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Godfrey of Bouillon

Godfrey of Bouillon (bōyôNˈ) [key], c.1058–1100, Crusader, duke of Lower Lorraine. He fought for Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV against Pope Gregory VII and against Rudolf of Swabia and was rewarded (c.1082) with the duchy of Lower Lorraine, which he claimed through his mother. With his brothers Eustace and Baldwin, he was among those who set out (1096) for Jerusalem on the First Crusade. On the way to Constantinople, he allowed his army to pillage the countryside, but after his arrival he made peace (Jan., 1097) with the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I. He played a minor role at Nicaea and Antioch, but achieved prominence in the siege of Jerusalem (1099) and was elected ruler of the city after its capture. Having refused the title of king on religious grounds, he was designated defender of the Holy Sepulcher. He won the battle of Ascalon (1099) and brought several Syrian towns under tribute. Godfrey was distinguished for his piety and simplicity. As the first Latin ruler of Jerusalem, he became the central figure of various legends, and his deeds were glorified in the chansons de geste. His brother, Baldwin I, succeeded him as ruler of Jerusalem and took the title king.

See J. C. Andressohn, The Ancestry and Life of Godfrey of Bouillon (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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