County of Edessa
| Edessa (1098–1144; 1146)
(modern-day Şanlıurfa, Turkey)
Turbessel (1144–1146; 1146–1150)
(modern-day Gündoğan, Oğuzeli, Gaziantep, Turkey)
| Latin (official/ceremonial) Syriac (popular)
Old French (popular)
|Roman Catholicism, Armenian Apostolic Church, Greek Orthodoxy, Syriac Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism
|Count of Edessa
• 1098–1100 (first)
• 1131–1144 (last)
|High Middle Ages
|Today part of
The County of Edessa (Latin: Comitatus Edessanus) was a 12th-century Crusader state in Upper Mesopotamia.Its seat was the city of Edessa (modern Şanlıurfa, Turkey).
In the late Byzantine period, Edessa became the centre of intellectual life within the Syriac Orthodox Church. As such it also became the centre for the translation of Ancient Greek philosophy into Syriac, which provided a stepping stone for the subsequent translations into Arabic. When the crusades arrived, it was still important enough to tempt a side-expedition after the siege of Antioch.
Baldwin of Boulogne, the first count of Edessa, became king of Jerusalem, and subsequent counts were his cousins. Unlike the other Crusader states, the county was landlocked. It was remote from the other states and was not on particularly good terms with its closest neighbor, the Principality of Antioch. Half of the county, including its capital, was located east of the Euphrates, far to the east, rendering it particularly vulnerable. The west part of the Euphrates was controlled from the stronghold of Turbessel. The eastern border of Edessa was the Tigris, but the County may not have extended quite that far.
The fall of Edessa in 1144 was the first major setback for Outremer and provoked the Second Crusade. All the later Crusades, however, were troubled by strategic uncertainties and disagreements. The Second Crusade did not even try to recover Edessa, calculating it to be strategically better to take Damascus. But the campaign failed and Edessa was lost for the Christians.
In 1098, Baldwin of Boulogne left the main Crusading army, which was travelling south towards Antioch and Jerusalem. He went first south into Cilicia, then east to Edessa, where he convinced its lord, Thoros, to adopt him as son and heir. He also married Thoros' daughter, Arda of Armenia, who eventually became the first queen of Jerusalem. Thoros was a Christian of Armenian origin but of Greek Orthodox religion and largely disliked by his Armenian Orthodox subjects, which led to his removal from power in March 1098. Different sources claim he was assassinated or abdicated, and it is debated whether Baldwin played a role in this. Nonetheless, Baldwin succeeded Thoros as ruler, taking the title of count (having been Count of Verdun as a vassal of his brother in Europe).
In 1100, Baldwin became King of Jerusalem when his brother, Godfrey of Bouillon, died. The County of Edessa passed to his cousin Baldwin of Bourcq. He was joined by Joscelin of Courtenay, who became lord of the fortress of Turbessel on the Euphrates, an important outpost against the Seljuk Turks.
The Frankish lords formed a good rapport with their Armenian subjects, and there were frequent intermarriages; the first three counts all married Armenians. Count Baldwin's wife had died in Marash in 1097, and after he succeeded to Edessa he married Arda, a granddaughter of the Armenian Roupenid Prince Constantine. Baldwin of Bourcq married Morphia, a daughter of Gabriel of Melitene, and Joscelin of Courtenay married a daughter of Constantine.
Baldwin II quickly became involved in the affairs of northern Assyria and Asia Minor. He helped secure the ransom of Bohemond I of Antioch from the Danishmends in 1103, and, with Antioch, attacked the Byzantine Empire in Cilicia in 1104. Later in 1104, Edessa was attacked by Mosul, and both Baldwin and Joscelin were taken prisoner after their defeat at the Battle of Harran. Bohemond's cousin Tancred became regent in Edessa (although Richard of Salerno actually governed the territory), until Baldwin and Joscelin were ransomed in 1108. Baldwin had to fight to regain control of the city; Tancred was eventually defeated, though Baldwin had to ally with some of the local Muslim rulers.
In 1110, all lands east of the Euphrates were lost to Mawdud of Mosul. This was not followed by an assault on Edessa itself as the Muslim rulers were more concerned with consolidating their own power.
Baldwin II became King of Jerusalem (also as Baldwin II) when Baldwin I died in 1118. Although Eustace of Boulogne had a better claim as the late Baldwin's brother, he was in France and did not want the title. Edessa was given to Joscelin in 1119. Joscelin was taken prisoner once again in 1122; when Baldwin came to rescue him, he too was captured, and Jerusalem was left without its king. Joscelin escaped in 1123, and obtained Baldwin's release the next year.
Joscelin was gravely injured during a siege in 1131 and was succeeded by his son Joscelin II. By this time, Zengi had united Aleppo and Mosul and began to threaten Edessa. Meanwhile, Joscelin II paid little attention to the security of his county, and argued with the counts of Tripoli who then refused to come to his aid. Zengi besieged the city in 1144, capturing it on 24 December that year. Joscelin continued to rule his lands west of the Euphrates, and he also managed to take advantage of the death of Zengi in September 1146 to regain and briefly hold his old capital. The city was again lost in November, and Joscelin barely escaped. In 1150 he was captured by Zengi's son Nur ad-Din, and was kept a prisoner in Aleppo until he died in 1159. His wife sold Turbessel and what was left of the county to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus, but these lands were conquered by Nur ad-Din and the Sultan of Rum within a year. Edessa was the first Crusader state to be created, and also the first to be lost.
Edessa was one of the largest of the Crusader states in terms of territory but had one of the smallest populations. Edessa itself had about 10,000 inhabitants. The rest of the county consisted mostly of fortresses. The county's territory extended from Antioch in the west to across the Euphrates in the east at its greatest extent. It also often occupied land as far north as Armenia proper. To the south and east were the powerful Muslim cities of Aleppo and Mosul, and the Jazira (northern Iraq). The inhabitants were mostly Syriac Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Christians, with some Greek Orthodox Christians and Arab Muslims. Although the numbers of Latins always remained small, there was a Roman Catholic archbishop. The fall of the city was the catalyst for the Second Crusade in 1146.
Turbessel was firstly the lordship of Joscelin I when he was not yet the count of Edessa. It controlled the area west of the Euphrates, and held the border against Antioch. It then was a special holding of Courtenay counts of Edessa, and again became their seat after the loss of the city of Edessa. It was sold with the remaining parts of the county to the Byzantines just before it was conquered by Muslims. After the sale, the wife and family of Joscelin II moved with the proceeds to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, near Acre.
Baldwin I was the first count of Edessa from 1098 to 1100 and king of Jerusalem from 1100 to his death in 1118. He was the youngest son of Eustace II, Count of Boulogne, and Ida of Lorraine and married a Norman noblewoman, Godehilde of Tosny. He received the County of Verdun in 1096, but he soon joined the crusader army of his brother Godfrey of Bouillon and became one of the most successful commanders of the First Crusade.
Bohemond II was Prince of Taranto from 1111 to 1128 and Prince of Antioch from 1111/1119 to 1130. He was the son of Bohemond I, who in 1108 was forced to submit to the authority of the Byzantine Empire in the Treaty of Devol. Three years later, the infant Bohemond inherited the Principality of Taranto under the guardianship of his mother, Constance of France. The Principality of Antioch was administered by his father's nephew, Tancred, until 1111. Tancred's cousin, Roger of Salerno, managed the principality from 1111 to 1119. After Roger died in the Battle of the Field of Blood, Baldwin II of Jerusalem took over the administration of Antioch. However, he did acknowledge Bohemond's right to personally rule the principality upon reaching the age of majority.
Nūr al-Dīn Maḥmūd Zengī, commonly known as Nur ad-Din, was a member of the Zengid dynasty, which ruled the Syrian province of the Seljuk Empire. He reigned from 1146 to 1174. He is regarded as an important figure of the Second Crusade.
Baldwin II, also known as Baldwin of Bourcq or Bourg, was Count of Edessa from 1100 to 1118, and King of Jerusalem from 1118 until his death. He accompanied his cousins Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin of Boulogne to the Holy Land during the First Crusade. He succeeded Baldwin of Boulogne as the second count of Edessa when he left the county for Jerusalem following his brother's death. He was captured at the Battle of Harran in 1104. He was held first by Sökmen of Mardin, then by Jikirmish of Mosul, and finally by Jawali Saqawa. During his captivity, Tancred, the Crusader ruler of the Principality of Antioch, and Tancred's cousin, Richard of Salerno, governed Edessa as Baldwin's regents.
The Principality of Antioch was one of the Crusader states created during the First Crusade which included parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria. The principality was much smaller than the County of Edessa or the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It extended around the northeastern edge of the Mediterranean, bordering the County of Tripoli to the south, Edessa to the east, and the Byzantine Empire or the Kingdom of Armenia to the northwest, depending on the date.
Joscelin I was a Frankish nobleman of the House of Courtenay who ruled as the lord of Turbessel, prince of Galilee (1112–1119) and count of Edessa (1118–1131). The County of Edessa reached its zenith during his rule. Captured twice, Joscelin continued to expand his county, even participating in the Battle of Azaz in 1125. Gravely injured during the collapse of a sapper mine, Joscelin marched his army to relieve the besieged fortress of Kaysun, and died soon after.
Pons was count of Tripoli from 1112 to 1137. He was a minor when his father, Bertrand, died in 1112. He swore fealty to the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in the presence of a Byzantine embassy. His advisors sent him to Antioch to be educated in the court of Tancred of Antioch, ending the hostilities between the two crusader states. Tancred granted four important fortresses to Pons in the Principality of Antioch. Since Pons held his inherited lands in fief of the kings of Jerusalem, Tancred's grant strengthened the autonomy of the County of Tripoli. On his deathbed, Tancred also arranged the marriage of his wife, Cecile of France, to Pons.
In the Battle of Azaz forces of the Crusader States commanded by King Baldwin II of Jerusalem defeated Aq-Sunqur al-Bursuqi's army of Seljuk Turks on 11 June 1125 and raised the siege of the town.
Joscelin II was the fourth and last ruling count of Edessa. He was son of his predecessor, Joscelin I, and Beatrice, daughter of Constantine I of Armenia.
Leo I, also Levon I or Leon I, was the fifth lord of Armenian Cilicia (1129/1130-1137).
The Battle of Harran took place on 7 May 1104 between the Crusader states of the Principality of Antioch and the County of Edessa, and the Seljuk Turks. It was the first major battle against the newfound Crusader states in the aftermath of the First Crusade, marking a key turning point against Frankish expansion. The battle had a disastrous effect on the Principality of Antioch as the Turks regained territory earlier lost.
Morphia of Melitene was the queen consort of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem from 1118 until her death. She was an Armenian by ethnicity and an adherent of the Greek Orthodox faith. Her father, Gabriel, was a warlord in northern Syria. He wished to marry her off to one of the crusade leaders who were carving out states in the Levant, and eventually chose Count Baldwin II of Edessa. They married around 1100 and had four daughters: Melisende, Alice, Hodierna, and Ioveta. In 1118, Baldwin was elected king of Jerusalem; the next year, Morphia became the first woman to be crowned queen of Jerusalem. She did not participate in the government but took initiative to liberate her husband after he was captured in 1123. She died a few years later. According to historian Bernard Hamilton, her religious practices left a lasting mark on the status of Orthodox Christians in the crusader kingdom.
The siege of Edessa took place from 28 November to 24 December 1144, resulting in the fall of the capital of the County of Edessa to Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo. This event was the catalyst for the Second Crusade.
Thoros of Marash, also known as Thatoul was the Armenian lord of Marash and likely the father of Arda of Armenia, the first queen consort of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Mawdud ibn Ahmad was an Arab Muslim military leader who was atabeg of Mosul from 1109 to 1113. He organized several expeditions to reconquer lands from the Crusaders and defeated them at the Battle of Al-Sannabra.
Thoros was an Armenian ruler of Edessa at the time of the First Crusade. Thoros was a former officer (curopalates) in the Byzantine Empire and a lieutenant of Philaretos Brachamios. He was Armenian but practiced the Greek Orthodox faith.
The timeline of the Principality of Antioch is a chronological list of events of the history of the Principality of Antioch.
Beatrice of Saone was countess consort of Edessa from 1134 to 1150 by marriage to Count Joscelin II of Edessa. She served as regent of the remnants of the County of Edessa in the absence of her spouse in 1150.
Gündoğan, historically Turbessel, is a neighbourhood in the municipality and district of Oğuzeli, Gaziantep Province, Turkey. Its population is 374 (2022). It was originally a fortress that played an important role in the Crusades, remnant of which is a tumulus.
The Lordship of Marash was a territorial lordship in northeastern Cilicia between 1104 and 1149, centred on the city of Marash. One of the lesser Crusader states, it played a major role in the defence of the northern frontier in the 1130s and 1140s under Lords Geoffrey and Baldwin. Its position became untenable after the fall of Edessa in 1146.