Baldwin IV of Jerusalem


November 30, 2021

Baldwin IV of Jerusalem (1161 - March 16, 1185), known as the Leper, son of Amaury I of Jerusalem from his first union with Agnès de Courtenay, was king of Jerusalem from 1174 to 1185. His sister, Queen Sibyl of Jerusalem , was the mother of his nephew and heir, King Baudouin V. He had a half-sister after his father's second marriage to Marie Comnenus, Queen Isabella I of Jerusalem.

Childhood and adolescence

Baldwin lived young with his father at the court in Jerusalem, having very little contact with his mother, Agnès de Courtenay, Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon then of Sidon, from whom his father later separated. His education was mainly taken care of by the historian William of Tire, future Archbishop of Tire and Chancellor of the Kingdom. It was he who discovered the terrible fate that awaited the child while he played with his comrades. The game consisted of hammering your fingernails into the arms of opponents, urged to dominate the pain. The others expressed their pain but, although his playmates did not spare him, Baudouin endured the pain, as if he did not feel it. Guillaume immediately recognized the symptom of a serious illness, without being able to identify which one. Doctors were consulted, both Westerners and Muslims, but to no avail. An immersion in the Jordan didn't change anything. As he reached the age of puberty, it became evident that he was suffering from leprosy. The extremities and the face were the most affected. On July 11, 1174, King Amaury I died, after having tried in vain to prevent the Zengids' seizure of Egypt. The latter had failed, however, because Shirkuh, the Kurdish general in charge of the conquest of the Nile valley, died in 1169, leaving power to his nephew Saladin, who refused to submit to Nur ad-Din. But the situation is just as catastrophic for the Franks, since the softness of the last Fatimids gives way to the firmness of the Ayyoubids.


Baldwin, crowned king of Jerusalem at the age of 13 on July 15 of the same year, was then entrusted to two successive regents, the first Miles of Plancy, although unofficially regent, and the second Raymond III of Tripoli, cousin of his father. In 1175, Raymond III signed a treaty with Saladin. Taking into account his state of health, Baudouin was certainly not called to live long and even less to conceive an heir, which pushed many courtiers to multiply the intrigues in order to attract the graces of the heiresses to the throne, Sibylle and Isabelle. Sibylle was sent to her great-aunt, Yvette of Jerusalem, Abbess of Saint Lazarus of Bethany, to be educated there, while Isabelle was at the court of her mother Marie Comnenus, in Nablus.

Baldwin IV king of Jerusalem

Raymond's regency ended with the second anniversary of Baudouin's coronation. The young king came of age at the age of 15, in accordance with the laws of the kingdom. He did not ratify the treaty signed by Raymond with Saladin in 1175, but carried out a series of raids in the vicinity of Damascus and the Bekaa valley. He appointed his maternal uncle, Josselin III, Count of Edessa, Seneschal after having paid his ransom. Josselin was his closest male relative without any claim to the throne, which made him a friend and confidant in the eyes of the king. As regent, Raymond of Tripoli had started the negotiations concerning the marriage of the princess Sibylle with Guillaume de Montferrat, a cousin of the king of France Louis VII and of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. William arrived in October and became Count of Jaffa and Ascalon after marriage. He was tipped to become king when Baudouin would no longer be able to assume his functions, reigning over the kingdom with his wife Sibyl. In the meantime, Baudouin pre

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