Guy

Portrait of Guy of Lusignan by François-Edouard Picot, c. 1843. Salles des Croisades, Versailles.

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guy of Lusignan

or Guido di Lusignano

(c1150–1194), French knight and king-consort of Jerusalem, and led the kingdom to disaster

 

 

Guy of Lusignan (c. 11501194) was a French knight who, through marriage, became king-consort of Jerusalem, and led the kingdom to disaster at the Battle of Hattin in 1187.

Contents

Political rise

Guy was a son of Count Hugh VIII of Lusignan, in Poitou, at that time a part of the French duchy of Aquitaine, held by Queen Eleanor of England, her third son Richard, and her husband the English king Henry II.

In 1168 Guy and his brothers ambushed and killed Patrick of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Salisbury, who was returning from a pilgrimage. They were banished from Poitou by their overlord, Richard, then (acting) Duke of Aquitaine.

Guy went to Jerusalem at some date between 1174 and 1180. It was in 1174 that his older brother Amalric married the daughter of Baldwin of Ibelin and entered court circles. Amalric had also obtained the patronage of King Baldwin IV and of his mother Agnes of Courtenay who held the county of Jaffa and Ascalon and was married to Reginald of Sidon. He was appointed Agnes's constable in Jaffa, and later constable of the kingdom. Later, hostile rumours alleged he was Agnes's lover, but this is questionable. It is likely that his promotions were aimed at weaning him away from the political orbit of the Ibelin family, who were associated with Raymond III of Tripoli, Amalric I's cousin and the former bailli or regent. What is certain is that Amalric of Lusignan's success facilitated Guy's social and political advancement whenever he arrived.

Raymond of Tripoli and his ally Bohemond III of Antioch were preparing to invade the kingdom to force the king to marry his older sister Sibylla to Baldwin of Ibelin, Amalric's father-in-law. Guy and Sibylla were hastily married at Eastertide 1180, to prevent this coup. By his marriage Guy also became count of Jaffa and Ascalon, and bailli of Jerusalem. He and Sibylla had two daughters, Alix and Maria. Sibylla already had one child, a son from her first marriage to William of Montferrat.

The mid-thirteenth century Old French Continuation of William of Tyre (formerly attributed to Ernoul) claims that Agnes advised her son to marry Sibylla to Guy, and that Amalric had brought Guy to Jerusalem specifically for him to marry Sibylla. However, this is improbable: given the speed with which the marriage was arranged, Guy must have already been in the kingdom when the decision was made. It seems that the King, who was less malleable than earlier historians have portrayed, was considering the international implications: it was vital for Sibylla to marry someone who could rally external help to the kingdom, not someone from the local nobility. With the new King of France, Philip II, a minor, the chief hope of external aid was Baldwin's first cousin Henry II, who owed the Pope a penitential pilgrimage on account of the Thomas Becket affair. Guy was a vassal of Richard of Poitou and Henry II, and as a formerly rebellious vassal, it was in their interests to keep him overseas.

Early in 1182, as his health markedly declined, Baldwin IV named Guy regent. However, he and Raynald of Chatillon made provocations against Saladin during a two-year period of truce. But it was his military hesitance at the siege of Kerak which disillusioned the king with him. Throughout late 1183 and 1184 Baldwin IV tried to have his sister's marriage to Guy annulled, showing that Baldwin still held his sister with some favour. Baldwin IV had wanted a loyal brother-in-law, and was frustrated in Guy's disobedience. Sibylla was in Ascalon with her husband. Unsuccessful in prying his sister and close heir away from Guy, the king and the Haute Cour altered the succession, placing Baldwin V, Sibylla's son from her first marriage, in precedence over Sibylla, and decreeing a process to choose the monarch afterwards between Sibylla and Isabella (whom Baldwin and the Haute Cour thus recognized as at least equally entitled to succession as Sibylla), though she was not herself excluded from the succession. Guy kept a low profile from 1183 until his wife became queen in 1186.

King-Consort of Jerusalem

When Baldwin IV finally succumbed to his leprosy in 1185, Baldwin V became king, but he was a sickly child and died within a year. Guy went with Sibylla to Jerusalem for his step-son's funeral in 1186, along with an armed escort, with which he garrisoned the city. Raymond III, who was jealous to protect his own influence and his new political ally, the dowager queen Maria Comnena, was making arrangements to summon the Haute Cour when Sibylla was crowned queen by Patriarch Eraclius. Raynald of Chatillon gained popular support for Sibylla by affirming that she was "li plus apareissanz et plus dreis heis dou rouame" ("the most evident and rightful heir of the kingdom"). With the clear support of the church Sibylla was undisputed sovereign.

However, before she was crowned she agreed with oppositional court members that she would annul her marriage with Guy to please them, as long as she would be given free choice in her next husband. The leaders of the Haute Cour agreed, and Sibylla was crowned thereafter as queen regnant. Taking her choice as husband, to the astonishment of the rival court faction, she remarried Guy. The queen removed the crown from her head and handed it to Guy, permitting him to crown himself. As Bernard Hamilton writes, "there could be no doubt after the ceremony that Guy only held the crown matrimonial."

Sibylla's half-sister Isabella and her husband Humphrey IV of Toron were Raymond III and the Ibelins' choice for the throne. As Sibylla's parents marriage had been annulled and both she and Baldwin had been legitimized by the church, Isabella was seen by many as the legal heiress. However, Humphrey would not assert his wife's claim, and he disassociated himself from them, swearing fealty instead to Sibylla. Humphrey would become one of Guy's closest allies in the kingdom.

Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem

Immediately the chief concern in the kingdom was checking Saladin's advance. In 1187 Guy attempted to relieve Saladin's siege of Tiberias, against the advice of Raymond III; Guy's army was surrounded and cut off from a supply of water, and on July 4 the army of Jerusalem was completely destroyed at the Battle of Hattin. Guy was one of the very few captives spared by the Saracens after the battle, along with his brother Geoffrey, Raynald, and Humphrey.

The exhausted captives were brought to Saladin's tent, where Guy was given a goblet of water as a sign of Saladin's generosity. When Guy offered the goblet to his fellow captive Raynald, Saladin knocked the goblet away, saying that since Guy did not ask permission to offer Raynald the water, that Saladin was not obliged to show them mercy. When Saladin accused Raynald of being an oath-breaker, Raynald replied that "kings have always acted thus". Saladin then executed Raynald himself, beheading him with his sword. When Guy was brought in, he fell to his knees at the sight of Raynald's corpse. Saladin bade him to rise, saying, "Real kings do not kill each other."

Guy was imprisoned in Damascus, while Sibylla together with Balian of Ibelin remained behind to defend Jerusalem, which was handed over to Saladin on October 2. Sibylla wrote to Saladin and begged for her husband's release, and Guy was finally granted release in 1188 and allowed to rejoin his wife. Guy and Sibylla sought refuge in Tyre, the only city remaining in Christian hands, thanks to the defence of Conrad of Montferrat (younger brother of Sibylla's first husband).

 

Guy versus Conrad

Conrad denied sanctuary to Sibylla and Guy, who camped outside the city walls for months. Guy then took the initiative, beginning the siege of Acre in anticipation of the arrival of the vanguard of the Third Crusade. The queen followed him but died during an epidemic in the summer of 1190, along with their young daughters. According to the surviving members of the Haute Cour, with Sibylla's death Guy lost the authority he held as king-consort, and the crown passed to Isabella. The Ibelins hastily divorced Isabella from Humphrey, and married her to Conrad, who now claimed the kingship. However, Guy continued to demand recognition as king.

In 1191, Guy left Acre with a small fleet and landed at Limassol to seek support from Richard I of England, whose vassal he had been in Poitou. He swore fealty to King Richard, and attended his wedding to Berengaria of Navarre. He participated in the campaign against Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus. In return for this, when Richard arrived at Acre, he supported Guy against Conrad, who had the support of his kinsmen Philip II of France and Leopold V of Austria.

The conflict continued throughout the siege of Acre, although it did not deter Guy from gallantly saving Conrad's life when he was surrounded by the enemy. A temporary settlement was then reached by which Guy was to remain king in his lifetime, but to be succeeded by Conrad and Isabella or their heirs. However, in April 1192 Richard finally realised that he could not return home without a final resolution to the matter. The kingship was put to a vote among the barons of the kingdom: Conrad was elected unanimously, and Guy accepted defeat. Only days later, Conrad was assassinated, and Isabella married Richard's nephew Henry II of Champagne; when he died in 1197, Isabella married Guy's brother Amalric.

 

Lord of Cyprus

Meanwhile, Guy was compensated for the loss of his kingdom by purchasing Cyprus from the Templars, who had themselves purchased it from Richard, who had wrested it from Isaac Comnenus en route to Palestine. Technically Guy was Lord of Cyprus, it not yet being a kingdom, and used the royal title (if at all) as a remnant from Jerusalem, which was not held fully legally.

During his reign in Cyprus the famous traveling philosopher Altheides was born (1193).

Guy died in 1194 without surviving issue and was succeeded by his brother Amalric, who received the royal crown from Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Descendants of the Lusignans continued to rule the Kingdom of Cyprus until 1474. Guy was buried at the Church of the Templars in Nicosia.

Guy in fiction and film

Guy has appeared in a number of historical novels, including Zofia Kossak-Szczucka's Król trędowaty (The Leper King), Graham Shelby's The Knights of Dark Renown, and Cecelia Holland's Jerusalem, generally as a good-looking but weak and foolish young man. Ronald Welch in Knight Crusader and Jean Plaidy (Eleanor Hibbert) in The Heart of the Lion both depict him sympathetically as likeable and chivalrous. Both give the misleading impression that he was younger than King Richard: he was at least several years older.

Guy is portrayed as a peace-loving elderly man, goaded into war by Raynald of Châtillon, in Egyptian director Youssef Chahine's 1963 film Al Nasser Salah Ad-Din. Another highly fictionalised version of him – as an arrogant, scheming villain – is played by Marton Csokas in the 2005 movie Kingdom of Heaven. The film distorts his relationship with Sibylla, which seems to have been one of mutual loyalty; it also implies that he was her only husband, though this is corrected in the Director's Cut of the film.

 

Sources

  • Bernard Hamilton, "Women in the Crusader States: The Queens of Jerusalem", in Medieval Women, edited by Derek Baker. Ecclesiastical History Society, 1978
  • Bernard Hamilton, The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Guida Jackson, Women Who Ruled, 1998
  • Robert Payne, The Dream and the Tomb, 1984
Preceded by
Baldwin V
King of Jerusalem
1186–1192
(with Sibylla, 11861190)
Succeeded by
Isabella and Conrad
Preceded by
(none)
King of Cyprus
11921194
Succeeded by
Amalric
 
Image:Guido di Lusignano.jpg

Guido di Lusignano