William of Tyre:
Godfrey Of Bouillon Becomes "Defender Of The Holy Sepulcher
When the Holy City had, by the superabundant grace of the Lord,
been restored and affairs had returned to a more or less tranquil
state, the army spent seven days rejoicing greatly, With spiritual
gladness and fear of the Lord. On the eighth day [July 22 1099]
the princes gathered in order that, after calling on the grace
of the Holy Spirit, they might deal with the business of electing
one of their group to rule over the area and take charge of the
royal duties in the province. While they were gathered, some of
the clergy assembled. The latter were puffed up with spiritual
pride. They sought their own ends, not those of Jesus Christ.
They professed to have a secret message which they wished to convey
to the princes who were participating in the conclave. The clergy's
representatives, when admitted, said: "It has been announced
to the clergy that you have assembled in order to elect one of
yourselves as king. Your proposal seems to us a just and useful
one and worthy to be carried out if only the proper order in this
matter be observed, For it is certain that spiritual matters are
of greater dignity than secular affairs and, truly, what is of
greater dignity ought to have precedence. It seems to us, therefore,
that unless a backward order be followed, a religious person,
a man pleasing to God, ought first to be chosen, who will know
how to preside and rule over the Church of God. This, rather than
the election of a secular power, ought to be done first. If you
will follow this procedure, we shall indeed be pleased and we
shall be with you body and soul. If you do not, however, we shall
judge and decree that whatsoever you have ordained out of our
order is invalid and without force among men .... "
The princes, however, considered the aforementioned message frivolous
and without weight.... Some say that in order to proceed to an
election which was pleasing to God and which took account of individual
merits, the princes called in some of the household of each of
the great leaders, made them take a solemn oath, and questioned
them about the conduct and habits of their lords so that they
would tell the truth without any admixture of falsehood. This
was done so that the electors might thus be more fully and more
faithfully informed of the merits of the candidates. Those who
were later very closely questioned under the required oath by
the electors were forced to confess in secret the vices of their
lords and likewise to enumerate their virtues, so that it might
be made plain just what sort of men their lords were. When the
Duke 'S6 household were questioned among the others, they replied
that, among all the Duke's actions, the one which most irritated
his servants was this: that when he entered a church, even after
the celebration of the liturgy had been finished, he could not
be drawn out. Rather, be demanded of the priests and those who
seemed experienced in such matters an account of each picture
and statue. His associates, who were interested in other things,
found this boring, even nauseating. Further, his meals, which
had been prepared for a certain and appropriate hour, grew cold
and most unappetizing because of these long and vexing delays.
The electors who heard these things said: "Blessed is the
man to whom are ascribed as faults those traits which would be
called virtues in another." At length, after consulting with
one another and after many deliberations, they unanimously elected
the lord Duke. They brought him to the Holy Sepulcher of the Lord
most devoutly, chanting hymns and canticles.
It is said, however, that most of the nobles bad agreed upon Lord
Raymond, Count of Toulouse. When they learned, however, that if
the kingdom were not given to Raymond he would immediately return
home, they were led by their desire for their native land to invent
reasons to bold him unfitted, and they even went against the dictates
of their consciences to do so. Count Raymond, nonetheless, spurned
his native land and did not return home, but, instead, most devoutly
followed Christ. He extended further the pilgrimage upon which
be bad embarked and followed it in voluntary poverty to the end....
After the oftmentioned Lord Duke had, by God's grace, been
confirmed as the bead of the Kingdom and after all the quarrels
which had arisen had abated, the Kingdom in his days grew more
secure and well established. He reigned but one year, for, because
men's sins, the Kingdom was deprived of the continued consolation
of such a prince. He refreshed the newly planted Kingdom and gave
it protection against the molestations of attacker He was wrenched
away in midcareer, lest his heart be affected by evil; as
it is written: "The men of mercy are taken away and there
is none that understandeth."',
Duke Godfrey was born in the French kingdom, in the province of
Reims, in the city of Boulogne by the English Sea. He w descended
from illustrious and religious forebears. His father was the elder
Lord Eustace, the famous and splendid Count of that region, whose
many and memorable works are still recalled by the old men of
the neighboring provinces and his memory as a religious and Godfearing
man is like a blessing" in the pious recollection of men.
Duke Godfrey's mother was wellknown among the noble matrons
of the West, as much for her way of life as for her noble generosity.
She was named Ida and was a sister of the exalted Duke Godfrey
of Lorraine who was known as Struma. That Duke Godfrey, since
he had no children, adopted his nephew Godfrey as his own son
and bestowed his entire patrimony upon young Godfrey as his heir.
Thus, when the elder Duke Godfrey died, the young Godfrey succeeded
him as Duke.
The younger Duke Godfrey had three brothers who, by reason of
their worthy lives and their distinguished virtues, were true
brothers to such a prince. They were the Lord Baldwin, Count of
Edessa, who succeeded Godfrey in the kingdom; and the Lord Eustace,
Count of Boulogne, who was his father's namesake, successor to
his father as Count and inheritor of the paternal estate
third was Lord William, a famous man, no less virtuous and energetic
than his father and brothers. Of these three, the first two followed
their lord and brother, Duke Godfrey, on the expedition, while
the third remained at home.
Godfrey was the eldest of them by birth and the foremost in his
inner qualities as well.... He was a religious man, mild mannered,
virtuous, and Godfearing. He was just, he avoided evil,
he was trustworthy and dependable in his undertakings. He scorned
the vanities of the world, a quality rare in that age and especially
among men of the military profession. He was assiduous in prayer
and pious works, renowned for his liberality, graciously affable,
civil, and merciful. His whole life was commendable and pleasing
to God. His body was tall and although he was shorter than the
very tall, yet he was taller than men of average height. He was
a man of incomparable strength, with stout limbs, a manly chest,
and a handsome face. His hair and beard were a medium blond. He
was considered by everyone to be most outstanding in the use of
weapons and in military operations.
William of Tyre, Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum,
IX, 1-2, 5, Patrologia Latina 201, 433-35, 437-38, Translated
by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History,
(Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 70-73
Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval
Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover
he gave permission for use of his translations.
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© Paul Halsall December 1997