Melisende of Jerusalem

Miniature depicting the coronation of Melisende (13th century). Image Credit:

By Catherine Capel

Melisende of Jerusalem was the eldest daughter of King Baldwin II and Morphia of Melitene and was raised to be her father’s designated heir and was styled as “Melisende daughter of the King and heir to the kingdom of Jerusalem”. In 1129, Melisende married Fulk, Count of Anjou, a wealthy and experienced military commander who already had a reputation within the kingdom. They had two sons together, the future Baldwin III of Jerusalem and Amalric I of Jerusalem.

After the death of Baldwin II in 1131, Melisende and her husband should have ruled jointly however Fulk prevented her from executing her hereditary right as ruler. With the help of allies, Melisende was able to regain control in the kingdom in 1136 and she reconciled with her husband. Fulk was killed in a hunting accident in 1143 and Melisende began ruling as queen regnant, acting as a patron of the church and arts.

Melisende would grow to have a complicated relationship with her son Baldwin which would lead to conflict between them over the extent of his rule in the kingdom. Melisende died in 1161 and was buried next to her mother in the Chapel of Saints Joachim and Anne.           

Recommended Reading

Hans E. Mayer, “Studies in the History of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 26 (1972): 93‑182

Natasha R. Hodgson, Women, Crusading and the Holy Land in Historical Narrative (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007).

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