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The Kingdom and the Ruler

The Cross

The Arms

The regent’s Arms

The Titulary Kings


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The Kingdom of Jerusalem was established in 1099 after the First Crusade by Godfrey of Bouillon. Archbishop Daimbert of Pisa who arrived in Dec 1099 got himself chosen Patriarch of Jerusalem and on that basis claimed to be the feudal suzerain of both Bohemund of Hauteville and Godfrey. This satified Bohemund who went back to his principality of Antioch but Godfrey was victimized. Daimbert tried to rule both church and state at Jerusalem, to ignore Godfrey and even to induce him to give up the city of Jerusalem. Godfrey died on July 18, 1100, before an open break with Daimbert occurred.

Baldwin, Godfrey’s brother forced Daimbert to crown him king at Bethlehem on Christmas day 1100. Then, step by step, he drove Daimbert from the country (1102) and gradually associated the royal title with Jerusalem. Thus the cause of feudal monarchy triumphed at Jerusalem over that of an ecclesiastical state.

The secular sovereign Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks.

At first the kingdom was little more than a loose collection of towns and cities captured during the crusade. Later kings expanded its size so that at its height in the mid-12th century it extended from Lebanon in the north to the Sinai Desert in the south. There were attempts to expand the kingdom into Fatimid Egypt. Its kings held a certain amount of authority over the other crusader states: Tripoli, Antioch, and Edessa.


Godfrey of Bouillon




Baldwin II of Bourq  


House of Anjou

Fulk of Anjou




Baldwin III


Amalric I


Baldwin IV


Baldwin V


Sibyl of Anjou


¥ 2. Guy of Lusignan


Isabel of Anjou


¥ 2. Conrad I of Montferrat


¥ 3. Henry of Champagne


¥ 4. Aimery de Lusignan


House of Montferrat



House of Brienne

John I


Isabel II


¥ 1 Frederick Hohenstaufen


House of Hohenstaufen



Conrad II




House of Cyprus



John II


Henry II


Titulary Kings

Many customs and institutions were imported from the crusaders' original homelands in Western Europe, and there were close familial and political connections with the West throughout the kingdom's existence. As a relatively minor kingdom it often lacked financial and military support from Europe. The kingdom had closer ties to the neighbouring Kingdom of Armenia and the Byzantine Empire, from which it inherited oriental qualities, as well as being influenced by pre-existing Eastern institutions.

At first the Muslim world held little concern for the kingdom, but as the 12th century progressed, its Muslim neighbours were united by Nur ad-Din Zangi and Saladin, who vigorously began to recapture lost territory. Jerusalem itself was lost to Saladin in 1187, and by the 13th century the Kingdom was reduced to a few cities along the Mediterranean coast. In this period, the kingdom, sometimes referred to as the "Kingdom of Acre", was ruled by the Lusignan dynasty of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus, and ties were strengthened with Tripoli, Antioch, and Armenia.The kingdom was soon increasingly dominated by the Italian city-states of Venice and Genoa, as well as the imperial ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperors. The kingdom became little more than a pawn in the politics and warfare of the Ayyubid and Mamluk dynasties in Egypt, as well as the Khwarezmian and Mongol invaders. The Mamluk sultans Baibars and al-Ashraf Khalil eventually reconquered all the remaining crusader strongholds, culminating in the destruction of Acre in 1291. (Wikipedia)




The Kingdom and the Ruler


The emblem of Jerusalem was a picture of the tower of David between the Dome of Rock and the Holy Sepulchre, surrounded by the city-wall. This emblem is on the reverse of seals used for the kingdom.

The ruler of the kingdom was symbolized by his imago being the picture of a crowned king sitting on his throne and with a sceptre in his right and an orb in his left.[1]


Seal of Baldwin III 1143-1163

Seal of Amalric 1163-1174

Seal of John of Brienne 1210-1212


Seal of Conrad II (IV)


Royal seal: The king on his throne with crown, lily sceptre and orb. L.: X cura d(us) . divi . avg(us)ti . imp(erato)is . (frid[er]ici . fili[us] . d[e]i gr[ati]a . romanor(um) . i(n) . rege(m) . elect(us) (et) heres . ier(usa)l(e)m(iæ). Æ 7 cm. Date: 1237. [2]

Conrad is depicted here as a boy of nine years old


Seal of Conrad III


Royal seal The king on his throne with crown, lily sceptre and orb. L.: chvnradi dei gratia iervsalem et sicilie rex, dvx swevie. [3]


The Cross


The emblem of the civil authority of the ruler was a square cross, for the different rulers augmented with points or crosslets


Cross of Baldwin II 1118-1131

Cross of Amalric, 1163-1174

Cross of Sibyl of Anjou 1186-1190

Cross of Henry, Count of Champage,

Defender of Accon 1192-1197

Cross of John of Brienne 1210-1212

Cross of John II of Cyprus 1284-1285


On the reverses of this series of coins which is incomplete,  there is the tower of David and the Al Aqsa Mosque, with a crescent on top. The patriarchal cross is probably the emblem of the patriarch of Jerusalem. On the coin of Henry of Champagne there is a fleur de lys or thunderbolt which is the emblem of armed authority also referred to in the title puges d’ accon.


The Arms


We can only speak of a coat of arms of the king of Jerusalem in the first half of the 13th century.

Earlier arms in relation with the Kingdom are those of a bailiff and a regent, the arms of the bailiff being those of Raymond III of Tripoli who was regent and bailiff of Baldwin IV (1185-86). His arms were: Gules, a lion rampant Or.

It is reported that at the battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187, the “True Cross” was captured by Saladin after the Bishop of Acre was killed in the fighting and the tent of Guy of Lusigna had been captured. The cross was fixed upside down on a lance and sent to Damascus. This “True Cross” may have been a processional cross of the form of a latin cross bottony and probably was carried by the Bishop of Acre. Such crosses were quite large (up to about 70 cm) and made of bronze or silver. Sometimes they were fixed on top of a pole together with a vexillum. Matthew Paris depicts a latin cross of this size with the scroll with the INRI motto on the upper arm. [4]   


John of Brienne

*ca.1144- † 23.III.1236

 Count of Brienne 1205-1211

¥ Mary of Montferrat 14.IX.1210

 King of Jeruzalem 3.X.1210-1212

Regent of Jeruzalem for Isabel II 1212-1225

¥ Isabel of Armenia 1214

¥ Bérengère of Castile 1224

Co-emperor of Constantinopel 1231


A coat of arms which can be exclusively related to the King of Jerusalem himself is: Or, a cross Argent. It is documented by Matthew Paris, at the death of John de Brienne who had been a king of Jerusalem from 1210-1212.



Royal arms of Jerusalem, 1237


1237 Matthew Paris. Historia Anglorum. B.L. Ms Roy. 14.C.VII. Fol. 125v. Death of John de Brienne, King of Jeruzalem, 1237 - bottom left margin: two inverted shields: (a) Jerusalem (or, a cross argent): Scutum ejus secundum; (b) Brienne, above an inverted crown between two swords (azure, a fish hauriant or): scutum ejus primum. Beneath: Obiit rex Ierusalem Johannes de Bresne, cujus filia nuptui tradita fuit Fretherico imperatori, quae peperit ei Conradum.


Indeed, these arms may have been the arms of John of Brienne when a King of Jerusalem. It may have been used by Frederick II as well, by his grandson Conrad II and his great grandson Conrad III nicknamed Conradin.


¯The arms may have been inspired by the imperial banner displayed by Emperor Henri VI at the siege of Salerno in 1194. This banner had two points and a wide mast-end and showed a white latin cross on a yellow cloth. It is an enigma why the cross is a latin cross, but it may be that at the siege of Salerno papal authority was restored. [5] In that case, the banner would show the emblem of the emperor in his quality of  the Supreme Commander of the Church (very much propagated by the Holy See).



The Imperial banner (Imperiale Vexillu) of Henry VI as depicted by Petrus de Ebulo [6]





John of Brienne, when a regent of Jerusalem for his daughter Isabella II (1212-1225) bore: Or, crusuly a cross Argent. This is documented by Matthew Paris and it is Or, crusuly, a cross Argent:


1222 [1250] Hist. Anglo­rum B.L. Ms Roy 14.C.VII, Fol. 150. Five Kings take up the cross, [1250] (a) top of the page between columns: Gules, a triple-towered castle argent (!): Scutum regis castellæ, cruce signati. (b) top right margin: azure, six fleurs de lis or with a banner next to it bearing azure, three fleurs de lis: Scutum regis Francorum, sed vexillum prostratum in bello; c. right margin: gules, three lions passant gardant or: Scutum regis Anglorum, cruce signati; (d) right margin: gules, three galleys or, above the first a cross formy arent: Scutum regis Norwagiæ, cruce signati; (...) (e) right margin: John de Brienne, King of Jerusalem (or crusuly argent, a cross ar­gent): Scutum regis Ierusalem, cognomen­to Bresne. (...) [7]


¯ In 1222 John of Brienne undertook a trip through Europe to get support for a campaign against the Sultan of Egypt and called in in France, Castile and England. section in Matthew Paris refers to this trip, the arms are of Philip August (1180-1223), Henry III (1216-’72), Ferdinand III (1217-’52) and Haakon IV (1217-’64)


Frederik II, Hohenstaufen

*26.XII.1194 -†12.XII. 1250

King of Jerusalem 9.XI.1225

Crowned Jerusalem 17.III.1229


No arms of the king of Jerusalem are known from the time of Frederick II and his son Conrad II. In their absence the Kingdom was administered by several bailiffs. One of them was Balian of Sidon who held the regency after 1231 together with Werner von Egisheim. In the time of their regency the arms with the cross and crosslets are repeated and somewhat changed on a stained glass window of York Minster (about 1236 or later):


Peter the Dene Window in York Minster reperesnting the arms of Jerusalem


Arms: Argent, a cross potent between seven crosslets potent Or


The Constables’Arms



About 1220, Odo of Montbéliard, was appointed Constable (commander) of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1223, when John and Isabel went to Italy, he became regent and bailiff of the kingdom. When Frederick II married Isabel in 1225, Odo was appointed his deputy until 1227. After the death of Isabel in 1228 the High Court of Jerusalem elected Odo as a bailiff of the little king Conrad. At his arrival in Jerusalem in 1228 Frederick replaced Odo by Balian of Sidon but Odo was maintained as a constable. This was confirmed in April 1229 when Frederick left the country. Odo of Montbéliard is probably depicted, together with other participants in the Crusade of Frederick II, in Strasburg Cathedral. [8]

The stained glass in Strasburg depicts a warrior, called St Victor, with a white coat of arms strewn with yellow crosslets, apparently symbolizing Jerusalem. He supports a shield with a golden ten-pointed thunderbolt on a blue field.


The stained glass was made during the reign of Frederick II, between 1230 and 1250



Such a shield was also borne by another, earlier constable, William I of Bures (1123-1141?), Prince of Galilee. [9]  On his seal he bears a shield decorated with a multi-rayed figure, together with his pennon with a square cross.

The shield of William I of Bures and the shield of Odo of Monbéliard suggest that the thunderbolt was the usual blason of  the constable of Jerusalem.



Conrad III



Kúnig Chunrat der Junge in the Manesse Codex



The royal arms of Jerusalem reapear during the reign of Conrad III, nicknamed Conradin of whom it is reported that he flew a vexillum crucis at the battle of Tagliocozzo.[10] His arms are documented by the Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (Manesse Codex) fol. 7 r°. and they are: Or, a pointed cross bottony Argent. [11]




The Regents’Arms


After the death of Conradin the royal title was transferred to the House of Lusignan of Cyprus, which claimed the title because of its descent from Isabel I and Aimery de Lusignan.


Hugues III of  Lusignan

*1240 - †24.III.1284

Regent of Jerusalem 1264-1267

King of Cyprus 1267-1284

King of Jerusalem 1269-1284

Crowned Tyrus 24.IX.1269



The arms of Hugues de Lusignan for Jerusalem are his arms as a regent of the Kingdom and these were maintained after he was crowned king. They are documented by the Wijnbergen roll and the Walford’s and Camden rolls:


In Wijnbergen roll n° 1259 the armes of le.Roy de jerusalem are: Argent, a cross recrossed, between 15 crosslets Or. [12]

In Walford’s roll (about 1273) it is described as: “Le roy d'Acre d'argent poudré a croy­sille d'or a une croys d'or by­letté”.

And in Camden Roll (about 1280): “Le rey de Jeruzalem porte l'escu de argent a une croiz de or cru­selé de or”.[13]

Later, the arms were simplified according to the cross on the coins of John II:

Arms: Argent, a cross potent between four crosses patée, and still later .... between four square crosses.


This chapter ends with the achievement of Jerusalem as it was thought to be in the 16th century


Arms of Jerusalem in the Portuguese Livro do Armeiro Mor fol. 7 (1509) [14]


The Titulary Kings


After the fall of Acre in 1291 the blason of Jerusalem was borne together with other arms in a quarterly by the kings of Cyprus and their successor in rights, the Republic of Venice. They were abandoned when the Republic was abolished in 1795.


The House of Anjou


On 18 March 1277, after the death of Conradin in 1268, Mary, the daughter of Bohemund IV of Antioch sold her claims on the Kingdom of Jerusalem for 1000 pieces of gold and a pension of  £ 4000 tournois a year to Charles I, who had killed Conradin and had taken control of Sicily. The same year Charles minted coins under his own supervision, showing the cross of Jerusalem dimidiated with his arms of a semy of fleurs de lys. He also adopted the blason of the regents of the kingdom and let the arms with the cross of the Hohenstaufen alone.




Saluto d’Oro of Charles I of Sicily, 1277

 (Æ 22,7 mm)

Arms of Charles I of Sicily


The blason of the regents of Jerusalem has been used by all successors of Charles I, Kings of Sicily. It was still in the larger arms of the Habsburg Monarchy adopted 1836, abandoned 1915.


The House of Savoy


The claims on Jerusalem of the House of Savoy were based on the rights of Charlotte of Cyprus who married in 1459 with Louis of Savoy. On 28 July 1482 she left her rights to her grandson Charles I of Savoy (1482-1490).

In the 18th century the quartered arms of Cyprus with the blason of Jerusalem in the first, appeared for the first time in the arms of Victor Amadeus II (1675-1730).     



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© Hubert de Vries 2011-07-21



[1] Sandoli, Sabino de: Corpus Inscriptionum Crucesignatorum Terræ Sanctæ. Jerusalem, 1973.

[2] Die Zeit der Staufer. Stuttgart, 1977. N° 54, Abb. 24.

[3] Ibid. N° 58 Abb. 28.

[4] Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, fol 279

[5] Sicily was a papal fief. In 1194 Celestine II was pope (1191-1198).

[6] Ebulo, Petrus de: Liber ad Honorem Augusti.  sive de rebus Siculis. Codex 120 II der Burgerbibliothek Bern. Eine Bilderchronik der Stauferzeit. Herausgegeben von Theo Kölzer und Marlis Stähli. Jan Thorbecke Verlag Sigmaringen, 1994. fol. 132.

[7] Lewis, Suzanne:The Art of Matthew Paris in the Chronica Majora. Univ. of California Press. Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1987.

[8] See for these very interesting stained glasses: Wild-Block, Christiane, Victor Beyer & Fridtjof Zschokke: Les Vitraux de la Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strassbourg. Paris, 1986. Schultz, Simone: Vitraux. Catédrale de Strasbourg. Strasbourg, 1999. The other knights of the same series bear: 1. Argent, a cross Azure (= Roberto Filangieri, marshal of Frederick II); 2. Argent, three crosses patée Azure 2 and 1; 3. Or, a cross patée Azure charged with a diamond Gules.

[9] See also: Officers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

[10] Annales Placentini Gibellini, in SS.xviii, 528

[11] Walther, Ingo F. & Gisela Siebert: Codex Manesse. Die Miniaturen der Großen Heidelberger Liederhandschrift. Frankfurt a/Main, 1988.

[12] Adam-Even, Paul & Léon Jéquier: Un Armorial français du XIIIe siècle, l'armorial Wijnbergen. In: Archives Heraldiques Suisses. 1953 p. 74.

[13] Brault, Gerard J.: Eight Thirteenth-Century Rolls of Arms in French and Anglo-Norman Blazon. London, 1973. Cl 14 & D1

[14] Instituto dos Archivos Nacionais

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