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Amalric I of Jerusalem

Amalric I (also Amaury or Aimery) king of Jerusalem from 1162 to 1174, was the son of Fulk of Jerusalem, and the brother of Baldwin III. He was twice married. By his first wife, Agnes of Edessa, he had a son and a daughter, Baldwin IV and Sibylla. His second wife, Maria Comnena, bore him a daughter, Isabella, who carried the crown of Jerusalem to her fourth husband, Amalric of Lusignan[?] (Amalric II).

The reign of Amalric I was occupied by the Egyptian problem: the dispute between Amalric and Nur ad-Din over control of the discordant viziers who vied with one another for the control of the decadent Fatimid caliphs of Egypt. The acquisition of Egypt had been an object of the Franks since the days of Baldwin I (and indeed of Godfrey himself, who had promised to cede Jerusalem to the Patriarch Dagobert[?] as soon as he should himself acquire Cairo). The capture of Ascalon[?] by Baldwin III in 1153 made this object more feasible, and the Hospitallers prepared sketch-maps of the routes best suited for an invasion of Egypt, in the style of a modern war office.

On the other hand, it was natural for Nur ad-Din to attempt to secure Egypt, both because it was the terminus of the trading route which ran from Damascus and because the acquisition of Egypt would enable him to surround the Latin kingdom. For some five years a contest was waged between Amalric and Shirkuh[?], the lieutenant of Nur ad-Din, for the possession of Egypt. Thrice (1164, 1167, 1168) Amalric penetrated into Egypt: but the contest ended in the establishment of Saladin, the nephew of Shirkuh, as vizier. In 1171, on the death of the puppet caliph, Saladin made himself sovereign.

The extinction of the Latin kingdom now seemed imminent, and envoys were sent to the West with anxious appeals for assistance in 1169, 1171 and 1173. But though in 1170 Saladin attacked the kingdom and captured Eilat, on the Red Sea, the danger was not so great as it seemed. Nur ad-Din was jealous of his over-mighty subject, and his jealousy bound Saladin's hands. This was the situation when Amalric died in 1174 but, as Nur ad-Din died in the same year, the position was soon altered and Saladin began the final attack on the kingdom of Jerusalem.

Amalric I, the second of the native kings of Jerusalem, had the qualities of his brother Baldwin III. He was something of a scholar, and it was he who set William of Tyre to work. He was perhaps still more of a lawyer: his delight was in knotty points of the law, and he knew the Assizes better than any of his subjects. The Catholic Church had some doubts about him, and he laid his hands on the Church. William of Tyre was once astonished to find him questioning, on a sickbed, the resurrection of the body, and his taxation of clerical goods gave umbrage to the clergy generally. But he maintained the state of his kingdom with the resources which he owed to the Church; and he is the last of the early kings of Jerusalem.

Based on text from 1911 encyclopedia -- modernized -- update/correct/expand as needed

Preceded by:
Baldwin III
Kingdom of Jerusalem Followed by:
Baldwin IV

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