The Death of Godfrey of Bouillon

July 19, 2018

After this ceremony, which was performed in the presence of all the pilgrims, the Latin princes then at Jerusalem returned to their own states; Baldwin to Edessa, Bohemond to his principality of Antioch, and Raymond to Laodicea, of which he had rendered himself master, and which he governed in the name of the emperor of Constantinople. Scarcely had Tancred returned to his principality when he was attacked by all the forces of the sultan of Damascus. Godfrey, accompanied by his faithful knights and a great number of pilgrims eager to fight under his command, repaired immediately into Galilee, defeated the Saracens, and pursued them to the mountains of Lebanon.

All are in need of strength of order to bear the suffering bravely, to overcome life’s difficulties victoriously, to constantly perform one’s duty....Who does not have some cause for sorrow? Who does not have something to fight for?...Yet your right to surrender and flee is much less than that of others.

Death of Godfrey of Bouillon

As he was returning from this expedition, the emir of Caesarea came out to meet him, and presented to him an offering of some of the fruits of Palestine. Godfrey only accepted a single cedar-apple, and almost directly fell ill. This malady, which they did not hesitate to attribute to poison, created the most serious alarm among his followers. Godfrey with great difficulty reached Jaffa, whence he was conveyed to his capital, where he died, committing to the companions of his victories the charge of the glory of religion and of the kingdom of Jerusalem. His mortal remains were deposited within the enclosure of Calvary, near to the tomb of Christ, which he had delivered by his valor. His death was mourned by the Christians, of whom he was the father and the support, and by the Mussulmans, who had often experienced his justice and his clemency. History may say of him what the holy Scripture says of Judas Maccabeus: “It was he who increased the glory of his people, when, like a giant, he put on his arms in the fight, and his sword was the protection of the whole camp.” Godfrey of Bouillon surpassed all the captains of his age in his skill in war; and if he had lived some time longer, would have merited a name among great kings. In the kingdom he founded he was constantly held up as a model for princes as well as warriors. His name still recalls the virtues of heroic times, and will live honored amongst men as long as the remembrance of the crusades.

Joseph François Michaud, The History of the Crusades of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (New York, Redfield, 1853), vol. I, 273-4.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 635



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