Godfrey of Bouillon’s Austerity Shocks Visiting Muslim Emirs

October 8, 2020

In 1096 Godrey de Bouillon (c1060-1100), Duke of Lorraine, joined the First Crusade. It took three years to liberate the Holy City of Jerusalem. Godfrey took the title, Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, Protector of the Holy Sepulchre, instead of King.

Godfrey of Bouillon

At this time, Muslim emirs from the mountains of Samaria came down to the Christian camp. They brought gifts for the king of Jerusalem, but their real purpose was to assess his forces. They found the hero sitting on a bale of straw at the back of a humble tent. “How is this?” they asked each other in their native tongue. “Is this the powerful prince who has reconfigured the looks of the East? No pomp; not a single symbol of his dignity; no tapestry beneath his feet; no silk hangings over his head; no guards with swords in hand at his side to make the mortals standing before him tremble!”

The cause for their astonishment having been explained to him, the austere Baron of the Holy Sepulchre replied: “Isn’t the ground a satisfactory seat for man, considering that after his death it will be his dwelling?”

Both spectacle and words amazed the visitors, accustomed as they were to the proud splendor of Asia’s potentates. The scene reverberated among the Muslims of the vicinity, increasing the fear they felt for this mysterious foreign leader, who understood so well the nothingness of life and cared so little for it.


Alphonse Vétault, Godefroi de Bouillon (Cadillac, France: Éditions Saint-Remi, 2019), 288. (Nobility.org translation.)

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 747


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