Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sybilla of Anjou

Countess of Flanders

Sybilla was the daughter of Count Fulk V of Anjou by first wife Arenberga of Maine. She was the sister of Geoffrey of Anjou, who married Empress Maud, daughter of King Henry I of England. She was initially betrothed (1113) to William the Aetheling, heir to King Henry I - they were not married as he was drowned off the coast of Normandy (1120). Her father Fulk undertook his first visit to the Holy Land (1120) - on his return, he abdicated and handed over control of the County of Anjou to Geoffrey (who had married Maud by now).

Sybilla married Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders - whom she bore a son Philip. Meanwhile, in the East, her father had married a second time, to Melisende, daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (1129) and was soon crowned King of Jerusalem (1131). Her husband Thierry visited her father Fulk in Jerusalem (1139), and took part in the Second Crusade (1147/1148) - as part of the entourage of King Louis VII of France. There is no evidence to suggest that Sybilla also accompanied her husband on this journey East.

Sybilla was the stepdaughter of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem (who was the second wife of her father Fulk). Her husband Thierry covetted the fief of Damascus but this lead to quarreling among the crusaders and effectively put an end to the crusade. Thierry returned to Flanders. Her husband made a third trip to Palestine (1157) - gained some lands near Antioch. Sybilla accompanied her husband back to Palestine - she refused to return to Europe with husband (1158). Instead, she stayed on as a nun in abbey of Bethany at Jerusalem.

On Melisende's death (1161), Sybilla succeeded to her influence in royal family and the Church till own death. Her husband Thierry made his fourth pilgrimage to Jerusalem (1154/1165) - he even appealed for a new crusade (1169). By the time her son Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders reluctantly came East (1177) as a crusader, both she and her husband were dead.

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 1998 Women of History)

No comments: