chapter  6
18 Pages

Ecclesiastical affairs

BySusan B. Edgington

Unlike his brother and predecessor Godfrey, Baldwin was prepared to engage in a series of fierce and protracted disputes with the patriarch of Jerusalem in order to consolidate his royal authority. It should not be doubted that these were political confrontations, fuelled by Baldwin’s urgent need, especially in the early years of his reign, for the patriarch as an ally in the defence of the kingdom, not only with prayers and counsel but also providing soldiers and the means to support them in the king’s service. Aside from this imperative, Baldwin appears in contemporary documents and narratives as a conventionally pious man and ruler. Surviving records show that during his reign he made and confirmed several grants to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Godfrey had installed twenty canons in 1099; to the abbey of Mount Tabor; many to the abbey of St Mary in the valley of Jehosaphat; one each to the nunnery of St Anne in Jerusalem, the hospital of St John in Jerusalem, the abbey of St Mary of the Latins, the Templum Domini and the abbey of Mount Zion. He had a particular regard for the church in Bethlehem, the place of his coronation, and at some time in the winter of 1109–1110 he announced, after describing his coronation, that he wanted to raise Bethlehem to the status of bishopric. Archdeacon Arnulf and Deacon Aicard were sent to Rome, and Pope Paschal II ordered Archbishop Gibelin of Arles to hear their case and accompany them back to Jerusalem. Gibelin duly installed Aschetinus, who was cantor in Bethlehem, as bishop. King Baldwin confirmed the appointment and his own eleemosynary gift of the town of Bethlehem and five estates. He had settled some disputes Bethlehem had had with the church of Jerusalem through the exchange of lands and vineyards in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. He also promised to confirm gifts to Bethlehem made by others. 1 It may be significant that by this date he had found a patriarch he could work with, Gibelin of Arles. The first half of his reign had been a very different story.