At first the kingdom was little more than a loose collection of towns and cities captured during the crusade. At its height, the kingdom roughly encompassed the territory of modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories. It extended from modern Lebanon in the north to the Sinai Desert in the south, and into modern Jordan and Syria in the east. There were also attempts to expand the kingdom into Fatimid Egypt. Its kings also held a certain amount of authority over the other crusader states, Tripoli, Antioch, and Edessa.
Many customs and institutions were imported from the territories of Western Europe from which the crusaders came, and there were close familial and political connections with the West throughout the kingdom's existence. It was, however, a relatively minor kingdom in comparison and often lacked financial and military support from Europe. The kingdom had closer ties to the neighbouring Kingdom of Armenia and the Byzantine Empire, from which it inherited "oriental" qualities, and the kingdom was also influenced by pre-existing Muslim institutions. Socially, however, the "Latin" inhabitants from Western Europe had almost no contact with the Muslims and native Christians whom they ruled.
At first the Muslim world had little concern for the fledgling kingdom, but as the 12th century progressed, the kingdom's increasingly-united Muslim neighbours vigorously began to recapture lost territory. Jerusalem itself was lost to Saladin in 1187, and by the 13th century the Kingdom was reduced to a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, dominated by a few cities. In this period, the kingdom, sometimes referred to as the "Kingdom of Acre", was dominated by the Lusignan dynasty of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus, and ties were also strengthened with Tripoli, Antioch, and Armenia. The kingdom was also increasingly dominated by the Italian city-states of Venice and Genoa, as well as the imperial ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperors. Meanwhile the surrounding Muslim territories were united under the Ayyubid and later the Mamluk dynasties in Egypt, and the kingdom became little more than a pawn in the politics and warfare in the region, which saw invasions by the Khwarezmians and Mongols in the mid-13th century. The Mamluk sultans Khalil and Baibars eventually reconquered all the remaining crusader strongholds, culminating in the destruction of Acre in 1291.
There was still some uncertainty as to the nature of the new kingdom. The papal legate Daimbert of Pisa convinced Godfrey to hand over Jerusalem to him as Latin Patriarch, forming the basis for a theocratic state. According to William of Tyre, Godfrey may have supported Daimbert's efforts, and he agreed to take possession of "one or two other cities and thus enlarge the kingdom" if Daimbert were permitted to rule Jerusalem. During his short reign, Godfrey indeed increased the boundaries of the kingdom, by capturing Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias, and other cities, and reducing many others to tributary status; he also set the foundations for the system of vassalage in the kingdom, including the Principality of Galilee and the County of Jaffa.
The path for a secular state was therefore set during Godfrey's rule, and when Godfrey died of an illness in 1100, his brother Baldwin of Boulogne successfully outmanoeuvered Daimbert and claimed Jerusalem for himself as a secular "king of the Latins of Jerusalem." Daimbert compromised by crowning Baldwin in Bethlehem rather than Jerusalem, but the path for a secular state had been laid. Within this secular framework, a Catholic church hierarchy was established, overtop of the local Eastern Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox authorities, who retained their own hierarchies. Under the Latin Patriarch there were four suffragan arcdioceses and numerous dioceses.
During Baldwin's reign the kingdom expanded even further. The numbers of Latin inhabitants increased, as the minor crusade of 1101 brought reinforcements to the kingdom. He also repopulated Jerusalem with Franks and native Christians, after his expedition across the Jordan in 1115.With help from the Italian city-states and other adventurers, notably King Sigurd I of Norway, Baldwin capturing the port cities of Acre (1104), Beirut (1110), and Sidon (1111), while also exerting his suzerainty over the other Crusader states to the north – the County of Edessa (which he had founded), the Principality of Antioch, and, after Tripoli was captured in 1109, the County of Tripoli. He successfully defended against Muslim invasions, from the Fatimids at the numerous battles at Ramla and elsewhere in the southwest of the kingdom, and from Damascus and Mosul in the northeast in 1113. As Thomas Madden says, Baldwin was "the true founder of the kingdom of Jerusalem", who "had transformed a tenuous arrangement into a solid feudal state. With brilliance and diligence, he established a strong monarchy, conquered the Palestinian coast, reconciled the crusader barons, and built strong frontiers against the kingdom's Muslim neighbours. However, the kingdom would never overcome its geographic isolation from Europe. For almost its entire history it was confined to the narrow strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River; land beyond this was subject to constant raiding and warfare. The kingdom's population centres could also easily be isolated from each other in the event of a major invasion, which eventually led to the kingdom's downfall in the 1180s.
Baldwin, who was probably homosexual, brought with him an Armenian wife, traditionally named Arda (although never named such by contemporaries), whom he had married to gain political support from the Armenian population in Edessa, and whom he quickly set her aside when he found that he had no need of Armenian support in Jerusalem. He bigamously married Adelaide del Vasto, regent of Sicily, in 1113, but was convinced to divorce her as well in 1117; Adelaide's son from her first marriage, Roger II of Sicily, never forgave Jerusalem, and for decades withheld much-needed naval support from Sicily.
Baldwin died without heirs in 1118, during a campaign against Egypt, and the kingdom was offered to his brother Eustace III of Boulogne, who had accompanied Baldwin and Godfrey on the crusade, but he was uninterested. Instead the crown passed to Baldwin's relative, probably a cousin, Baldwin of Le Bourg, who had previously succeeded him as Count of Edessa. Baldwin II was also an able ruler, and he too successfully defended against Fatimid and Seljuk invasions. Although Antioch was severely weakened after the Battle of Ager Sanguinis in 1119, and Baldwin himself was held captive by the emir of Aleppo from 1122-1124, Baldwin led the crusader states to victory at the Battle of Azaz in 1125. His reign also saw the establishment of the first military orders, the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar. The earliest surviving written laws of the kingdom were compiled at the Council of Nablus in 1120, and the first commercial treaty with Venice, the Pactum Warmundi, was written in 1124; the increase of naval and military support from Venice led to capture of Tyre that year. The influence of Jerusalem was also further extended over Edessa and Antioch, where Baldwin II acted as regent when their own leaders were killed in battle, although there were regency governments in Jerusalem as well during Baldwin's captivity. Baldwin was married to the Armenian princess Morphia of Melitene, and had four daughters: Hodierna and Alice, who married into the families of the Count of Tripoli and Prince of Antioch; Ioveta, who became an influential abbess; and the eldest, Melisende, who was his heir and succeeded him upon his death in 1131, with her husband Fulk V of Anjou as king-consort. Their son, the future Baldwin III, was also named co-heir by his grandfather.
Fulk, a renowned military commander, was then faced with a new and more dangerous enemy: the Atabeg Zengi of Mosul, who had taken control of Aleppo and had set his sights on Damascus as well; the union of these three states would have been a serious blow to the growing power of Jerusalem. A brief intervention in 1137-1138 by the Byzantine emperor John II Comnenus, who wished to assert imperial suzerainty over all the crusader states, did nothing to stop the threat of Zengi; in 1139 Damascus and Jerusalem recognized the severity of the threat to both states, and an alliance was concluded which temporarily halted Zengi's advance. Fulk used this time to construct numerous castles, including Ibelin and Kerak. However, after the death of both Fulk and Emperor John in separate hunting accidents in 1143, Zengi successfully invaded and conquered Edessa in 1144. Queen Melisende, now regent for her elder son Baldwin III, appointed a new constable, Manasses of Hierges, to head the army after Fulk's death, but Edessa could not be recaptured, despite Zengi's own assassination in 1146. The fall of Edessa shocked Europe, and a Second Crusade arrived in 1148.
After meeting in Acre in June, the crusading kings Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany agreed with Melisende, Balwdin III and the major nobles of the kingdom to attack Damascus. Zengi's territory had been divided amongst his sons after his death, and Damascus no longer felt threatened, so an alliance had been made with Zengi's son Nur ad-Din, the emir of Aleppo. Perhaps remembering attacks launched on Jerusalem from Damascus in previous decades, Damascus seemed to be the best target for the crusade, rather than Aleppo or another city to the north which would have allowed for the recapture of Edessa. The subsequent Siege of Damascus was a complete failure; when the city seemed to be on the verge of collapse, the crusader army suddenly moved against another section of the walls, and were driven back. The crusaders retreated within three days. There were rumours of treachery and bribery, and Conrad III felt betrayed by the nobility of Jerusalem. Whatever the reason for the failure, the French and German armies returned home, and a few years later Damascus was firmly under Nur ad-Din's control. With Syria in the east now united, the kingdom's attention was turned towards the much weaker Fatimid Egypt in the west.
The failure of the Second Crusade had dire long-term consequences for the kingdom. The West was hesitant to send large-scale expeditions; for the next few decades, only small armies came, headed by minor European nobles who desired to make a pilgrimage. The Muslim states of Syria were meanwhile gradually united by Nur ad-Din, who defeated the Principality of Antioch at the Battle of Inab in 1149 and gained control of Damascus in 1154. Nur ad-Din was extremely pious and during his rule the concept of jihad came to be interpreted as a kind of counter-crusade against the kingdom, which was an impediment to Muslim unity, both political and spiritual.
In Jerusalem, the crusaders were distracted by a conflict between Melisende and Baldwin III. Melisende continued to rule as regent long after Baldwin came of age. She was supported by, among others, Manasses of Hierges, who essentially governed for her as constable, her son Amalric, whom she set up as Count of Jaffa, Philip of Milly, and the Ibelin family. Baldwin asserted his independence by mediating disputes in Antioch and Tripoli, and gained the support of the Ibelin brothers when they began to oppose Manasses growing power, thanks to his marriage to their widowed mother Helvis of Ramla. In 1153 Baldwin had himself crowned as sole ruler, and a compromise was reached by which the kingdom was divided in two, with Baldwin taking Acre and Tyre in the north and Melisende remaining in control Jerusalem and the cities of the south. Baldwin was also able to replace Manasses with one of his own supporters, Humphrey II of Toron. However, both Baldwin and Melisende knew that this situation was untenable. Baldwin soon invaded his mother's possessions, defeated Manasses, and besieged his mother in the Tower of David in Jerusalem. Melisende surrendered and retired to Nablus, but Baldwin appointed her his regent and chief advisor, and she retained some of her influence, especially in appointing ecclesiastical officials. In 1153, Baldwin launched an offensive against Ascalon, the fortress in the south from which Fatimid Egyptian armies had continually raided Jerusalem since the foundation of the kingdom. The fortress was captured and was added to the County of Jaffa, still in the possession of his brother Amalric.
With the capture of Ascalon the southern border of the kingdom was now secure, and Egypt, which had formerly been a major threat to the kingdom but was now destabilized under the reign of several underaged caliphs, was reduced to a tributary state. Nur ad-Din remained a threat in the east, and Baldwin also had to contend with the advances of Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus, who claimed suzerainty over the Principality of Antioch. In order to bolster the defences of the kingdom against the growing strength of the Muslims, Baldwin III made the first direct alliance with the Byzantine Empire, by marrying Theodora Comnena, a niece of emperor Manuel; Manuel also married Baldwin's cousin Maria. As crusade historian William of Tyre put it, it was hoped that Manuel would be able "to relieve from his own abundance the distress under which our realm was suffering and to change our poverty into superabundance".
When Baldwin died childless in 1162, a year after his mother Melisende, the kingdom passed to his brother Amalric I, who renewed the alliance negotiated by Baldwin. In 1163 the chaotic situation in Egypt led to a refusal to pay tribute to Jerusalem, and requests were sent to Nur ad-Din for assistance; in response, Amalric invaded, but was turned back when the Egyptians flooded the Nile at Bilbeis. The Egyptian vizier Shawar again requested help from Nur ad-Din, who sent his general Shirkuh, but Shawar quickly turned against him and allied with Amalric. Amalric and Shirkuh both besieged Bilbeis in 1164, but both withdrew due to Nur ad-Din's campaigns against Antioch, where Bohemond III of Antioch and Raymond III of Tripoli were defeated at the Battle of Harim. There seemed every chance that Antioch itself would fall to Nur ad-Din. Emperor Manuel immediately sent a large Byzantine force to the area, and Nur ad-Din retreated. Manuel also paid the ransom to release Bohemond from captivity. However, neither Amalric nor Nur ad-Din could ignore Egypt; Shirkuh was sent back to Egypt in 1166, and Shawar again allied with Amalric, who was defeated at the Battle of al-Babein. Despite the defeat, both sides withdrew once more, but Shawar remained in control with a crusader garrison in Cairo. Amalric cemented his alliance with Manuel by marrying Manuel's niece Maria Komnene in 1167, and an embassy led by William of Tyre was sent to Constantinople to negotiate a military expedition, but in 1168 Amarlic pillaged Bilbeis without waiting for the naval support promised by Manuel. Amalric accomplished nothing else, but his actions prompted Shawar to switch sides and seek help from Shirkuh. Shawar was promptly assassinated, and when Shirkuh died in 1169, he was succeeded by his nephew Yusuf, better known as Saladin. That year, Manuel sent a large Byzantine fleet of some 300 ships to assist Amalric, and the town of Damietta was placed under siege. However, due to the failure of the crusaders and the Byzantines to cooperate fully, the chance to capture Egypt was thrown away. The Byzantine fleet sailed only with provisions for three months: by the time the crusaders were ready, supplies were already running out, and eventually the fleet retired. Each side sought to blame the other for failure, but both also knew that they depended on each other: the alliance was maintained, and plans for another campaign in Egypt were made, which ultimately were to come to naught.
In the end, Nur ad-Din was victorious and Saladin established himself as Sultan of Egypt. Saladin soon began to assert his independence from Nur ad-Din, and his dominance was assured by the death of both Amalric and Nur ad-Din in 1174. Saladin's power soon spread over Nur ad-Din's Syrian possessions as well, completely surrounding the crusader kingdom. With the death of the pro-western Emperor Manuel in 1180, the Kingdom of Jerusalem also lost its most powerful ally.
Amalric was succeeded by his young son, Baldwin IV, who was discovered at a very young age to be a leper. Baldwin nevertheless proved to be an effective and energetic king as well as being a brilliant military commander. His mother, Agnes of Courtenay, returned to the court, but her influence has been greatly exaggerated by earlier historians. Her role in appointing Eraclius, archbishop of Caesarea, as Patriarch of Jerusalem, followed the precedent of Queen Melisende: however, it sparked a grudge in Eraclius's rival, William of Tyre. His writings, and those of his continuators in the Chronicle of Ernoul, damaged her political and sexual reputation until the recent years.
Count Raymond III of Tripoli, his father's first cousin, was bailli or regent during Baldwin IV's minority. Baldwin reached his majority in 1176, and despite his illness he no longer had any legal need for a regent. Since Raymond was his nearest relative in the male line, with a strong claim to the throne, there was concern about the extent of his ambitions (although he had no direct heirs of his body). To balance this, the king turned from time to time to his uncle, Joscelin III of Edessa, after he was ransomed in 1176: as his maternal kin, the Courtenay family had no claim to the throne.
As a leper, Baldwin would never produce an heir, so the focus of his succession passed to his sister Sibylla and his younger half-sister Isabella. Baldwin and his advisors recognised that it was essential for Sibylla to be married to a Western nobleman in order to access support from Europe in a military crisis. In 1176, he married her to William of Montferrat, a cousin of Louis VII and of Frederick Barbarossa. Unfortunately, William died only a few months later in 1177, leaving Sibylla pregnant with the future Baldwin V. Meanwhile, Baldwin IV's stepmother Maria, mother of Isabella, married Balian of Ibelin.
Baldwin defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard in 1177, giving Jerusalem a brief respite from Saladin's continual attacks. The succession, however, remained a difficult issue. In 1180 Baldwin blocked moves by Raymond of Tripoli to marry Sibylla off to Baldwin of Ibelin by arranging her marriage to Guy of Lusignan. Guy was the younger brother of Amalric of Lusignan, who had already established himself as a capable figure in the kingdom, supported by the Courtenays. More importantly, internationally, the Lusignans were useful as vassals of Baldwin and Sibylla's cousin Henry II of England. Baldwin also betrothed Isabella (aged 8) to Humphrey IV of Toron, stepson of the powerful Raynald of Chatillon - thereby removing her from the influence of the Ibelin family and her mother. Guy was appointed bailli during the king's bouts of illness.
In 1183 Isabella married Humphrey at Kerak, during a siege by Saladin. Baldwin, now blind and crippled, went to the castle's relief on a litter, tended by his mother. He became disillusioned with Guy's military performance there (he was less competent than his brother Amalric), and was reconciled with Raymond. To cut Sibylla and Guy out of the succession, he had Sibylla's son Baldwin of Montferrat crowned Baldwin V, as co-king, although the boy was only 5.
The succession crisis had prompted a mission to the west to seek assistance: in 1184, Patriarch Eraclius travelled throughout the courts of Europe, but no help was forthcoming. The chronicler Ralph Niger reports that his enormous retinue and opulent dress offended the sensibilities of many westerners, who felt that if the east was so wealthy, no help was needed from the west. Eraclius offered the kingship to both Philip II of France and Henry II of England; the latter, as a grandson of Fulk, was a first cousin of the royal family of Jerusalem, and had promised to go on crusade after the murder of Thomas Becket, but he preferred to remain at home to defend his own territories. However, William V of Montferrat did come to support his grandson Baldwin V
Baldwin IV died in spring 1185, and Baldwin V became king, with Raymond of Tripoli as regent and his great-uncle Joscelin of Edessa as his guardian. However, he was a sickly child and died in the summer of 1186. The kingdom passed to his mother Sibylla, on the condition that her marriage to Guy be annulled; she agreed, if only she could chose her own husband next time. The annulment did not take place: after being crowned, Sibylla immediately crowned Guy with her own hands. Raymond and the Ibelins attempted a coup, in order to place Baldwin IV and Sibylla's half-sister Isabella on the throne, with her husband Humphrey of Toron. Humphrey, however, defected to Guy. Disgusted, Raymond returned to Tripoli, and Baldwin of Ibelin also left the kingdom.
Guy proved a disastrous ruler. His close ally Raynald of Chatillon, the lord of Oultrejourdain and of Kerak, provoked Saladin into open war by attacking Muslim caravans and threatening to attack Mecca itself. To make matters worse, Raymond had allied with Saladin against Guy and had allowed a Muslim garrison to occupy his fief in Tiberias. Guy was on the verge of attacking Raymond before Balian of Ibelin effected a reconciliation in 1187, and the two joined together to attack Saladin at Tiberias. However, Guy and Raymond could not agree on a proper plan of attack, and on July 4, 1187, the army of the Kingdom was utterly destroyed at the Battle of Hattin. Raynald was executed and Guy was imprisoned in Damascus. Over the next few months Saladin easily overran the entire Kingdom, save for the port of Tyre, which was ably defended by Conrad of Montferrat, the paternal uncle of Baldwin V, lately arrived from Constantinople.
The subsequent fall of Jerusalem essentially ended the first Kingdom of Jerusalem. Much of the population, swollen with refugees fleeing Saladin's conquest of the surrounding territory, was allowed to flee to Tyre, Tripoli, or Egypt (whence they were sent back to Europe), but those who could not pay for their freedom were sold into slavery, and those who could were often robbed by Christians and Muslims alike on their way into exile. The capture of the city shocked Europe, resulting in the Third Crusade, which was launched in 1189, led by Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus and Frederick Barbarossa, though the last drowned en route.
Guy of Lusignan, who had been refused entry to Tyre by Conrad, began to besiege Acre in 1189. During the lengthy siege, which lasted until 1191, Patriarch Eraclius, Queen Sibylla and her daughters, and many others died of disease. With the death of Sibylla in 1190, Guy now had no legal claim to the kingship, and the succession passed to Isabella. Her mother Maria and the Ibelins (now closely allied to Conrad) argued that Isabella and Humphrey's marriage was illegal, as she had been underage at the time; underlying this was the fact that Humphrey had betrayed his wife's cause in 1186. The marriage was annulled amid some controversy. (The annulment followed the precedents of Amalric I and Agnes, and - though not carried out - Sibylla and Guy - of succession dependent on annulling a politically inconvenient match.) Conrad, who was nearest kinsman to Baldwin V in the male line, and had already proved himself a capable military leader, then married Isabella, but Guy refused to concede the crown.
When Richard arrived in 1191, he and Philip took different sides in the succession dispute. Richard backed Guy, his vassal from Poitou, while Philip supported Conrad, a cousin of his late father Louis VII. After much ill-feeling and ill-health, Philip returned home in 1191, soon after the fall of Acre. Richard defeated Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf in 1191 and the Battle of Jaffa in 1192, recovering most of the coast, but could not recover Jerusalem or any of the inland territory of the kingdom. Conrad was unanimously elected king in April 1192, but was murdered by the Hashshashin only days later. Eight days later, the pregnant Isabella was married to Count Henry II of Champagne, nephew of Richard and Philip, but politically allied to Richard. Guy was sold the Kingdom of Cyprus, after Richard had captured the island on the way to Acre, as compensation.
The crusade came to an end peacefully, with the Treaty of Ramla negotiated in 1192; Saladin allowed pilgrimages to be made to Jerusalem, allowing the crusaders to fulfill their vows, after which they all returned home. The native crusader barons set about rebuilding their kingdom from Acre and the other coastal cities. Shortly after Richard left, Saladin died and his realm fell into civil war, leaving the Crusader lords further embittered at what could have been accomplished had the European princes remained to help rebuild.
Both Isabella and Amalric died in 1205 and again an underage girl, Isabella and Conrad's daughter Maria of Montferrat, became queen of Jerusalem. In 1210 Maria was married to an experienced sexagenarian knight, John of Brienne, who succeeded in keeping the tiny kingdom safe. She died in childbirth in 1212, and John continued to rule as regent for their daughter Yolande. Schemes were hatched to reconquer Jerusalem through Egypt, resulting in the failed Fifth Crusade against Damietta in 1217; King John took part in this, but the crusade was a failure. John travelled throughout Europe seeking assistance, and found support only from Emperor Frederick II, who then married John and Maria's daughter, Queen Yolande. Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade in 1228, and claimed the kingship of Jerusalem by right of his wife, just as John had done. Indeed, the sheer size of Frederick II's army and his stature before the Islamic world was sufficient to regain Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and a number of surrounding castles without a fight: these were recovered by treaty with the Ayyubid Sultan Al-Kamil. However, the nobles of Outremer, led by the regent John of Ibelin, not only felt more could have been recovered militarily, but also resented his attempts to impose Imperial authority over their kingdom, resulting in a number of military confrontations both on the mainland and on Cyprus.
The recovery was short-lived - not enough territory had been ceded to make the city defensible, and in 1244 the Ayyubids invited the Khwarezmian clans displaced by the Mongols to reconquer the city. In the resulting siege and conquest the Khwarezmians completely razed Jerusalem, leaving it in ruins and useless to both Christians and Muslims. The Seventh Crusade under Louis IX of France was inspired by this massacre, but it accomplished little save to replace the Ayyubids and Khwarezmians with the more powerful Mamluks as the Crusaders' main enemy in 1250.
Because the monarchy was now directly tied to powerful sovereigns in Europe, for the period from 1229 to 1268, the monarch resided in Europe and usually had a larger realm to pursue or take care of, thereby leaving governance to the Haute Cour. Kings of Jerusalem were represented by their baillis and regents. The title of King of Jerusalem was inherited by Conrad IV of Germany, son of Frederick II and Yolande, and later by his own son Conradin. With the death of Conradin, the kingdom was inherited by King Hugh III of Cyprus. The territory descended into squabbling between the nobles of Cyprus and the mainland, between the remnant of the (now unified) County of Tripoli and Principality of Antioch, whose rulers also vied for influence in Acre, and especially between the Italian merchant communities, whose quarrels erupted in the so-called "War of Saint Sabas" in Acre in 1257. After the Seventh Crusade, no organized effort from Europe ever arrived in the Kingdom, although in 1277 Charles of Anjou bought the title of "King of Jerusalem" from a pretender to the throne. He never appeared in Acre but sent a representative, who, like Frederick II's representatives before him, was rejected by the nobles of Outremer.
Despite their precarious geopolitical situation, the Frankish realm managed to maintain an economically viable and influential power. Frankish diplomats aimed to keep the Muslim powers divided against each other, utilizing the feared Assassins as much as other Islamic rulers. In their later years, faced with the threat of the Egyptian Mamluks, the Crusaders' hopes rested with a Franco-Mongol alliance. The Mongols were thought to be sympathetic to Christianity, and some Christian territories such as Georgia, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and Antioch had already submitted to Mongol overlordship in the mid-1200s, though others had refused any kind of alliance. The Mongols successfully attacked as far south as Damascus on these campaigns. In 1260, while the Mongol forces were temporarily depleted because of internal issues in the Empire, the Mamluks negotiated a passive alliance with the Barons of Acre. The Crusaders still saw the Muslims as enemies, but also saw that the Mongols were the greater threat at the time, and therefore the Crusaders allowed the Mamluks to advance northwards through Crusader territory, and resupply near Acre before engaging the Mongols in battle. This led to the Mongols suffering a historic defeat by the Mamluks at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, and the Mongols could never avenge the loss, instead being limited to a few raids into Palestine in 1260 and 1300. The Mamluks, for their part, eventually broke any truces with the Crusaders, and made good their pledge to cleanse the entire Middle East of the infidel Franks; in 1291, Acre, the last major Crusader stronghold, was taken by Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil. This conquest was far less merciful than that of Saladin one hundred years before; much of the Frankish population was massacred or sold into slavery, such that Khalil could proclaim "A pearly white Frankish woman couldn't sell in the bazaar for a penny!"
After Acre fell, the Crusaders moved their headquarters north to cities such as Tortosa, but lost that too, and were forced to relocate their headquarters offshore to Cyprus. Some naval raids and attempts to retake territory were made over the next ten years, but with the loss of the island of Arwad in 1302/1303, the Kingdom of Jerusalem ceased to exist on the mainland. The kings of Cyprus for many decades hatched plans to regain the Holy Land, but without success. For the next seven centuries, up to today, a veritable multitude of European monarchs have used the title of King of Jerusalem. See Kings of Jerusalem.
The Latin population of the kingdom was always small; although a steady stream of settlers and new crusaders continually arrived, most of the original crusaders who fought in the First Crusade simply went home. According to William of Tyre, "barely three hundred knights and two thousand foot soldiers could be found" in the kingdom in 1100 during Godfrey's siege of Arsuf. From the very beginning, the Latins were little more than a colonial frontier exercising rule over the native Muslim, Greek and Syrian population, who were more populous in number. But Jerusalem came to be known as Outremer, the French word for "overseas," and as new generations grew up in the kingdom, they also began to think of themselves as natives, rather than immigrants. Although they never gave up their core identity as Western Europeans or Franks, their clothing, diet, and commercialism integrated much Oriental, particularly Byzantine, influence. As the chronicler Fulcher of Chartres wrote around 1124,
"For we who were Occidentals now have been made Orientals. He who was a Roman or Frank has in this land been made into a Galilean or a Palestinean. He who was of Rheims or Chartres has now become a citizen of Tyre or Antioch. We have already forgotten the places of our birth; already these are unknown to many of us or not mentioned any more.
The crusaders and their descendants often learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and other eastern languages, and intermarried with the native Christians (whether Greek, Syrian, or Armenian) and sometimes with converted Muslims. Nonetheless, the Frankish principalities remained a distinctive Occidental colony in the heart of Islam.
Fulcher, a participant in the First Crusade and chaplain of Baldwin I, continued his chronicle up to 1127. Fulcher's chronicle was very popular and was used as a source by other historians in the west, such as Orderic Vitalis and William of Malmesbury. Almost as soon as Jerusalem had been captured, and continuing throughout the 12th century, many pilgrims arrived and left accounts of the new kingdom; among them are the English Saewulf, the Russian Abbot Daniel, the Frank Fretellus, the Byzantine Johannes Phocas, and the Germans John of Wurzburg and Theoderich. Aside from these, thereafter there is no eyewitness to events in Jerusalem until William of Tyre, archbishop of Tyre and chancellor of Jerusalem, who began writing around 1167 and died around 1184, although he includes much information about the First Crusade and the intervening years from the death of Fulcher to his own time, drawn mainly from the writings of Albert of Aix and Fulcher himself. From the Muslim perspective, a chief source of information is Usamah ibn Munqidh, a soldier and frequent ambassador from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt, whose memoirs, Kitab al i'tibar, include lively accounts of crusader society in the east. Further information can be gathered from travellers such as Benjamin of Tudela and Ibn Jubayr.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, French scholars, such as E. G. Rey, Gaston Dodu, and Rene Grousset believed that the crusaders and the native Muslims and Christians lived in a totally integrated society. Ronnie Ellenblum however claims this view was influenced by French imperialism and colonialism; if medieval French crusaders could integrate themselves into local society, then certainly modern French colonies in the Levant could also thrive. In the mid-20th century, scholars such as Joshua Prawer, R. C. Smail, Meron Benvenisti, and Claude Cahen argued instead that the crusaders lived totally segregated from the native inhabitants, who were thoroughly Arabicized and/or Islamicized and were a constant threat to the foreign crusaders. Prawer argued further that the kingdom was an early attempt at colonization, in which the crusaders were a small ruling class, who were dependent on the native population for survival but made no attempt to integrate with them. For this reason, the rural European society to which the crusaders were accustomed was replaced by a more secure urban society in the pre-existing cities of the Levant.
According to Ellenblum's interpretation the inhabitants of the Kingdom (Latin Christians living alongside native Greek and Syrian Christians, Shia and Sunni Arabs, Sufis, Bedouin, Turks, Druze, Jews, and Samaritans) all had major differences between each other as well as with the crusaders. Relations between eastern Christians and the Latin crusaders were "complex and ambiguous", not simply friendly or hostile. The Turks were the common enemy for everyone, as they were only very recent arrivals in the Levant, and although they had imposed their rule prior to the arrival of the crusaders, it is unlikely that they were thoroughly Islamicized as Prawer and others believed. The eastern Christians, at least, probably felt closer ties to their fellow Christian crusaders than to either Turkic overlords or Muslim Arabs.
Although the crusaders came upon an ancient urban society, Ellenblum argues that they neither completely abandoned their rural European lifestyle, nor was European society completely rural to begin with. Crusader settlement in the Levant resembled the types of colonization and settlement that were already being practised in Europe, a mixture of urban and rural civilization centred around fortresses. The crusaders were neither totally integrated with the native population, nor did they segregate themselves in the cities away from the rural natives, but rather that they settled in both urban and rural areas; specifically, they settled in areas that had traditionally been inhabited by the eastern Christians. Areas that were traditionally Muslim had very little crusader settlement, just as they already had very few native Christian inhabitants.
Into this mixed society the crusaders adapted existing institutions and introduced their own familiar customs from Europe. As in Europe the nobles had their own vassals and were themselves vassals to the king. Agricultural production was regulated by the iqta, a Muslim system of land ownership and payments roughly (though far from exactly) equivalent to the feudal system of Europe, and this system was not heavily disrupted by the crusaders.
As Hans Mayer says, "the Muslim inhabitants of the Latin Kingdom hardly ever appear in the Latin chronicles," so information on their role in society is difficult to find. The crusaders "had a natural tendency to ignore these matters as simply without interest and certainly not worthy of record." Although Muslims, as well as Jews and Eastern Christians, had virtually no rights in the countryside, where they were essentially the property of the crusader lord who owned the land, tolerance for other faiths was in general higher than that found elsewhere in the Middle East. Greeks, Syrians, and Jews continued to live as they had before, subject to their own laws and courts, with their former Muslim overlords simply replaced by the crusaders; Muslims now joined them at the lowest level of society. The ra'is, the leader of a Muslim or Syrian community, was a kind of vassal to whatever noble owned his land, but as the crusader nobles were absentee landlords the ra'is and their communities had a high degree of autonomy.
In the cities, Muslims and Eastern Christians were free, although no Muslims were permitted to live in Jerusalem itself. They were second-class citizens and played no part in politics or law, and owed no military service to the crown, although in some cities they may have been the majority of the population. Likewise, citizens of the Italian city-states owed nothing as they lived in autonomous quarters in the port cities.
There were also an unknown number of Muslim slaves living in the Kingdom. There was a very large slave market in Acre which functioned throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Although Christians, both Western and Eastern, were by law prohibited from being sold into slavery, the native Christians were often indistinguishable from the Muslim population and the Italian merchants were sometimes accused of selling them along with Muslim slaves. Slavery was less common than ransom, especially for prisoners of war; the large numbers of prisoners taken during raids and battles every year ensured that ransom money flowed freely between the Christian and Muslim states. Escape for prisoners and slaves was probably not difficult, as the inhabitants of the countryside were majority Muslim, and fugitive slaves were always a problem. The only legal means of manumission was conversion to (Catholic) Christianity. No Christian, whether Western or Eastern, was permitted by law to be sold into slavery.
The nomadic Bedouin tribes were legally considered to be personal property of the king and were under his protection. They could, however, be sold or alienated just like any other property, and later in the twelfth century they are often found under the protection of a lesser noble or one of the military orders.
Jerusalem also collected money through tribute payments, first from the coastal cities which had not yet been captured, and later from other neighbouring states such as Damascus and Egypt, which the crusaders could not conquer directly. After Baldwin I extended his rule over Oultrejordain, Jerusalem also gained revenue from the taxation of Muslim caravans passing from Syria to Egypt or Arabia. The money economy of Jerusalem meant that their manpower problem could be partially solved by paying for mercenaries, an uncommon occurrence in medieval Europe. Mercenaries could be fellow European crusaders, or, perhaps more often, Muslim soldiers, including the famous Turcopoles.
In Jerusalem itself the greatest architectural endeavour was the expansion of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in western Gothic style. This expansion consolidated all the separate shrines on the site into one building, and was completed by 1149. Outside of Jerusalem, castles and fortresses were the major focus of construction: Kerak and Montreal in Oultrejordain and Ibelin near Jaffa are among the numerous examples of crusader castles.
Crusader art was a mix of Western, Byzantine, and Islamic styles. The major cities featured baths, interior plumbing, and other advanced hygienic tools which were lacking in most other cities and towns throughout the world. The foremost example of crusader art are perhaps the Melisende Psalter, an illuminated manuscript commissioned between 1135 and 1143 and now located in the British Library, and the sculpted Nazareth Capitals. Paintings and mosaics were popular forms of art in the kingdom, but many of these were destroyed by the Mamluks in the 13th century; only the most durable fortresses survived the reconquest.
Immediately after the First Crusade, land was distributed to loyal vassals of Godfrey, forming numerous feudal lordships within the kingdom. This was continued by Godfrey's successors. The number and importance of the lordships varied throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and many cities were part of the royal domain. The king was also assisted by a number of officers of state. The king and the royal court were normally located in Jerusalem, but due to the prohibition on Muslim inhabitants, the capital was small and underpopulated. The king just as often held court at Acre, Nablus, Tyre, or wherever else he happened to be. In Jerusalem, the royal family lived firstly on the Temple Mount, before the foundation of the Knights Templar, and later in the palace complex surrounding the Tower of David; there was another palace complex in Acre.
Because the nobles tended to live in Jerusalem rather than on estates in the countryside, they had a larger influence on the king than they would have had in Europe. The nobles, along with the bishops, formed the haute cour (high court), which was responsible for confirming the election of a new king (or a regent if necessary), collecting taxes, minting coins, allotting money to the king, and raising armies. The haute cour was the only judicial body for the nobles of the kingdom, hearing criminal cases such as murder, rape, and treason, and simpler feudal disputes such as recovery of slaves, sales and purchases of fiefs, and default of service. Punishments included forfeiture of land and exile, or in extreme cases death. The first laws of the kingdom were, according to tradition, established during Godfrey of Bouillon's short reign, but were more probably established by Baldwin II at the Council of Nablus in 1120. Benjamin Z. Kedar argued that the canons of the Council of Nablus were in force in the twelfth century but had fallen out of use by the thirteenth; Marwan Nader, however, questions this and suggests that the canons may not have applied to the whole kingdom at all times. The most extensive collection of laws, together known as Assizes of Jerusalem, were written in the mid-thirteenth century, although many of them are purported to be twelfth-century in origin.
There were other, lesser courts for non-nobles and non-Latins; the Cour des Bourgeois provided justice for non-noble Latins, dealing with minor criminal offences such as assault and theft, and provided rules for disputes between non-Latins, whose had fewer legal rights. Special courts such as the Cour de la Fond (for commercial disputes in the markets) and the Cour de la Mer (an admiralty court) existed in the coastal cities. The extent to which native Islamic and Eastern Christian courts continued to function is unknown, but the ra'is probably exercised some legal authority on a local level. The Cour des Syriens judged non-criminal matters among the native Christians (the "Syrians"), but for criminal offenses, however, non-Latins would be tried in the Cour des Bourgeois (or even the Haute Cour if the crime was sufficiently severe).
The Italian communes were granted almost complete autonomy from the very early days of the Kingdom, thanks to their military and naval support in the years following the First Crusade. This autonomy included the right to administer their own justice, although the kinds of cases that fell under their jurisdiction varied at different times.
The king was recognised as head of the Haute Cour, although he was legally only primus inter pares.
The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which has gone through several different varieties of a cross Or (gold) on an argent (silver) field, is a famous violation of or exception to the rule of tincture in heraldry, which prohibits the placement of metal on metal or colour on colour.
It is one of the earliest known coats of arms. The crosses are Greek crosses, one of the many Byzantine influences on the kingdom.