Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem




After the first crusade, Jerusalem was conquered and established as a catholic kingdom. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years (with plenty of interruptions as it was continuously lost and re-conquered by various fractions) and thus had many kings and queens ruling it. Sibylla was one of them. You might know her from the movie 'Kingdom of Heaven' which, as entertaining as the film undoubtedly is, is of course not exactly an accurate depiction of the facts.

Jerusalem had somewhat of a tradition of having queen regnants in their own right, something that isn't even a given in this day and age, let alone in the Middle Ages. Sibylla was crowned alone, as sole Queen, and had a strong example in the succesful reign of her grandmother, Melisande of Jerusalem, before her. You can read up on her |here| but I'll leave you with the anecdote that prompted me to include her in the list.

Sibylla was married to Guy of Lusignan. Someone who was not very popular at court and was deemed to be beneath her and not a suitable match for a queen. So when Sibylla was to be instated as queen the Haute Cour, the high court of Jerusalem, demanded she divorce Guy as one of the conditions of backing her claim. Sibylla agreed, on the condition that she would be given free rein to choose her next husband (her own parents had made a similar deal in their time, so this was a known procedure in the day). The leaders of the Haute Cour agreed, and Sibylla was crowned. To their great astonishment though, Sibylla promptly announced she chose as her next husband: Guy of Lusignan. Bam! In your face Haute Cour! She remarried and crowned Guy, and her opponents could do nothing to stop it because a deal was a deal. Now that's some great polical savvy right there.

I included a little work in progress gif down here. Because I just figured out how to make them and I think it's cool ;) 





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