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‘Non solum rex, sed regum optimus: Godfrey of Bouillon in the Historia of William of Tyre

‘Non solum rex, sed regum optimus: Godfrey of Bouillon in the Historia of William of Tyre

By Simon John

Paper given at Revealing Records II - King’s College London (2010)

Introduction: I will begin by explaining where today’s paper figures in my wider research. My thesis is a study of the life and posthumous cultural reputation of Godfrey of Bouillon, a participant of the First Crusade. Godfrey was born in about 1060, probably in Boulogne in northern France. Though he attained the prestigious title duke of Lower Lotharingia, he appeared only intermittently in historical record during the time that he spend in the West. It was not until his departure on the First Crusade in 1096 that he truly came to the attention of historical commentators. He appears to have comported himself diligently rather than outstandingly on the expedition. Yet, after the Holy City fell to the crusaders in July 1099, it was he who was appointed as the ruler of the kingdom of Jerusalem. In reality, this was as much a consequence of the perceived poor conduct of the other leading crusaders as it was of Godfrey’s own suitability for the position. These brief facts will suffice as far as the historical details of his life are concerned.

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