He became count of Anjou (as Fulk V) in 1109, and considerably added to the prestige of his house. In particular he showed himself a doughty opponent to Henry I of England, against whom he continually supported Louis VI of France, until in 1127 Henry won him over by betrothing his daughter Matilda to Fulk's son Geoffrey Plantagenet.
Already in 1120 Fulk had visited the Holy Land, and become a close friend of the Templars. On his return he assigned to the, order of the Templars an annual subsidy, while he also maintained two knights in the Holy Land for a year. In 1128 he was preparing to return to the East, when he received an embassy from Baldwin II, king of Jerusalem, who had no male heir to succeed him, offering his daughter Melisinda in marriage, with the right of eventual succession to the kingdom. Fulk readily accepted the offer; and in 1129 he came and was married to Melisinda, receiving the towns of Acre and Tyre as her dower.
In 1131, at the age of thirty-nine, he became king of Jerusalem. His reign is not marked by any considerable events; the kingdom which had reached its zenith under Baldwin II, and did not begin to decline till the capture of Edessa in the reign of Baldwin III, was quietly prosperous under his rule. In the beginning of his reign he had to act as regent of Antioch, and to provide a husband, Raymund of Poitou, for the infant heiress Constance. But the great problem with which he had to deal was the progress of the atabeg Zengi of Mosul.
In 1137 he was beaten near Barin, and escaping into the fort was surrounded and forced to capitulate. A little later, however, he greatly improved his position by strengthening his alliance with the vizier of Damascus, who also had to fear the progress of Zengi (1140); and in this way he was able to capture the fort of Banias, to the north of Lake Tiberias. Fulk also strengthened the kingdom on the south; while his butler, Paganus, planted the fortress of Krak to the south of the Dead Sea, and helped to give the kingdom an access towards the Red Sea, he himself constructed Blanche Garde[?] and other forts on the SW. to overawe the garrison of Ascalon[?], which was still held by the Muslims, and to clear the road towards Egypt.
Twice in Fulk's reign the Byzantine emperor, John Comnenus, appeared in northern Syria (1137 and 1142); but his coming did not affect the king, who was able to decline politely a visit which the emperor proposed to make to Jerusalem. In 1143 he died, leaving two sons, who both became kings, as Baldwin III and Amalric I.
Fulk continued the tradition of good statesmanship and sound churchmanship which Baldwin I and Baldwin II had begun. William of Tyre speaks of him as a fine soldier, an able politician, and a good son of the church, and only blames him for partiality to his friends, and a forgetfulness of names and faces, which placed him at a disadvantage and made him too dependent on his immediate intimates. Little, perhaps, need be made of these censures; the real fault of Fulk was his neglect to envisage the needs of the northern principalities, and to head a combined resistance to the rising power of Zengi of Mosul.
His reign in Jerusalem is narrated by R Röhricht (Geschichte des Konigreichs Jerusalem, Innsbruck, 1898), and has been made the subject of a monograph by G Dodu (De Fulconis Hierosolymitani regno, Paris, 1894).
|Kingdom of Jerusalem||
Melisende (regent to 1152)