captured was the governor’s brother, who was received honourably at Cairo and sent back at once to Constantinople.
1157: The Franks attack Shaizar
In 1157 Thierry, Count of Flanders, returned to Palestine with a company of knights; and in the autumn Baldwin III determined to profit by his arrival and by Nur ed-Din’s illness to re-establish the Frankish positions on the middle Orontes. Reynald was persuaded to join the royal army in an attack upon Shaizar. After the disastrous earthquake in August the citadel had fallen to a band of Assassin adventurers. The Christian army arrived there at the end of the year. The lower town fell at once to them; and the ruined citadel seemed likely to surrender, when a quarrel broke out amongst the besiegers. Baldwin promised the town and its territory to Thierry as the nucleus of a principality to be held under the Crown; but Reynald, claiming that the Munqidhites had been tributaries to Antioch, demanded that Thierry should pay him homage for it. To the Count the idea of paying homage to a man of such undistinguished origin was unthinkable. Baldwin could only solve the difficulty by abandoning the disputed territory. The army moved away northwards to occupy the ruins of Apamea, then laid siege to Harenc. This was undeniably Antiochene property; but Baldwin and Thierry were prepared to help Reynald recapture it in view of its strategic importance. After a heavy bombardment by mangonels it capitulated in February 1158, and was given a little later to one of Thierry’s knights, Reynald of Saint-Valery, who held it under the Prince of Antioch.
The Prince of Antioch’s conduct had not been satisfactory; and the King decided to reorientate his policy. He knew of Reynald’s bad relations with the Emperor, who was unlikely to forgive the raid on Cyprus, and he knew that the Byzantine army was still the most formidable in Christendom. In the summer of 1157 he had sent an embassy to Constantinople to ask for a bride from the imperial family. It was led by Achard, Archbishop of Nazareth, who died on the journey, and Humphrey II of Toron. The Emperor Manuel received them well. After some negotiation he offered his niece Theodora, with a dowry of 100,000 golden hyperperi, and another 10,000 for wedding expenses, and gifts worth 30,000 more. In return she was to be given Acre and its territory as her dower, to keep should her husband die childless. When his embassy came back and Baldwin had confirmed the terms, the young princess set out from Constantinople. She arrived at Acre in September 1158 and travelled in state to Jerusalem. There she was married to the King by the Patriarch Aimery of Antioch, as the Patriarch-elect of Jerusalem had not yet been confirmed by the Pope. She was aged thirteen, but well-grown and very lovely. Baldwin was delighted with her and was a faithful husband, abandoning the easy morals of his bachelor days.
1158: Manuel enters Cilicia
During the negotiations it seems that Manuel promised to join in an alliance against Nur ed-Din, and that Baldwin agreed that Reynald should be humbled. Meanwhile the King campaigned on the Damascene frontier. In March 1158 he and the Count of Flanders made a surprise march on Damascus itself and on 1 April laid siege to the castle of Dareiya in the suburbs. But Nur ed-Din, now convalescent, was already on his way south to put an end to the intrigues that had flourished there during his illness. He arrived in Damascus on 7 April to the great delight of its inhabitants; and Baldwin thought it prudent to retire. Nur ed-Din then made a counter-offensive. While his lieutenant Shirkuh raided the territory of Sidon, he himself attacked the castle of Habis Jaldak, which the Franks had built as an outpost south-east of the Sea of Galilee, by the banks of the river Yarmuk. The garrison was so hard pressed that it soon agreed to capitulate if help did not arrive within ten days. Baldwin therefore set out with Count Thierry to its relief, but instead of going straight to it he took the road north of the lake leading to Damascus. The ruse worked. Nur ed-Din feared for his communications and raised the siege. The two armies met at the village of Butaiha, on the east of the upper Jordan valley. At the first glimpse of the Moslems, the Franks attacked, believing them to be only a scouting party; when the whinny of a mule that the King had given to a sheikh whom they knew to be with Nur ed-Din — it had recognized the smell of its old friends amongst the Frankish horses — showed them that the whole Moslem force had arrived. But the impetus of their attack had been so great that the Moslems wavered. Nur ed-Din, whose health was still frail, was persuaded to leave the battlefield; and on his departure his whole army turned and retired in some disorder. The Frankish victory was sufficient to induce Nur ed-Din to ask for a truce. For the next few years there was no serious warfare on the Syro-Palestinian frontier. Both Baldwin and Nur ed-Din could turn their attention to the north.
In the autumn of 1158 the Emperor set out from Constantinople at the head of a great army. He marched to Cilicia; and while the main force followed slowly along the difficult coast-road eastward, he hurried ahead with a force of only five hundred horsemen. So secret were his preparations and so quick his movements that no one in Cilicia knew of his coming. The Armenian Prince Thoros was at Tarsus, suspecting nothing, when suddenly, one day in late October, a Latin pilgrim whom he had entertained came rushing back to his Court to tell him that he had seen Imperial troops only a day’s march away. Thoros collected his family, his intimate friends and his treasure and fled at once to the mountains. Next day Manuel entered the Cilician plain. While his brother-in-law, Theodore Vatatses, occupied Tarsus, he moved on swiftly; and within a fortnight all the Cilician cities as far as Anazarbus were in his power. But Thoros himself still eluded him. While Byzantine detachments scoured the valleys he fled from hill-top to hilltop and at last found refuge on a crag called Dadjig, near the sources of the Cydnus, whose ruins had been uninhabited for generations. Only his two most trusted servants knew where he lay hidden.
The Emperor’s arrival terrified Reynald. He knew that he could not resist against this huge Imperial army; and this knowledge saved him. For by making an immediate submission he could obtain far better terms than if he were defeated in battle. Gerard, Bishop of Lattakieh, the most perspicacious of his counsellors, pointed out to him that the Emperor’s motive was prestige rather than conquest. So Reynald sent hastily to Manuel offering to surrender the citadel of Antioch to an Imperial garrison. When his envoy was told that that was not enough, he himself put on a penitent’s dress and hurried to the Emperor’s camp, outside the walls of Mamistra. Envoys from all the neighbouring princes were arriving to greet the Emperor, from Nur ed-Din, from the Danishmends, from the King of Georgia, and even from the Caliph. Manuel kept Reynald waiting a little. It seems that about this moment he received a message from the exiled Patriarch Aimery suggesting that Reynald should be brought before him in chains and be deposed. But it suited the Emperor better to have him a humble client. At a solemn session, with the Emperor seated enthroned in his great tent, his courtiers and the foreign ambassadors grouped around him and the crack regiments of the army lining the approaches, Reynald made his submission. He and his suite had walked barefoot and bareheaded through the town and out to the camp. There he prostrated himself in the dust before the imperial platform, while all his men raised their hands in supplication. Many minutes passed before Manuel deigned to notice him. Then pardon was accorded to him on three conditions. Whenever it was asked of him he must hand his citadel over to an Imperial garrison; he must provide a contingent for the Imperial army; and he must admit a Greek Patriarch of Antioch instead of the Latin. Reynald swore to obey these terms. Then he was dismissed and sent back to Antioch.
1159: The Emperor in Antioch
The news of Manuel’s approach had brought King Baldwin, with his brother Amalric and the Patriarch Aimery, hastening from the south. They arrived at Antioch soon after Reynald’s return. Baldwin was a little disappointed to hear of Reynald’s pardon and he wrote at once to Manuel to beg for an audience. Manuel hesitated, apparently because he believed that Baldwin desired the principality for himself. This may have been part of Aimery’s suggestion. But when Baldwin insisted, Manuel yielded. Baldwin rode out from Antioch escorted by citizens praying him to reconcile them with the Emperor. The interview was an immense success. Manuel was charmed by the young King, whom he kept as his guest for ten days. While they discussed plans for an alliance, Baldwin succeeded in securing a pardon for Thoros, who went through the same procedure as Reynald had done, and who was allowed to keep his territory in the mountains. It was probably due to Baldwin that Manuel did not insist on the immediate installation of the Greek Patriarch. Aimery was re-established on his patriarchal throne and was formally reconciled with Reynald. When Baldwin returned to Antioch, laden with gifts, he left his brother behind with the Emperor.
On Easter Sunday, 12 April 1159, Manuel came to Antioch and made his solemn entry into the city. The Latin authorities tried to keep him away by saying that there was a plot to assassinate him there; but he was not intimidated. He merely insisted that the citizens should give him hostages and that the Latin princes who were to take part in the procession should be unarmed. He himself wore mail beneath his robes. There was no untoward incident. While the imperial banners floated over the citadel, the cortege passed over the fortified bridge into the city. First came the superb Varangians of the Imperial Guard. Then the Emperor himself, on horseback, in a purple mantle, and on his head a diadem dripping with pearls. Reynald, on foot, held his bridle, and other Frankish lords walked beside the horse. Behind him rode Baldwin, uncrowned and unarmed. Then there followed the high functionaries of the Empire. Just inside the gates waited the Patriarch Aimery, in full pontificals, with all his clergy, to lead the procession through streets strewn with carpets and with flowers, first to the Cathedral of St Peter, then on to the palace.
For eight days Manuel remained in Antioch; and festivity followed festivity. He himself, though proud and majestic on solemn occasions, radiated a personal charm and friendliness that captivated the crowds; and the lavishness of his gifts, to the nobles and the populace alike, enhanced the general rejoicing. As a gesture to the Occident he organized a tournament and made his comrades join him in the jousts. He was a fine horseman and acquitted himself with honour; but his commanders, to whom horsemanship was a means, and not an end, were less impressive in comparison with the knights of the West. The intimacy between the Emperor and his nephew-by-marriage, the King, grew closer. When Baldwin broke his arm out hunting, Manuel insisted on treating it himself, just as he had acted as medical adviser to Conrad of Germany.
This splendid week marked the triumph of the Emperor’s prestige. But Gerard of Lattakieh was right. It was prestige, not conquest, that he wanted. When all the feasts were ended, he rejoined his army outside the walls and moved eastward to the Moslem frontier. He was met almost at once by ambassadors from Nur ed-Din, with full powers to negotiate a truce. To the fury of the Latins, who had expected him to march on Aleppo, he received the embassy, and discussions began. When Nur ed-Din offered to release all the Christian captives, to the number of six thousand, that were in his prisons and to send an expedition against the Seldjuk Turks, Manuel agreed to call off the campaign.
1159: Manuel’s Truce with Nur ed-Din
He had probably never intended to carry on with it; and though the Crusaders and their modem apologists might cry treason, it is hard to see what else he could have done. To the Crusaders Syria was all-important, but to Manuel it was only one frontier-zone out of many and not the most vital to his Empire. He could not afford to remain for many months at the end of a long and vulnerable line of communications, nor, magnificent though his army was, could he risk heavy losses to it with impunity. Moreover he had no wish to cause the break-up of Nur ed-Din’s power. He knew from bitter experience that the Franks only welcomed him when they were frightened. It would be folly to remove their chief source of fear. And Nur ed-Din’s alliance was a valuable asset in the wars against a far more dangerous enemy to the Empire, the Turks of Anatolia. But, as the sequel showed, he would give help to prevent Nur ed-Din’s conquest of Egypt; for that would fatally upset the equilibrium. Perhaps, had he been less precipitate, he might have obtained better terms. But he had received worrying news of a plot at Constantinople and troubles on his European frontier. He could not anyhow afford to stay much longer in Syria.
Nevertheless his truce with Nur ed-Din was a psychological mistake. For a moment the Franks had been prepared to accept him as leader; but he had shown himself, as wiser men would have foreseen, more interested in his Empire’s fate than in theirs. Nor were they much consoled by the release of the Christian captives. They included some important local warriors, such as the Grand Master of the Temple, Bertrand of Blanefort; but they were for the most part Germans captured during the Second Crusade, and amongst them was the claimant to Tripoli, Bertrand of Toulouse, whose reappearance might have been embarrassing had his health not been broken by captivity.
When the truce was concluded, the Emperor and his army retreated westward, slowly at first, then faster as more alarming news arrived from his capital. Some of Nur ed-Din’s followers tried to harass it, against their master’s wishes; and when, to save time, it cut through Seldjuk territory, there were skirmishes with the Sultan’s troops. But it arrived intact at Constantinople in the late summer. After some three months, Manuel crossed again into Asia to campaign against the Seldjuks, to try out against them a new and more mobile form of tactics. Meanwhile his envoys were building up the coalition against the Seldjuk Sultan, Kilij Arslan II. Nur ed-Din, deeply relieved by Manuel’s departure, advanced into Seldjuk territory from the middle Euphrates. The Danishmend prince Yakub Arslan attacked from the north-east, so successfully that the Sultan was obliged to cede to him the lands round Albistan in the Anti-Taurus. Meanwhile the Byzantine general, John Contostephanus, collected the levies that Reynald and Thoros were bound by treaty to provide, and, with a contingent of Petchenegs, settled by Manuel in Cilicia, moved up through the Taurus passes; and Manuel and the main Imperial army, reinforced by troops provided by the Prince of Serbia and Frankish pilgrims recruited when their ships called in at Rhodes, swept up the valley of the Meander. The Sultan had to divide his forces. When Contostephanus won a complete victory over the Turks sent to oppose him, Kilij Arslan gave up the struggle. He wrote to the Emperor offering in return for peace to give back all the Greek cities occupied in recent years by the Moslems, to see that the frontiers were respected and that raiding ceased, and to provide a regiment to fight in the Imperial army whenever it might be required. Manuel agreed to the terms; but he kept in reserve the Sultan’s rebellious brother Shahinshah, who had come to him for protection. So, to confirm the treaty, Kilij Arslan sent his Christian chancellor, Christopher, to Constantinople to suggest an official visit to the imperial Court. Hostilities ended in the summer of 1161; and next spring Kilij Arslan was received at Constantinople. The ceremonies were splendid. The Sultan was treated with great honour and showered with gifts, but was treated as a vassal-prince. The news of the visit impressed all the princes of the East.
1160: Reynald taken Prisoner
It is in this general light that we must judge Manuel’s eastern policy. He had won a very valuable victory of prestige and he had, temporarily at least, humbled the Seldjuks, who had been the main threat to his Empire. This success brought certain advantages to the Franks. Nur ed-Din had not been defeated, but he had been scared. He would not attempt a direct attack on Christian territory. At the same time the peace with the Seldjuks reopened the land route for pilgrims from the West. There was an increase in their numbers; and that more did not arrive was due to western politics, to the wars between the Hohenstaufen and the Papalists in Germany and Italy and between the Capetians and the Plantagenets in France. But, though Byzantium was to remain for the next twenty years the greatest influence in northern Syria, its genuine friends among the Franks were very few.
Events in 1160 showed both the nature and the value of the Imperial suzerainty over Antioch. King Baldwin had returned to the south and was engaged on a few minor raids in Damascene territory, taking advantage of Nur ed-Din’s preoccupations in the north, when he heard that Reynald had been taken prisoner by Nur ed-Din. In November 1160 the seasonal movement of herds from the mountains of the Anti-Taurus into the Euphratesian plain tempted the Prince to make a raid up the river valley. As he returned, slowed down by the droves of cattle and camels and horses that he had rounded up, he was ambushed by the governor of Aleppo, Nur ed-Din’s foster-brother Majd ed-Din. He fought bravely; but his men were outnumbered and he himself was unhorsed and captured. He was sent with his comrades, bound, on camel-back, to Aleppo, where he was to remain in gaol for sixteen years. Neither the Emperor nor the King of Jerusalem nor even the people of Antioch showed any haste to ransom him. In his prison he found young Joscelin of Courtenay, titular Count of Edessa, who had been captured on a raid a few months previously.
Reynald’s elimination raised a constitutional problem in Antioch, where he had reigned as the husband of the Princess Constance. She now claimed that the power reverted to her; but public opinion supported the rights of her son by her first marriage, Bohemond, surnamed the Stammerer, who was however only aged fifteen. It was a situation similar to that of Queen Melisende and Baldwin III in Jerusalem a few years previously. There was no immediate danger, because Nur ed-Din’s fear of Manuel kept him from attacking Antioch itself. But some effective government must be provided. Strictly speaking, it was for the Emperor as the accepted suzerain of Antioch to settle the question. But Manuel was far away, and the Antiochenes had not accepted him without reservations. The Norman princes of Antioch had considered themselves as sovereign princes; but the frequent minorities amongst their successors had obliged the Kings of Jerusalem to intervene, more as kinsmen than as suzerains. There had, however, grown up in Antioch a sentiment that regarded the King as suzerain; and there is little doubt that Manuel had only been accepted so easily because Baldwin was present to give his approval to the arrangement. It was to Baldwin, not to Manuel, that the people of Antioch looked now for a solution. On their invitation he came to Antioch, declared Bohemond III to be the rightful prince, and entrusted the government to the Patriarch Aimery till the Prince should be of age. The decision displeased Constance, and its method displeased Manuel. The Princess promptly appealed to the Imperial Court.
1161: Melisende of Tripoli
About the end of the year 1159 the Empress Irene, born Bertha of Sulzbach, had died leaving only a daughter behind her. In 1160 an embassy led by John Contostephanus, accompanied by the chief interpreter of the Court, the Italian Theophylact, arrived at Jerusalem to ask the King to nominate one of the eligible princesses of Outremer as bride for the widowed Emperor. There were two candidates, Maria, daughter of Constance of Antioch, and Melisende, daughter of Raymond II of Tripoli, both of them Baldwin’s cousins and both famed for their beauty. Distrusting a close family alliance between the Emperor and Antioch, Baldwin suggested Melisende. The ambassadors went on to Tripoli to report on the Princess, whom the whole Frankish East saluted as the future Empress. Raymond of Tripoli proudly determined to give his sister a worthy dowry and spent vast sums on her trousseau. Presents poured in from her mother Hodierna and her aunt Queen Melisende. Knights from all parts hurried to Tripoli in the hope of being asked to the wedding. But no confirmation came from Constantinople. The ambassadors sent to Manuel glowing and intimate accounts of Melisende’s person, but they also recorded a rumour about her birth, based on her mother’s known quarrel with her father. There seems to have been in fact no doubt about her legitimacy; but the gossip may have made the Emperor hesitate. Then he heard of Baldwin’s intervention at Antioch and received Constance’s appeal. In the early summer of 1161 Raymond, having grown impatient, sent one of his knights, Otto of Risberg, to Constantinople to ask what was afoot. About August Otto returned with the news that the Emperor repudiated the engagement.
The shock and humiliation were too much for Melisende. She fell into a decline and soon faded away, as the Princesse Lointaine of medieval French romance. Her brother Raymond was furious. He demanded angrily to be recouped for the sums that he had spent on her trousseau; and when that was refused, he fitted out the twelve galleys that he had ordered to convey her to Constantinople as men-of-war and led them to raid the coasts of Cyprus. King Baldwin, who was staying with his cousins waiting for news, was seriously disquieted, especially when the Byzantine ambassadors received orders to go to Antioch. He hurried after them, to find in Antioch a splendid embassy from the Emperor, headed by Alexius Bryennius Comnenus, son of Anna Comnena, and the Prefect of Constantinople, John Camaterus. They had already negotiated a marriage contract between their master and the Princess Maria of Antioch; and their presence had sufficed to establish Constance as ruler of the principality. Baldwin had to accept the situation. Maria, who was lovelier even than her cousin Melisende, set sail from Saint Symeon in September, proud to be an Empress and happy in her ignorance of her ultimate destiny. She was married to the Emperor in December in the Church of Saint Sophia at Constantinople by the three Patriarchs, Luke of Constantinople, Sophronius of Alexandria and the titular Patriarch of Antioch, Athanasius II.
1162: Death of Baldwin III
Baldwin had seen the value of a Byzantine alliance; but Manuel’s success had been greater than he wished in the Christian north and less effective against Nur ed-Din, though it kept the Moslems quiet for the next two years. After this diplomatic check over the Emperor’s marriage, the King returned towards his kingdom. There his government had gone smoothly ever since his mother’s fall from power. She had emerged in 1157 to preside over a council of regency when Baldwin was away at the wars; and she kept ecclesiastical patronage in her hands. When the Patriarch Fulcher died in November 1157 she secured the appointment as his successor of a simple cleric whom she knew, Amalric of Nesle, well-educated but unworldly and unpractical. Hemes, Archbishop of Caesarea, and Ralph, Bishop of Bethlehem, opposed his elevation; and Amalric was obliged to send Frederick, Bishop of Acre, to Rome to secure papal support. Frederick’s tact and, it was hinted, his bribes obtained confirmation from the papal Curia. In her church-patronage, Melisende was seconded by her stepdaughter, Sibylla of Flanders, who refused to return to Europe with her husband Thierry in 1158 but stayed on as a nun in the abbey that Melisende had founded at Bethany. When Melisende died in September 1161, while the King was at Antioch, Sibylla succeeded to her influence in the royal family and in the Church till her own death four years later.
While he was passing through Tripoli, King Baldwin fell ill. The Count of Tripoli sent his own doctor, the Syrian Barac, to tend him; but the King grew worse. He moved on to Beirut, and there, on 10 February 1162, he died. He had been a tall, strongly-built man, whose florid complexion and thick fair beard suggested good health and virility; and all the world believed that Barac’s drugs had poisoned him. He was in his thirty-third year. Had he lived longer, he might have been a great king; for he had energy and a far-sighted vision and a personal charm that was irresistible. He was well-lettered, learned both in history and in law. His subjects mourned him bitterly; and even the Moslem peasants came down from the hills to pay respect to his body as the funeral cortege moved slowly to Jerusalem. Some of Nur ed-Din’s friends suggested to the Atabeg that now was the time to attack the Christians. But he, just returned from a long-postponed pilgrimage to Mecca, refused to disturb a people bewailing the loss of so great a prince.