Godfrey of Bouillon  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Godfrey of Bouillon (c. 1060, Baisy-Thy, near Brussels18 July 1100, Jerusalem) was a medieval knight and soldier who was a leader of the First Crusade from 1096 until his death. He was the Lord of Bouillon, from which village he took his byname, from 1076 and the Duke of Lower Lorraine from 1087. After the fall of Jerusalem in 1099, Godfrey was proclaimed Defender of the Holy Sepulcher, a title which would later become King of Jerusalem.

Legacy

According to William of Tyre, the later 12th-century chronicler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Godfrey was "tall of stature, not extremely so, but still taller than the average man. He was strong beyond compare, with solidly-built limbs and a stalwart chest. His features were pleasing, his beard and hair of medium blond."

Because he had been the first ruler in Jerusalem, Godfrey of Bouillon was idealized in later accounts. He was depicted as the leader of the crusades, the king of Jerusalem, and the legislator who laid down the assizes of Jerusalem, and he was included among the ideal knights known as the Nine Worthies. In reality, Godfrey was only one of several leaders of the crusade, which also included Raymond IV of Toulouse, Bohemund of Taranto, Robert of Flanders, Stephen of Blois and Baldwin of Boulogne to name a few, along with papal legate Adhémar of Montiel, Bishop of Le Puy. Baldwin I of Jerusalem, Godfrey's younger brother, became the first titled king when he succeeded Godfrey in 1100. The assizes were the result of a gradual development.

Godfrey's role in the crusade was described by Albert of Aix, the anonymous author of the Gesta Francorum, and Raymond of Aguilers amongst others. In fictional literature, Godfrey was the hero of numerous French chansons de geste dealing with the crusade, the "Crusade cycle". This cycle connected his ancestors to the legend of the Knight of the Swan, most famous today as the storyline of Wagner's opera Lohengrin.

By William of Tyre's time later in the 12th century, Godfrey was already a legend among the descendants of the original crusaders. Godfrey was believed to have possessed immense physical strength; it was said that in Cilicia he wrestled a bear and won, and that he once beheaded a camel with one blow of his sword.

Torquato Tasso made Godfrey the hero of his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata.

In The Divine Comedy Dante sees the spirit of Godfrey in the Heaven of Mars with the other "warriors of the faith."

Godfrey is depicted in Handel's opera "Rinaldo" (1711) as Goffredo.

Since the mid-19th century, an equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon has stood in the center of the Royal Square in Brussels, Belgium. The statue was made by Eugène Simonis, and inaugurated on August 24, 1848.

Godfrey's sword is given satirical mention in Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad" (1869).

Godfrey plays a key figure in the pseudohistorical theories put forth in the books The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code.

He also plays a key figure in the historical novel The Blue Gonfalon by Margaret Ann Hubbard. The book is set in the days of the First Crusade, and follows Godfrey and his men on their journey to the Holy Land. It is told through the eyes of Bennet, Godfrey's squire.

In 2005 he came in 17th place in the French language Le plus grand Belge, a public vote of national heroes in Belgium. He did not make the 100 greatest Belgians, as voted by the Dutch speakers in De Grootste Belg (the Greatest Belgian).

Godfrey also plays a key role in the book The Iron Lance by Stephen R. Lawhead, and in an historical novel Godfrey de Bouillon, Defender of the Holy Sepulchre, by Tom Tozer.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Godfrey of Bouillon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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